Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, Chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

May 30, 2019

Rain, Rain and More Rain! Paradise Lot Book Review

Rain, Rain and More Rain!
We have been getting so much rain in the last 3 weeks it's not even funny! Update *** The local news station announced this is the fourth wettest May ever, along with the 4th wettest April ever! *** Having said that, this in no way compares to the terrible flooding and tornadoes in the mid-West and East. So sorry for them! Everything is super saturated from the last couple of days-

Everything is so lush and green! We have had to put quite a bit on hold as far as planting veggies, etc. We have been able to work around some of it. The wheelbarrow in the backyard,  with the bark dust, had to wait because of the weather. My perennials are really loving all the rain, however, and everything is really blooming, very lush and green. It's been in the low 70s the last couple of days and it's supposed to hit the 80s this weekend. Hopefully after that it should be dry for at least a week. Hooray!

More tonight! There's thunder and lightning right now!

Paradise Lot Book Review-
I stumbled onto this book and got a copy from the library to read. What a find!!! These two men worked together to transform an empty tenth-of-an-acre lot on the east coast in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The lot was barren ground, had poor compacted soil, with broken concrete, etc. They turned it into an incredible, productive, beautiful Permaculture garden. I got so many edible gardening ideas from this book (that I'm not even done with) that I bought a copy. There are all kinds of perennials that have edible leaves that I had never even heard of! I'm really may go off and do some unusual things with our garden now that I have more interesting ideas. The photos will definitely tell the story, but I highly advise the book as well! Just a real gem. As a side note, they also did this with free, used, scavenged, foraged and bartered items. On a micro budget!

Before backyard, photos from Paradiselotblog

A few years later

Read it!


May 22, 2019

Making Those Tough Gardening & Homesteading Decisions, Urban Permaculture Inspiring Videos!

Making Those Tough Gardening & Homesteading Decisions-
Sometimes in gardening, and urban homesteading, you have to make tough decisions. If you have a  homestead in a rural area with a lot of acreage sometimes those tough decisions are different kinds of decisions. In a small urban Homestead, on a small city lot, we have limited space and have to grow what is useful and productive. Sometimes things get moved around, sometimes things get discontinued, like giant monster tomatoes that took 3 months to ripen! I was looking on the north side of our house this weekend and noticed our Mugo pine looked really really sick. I found out the insects that were there were European Pine Sawfly larvae. The bad news is they eat the needles, but the good news is they will grow back. The other bad news is if you don't treat the shrub, theoretically you could lose it. I've never used insecticidal sprays before of any kind, so this time I decided to make an exception. Luckily the tree had nothing growing around it, especially anything edible or where anyone walks.  I did some research and went ahead and bought a small spray bottle of Sevin, which is basically a neurotoxin bug spray. I doused the Mugo Pine and all the little Sawtooth larvae started falling off.

All gone

The good news is hopefully I'll never have to do this again! I think the unusually wet April that we had may have contributed to this since I've never seen this before anywhere. It was the fourth wettest April on record ever. Too much rain. Still raining this last week, with temps in the 50's and 40's at night. Put the heavier bedding back on the bed and got out my winter PJ's!

Rhubarb before shot, with potato bin

The next decision was to tear out our rhubarb patch. I had tried growing rhubarb in three different places on our lot and just didn't have much luck. This last location was sunny, with some shade, and it would grow really well but then it would never turn red. Since our neighbor next door hates rhubarb, and has a huge plant and let's us take it, it really didn't make sense to use valuable garden space for that. Dave ripped it up and it went into the compost bin for the city. I very successfully grown squash in that spot so we will probably plant either squash or pumpkins. It will also allow some more room for the raspberries to spread.  Here in a small urban space when room is at a premium you just have to make those tough decisions of what you can grow versus what you want to grow. After shot-

Urban Permaculture Inspiring Videos!
These are Urban Permaculture based, but you will see tons of flexible ideas you can use anywhere! We don't live in the "suburbs" but many urban (or rural) areas can take these ideas and run with them. I got this book from an inter-library loan, so many amazing ideas

Author David Holmgren is based in Australia, and many of these videos are from there as well. If you go to Youtube and search Permaculture Tours, there lots to watch. Here's some sample I really loved!


May 18, 2019

Re-Painting a Weather Vane, Chipotle Jackfruit Tacos, S.W. Vegetarian Salad

Before Shot

Re-Painting a Weather Vane-
Here's the post about how we bought this little cutie-  A Man's Life Saved...  After Dave put it up on top of the coop last fall I decided that I would just wait until spring to paint it. There's a photo below what the original look like that I found online, although there were lots of versions-

What it looked like when we took it down -

Basically years of weathering, etc. made it pretty faded paint-wise. The gold spheres in the photo were reduced to just silver aluminum. I decided to go with flat black for the basic components, the same green for the grass, and a medium brown for the spheres. Dave set up a workbench for me in the backyard. Sadly it was cool, breezy and a bit shady and so the paint took longer to dry. Was also a little challenging taking photos since the lighting was so random. First I washed all the components in warm soapy water with Dawn and then dried them. Next I just laid out all the paints and masking tape.

First I covered up the deer area with a clean ziploc bag and masking tape. I wanted to basically repaint the green area and not transfer too much to the deer and the black paint area. I decided to leave it as is.  Some of the versions of this had the light tan paint.

I started off by painting the green grass below the deer and then set that aside to dry. Next I painted all of the black pieces flat black, just shows very shiny when it was wet. I did each side and then waited a while and then did the other side.

Next I did the silver aluminum spheres. I knew they would be challenging since the aluminum was really smooth and probably wouldn't grab the paint as well. They took several coats and there were a few drip marks, but it's 10 feet up in the air, who will notice!

Last I just touched up in the areas that still needed a few spots of paint. After it was all dry Dave put it back together and up on top of the coop. I love the way it came out! Looks almost like new. Should last another 50 years hopefully.

After shot

Chipotle Jackfruit Tacos- 
I found this recipe and gave it a shot, and it came out nice! I did use about 1/3 can of  adobo sauce, too bland as is. Recipe here- Forksoverknives

S.W. Vegetarian Salad-
I used to make this with chicken, just omitted it, and used the rest of the ingredients. I used the On The Border Spicy Dressing, some Cojito cheese on top, came out great! The long thin strips are Jicama, crunchy, sweet and so good for you! Didn't miss the meat...

May 15, 2019

Building New Tomato Cages, Peach Crisp, Vegan Spaghetti Sauce With Lentils

Building New Tomato Cages-
We have tried so many different tomato cages over the years that it's not even funny. We tried the old-fashioned wire ones that you can buy that are cone-shaped, when the tomatoes got too big it would all fall over. Then we bought some metal wire ones that were hinged and great to store, but were too lightweight and would also fall over. We tried bamboo, it would crack and fall apart. Then we finally started using scrap conduit from work from Dave, and it was tough and rugged. The problem was you couldn't really tie the tomatoes up to it or it would all slide down. Dave had the idea to just build some new wooden tomato cages. He looked around and we talked about sizes and then this weekend  he bought some nice culled wood. Culled wood is wood that is warped/twisted/bent and is not sold at the normal retail price. Most places that sell it, like the big box stores, sell it 50% to 70% off! That's a huge savings. So Dave shopped around at both of the big box stores in our area and bought some pine furring strips. He used 1" x 2"s, and 1" x 4"s cut down to 1" x 2"s-

wood ready to be unloaded

They're nice and sturdy and should last quite a few years! He made about four foot high, 16" square, with galvanized nails.  Here's the tomato area, he created a new "chicken" fence, much nicer than what was there before.

More cages-

Planted and sunk down in the ground about one foot, dug small hole and back filled-

Peach Crisp-
I'm working on emptying out some of the things in our freezer since we have three fruit trees that are pretty full and summer veggies will be ready in a few months. I had some amazing peaches frozen from one of Dave's co-workers and so decided to make this Peach Crisp  It came out really super luscious! I used WW pastry flour and cut down the sugar since the peaches were dead ripe.

Vegan Spaghetti Sauce With Lentils-
Since we're working on more of a plant-based diet I decided to add some canned brown lentils to a big pot of homemade spaghetti sauce. I used some of our organic homegrown frozen tomatoes and Italian peppers from last summer. To that I added one chopped onion, 3 cups sliced mushrooms, all the normal spices like fresh garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, etc. I added the lentils last and then cooked down the sauce for about 2 or 3 hours. Came out nice and hardy and no lentil flavor at all! All in all it's a keeper. More protein, tons of fiber, and literally no fat, except about 1 TBL to saute the garlic and onions!

May 9, 2019

Fresh Apple Muffins With Homemade Applesauce

Fresh Apple Muffins-
I have been trying to use up some of my canned apples lately. Looks like we'll have a good crop of apples this year! I made this recipe, but subbed WW pastry flour for unbleached and tweaked a little. Came out great! I doubled the recipe, since they freeze great, and made 12 large muffins. I found the recipe years ago here- -

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1 c. grated raw apples ( I used 1 cup coarse ground homemade organic applesauce)
I added fresh nutmeg and 1 cup walnuts

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Combine oil, egg and milk. Add to dry ingredients. Add apple and stir just until ingredients are blended. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full and sprinkle with topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes.

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