Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Garden Really Does Grow!

This Sunday we planted our potato patch. I use the term loosely since the patch consists of three old garbage cans, 1 giant plastic tub and a rolled compost bin. Maybe I should refer to it as our potato cluster.

I'm delighted to report I finally have seen a single asparagus stalk sprout up. Don't misunderstand me, I'd be happier if I saw 30 of them but since its been almost a month and I haven't seen any, this one is pretty thrilling. At this writing, I'm feeling like quite the little gardener since everything we've planted is growing.

I was down in the back yard watering the apple trees, watching deer meander by the creek and enjoying the little oasis we've been creating when my new neighbor came down the street in his SUV blaring rap music. It bummed me out. I don't care what he listens to, that's his choice, I just wish he didn't make it so loud (it was really loud) that it bothers the people around him. Oh well.

I've got laundry going and bread rising. The next challenge is to go through the summer clothing and try to find more shorts for Robert. If there are no more, the next step is to look over his jeans for ones that are destroyed below the knee so I can make them into shorts. In the absence of that, a trip to the thrift store is in my future.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't Pitch It, Stitch It!

High on the success of the sock project, that is my new motto. I'm happy to report the rescued tube socks were given the thumbs up by Robert even after a full day of use, including several laps around the school track. My only concern was that the new seam might be irritating but my worries were unfounded. I love little victories like this.

Another frugal victory came my way earlier this week via my local online recycling group. Someone was giving away two rain barrels like the ones pictured here. I can't wait to get them set up. The two downspouts on our house are conveniently located very close to both the asparagus bed (which still has nothing sprouting) and the elderberry bed.

This weekend we'll get our potatoes planted. They've been sitting out by a window for the last two weeks growing eyes in preparation for planting. We're going to grow them in a mix of mulch hay, compost and a bit of soil.

I feel a lot of pressure with this garden since we opted not to join the CSA this year. I have really mixed feelings about this. I'll feel better once our last frost date passes and the plants are actually in the ground.

I was hoping to make a cold frame with old windows. Old windows and storm windows are one of those things that repeatedly pop up on online recycling groups and craigslist. Unfortunately there are none listed right now, unless I want to drive an hour away. I'm holding out for something closer to home. I'll just keep checking. At moments like this I need to remind myself, patience is a frugal virtue.

Rhonda Jean's post about simple drawstring bags really got my wheels turning. I love the idea of replacing the plastic containers I currently keep my homemade bread in with linen bags, especially since many of the containers are in really sad shape. Check out the links she provided to inspire and guide you. And remember, its not nice to outbid me as I try to procure some vintage linen tea towels on ebay to make the above mentioned bags! I'm also keeping an eye out for a bread box to use along with the bags. More on that as it unfolds.

Happy Weekend to All!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Great Tube Sock Rescue Tutorial

The tube sock rescue mission worked extremely well, so as promised, here's a tutorial.

Step one: Match all the socks you plan to rescue into pairs, turn them inside out and lay them on top of each other. Make sure the tops of the socks are lined up but don't stress of the bottoms (the part that the toe goes into) aren't perfectly lined up.

Step Two: Determine how much you need to cut off. You want to go far enough to eliminate the worn area while keeping in mind the length of the foot that uses the socks. Bear in mind that socks do stretch.

Step Three: Take a deep breath and make the cut. You need to cut through both socks of the pair at the same time to ensure the socks will be the same length when finished. Make the edges of this cut slightly rounded. Use the existing toe of the sock as a guide for how much to round.

Step Four: Separate the socks and pin the toes together. I know its a small seam but I found the loopy, strectchy material of the socks really made machine sewing a pain in the rear. Putting three pins in really made sewing much easier. But hey, if you're gutsy enough to skip the pins, do it proudly.

Step Five: Sew a straight seam across the toe of the sock. Turn your sock around with the needle still in the fabric and then sew a zigzag stitch. How wide should this seam be? The answer is, as narrow as possible so the toes don't feel bunchy when worn. Trim any edges that stick out beyond the zigzag stitch. Sew the second sock the same way.

Step Six: Turn your socks right side out and use an indelible marker to put a symbol on the bottom of these two socks identifying them as a pair. I did this because I found each pair of socks I rescued was a slightly different length. Marking them keeps the same length socks together. I used stars, squares, smiley faces, triangles, etc.

Here's the happy recipient of the rescued socks. He's extra thrilled because he always hated the long tube socks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sewing for Necessity

The frugal gods and goddesses among us know all too well that creativity is sometimes overshadowed by necessity. So although in my head I'm helping my daughter put the finishing touches on the beach bag pattern she's designing, in reality I'm darning socks, lots of socks. A big, huge laundry basket full of holey toed socks are just waiting for me to sew! Today's mantra will simply be, "Can't they cut their toenails?"

Actually I'm going to put on Radio Classics on XM, and enjoy some radio dramas. They are the perfect accompaniment to sock sewing.

Rob's got some tube socks with super worn out feet. I'm going to try to cut the worn parts off and make a shorter sock. If this works, you can expect a tutorial tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gardening Without the Yard

With signs of the impending summer all around me I've begun thinking about my garden at the cabin. Considering the lack of direct sunlight, the short growing season and the acid soil of a pine forest floor, I think things have gone really well but I'd like to ramp things up a bit.

The spot with the greatest amount of sun also happens to have no dirt. A friend suggested using EarthBoxes because the water reservoir would allow me to plant earlier despite only be there for sporadic weekend visits until the end of June. Great idea except for the price tag.

Here are some DIY links to make your own EarthBox
Making a self watering container or Earthbox
Building your own Earth Box
Self Contained Gardening System

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gardening Goings On

This twiggy little thing will one day be a six foot tall elderberry bush. At least the little buds on the side give me hope that it will be a six foot tall elderberry bush!

Here's a close up of one of the buds. Pardon my rotten photography skills. My camera is determined to auto focus on the mulch hay.

Speaking of auto focus difficulty, the green blur in this picture is a bud on my Native American Plum tree. Notice how well the camera focused on everything else.

The currant bushes never let me down. Little leafy buds now will most certainly lead to lush, leafy green bushes laden with berries in just a few weeks.

The apple trees look like they may be budding as well but the way the sun was shining a picture was out of the question. As for the asparagus, they continue to mock me and refuse to sprout. Its been two and a half weeks!!

Yesterday a box of seed potatoes arrived in the mail. I need to let them sit around in a warm sunny place and get sprouting for the next two weeks before I can plant them. These will be planted in unused garbage cans and an old roll out compost bin. I'm seriously considering growing them in mulch hay this year just to see how it goes. Here's another link that discusses growing potatoes in hay.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's My Beach Bag Baby & Don't Pull the Wool Over My Eyes!

A week off from school and all the kids are itching for summer. I must confess I'm getting the itch as well. Leen's summer blues must be a little more intense because she's is in the process of designing a beach bag that she hopes I'll make for her. Once she finishes her design requests, I'll share the making of it.

Here's something interesting I stumbled upon in my local paper this weekend, a yarn CSA! If you did a double take you're not alone. Here's the link. I know, wool's not vegan but this small farm seems to be going a long way to keeping their treatment of the sheep humane and supporting this CSA means supporting local business.

Can you call yourself vegan and support something like this? Personally, I think it's a tough call but in an effort to keep my dollars supporting small, local business I'd lean toward saying yes. What do you think?

Additional Note:
Here's a snippet from the Fall CSA share regarding their care of the sheep.
Our farm practices humane animal husbandry, we are “predator friendly” and none of our animals are ever sold for meat. The sheep and goats graze on organic pasture 9 months out of the year. We supplement with quality hay and a custom-made whole grain ration.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anybody Else but Me...

..especially since I worked so hard to get all five of them planted this past weekend! It was a team effort actually that got 5 apple trees, 2 plum trees, 8 elderberries and 2 mulberry trees planted. So far everything from this planting looks like its doing well. After all the work everyone put in clearing, screening and digging they better do well!

On the other hand, I haven't seen so much as a sprout from my asparagus bed. It's really killing me.

My seedlings are coming up nicely but the vegetable garden beds remain to be done. I guess its next on my gardening to do list.

I made eye pillows for my yoga classes. They made their debut at yesterday's class. One of the women in the class insisted on buying one, even though I wasn't planning on selling them. Here's how to make your own. I skipped the lavender flowers and just used the essential oil and it worked out beautifully.