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1/29/2009 06:29:00 PM


As the seed and plant catalogs come in and I mourn the fact that I will not have a proper garden any time in the near future, I flip through the pages and make mental notations about checking into this or that, or asking my husband if he likes this lettuce or that corn. I have several that have been folded neatly in my mailbox in these past couple of days and am thrilled to see what new varieties there are for this season. Happily flipping through the pages, I was struck dumb by the huge amount of hybrids there are. Grrr.

It seems that the quick fix, prepackaged, uniformed color, size and numbers will always be spreading. Not that some hybrids aren't good. My father swears by the flavors and growing prowess of better boy and early girl tomatoes but he can't save those seeds and I have grown them myself but... the plants must be purchased every year. I'm trying to save money. I don't want to be a slave to the system why would I want to buy a hybrid?

So some of them have great flavor and some of them are resistant to whatever diseases plague their species, but I just can't bring myself to grow hybrids in my garden. I've recently come to this decision, too. It was this past spring while I was talking to my father and he was telling me that they were eagerly awaiting the next pay day to go out and buy more flats of tomatoes. That started me thinking of how he could have just saved seeds from last years crops, planted them himself and he wouldn't have to wait and he wouldn't have to fight to get the ones that aren't droopy or down right dehydrated with the danger of never fully recovering.

He could have saved just a ton of money by not having to purchase them at all. Buy the seeds, plant them, save the seeds. If your crop fails, you can buy more, but if it doesn't, you don't have to buy them again and leaves the door open to try new varieties. Not to mention you know where they came from, what they have been exposed to and you can make the choice on saving the seeds from the tastiest and best of the crop.

So with a smirk of annoyance in the trash goes the catalogs with all the hybrid varieties I really just don't want to buy and I pick up the phone to call my father to taunt him about his favorites and pick a fight about hybrids and seed saving. Wish me luck, I usually end up losing this argument with him. He usually puts his foot down and snaps "I don't like change, so I won't do it!"


1/28/2009 06:49:00 PM

Destructive Insect Series - Diamondback Moth

Found wherever cabbage is grown, the diamondback moth deposits a single egg or groups of eggs usually on the underside of foliage. In 5 to 6 days, larva emerge. They are colorless but as they develop, they turn green. They leaf mine for food and because they are so small, it often goes unnoticed and because they emerge from their eggs on the bottom of the foliage, that is where they feed. The result is irregular patches of damage, and the upper leaf epidermis is often left intact.

While in the pupa stage, they are in loose silk cocoons for about 8 days on the outer or lower foliage. This can also occur within the heads of broccoli and cauliflower. As adults, they are weak fliers aided by the wind to carry them long distances. They stay close to the ground and fly in short bursts if not helped along by a good breeze. They do not handle cold weather well and die off, but they re-invade cold winter areas in the spring aided by southern winds.

Plant damage is caused by the larva. They are very small and can be very numerous. The average female lays about 150 eggs during her 10 day cycle and the entire life cycle lasts about a month.

The tiny larva feed on cruciferous vegetable crops: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, Chinese cabbages, kale, collards, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, turnip, and watercress, with collards being a particular favorite.

They are susceptible to viruses and fungus diseases and are also are often killed by the parasitoids such as Microplitis plutellae. Another major killer of these eggs and larva is rain.

Systems where sprinklers are raining down on the garden will have fewer of these pests. Crop diversity helps to keep the numbers down as well. Planting cruciferous crops with other crops between will help to prevent the spread.

Good luck!

1/27/2009 07:55:00 PM

The Worm Guy

The worm guy! Eco friendly worm usage for an island where the landfill is closed and the refuse has to be taken off island. A definite 10 on the greener meter!

Update: Instead of working 6 days a week, I'm going to work the next 21 days straight so I can have my weekends free at the end of Feb so I'm more strained for time. Stay with me, I'm still here, just a little over worked.

1/22/2009 07:06:00 PM

Slow to Post

Working on packing. Working on getting the moving process started. I'll post when I get the time, but for now, I'm just busy working. I'm also going to be working 6 days a week during all of this (go fig) and so I'll be more scarce than just with normal moving. Stick with me. I'll still be around, just not as much as normal. Once things even out I'll be back to posting on a regular basis!

1/20/2009 12:34:00 AM

Vintage Victory Garden Film

1/15/2009 02:17:00 PM


I found it interesting that they mixed apricots and plums making Apriums and Pluots.
Pluots have majority plum parentage and Apriums have majority apricot parentage and are most stable. Pluots and apriums should be ripened at room temperature and then refrigerated. Pluots can be ripened in a brown paper bag at room temperature.

Approximately 20 varieties of pluots have been developed and bred by Zaiger Genetics. Each variety contains a different percentage of plum and apricot parentage. These varieties vary in size, skin color, and flesh color. The skin can be solid, striped, or speckled and skin colors range from yellow-green to black. Pluot flesh ranges from white to red in color.

Pluot varieties include:
Candy Stripe: medium, pink-yellow striped, with very sweet and juicy flesh.
Cherry: small, bright red skin with white flesh.
Dapple Dandy: large sweet with pale green to yellow, red-spotted skin, red or pink juicy flesh. Flavorella: round, medium-sized, golden-yellow, with sweet and juicy flesh.
Flavor Heart: very large, black with a heart shape, and yellow flesh.
Flavor King: very sweet, medium or large, with red-purple skin and red flesh.
Flavorosa: very sweet or tart, medium-sized, flat round dark-purple fruit with red flesh.
Flavor Prince: large round and purple, with red flesh
Flavor Rich: medium-sweet, large black round fruit with orange flesh.
Flavor Supreme: medium or large, greenish purple skin, juicy red flesh.
Flavor Queen: large light-green to yellow, very juicy
Red Ray: medium, bright red with dense, sweet orange flesh.

1/14/2009 09:57:00 PM

Freezing List

Since we're on the topic of prepare ahead meals and the things that can be frozen, I thought I'd add a list of vegetables that can be frozen.

Leafy vegetables such as cabbage, celery, cress, cucumbers, endive, lettuces, fresh herbs, radishes, to name just a few. They just don't freeze well at all. They come out limp and water-logged and squishy. Some potatoes don't freeze well either, they end up mealy and well, yucky.

This isn't to say that you couldn't experiment with some of these in various stages of leaf production or chopped or flash frozen (good luck getting the liquid nitrogen for that). It would really depend but the general rule of thumb is no.

In most all cases, you want to freeze small pieces of whatever you're attempting to freeze. Stick an entire bell pepper in the freezer and then pull it out to thaw and see what happens vs cutting one into strips. There is a huge difference. Smaller pieces face less cell damage from the freezing/thawing process. So make sure to cut it up.

A lot of spices don't do well in the ice box either. They end up with a stronger taste that can over power or they become bitter. Pepper, cloves, garlic, green pepper, imitation vanilla are examples. Stuff like onion and paprika just plain don't taste the same after they've thawed. And to make sure that we're clear, this is raw, not cooked.

Cooked spices can often change their habits when in foods that are frozen, one example is that salt can actually increase rancidity in high fat items on top if losing it initial flavor. Ahem, not that anyone here has a lot of high fat items hanging around the fridge.

As for canning: There are suitable foods for different types of canning.

Fruits suitable for canning: pears, peaches, apricots, apples, plums, pineapple, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.

Vegetables suitable for canning: peas, corn, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes beans, beets

But then we have another entirely different world, preserving.

Fruits suitable for preserving: strawberries, large currants, plums, quince, grapes, gooseberries, blackberries, cranberries

Then there are jams: strawberries, plums, elderberries, grapes, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, currants

And marmalades: apricot, plums, peaches, apple - sweet, sour crabapple, cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, quince, orange, yellow tomato

Butters: crabapple, quince, apple, grape

Conserves: plums, oranges, and lemon plums, lemon, raisins grapes, lemon raisins, rhubarb figs, rhubarb peach, lemon, orange peach, currants, lemon pears, lemon, ginger root prunes, lemon, orange orange, grapefruit, lemon kumquat, orange cranberries, lemon, raisins nuts in combination with any of the above

Jelly: Usually made from juicy fruits: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, plums, currants, grapes. Then there are the ones that are less juicy but still suitable: peaches, apricots, quince, cranberries, apples - sweet, sour, crabapple.

Pickling fruits and vegetables: tomatoes - red, yellow, blackberries, cucumbers, peaches, pears, peppers - red, green, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, onions

Fruits suitable for spicing are: blackberries, peaches, pears, red tomatoes

Fruits suitable for salting are: cucumbers, large and small

Fruits suitable for drying are: currants, grapes, peaches, pears, apricots, plums, prunes, cranberries, apples - sweet, sour, tomato

This by no means a complete list and I have recipes for canning that defy some of these guidelines. It's really all in experimentation.

1/13/2009 04:33:00 PM

Alstroemeria, commonly called the Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas or Parrot Lily is a South American genus of about 50 species of flowering plants. Isn't it just beautiful? This blooms from late spring to early summer and comes in a virtual rainbow of different colors. This is a plant meant for cooler climates as it will stop flowering if it gets too hot.

1/10/2009 11:01:00 AM

Prepare Ahead

It so happens that my poor spouse cannot for the life of him not be sick if anyone remotely near him is ill. He gave me the flu I have and he swears I gave it back to him. So now we're both sick. And this leads to something that I'm sorely wishing I still had here.

Prepare ahead meals. This re-enforces that importance of having that little gem in the freezer.

Now I'd like to point out that buying a freezer, no matter what it's size, is an investment. Our grocery spending immediately declined when we bought ours. I did not just fill it up, we bought more meats and vegetables on sale and later started adding in other things to be frozen. By the time we bought a side of beef we were on our second freezer. And we have plans for another larger one for later on down the road.

Looking at other folks freezer set ups here.

My grandmother: She has a 25 cubic foot freezer that is older than I am and has seen better days. Fresh venison, rabbit, and hog that the boys bring her. She gets other meats from the family and it all goes in there. She further buys meat (on occasion) when it is on sale and drops it in there. She does have a few vegetables, but not too many since she doesn't do much of a garden anymore.

My father: He has two 25 cubic foot freezers with plans for another one probably half that size. In freezer one he has deer, rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, quail, goose, hog, gator, frog legs, white perch and catfish. All that he killed, caught, was given or traded for. In the other freezer he has beef and more venison. They don't have a lot of vegetables in the freezer, they tend to can theirs instead of freezing them. About the only vegetables you'll find in his freezer are breaded yellow squash and breaded okra. He can't exactly reproduce that batter so he prefers to buy it. I get frequent stories about how he and my little brother had 3 or 4 crock neck yellow squash for dinner right out of the garden. Man, there are days I miss such a long long growing season. Why two? His father-in-law is now in a nursing home so he provides for his mother-in-law, too and they don't go down there everyday.

My uncle: 25 cubic foot freezer filled with most all the game my father has but also with frozen foods from his garden. Corn, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and so many other vegetables that they prefer to freeze along with canning. With all the meat in there, you'd think that they wouldn't have enough room, but they do, and they are feeding a larger amount of people than my father, so I'd assume that they cycle through it pretty quick.

I know that my grandmother used to freeze her left overs but she never sat down and made entire meals to be put in the freezer. My aunt does the same, she'll freeze left overs that are en masse, but she doesn't go to the trouble of preparing a batch of gumbo and then portioning it out for future before meal use. (That is one of my favorite things!)

They prefer to cook same day and eat right after it is cooked. I feel for my aunt. When she is sick, she still cooks. But I don't (at least until we ate it all so that we can move!).

If you can buy pan cakes and waffles in the frozen food section at the store, wouldn't it stand to reason that you can make your own pan cakes and waffles to freeze? You sure can. Just have a look at the grocery store the next time you are there. What is in the frozen food section that you can do yourself at home? How is it packaged and how can you improve that packaging to extend the life?

Wax paper is your friend. You can put this in between stuff and over stuff and it will be easily removed because it is wax paper. I stay away from foil when I freeze, rip it or wrinkle it and now you have little wads of tin foil in your food that you're trying to fish out. If I can manage it, I put it in the food saver bags but that doesn't always work either. I collect the little plastic containers that soup comes in from Chinese delivery, I get them from people I work with and I always save mine, too. It is pretty heavy plastic and has a tight fitting lid that is still flexible enough to press down on so once the soup is in there, I press the lid down until it is touching and then seal it leaving less air. You'll have to find what you have on hand. There are a ton of freezer friendly containers on the market, some are made especially for freezing so don't overlook the bargain bin at your local mart.

Pan cakes, waffles, fried rice, fried chicken, pre-made vegetables already in a sauce. Whole meals like lasagna, fettuccine, my favorite being the chicken in a tomato sauce with zucchini, cheese and tomatoes, that is some awesome stuff. But I can make my own version of that at home and freeze it. Chili, gumbo, vegetable soup, stews, chicken noodle, and red beans and rice freeze well. I've never frozen jambalaya or etouffee, I'll experiment with that. Meatloaf, meatballs, stuffed cabbage (galumpki), mackerel patties or salmon cakes, crab cakes. Shepherd's pie, crustless quiches, pizza, pizza snacks (we love to make these at home, they never seem to make it to the freezer, though).

There are just so many things that you can prepare en masse and then freeze. How many exotic frozen meals are there in your grocer's freezer? It is all about finding the way to freeze it that works for you.

Just remember that you need to allow the food to cool before you start shoving it in the freezer. After it is down to room temp, it will be easier for you to handle and it won't melt what is already in your freezer.

If you can skip the salt when you are making the dish initially, this is a good idea. Salt can cause food with high fat content to go rancid faster. Make sure to stick with low fat food (you should anyway!).

There are specific recipes for this type of thing and if you have any, feel free to share them here!

1/09/2009 07:27:00 AM

Home Sick

As I lay draped across either my bed or my couch in misery, it occurs to me that I've drank enough herbal infusions to heal a small country of a cold. The hot liquid brings a relaxed comfort that not only helps the healing process as far as I'm concerned but it also but also is reminiscent of another time. Yea yea, there I go again romanticizing ... whatever, moving on.

When you're feeling as bad as I do right now, here is a bit of advice.

Vitamin C!
Mix equal parts of red hibiscus and rose hips and make a very bright read infusion. Drink hot or cold. This is a very good tea, you can purchase it prepackaged for like a gazillion bucks a box or you can grow it and make it yourself for a lot cheaper. I'm actually working on a box of this stuff that ran me $5. But that was only because I was desperate, I swear!

Echinacea, goldenseal, mint... just a minuscule amount of the herbs that you can create healing infusions. These infusions can be complex, consisting of a long list of herbs or they can be as simple as ginger, lemon and honey.

Which, as it happens, Ginger is a very good infusion for colds, respiratory infections, to be exact. Add some cinnamon in for the sinuses. Some garlic for the immune system. Some cayenne for a lot of heat and a good dollop of honey and you've got yourself a really good remedy to help see you through.

While you can take all of this in a tea, you can eat most all of it on toast, too, so don't limit yourself. Garlic toast comes pre-made, but you've not lived until you've tried ginger, clove, cinnamon toast. It actually isn't all that bad and it is helpful to the body. Or sprinkle this across a waffle and top with honey.

Think comfort food.

I've sucked down enough vegetable broth to prevent cancer. And its hot. Hot liquids are good. I add some cayenne into that and I'm getting more help. Actually, one of my favorites is 4 cups of vegetable broth, a sprinkling of marjoram and thyme, black pepper, two or three cloves of fresh minced garlic. Sip as needed.

While I enjoy sharing with you all, I'm still quiet ill and I'm going to go back to flipping through the channels until I can find something that I can sleep too.

Happy cold season.

1/05/2009 08:00:00 PM

Quick Grow

What can you grown in less than 60 days in your garden?

After my last post I got curious and started looking around at the various varieties and their maturity times. What can you grow in less than 60 days in your garden? There is actually quite a bit. I never really paid attention to the times before, sure, I kept records, but it was on a calender that said planted on this date and harvest on this date. I didn't really stop to really look at the numbers.

Less than 30
Cress, Curled
Lettuce, Freckles Romaine

30 to 40
Amaranth, Garent Red
Mustard Green, Tendergreen
Onion, White Lisbon
Orach, Red
Radish, Bartender Red mammoth
Radish, Brightest Breakfast
Radish, Cherry Belle
Radish, Comet
Radish, Crimson Giant
Radish, Early Scarlet Globe
Radish, Easter Egg
Radish, French Breakfast
Radish, German Giant
Radish, Hailstone
Radish, Long Scarlet Cinncinati
Radish, Pink Summercicle
Radish, Plumb Purple
Radish, Watermelon
Radish, White Beauty Radish
Radish, White Icicle
Spinach, Strawberry
Turnip, Shogoin

40 to 50
Bean, Bush Snap, Blue Lake Bush
Bean, Bush Snap, Bountiful
Bean, Bush Snap, Cherokee Wax
Bean, Bush Snap, Contender
Broccoli Raab, Early Fall Rapini
Carrot, Little Finger
Cucumber, Armenian
Endive, Tres Fine
Lettuce, Amish Deer Tongue
Lettuce, Australian Yellow Leaf
Lettuce, Baby Oakleaf
Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson
Lettuce, Boston Red
Lettuce, Bunte Forellenschuss
Lettuce, Flame
Lettuce, Iceberg
Lettuce, Lolita
Lettuce, Marveille de 4 Seasons
Lettuce, Oak Leaf
Lettuce, Prize Head
Lettuce, Red Deer Tongue
Lettuce, Salad Bowl
Lettuce, Slobolt
Lettuce, Speckled
Lettuce, Tanog
Lettuce, Tennis Ball
Mache (Corn Salad)
Mustard Green, Green Wave
Mustard Green, Southern Giant Curled
Mustard, Tatsoi
Pea, English, Alaska
Pea, English, British Wonder
Radish, Early Wonder
Radish, Japanese Minowase
Spinach, American
Spinach, Bloomsdale Long Standing
Spinach, Bloomsdale Savoy
Spinach, Monnopa
Spinach, Red Malabar
Spinach, Strawberry
Spinach, Viroflay
Squash, Summer, Bennings Green Tint Scallop
Squash, Summer, Black Zucchini
Tomato, SubArctic Plenty
Tomato, Sweetie
Tomato, Tiny Tim
Turnip, Golden Ball
Turnip, White Egg
Zucchini, Grey
Zucchini, Round

50 to 60
Bean, Bush Snap, Brittle Wax
Bean, Bush Snap, Dragon's Tongue Bush Snap
Bean, Bush Snap, Fin de Bagnol
Bean, Bush Snap, Golden Wax
Bean, Bush Snap, Old Dutch Half Runner
Bean, Bush Snap, Pencil Pod Black Wax
Bean, Bush Snap, Provider
Bean, Bush Snap, Royal Burgandy
Bean, Bush Snap, Royalty Purple Pod
Bean, Bush Snap, Tenderette
Bean, Bush Snap, Tendergreen Improved
Bean, Bush Snap, Top Crop
Bean, Pole Snap, Sunset Runner
Beets, Bull's Blood
Beets, Crosby's Egyptian
Beets, Cylindra
Beets, Detroit Dark Red
Beets, Early Blood Turnip
Beets, Letherman's Green Top
Beets, Ruby Queen
Broccoli Raab, Spring Rapini
Broccoli, Atlantic
Broccoli, Calabrese
Broccoli, De Cicco
Broccoli, Waltham
Cabbage, Pak Choi
Carrot, Amsterdam Minicor
Carrot, Bambino
Carrot, Parisian
Cauliflower, Early Snowball
Chard, Flamingo Swiss
Chard, Fordhook Giant
Chard, Large White Ribbed
Chard, Lucullus
Chard, Oriole
Chard, Pink
Chard, Rainbow
Chard, Rhubarb
Chard, Ruby Red
Collards, Morris Heading
Cowpea, Knuckle Purple Hull
Cucumber, Boothby's Blond
Cucumber, Boston Pickling Improved
Cucumber, Delikatesse
Cucumber, Double Yield
Cucumber, Homemade Pickles
Cucumber, Japanese Climbing
Cucumber, Miniature White
Cucumber, Muncher
Cucumber, National Pickling
Cucumber, Parisian Pickling
Cucumber, Rhinish Pickle
Cucumber, Russian
Cucumber, White Wonder
Eggplant, Little Spooky
Kale, Dwarf Blue Curled
Kale, Lacinto
Kale, Russian Red
Kale, Winter Red
Lettuce, Forellenschuss
Lettuce, Grandpa Admire's
Lettuce, Kagraner Summer
Lettuce, Little Gem
Lettuce, Lollo Rossa
Lettuce, Prize Head
Lettuce, Red Coral
Lettuce, Red Leprechaun
Lettuce, Rossimo
Lettuce, Rouge d' Hiver Romaine
Lettuce, Rubin
Lettuce, Salad bowl
Lettuce, Yugoslavian Red Butterhead
Okra, Clemson Spineless
Okra, Cowhorn
Okra, Perkins Mammoth
Okra, Red Burgandy
Okra, Star of David
Pea, Amish Snap
Pea, English, Laxton's Progress
Pea, English, Sparkle
Pea, Snow, Dwarf Gray Sugar
Pea, Snow, Oregon Sugar Pod
Pea, Sugar Sprint
Pepper, Bull Nose
Pepper, Hungarian Hot Wax
Pepper, Mini Brown Bell
Pepper, Mini Red Bell
Pepper, Mini Yellow Bell
Pepper, Sweet Chocolate
Pepper, Tequila Sunrise
Radish, Black Spanish
Radish, China Rose
Spinach, Giant Thick Leafed
Spinach, New Zealand
Squash, Summer, Black Beauty
Squash, Summer, Caserta
Squash, Summer, Early Prolific Straightneck
Squash, Summer, Golden Scallop
Squash, Summer, Italian Vegetable Marrow
Squash, Summer, Yellow Crookneck
Tomato, Bloody Butcher
Tomato, First Pick
Tomato, Manitoba
Tomato, Matt's Wild Cherry
Tomato, Oregon Spring
Tomato, Silvery Fir Tree
Tomato, Stupice
Turnip, Purple Top White Globe
Turnip, Seven Top
Zucchini, Dark Green
Zucchini, Golden

Most other edibles take anywhere from 60 to 100+ days. All of it well worth the wait, but for those that are a little impatient, here is a nice list of things to grow that will be ready to harvest in two months or less.

1/04/2009 01:48:00 PM

Learning to Prepare

My family is part of a church group here that focuses on family. They do not only incorporate religious studies in their gatherings every week, but they also teach how to take care of your family. Everything from paying off debt to how to prepare and be prepared.

One of their lessons is how to stockpile for future emergencies. I was surprised when I read the pamphlet. Keeping cash on hand. Paying off debt and setting aside the credit cards. Making sure to pay bills as they come in. Being on a budget. It is something that we are not taught in school. Something significant that they teach is the rotation of food on your shelves.

Now, we've always had a nice stockpile of certain things. Things we use on a regular basis that we buy a lot of while it is on sale at the grocery store, farmers market and the bulk store. We have a food saver that we use a lot to store items that come in bulk so that we can handle it better and use it as we go instead of having to worry about moths hatching in the 20 pounds of flour sitting in the back room.

I've been thinking about this more and more since Patti's current ezine issue came out and one of the articles was about taking care to be prepared. The author of the article proclaimed she had enough money in the bank to take care of business for 6 months and I thought "Wow! I thought it was good to have two!" But the more I think about it, the more I realize that she is absolutely right. The more the better.

But it isn't just the fundage sitting in the bank or the wad of cash hidden under the mattress. It is more than that. It is the list of things that we have on hand that will see us through the hard times that are ahead. And I thought I'd jump on that band wagon on the importance of being prepared like Cynthia McKenna from Patti's ezine, (be patient, this article isn't up just yet, Patti will get it up shortly, make sure to subscribe so you get it before it goes up on the site) or like the posts from Down to Earth, one of my favorite blogs to read.

Taking stock.

What do you use the most? It is an important question. Getting out there and buying a bunch of stuff that you might kinda eat won't do it, because while that is sitting around collecting dust, the stuff you do use is still being used and replaced, used and replaced instead of being on hand. Having two children, we have a fairly healthy appetite for all sorts of things that we need and the idea here is to take a small amount of money and stock just those things that you will need the most.


I've broken it down into the following categories. Shelf stable items and Jar or canned items. Frozen items. Vacuum sealed items.

Shelf stable items are the things you buy right off the self that do not require cooling to stay good. Honey, soy, teryaki, marinades, salsa, salad dressings, ketchup, yellow and brown mustard, bouillon, pan cake syrup, balsamic vinegar, flavored vinegars, cooking oils, peanut butter. Most of this comes sealed so that it has a long shelf life. Canned and jar items like peanut butter, jam, jelly, preserves, stocks, vegetables will all do well for long periods of time as well because they are canned in a process.

Frozen items include things like meat and bread but it also means that you can buy a ton of cheese and butter and put that into the freezer as well. We have two freezers. One for meat and one for everything else. I keep vegetables, butter, cheese and bread in the smaller of the two and in the larger, the side of beef we purchased and meat that I find on sale at the grocery store.

Vacuum sealed items. I buy a lot in bulk because it is cheaper and I spend less money in the long run. Spending $20 on bulk culinary herbs that I didn't have room to grow or use during off season makes a big difference. Thyme, rosemary, basil, black pepper, marjoram, coriander, cilantro, savory, mustard seed, and a lot of other herbs I purchased through my favorite bulk herb store,

Compare it to the price at the grocery store. What I would pay for 1/2 oz to 1 oz at the store, I can pay for a pound from herbalcom. Doesn't it make more sense to buy it by the pound? When I got them, they came in these wonderful blue bags, but that wasn't a good way for me to keep them stored so I sealed them all in smaller packages with the vacuum sealer. Things like whole rosemary don't stay sealed in those packages for long as they making holes in the bags as the package becomes hard from the absence of air so they are stored in jars instead.

I also do that with the rice, flour, cornmeal, oats and other items that I can buy in bulk. It saves my shelf space for jars and bottles of shelf stable items. I keep them organized in bags that I can hang from shelving in our storage area and in boxes for what we don't need immediately.


As the container in the kitchen is depleted, it is replenished from the shelf or bags from the food storage. As the bags are depleted, the boxes come open and replenish. As the boxes are depleted, we buy more to replace.

It is a simple system and in the house we live in now, we are cramped for space so every centimeter of space is used to its maximum. And with our impending move, we have bought less to save on the transporting costs. If I'm moving a bunch of food that I can replace after I get there, I'm spending more in gas, which I don't want to do. My shelves have never been so bare but I'll have less work to do because I won't have to move it. It's a simple system that has worked for us for several years and has kept us from sinking when we had something big come up that we were not expecting.

How to do it?

Take $10 and buy it while it is on sale. Take $20 if you can. You've spent less and you've got a lot to tide you over. Go through and make a list of all the things that you seem to run out of and stare at the bottle balefully wishing you could squeeze that last drop out. Those are the things you need to buy. We go through a phenomenal amount of Worcestershire Sauce at my house. We use it for everything from a sauce for dipping steak to marinades. I buy it in large bottles at the bulk store and we never have to worry about it because I take inventory of items like that frequently to make sure that I don't get down to my last bottle and then end up staring at the bottle balefully wishing I had more.

Excel is your friend.

I have excel sheets for everything! Bills and costs and budgets and storage lists. I keep one big file with a master list of all of these on different tabs to make it easier. I have put in time to color code and set it up so that it is easy for me to read and easy for me to spot something that might need to be replaced. I carry my lap top into the storage area and check numbers against quantity. It only takes a few minutes and I find that it gives me a sense of accomplishment. If you don't have lap top, you can print these out and check them off and then update your sheet.

But keeping yourself organized is important. Planning on what you're going to buy and how much you can set aside to buy it. Meal planning can save a lot of time and keep the hassle and frustration of not having something on hand that you need. Keeping an inventory to monitor what you have and what you need is helpful. Build your inventory as you go and keep up with how much you put into it so you can see how much you are saving in the long run, it will help you stick to this if it is new to you.

Running a household can be difficult, but if you and your family work together to minimize the little nuisances that can crop up, then you will find that everything will go smoothly. My children help me in the inventory, they read off the labels and count the amounts and then we make it a group effort to keep up our inventory. Not only do I get help, but they are learning something valuable from me to help them when they are on their own. It will be second nature to them as adults and maybe will keep them from making the same mistakes I made when I was figuring all of this stuff out.

Take stock. Make lists. Set aside a small amount. Buy on sale. Organize your stores. Keep an inventory record. Know how much you're spending and saving. Plan.

This works for more than just food. Toilet paper, paper towels, tissue, shampoo, soap, deodorant, cleaning supplies, toothpaste. Everyday objects too, toothbrushes, bathing sponges or scrunchies and dish washing sponges or scrunchies, ect. If you think about things that you use on a regular basis and then spend a little on them, you'll find you'll have more money in the future.

Make your own. I have posts about stuff like this throughout. Cloth Swiffer Pads. Making your own furniture polish. Household cleaners made of baking soda, vinegar, and borax. Make your own handwipes. A lot of things that can be made at home with things that you have on hand that will cost you less money and give you a chance to be harsh chemical free.

Saving money is more important now than ever. We have left the era of availability behind and are moving into a future of uncertainty. Take steps to make sure that you aren't one of the families out there that is in desperate need by doing a few small things to help keep you comfortable in the future!

1/03/2009 12:57:00 PM

2008 - Year of the Potato

Until I stumbled across it, I didn't know that 2008 was the UN's year of the potato. It raises awareness on just how much we depend and grow this unique tuber on a global scale. Giving statistics on growth, it shows that Europe and Asia produce a staggering amount of potatoes on a yearly basis!

The site gives detailed information on the potato plant and how it grows, nutritional facts, biodiversity, economy and pricing. All in all, a very clever way to get information about the potato out there to the world. The site is in several different languages to help break down the barriers. No doubt that their attempt to educate is really making a difference. I applaud the UN for their efforts.

The thing I find most interesting:

" Diversity conserved in trust

The International Potato Centre in Peru maintains the world’s largest bank of
potato germplasm, including some 1 500 samples of about 100 wild species
collected in eight Latin American countries, and 3 800 traditional Andean
cultivated potatoes. The collection is maintained and managed under the
terms of an agreement with the Governing Body of the International Treaty
on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and, like all collections
eligible for funding from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, is available to plant
breeders worldwide upon request."

Incidentally, 2009 is International Year of Astronomy.

1/03/2009 12:17:00 PM

The White House Organic Farm Project

There is something inherently wrong with there not being a garden in every yard of America, and these guys intend on seeing it through to start at the top of the food chain, so to speak, and get that garden ball rolling at the First House. The White House Organic Farm Project is petition urging Obama and his band of not so merry men to go Organic. Grow it on the White House lawn, grow it by having children and disable people tend it, and to distribute it schools and the hungry.

What isn't there to like? Even if they don't do the entire thing in its original form, perhaps it will spark enough light to show that it is important for a garden to be on the lawn of the First House.

This introduces the bus that isn't really a bus. The Who Farm Mobile complete with an explanatory video. Seeing is believing. This bus boasts a worm bin and fresh foods such as kale, collards, chard and some herbs.

1/03/2009 11:48:00 AM

How to Build a Rain Barrel

This is probably my most favorite video on how to build a rain barrel. It is very simple and easy and takes no time at all.

1/03/2009 10:42:00 AM

Sweet Sweet Bell Pepper

Another 5000 year old vegetable, this South American sweet counterpart to the hot pepper has been gracing tables all over the world thanks to Spanish and Portuguese explorers. And with no small help from the fact that bell peppers are extremely adaptable to most growing climates and conditions, this culinary wonder spread through the world via trade routes like wildfire being quickly incorporated into many different cuisines. They now are a staple in Europe where they are dried for paprika, an absolute must in Creole and Cajun dishes, they are used heavily in Mexico, Portugal, and Asia in all sorts of dishes.

Bell peppers have a great many uses. Cooked into dish after dish, they can also be munched down on raw. I like to add green bell pepper and red onion to my chicken salad. It makes for such a delightful crunch and adds a nice texture and flavor combination with the onion and celery. I also like to have green or red strips of bell pepper on my tuna sandwich. I also prefer to use orange bell pepper when grilling beef and vegetable kabobs. The idea there being to cook the meat, but only to char ever so slightly the vegetables. There is just something about cherry tomatoes and orange bell peppers right off the grill, it is incredible. A quick coring and a nice short dip on hot water and you can stuff your pepper with whatever you'd like.

The bell pepper can be dried for later use, too. They dry very well and if you like to make soups from a dry vegetable mix, I would very much recommend that you use both green and red varieties. Dehydrating peppers for later use is quite easy. You can use a food dehydrator or you can sun dry them (but that is another post).

While this capsaicin lacking pepper isn't hot, it is the only edible part of the plant. This pepper belongs to the Nightshade family, like potatoes, so no getting cute and trying to garnish with the leaves of this poisonous plant!

1/03/2009 12:56:00 AM

Chocolate Face Mask Recipe


  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream (sour cream will work as well)
  • 3 teaspoons of oatmeal powder


Mix all the ingredient until the mass in consistent. Apply on the face, gently massaging it so that oatmeal can start exfoliating the dead skin cell layer. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and rinse off with luke warm water.

1/03/2009 12:40:00 AM

Facial Mask Recipes

For oily skin use some plain Milk of Magnesia, rub it on and let dry, then rinse with lukewarm water.

For Normal/combination skin mix one egg and 1/2 cup cooked instant oatmeal and a teaspoon olive oil until smooth. Spread on your face and leave 15 min then rinse.

For dry skin, mix one egg yolk, one teaspoon honey and a teaspoon olive oil and some vitamin E oil if you have it. Smooth on and leave on for 15 min. , rinse in lukewarm water and pat dry.

The kind of the mask you want to use depends on your skin type.

For dry skin, try:

  • an egg yolk mixed with olive oil and warmed honey

  • sour cream

  • plain olive oil

  • avocado

For oily skin:

  • dissolve a teaspoon of baking yeast in a small amount of warm milk, wait until foamy, then apply (best done in the bath tub);

  • puree flesh of a tomato and mix with some potato flour to make a paste;

  • cucumber (it will whiten your skin);

  • beaten egg whites with a few drops of lemon juice (great for getting rid of blackheads);

  • carrots (but don't use this one more than about every other week because it can overdry your skin). This one will make you look tanned.

General refreshing masks:

  • grapes (just cut a berry in half and rub lightly)

  • strawberries (test behind your ear first, because many people are alergic to strawberies used this way even thougth they can eat them just fine)

  • honey and ricotta cheese

Many fruits and vegetables can also be used to good effect. Anything acidic (lemon, strawberries, etc) will tend to whiten and refresh your skin, but you need to be careful if your skin is dry.

In general, don't apply masks more often than about twice a week, and try to vary the ingredients.

It is a good idea to test the mask first. Apply a small amount behind your ear, wait 20 minutes, then wash off. Then wait 24 hours. If the skin behind your ear is normal, then go ahead and use the mask.

1/02/2009 08:56:00 PM

A Rainbow of Carrots

From Garden Green

This 5000 year old root crop did not start out as the lovely orange we know today. There were many colors: white, yellow, red, green, purple, and black. Orange was no where in the picture. The Egyptians had purple carrots, and these were traded and sold across the Arabian trade routes. With the Asians, Arabians and Africans in possession of their newly acquired purple root, the carrot took on the multitude of hues. The Romans knew the carrot as purple or white. The Africans knew it as purple or yellow along with Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern Iran.

From Garden Green

It was these carrots that the Moors brought to Europe during the 12th century. Another hundred years saw the carrot in France and Germany. The purple, white and yellow carrots were imported into the European countries and they grew a green, red and black. During the 15th century, the taproot made it to the shores of England.

From Garden Green

It may surprise you to know that the carrot did not make it's orange debut until a mutated strain of the yellow carrot came to the Dutch who cross-bred it with red varieties to create an orange specimen in honor of the royal House of Orange. Thus creating the sweet and very orange variety that we know and munch down on today.

From Garden Green

1/01/2009 08:23:00 PM

January Garden

Patti Moreno and Mel Bartholomew of Square Foot Gardening bring a series of videos by month!

I'm Green Inside!

I'm Green Inside!
How green are you?

The Growing Challenge

The Growing Challenge
Just one more...

Fred's Fine Fowl

Fred's Fine Fowl
All things poultry