The New Home Economics


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With Thanks

Having a really great Thanksgiving holiday.

It started with a snowy day last weekend — the perfect kind where you get a nice cozy day by the fire and then it all melts within 2 days.

Bacon ends — I love it that my favorite grocery store carries random, value-minded stuff like this. Cut up into small chunks and frozen individually, these will add a bit of glorious bacony flavor to many dishes in the next few months.

My first batch of kombucha turned out! (As did the pumpkin pie in the background.) That white part on the top is the “SCOBY” (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). It started out as a film, but slowly grew into a solid mass reminiscent of soft beeswax. My kombucha is not as fizzy as store-bought, but it has a good flavor.  And now I have extra SCOBY to share with friends.  Locals, let me know if you want some.

Cleaned the last of the lacinato kale out of the garden today.  We’ll use a lot of it, and I also gave a rather large bag full to a friend for her pet rabbit.

And finally, the reason I pulled those last few kale plants: so that I could spread these 5 glorious bucketfuls of chicken manure/used bedding on the garden.  Friends with chickens are great friends indeed.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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A few final garden chores for the year

We’ve had such a long, warm, glorious fall here in Minnesota that time got away from me. Suddenly I realized that it was nearly the end of October. Time to get to work!

Here was one small accomplishment for early October: my raspberries needed a little TLC. Our raspberry harvest this year was 1/4 of what it was in 2010. This was partially due to the weather — we had a horrendous July in which the weather was evenly split between torrential rains and tropical heat/humidity levels. But I also haven’t amended the soil underneath the raspberries at all since Adam planted them in back in 2007 (I was 32 weeks pregnant with twins, so it was all him).

So to give them a little bit of care and feeding, I bought a bag of blood meal and topped it with 4 bags of compost. This was enough for approximately half of my raspberries.  I spread out the blood meal as best I could — that stuff’s expensive — and got compost out of my own compost bin for the other half.  There’s a little more square footage there than I always think.

Anyway here’s how it looked, completely composted:

raspberry plants with compost

I then gave them several good waterings over the next couple weeks — as you can see our lawn was (and still is) completely dead. It is very dry here right now.  Now this week our maple tree unleashed all its leaves, so we are piling them at least a foot deep on the raspberries.  Leaves are mother nature’s free mulch — don’t waste your time and energy bagging them when they could be protecting and nourishing your plants!  Hopefully 2012 will be a better raspberry year.

It wouldn’t be fall in our kitchen without a couple bags of pumpkin in the freezer. Here’s how we do that.

I am also brewing my very first batch of kombucha! I’ll let you know how that goes — should be ready around Thanksgiving.

The other day I went out to see if there were any carrots left in the garden, found a whole soup pot’s worth, plus a bonus turnip.

I finally got around to planting my garlic yesterday. Unlike last year, I have not the faintest idea yet how I want to structure my garden for next year, so I just threw these in on the far east (right) side, three rows all in a row.  I am definitely going to regret not giving this more thought, but at least they’re in.

Final task: getting our third stock tank into place for our back yard garden. I received two of them as birthday presents this spring from my parents, and a few months later I found a really nice third one to add for next year. Aesthetically, we really needed three of them to complete the landscape I am envisioning.  Poor Adam had to shovel most of the dirt out of Rowan’s tank to move the new one into place — since it’s larger, it looks better in this larger area of the garden. But it didn’t take that long in the end.

There you have it, two small and one large tank in place and ready for next year. The middle one (Anneke’s) is still FULL of swiss chard, going strong. That along with parsley and kale in the regular garden means we might have a couple more weeks yet of from-the-yard food. In November! Amazing.

We’re also going to build a hoop-house (something like this) this winter to put on top the largest of the three tanks — it creates a mini-greenhouse and means we could be eating lettuce and baby greens in April or May instead of June.  Yes, please!