Smelling Supermarket Produce

Posted by Angela Diaz on March 30, 2014 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

     I thought I'd drop a quick post to relate my most recent experience at the supermarket.  I was looking for a few items in the produce department to add to my stir-fry.  Not sure what prompted me to do this, but I began smelling the produce.  I grabbed all kinds of things, spinach, radishes, carrots, broccoli, etc.and guess what? None of them smelled like anything. No distinct scent at all. I didn't have allergies or a cold that day. My sinuses were clear. Why didn't I smell anything at all in the whole produce department?

     When I was picking my half-share box of vegetables during my lunch break and bringing them to my office, my whole office smelled of fresh earth and...well freshness.The vegetables were so strong and wonderful smelling. If there were a scented candle with that scent, I would buy it. It smelled like I just came in from my own garden with mud on my boots and just pulled up and picked wonderful deliciousness from my garden.

     I challenge anyone to walk around their large grocery store and take the sniff test. Are you finding anything that smells nice? Even the herbs didn't smell strongly.  I rubbed some leaves between my fingers and had to sniff hard to get a faint whiff of the herb. I mean, WOW.  I can't even express how I felt when I walked out of there. That experience made me more determined to give my garden my 100% this year. 

     I was going to plant winter veggies, but I think I'll give my garden a break after the fall harvest. I'll find a local horse farm and collect up a load or two of free manure and give my garden a special rest and manure treatment while I continue to support my local CSAs winter share.  The supermarkets are selling garbage they call "produce". Well, my days of purchasing that cardboard stand-in for real food is nearing its end.

Started My Gardening Season

Posted by Angela Diaz on March 29, 2014 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

     Well, finally we had a little break in the cold weather last weekend and I jumped on the opportunity to run outside and get som gardening done.  My yard looked like a horrible wreck all winter long and I just ached for all the horrendous snow to melt so that I can get some things started. Here's what I got done:

1. Planted 3 raspberry and one blackberry cane

2. Planted 2 blueberry bushes

3. Planted my garlic cloves

4. Repaired three of my raised beds. One or two sides of three of my raised beds have fallen down. I made these about five years ago with non-treated wood planks. Should have used cedar. It's more expensive, but doesn't rot as quickly. Still, for the few bucks these cost, they lasted five years and will serve me well this season too.

5. Fluffed up the soil in my garden beds (tell you what...the soil is so soft, rich and dark!)

6. Cut the branches in pieces that were pruned off my apple tree in January.

7. Tilled up about 10 x 10 foot area of my yard and removed the weeds.

8. Repaired some of the nets on my trellises and set up two of them. The other two still need some parts of the net repaired and then they'll go up too.

     Overall, it was a very productive day and I felt very accomplished.  Here are more some things I would like to add to my garden this year:

1. Cherry tree

2. Peach tree

3. Jerusalem artichoke bed

4. Grape vine

     If all goes well, I will have apples, plums, peaches, cherries, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries fruiting every year on their own.  What an accomplishment that would be.  I've never grown blueberries, raspberries or blackberries before so I hope what I put in will do well.  I've also never grown grapes before. I'm starting off with a concord grape vine this year and if that goes well, I'd like to get two other grape varieties.  I will achieve ultimate stardom (in my own eyes) if I can build a hen house and have about three egg-laying hens. Technically, I'm not allowed to have hens in the city, but I'm going to see if I can get away with it.  The only way I'll get in trouble if one of my neighbors rats me out, but I don't see why they would if the hens don't cause a ruckus.  If they wanted to complain about something, they should have complained about my barking pit-bulls by now.

     I did all this last Saturday.  This weekend I was hoping to build my grape vine support (planning to use two split-board posts and two 11-foot long split board rails).  Unfortunately, it's raining all weekend, so I didn't get anything done. (sad face). 

     I have so many new projects and learning experiences planned this year.  I'm already trying to grow new things (I'll post the success or failure of my experiments).  I'd like to take food preservation to a whole new level.  I want to learn to make jams and jellies and can them, learn how to use a pressure canner to can green beans and corn and such, and learn to make new recipes with my bounty.  If I get blueberries, for example, I'd like to make a blueberry pie.  I don't eat pies, but maybe it'll taste better if I make it myself from what I grew in my yard.  Kind of like how I don't like apple sauce but when I made it, HOLY COW! It was delicious! Maybe I can even learn how to make raspberry tea from the leaves of the raspberry vines (if that's what you make raspberry tea with).  One thing about urban homesteading is that this never gets old or boring. There is absolutely always something new to try or learn to do.  Every single thing I learn to do on my own not only saves me money, but it's always healthier for my family and more sustainable for our environment. It's a win/win/win thing. I can feel 100% good about what I'm doing.

June Strawberries

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 1, 2013 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, today was a scorcher. It's Saturday, the first day of June and I wanted to get outside as early as possible to get some weeding done before it got too hot. I ended up outside at 9:30 in the morning and it was already 600 degrees out (at least that's what it felt like). I did some weeding and hoeing around my garden and then went to the strawberry bed to pick the strawberries. I've been picking at least a bowl full every day for the past week. I have my strawberries in a 4X4 raised bed and that provides enough of these fruits for my whole family. I only started out with about five strawberry plants, but then they shot out runners that created more plants and now you can hardly see any dirt under all that leafy foliage and I have no idea how many plants are in there now. Fifty? A hundred? No clue. Anyway, we get tired of eating strawberries every day (I know it sounds crazy, but we can't just keep eating bowls full of this every single day). I started to freeze strawberries to make smoothies. Last year I did this and we were enjoying smoothies well into the winter months. I'll share my recipe for this in a later post. So here's a picture of my 4X4 bed. If you look closely you can see I have a black bird net draped over the PVC piping to keep the birds and other critters from enjoying the fruits of my labor (literally,LOL).

Look at how beautiful they look just dangling all over the sides of the bed:

Here is the batch of strawberries I picked in the boiling heat today. I can't explain the joy of picking fresh food from your garden, but holy cow it was freaking hot! I was pouring sweat and somewhat miserable. I had so many strawberries all over the place that needed to be picked and I just couldn't take the heat anymore so I picked one bowl full and went out again later to pick the rest.

I place all the washed strawberries on a plate and put them in the freezer (okay, the ones that make it to the freezer. Hey, who can work with fresh-picked strawberries and not eat some?). Once they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag (not an actual "freezer bag", more on that later) and we use them to make smoothies (more on that later too). I freeze them on a plate first because if you just put them in a freezer bag they get stuck together. If you freeze them separately and then put them in a freezer bag, they stay separate and it's easier to get what you need rather than trying to smash apart a frozen block of strawberries (trust me, I know).

July Harvest 2012

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 1, 2013 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I was picking a full heavy basket full of vegetables daily. Each day I would harvest between 10 and 30 pounds of vegetables from my garden. I couldn't keep up with it all! I froze and preserved what I felt I would use during the winter months and the rest I gave to neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers. Here is a picture of one of my abundant pickings. I had eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and onions:


My Garden May and July 2012 Comparison

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 1, 2013 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)
  • Here is what my garden looked like in May:And here it is in July: