Independence Days

Last year, I watched from a distance and avidly ready all Sharon Astyk’s posts regarding her Independence Days Challenge, but I never formally signed up to participate.  The name comes from the intro to Carla Emry’s book The Encyclopedia of Country Living where she says “All spring I try to plant something every day…until Midsummer…Then I switch over and make it my rule to try and get something put away for the winter every single day.”  There are seven categories:

1.  Plant something

2.  Harvest something

3.  Preserve something

4.  Reduce waste/Manage Reserves

5.  Preparation or Storage

6.  Community Food Security Building

7.  Eat something

I officially signed up for the challenge this morning, and I will be posting every Tuesday on my progress in each of these seven areas.  This is my first post on the topic.  Some of the topics might not seem to make immediate sense, so if you have any questions I refer you to Ms. Astyk’s blog for further enlightenment 🙂

Plant something:  Wow.  I have one 4 x 8 bed that is on the far end of the house that I decided to make a perennial bed.  It presently has garlic that hopefully will be ready to harvest soon, onions that I just planted that I hope will be enough to cover us for a year, and I purchased asparagus crowns and put them in the back of the bed.  So far, they are doing well (mostly) and I look forward to a small harvest next year.  Mr. Tin Foil and I planted out all our tomatoes — roma, celebrity, german queen, beefsteak, early girl, cherry.  We also planted marigolds and basil with the tomatoes.  I planted pak choi, french breakfast radishes, zucchini, armenian cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, poblano peppers, and japanese eggplant.

Harvest something:  Well, other than onions we really don’t have anything to harvest right now; the chickens got into my lettuce bed and I had to reseed.  We are eating the girls’ eggs though nearly every day.  I did try to interest Mr. Tin Foil in some of the wild mustard we have growing on the side of the house but he was having no part of it other than reluctantly chewing the leaf I thrust at him 🙂

Preserve somthing:  not yet.

Reduce Waste/Manage Reserves:  Well, we’re still feeding our veggie waste and leftovers to the chickens.  I haven’t done much managing of reserves other than to make sure my jars of preserves still have a seal.

Preparation and Storage:  I purchased 80 lbs of mortar and a multi trowel kit to build our back patio out of the native stone.  The patio will eventually have a grape arbor over it, and I also plan to build some raised beds around the edges of the house also out of the native stone.  These will have annual herbs, flowers, and jasmine to trellis up over the windows reducing our heat gain in the summer.

Building Community Food Security:  Mr. Tin Foil and I have discussed the possibility of having a garden tour/open house in a month or so when the garden is more greened up.  We can have fliers with resources, references, statistics, and possibly even offer services to those who would like to start a garden themselves but don’t want to do the initial setup for whatever reason (for a fee).  I think it would be worthwhile to introduce the idea of food security by modeling it ourselves, in a low key environment.  Also, everyone is always amazed when MTF or I tell them how much we get from the back yard and what is possible with just a little input.  I also approached one of the HOA board members about possibly starting a community garden.

Eat some:  Well, we’re eating our own eggs, we’re eating onions and buckthorn from the garden, and we’re working through our stores of canned goods from last year.

Here are some pictures of the garden this year

Tomato, basil, marigold, poblanos

Tomato, basil, marigold, poblanos

The lettuce bed, and the recycled satellite dish/herb garden

The lettuce bed, and the recycled satellite dish/herb garden

Cardoon and japanese eggplant

Cardoon and japanese eggplant

What's left of the buckthorn, and pickling cucumbers; tomatoes in the back containers

What's left of the buckthorn, and pickling cucumbers; tomatoes in the back containers

Next year's onion seed

Next year's onion seed

That’s actually not the whole garden; I have tubs with peas and beans in the front yard, spinach and roses in the front, and plan to plant yarrow this week.  There are potatoes on the side yard as well.

And, we just made another 4 x 4 bed to go out with the others, I’ll post a picture when it’s all pretty and painted.  I may plant malabar spinach there again, or possibly cantaloupe.  Or both.

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