A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not: Part 2

"Waste Not, Want Not," was the motto of a very smart and practical generation (not my generation, unfortunately, and certainly not today's kids).  I am doing my part to adhere to this way of life, in small steps.  As I am learning to preserve my harvest, I am also looking for ways to make it go further yet, as I did with the cherry stones I wrote about last time.  One of the other by products of my jam/jelly spree was vanilla bean pods.  When I made the Rhubarb Cherry Vanilla Jam (hands down, my best jam ever - a very special thank you to www.sbcanning.com for such a treasure trove of outstanding recipes!), I used an actual vanilla bean, split down the middle.  The recipe calls for half a bean, but since I doubled the batch, I had a whole bean, cut in half, then split lengthwise and scooped out (for its delicious vanilla insides).  I could not bear to throw away the pod, so I filled a pint jar with sugar and slid the pod halves into it.  The result, a fragrant and flavorful jar of sugar.  When I am satisfied with this jar's intensity, I will likely put the pods into another jar until there is no more use for the pod. I might then feel compelled to slip the sugar coated, spent vanilla pod directly into my steaming coffee some morning, just in case there is any flavor left to be had!

My resourcefulness is not restricted to the kitchen.  As I said, I can't bear to throw some things away; I might be able to use them! My outdoor plantings this year are evidence of this.  I found this wooden box in a ditch along side a dirt road early in Spring. I suspect it was someone's mailbox that a snowplow removed for them.  I searched the road in both directions without finding a missing mailbox.  It had likely been replaced when they were unable to find this one.  I also suspect it laid hidden in a snow bank until the Spring thaw that allowed me to find it. It was so charming looking, I stopped and threw it in the back of my mother's truck. What was unexpected: it weighs what seems like a TON! :)  I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but it had such character, I kept it.  When I was looking for clever containers to plant in, I decided it might be a worthy subject.  The petunias (much to my disappointment) got taller than I expected.  If I had used a wave or trailing variety, this would be a more stunning display.  Either way, lesson learned and I got a really cool FREE planter box.

As we cleaned out the back shed this year, we encountered all sorts of treasures.  Most of them were things that could be sold that were no longer useful to us, or just garbage items.  One piece that caught my attention was this chair frame.  It was hanging in the back of the shed on the wall.  It was missing pieces and would never be a "sit-able" chair again.  However, I saw it as a unique and handy trellis for the two thunbergia vines I had to pot up.  I took some twine and wrapped it between the back posts and across the seat to give the illusion of a chair.  Then I simply placed my pot of thunbergia beneath it and let it grow.  I am excited to see how it fills in as the summer progresses...

Here is Waste Not, Want Not: Part 1 in case you missed it....

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