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Thursday, September 2, 2021

My Week, Last of August

Hi friends,

And the month of August is over just like that! I was out walking in the neighborhood this morning and noticed many homes with autumn decorations up already. Lots of autumn-themed wreaths, a bale of hay or two, and even a small scarecrow adorning a front porch. One neighbor planted a pumpkin patch in her front yard, and she had a nice selection of big pumpkins growing. Her front yard receives a lot of sunshine from morning to evening. Meanwhile, in my rather heavily treed backyard, my own pumpkin patch is looking rather anemic. I have 3 small pumpkins and 3 extra small pumpkins, plus 2 small acorn squashes. It's time to consider taking out a couple more trees.

The blackberry picking is just about done for the year. Our "spot" got cut down in between weekends in late August and our own blackberry patch at the back of the yard is almost fully-picked. I froze somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 quarts of blackberries to use this winter.

Do you ever imagine how you could grow more food on your property if the grocery supply chain became became unreliable? I was thinking it all through as I walked our property the other afternoon. We're on a suburban lot, so it's not like we have unlimited space to garden. My best options would be to convert two spots to garden space, the back lawn and a patch that's in the center of our circular driveway.  My husband and I have been talking about that patch in the center of the driveway for a while. It's overgrown with trees and ferns and might be a nice spot to plant another apple tree plus have a sunnier pumpkin patch. Anyways, with the world feeling so crazy these days, my thoughts went to a place of "what could we do to help ourselves, if needed."

ripe radish seed pods

Back to reality, the radish seed pods are just now beginning to fully mature and dry out. I plucked a couple of pods the other day and split them open. The pods contain between 1 and 6 seeds each. I'm hoping to have enough seeds for planting next spring as well as growing sprouts indoors this winter. We'll have to see if I get enough for both planting needs.

You might remember, last summer my family decided to skip any sort of vacation for 2020. We used that savings to stock an emergency pantry. We relied on those staples all through winter, which meant I didn't need to venture out for groceries during the winter peak of Covid cases. Well, here we are into September of 2021, and we're not taking any sort of vacation for this year, either. In addition, we've now not eaten restaurant food, purchased movie or museum tickets, or bought stuff other than food and household necessities for this past year and a half. So, once again we have enough to restock our emergency/winter pantry. 

Whenever I have had a pity party moment, feeling sorry for myself for no vacations or eating out, I think about the satisfaction I have in knowing that we are putting together a full pantry and will have plenty to eat all winter long. 

Storing away food for winter was once a priority for families. I suppose this had a lot to do with farm life and growing the bulk of one's own food. But I also think there is wisdom in uncertain modern times to switch spending away from more frivolous spending and into pre-paying for basic needs, such as by paying off a mortgage early or stocking a winter pantry. Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Two posts for your weekend reading, if you're so inclined.

My substitution for brown sugar. I haven't bought brown sugar in about 20 years. I never had enough when I needed it or it was hard as a rock. So, I stopped buying it. Here's how I substitute.

I made the second batch of salsa this week. I don't use garden tomatoes for salsa but instead, I use canned tomatoes. I broke down the cost benefit for using canned tomatoes to make a fairly easy and quick salsa to can in place of buying commercial salsa. Read about it here.

Have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe, especially if you'll be traveling over the holiday. Once again, we'll be having a cook-out. Either hot dogs or burgers, some oven-roasted veggies, a fruit jello salad, a garden vegetable salad, and some blackberry cheesecake ice cream.


  1. You are an excellent researcher, so you're probably familiar with the classic book," Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre." The internet is full of people telling their experiences trying to do just that. Might make for some interesting reading this winter.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      No, I really haven't explored content on this subject. So, thank you for the title recommendation. I'll look it up. Maybe it is possible to grow a lot more on my property.
      Have a great weekend. I hope you and family and friends can celebrate Labor Day together.

  2. Have you ever read The Prudent Homemakers blog? She lives in Nevada on a regular city lot and she grows enormous amounts of their food. You should give it a look!

    1. It is amazing what the Prudent Homemaker is able to grow in arid and hot Las Vegas.

    2. Hi Holley,
      Yes, I do follow Brandy's blog (Prudent Homemaker). And I absolutely agree at how amazing it is she can get so much out of her suburban garden. Thank you for mentioning her site. I think what she does and blogs about could be very useful for others to read about.

  3. I have thought about growing a "Victory Garden" if we needed to supply more of our own food. We live in a suburban area but our lot is good sized and we could expand our garden or even turn the front yard into garden space. Deciding what to grow could be the tricky part. I have a long-held interest in how, historically, people have managed during difficult times (such as wartime).

    Sounds like you have some fun weekend activities planned. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Edible dooryard gardens (front yard) are an early American idea. Modern America has this idea that front yards are only for ornament and need to have large lawns. Colonial dooryard gardens incorporated herbs, flowers, vegetables, and sometimes small fruits. They can be quite pretty. In the part of the city (Seattle) where my daughters went to university, the homes in the immediate area had very small yards and many residents planted the front yards with vegetables.

      Me too, on the interest in how people have managed in difficult times. In addition to watching Wartime Farm this past year, I also re-watched 1940s House. Wartime Farm gave us a look at what it was like to live in the countryside of England during WW2, 1940s House is what it was like to live in London during WW2 and a large part of that was about how they managed with food. The narrow backyard was converted to food-production in the city.

      Thank you! Enjoy your weekend, too, Kris!

  4. You asked me to let you know how my potatoes I grew in tubs did. It’s getting so dang cold at nite here now so I dug them up. My harvest wasn’t what I’d call a bumper crop, but I recouped the cost of the seed potatoes and that was my goal. One of my tubs did better than the other two. I got a lot of very nice sized potatoes. Mostly though I got small ones. I think they just needed more time, so I will start them earlier next year. Dh weighed them and it was 8 lbs, so certainly not enough to put a dent in my potato buying. I might get another container or two for next year. It was a fun experiment though, and since it was super easy, it was worth the 75 cents worth of seed potatoes I probably planted. One container got just saturated with water and I emptied it half way through the summer. They need better drainage than I provided obviously lol.

    1. Hi Diane,
      Thank you for this update. I'm glad that you recouped the cost of the seed potatoes. Will you save some of your harvest for seed potatoes for next year? It's still too early for me to dig our potatoes. I'm hoping for a good harvest, but I never know.
      Thanks again, Diane.


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