Have just been reading about (and ordered some to try) “soap nuts”

Which lead me to wondering if anyone has tried using Yucca root for laundry/cleaning?  Basically the same thing, natural saponofins  (or how ever its spelled).  Or will I have to be the first to try it??


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more stuff

Doesn’t seem like 10 days since I updated . . but here we are.  Dipped below 40F one morning, but that didn’t stop me from harvesting a zucchini in the greenhouse.  Picked another one last night.  and the tomatoes are ripening nicely in there.

Saw a little bit of green coming up from the ginger, but it has disappeared again.  maybe the lizards got it.

The 650 gallon horizontal leg tank is buckling as the land it is sitting on is shifting, so we have to get that empty quickly.

Just ordered another (another?!?!?!) Goal zero power supply.  This is a 400W small unit as I want a portable unit.  Really wanted the lithium battery one, but they didn’t have that as an “open box” unit.  The 1000 and the 1250 units require carts and help due to their weight, but at some point, they will be taking over some of the house load.

And as I move towards more self-reliance, DH bought a Traeger pellet smoker!!!  Runs on electric of course, and special very expensive pellets.  Easier to use for making lunch during work hours than the charcoal smoker, but don’t think its really necessary.  and smoked meat every day loses its “specialness” quite quickly!

Onions are coming in nicely.  Chard is doing well.  Green beans in the greenhouse are putting out beans, but the plants don’t look healthy.  The Stevia, in the bag where the potatoes failed, seems to be doing fine.  The last planting of beans isn’t showing any signs of sprouting yet.  Could be they were too old.  Could be that the evenings are too cool.  We’re still dipping down into the 40’s at night, days are about 45 degrees warmer!  A testament to how dry it is.

The fellow down the road who had a Langstroth hive seems to have lost his bees too. the hive has been moved.  Do see bees around, no idea where they are coming from, although I know there is a very active and healthy top bar hive a little over a mile away.

See at least one tomato forming on the outdoor plants and some peppers that had started on the seedlings are progressing.  The squash seeds I planted directly in the garden after losing the seedlings are coming up nicely. Peas are doing great!

Pretty amazing at what and how much things grow in such a short time this time of year!

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harder than it seems

Like a lot of people, I’m dancing the compromise between working for a living and being more self-reliant in my daily life.  It goes in fits and starts and is hindered by many factors including the weather, my own age, and the up and down demands of our business.  Fortunately, we work from home, so at least the matter of commute time doesn’t come into the equation, as well as the ability to put in time when I MUST outside with extra time at the desk when I must – even if its 6am or a sunday afternoon. 

This morning needed to get the grape plants into the ground, move a couple of the pepper plants that went in over the weekend, get some potatoes in dirt, and water everything.

First the grape plants.  Bought a tall arched arbor that goes between two grow bags. Got it assembled over the weekend and Monday moved the pots with the grapes near them.  While in that area of the garden, pulled some of my onions (they were in one of the grow bags I wanted to use for a grape plant), shifted around some soil, dumped a grow bag that was doing nothing, clipped the flowers off the rhubarb, and snipped off the bulbules from some of the walking onions. 

For the latter, do not have enough room to let them walk around, so I snip of the bulbules and plant them in a little pot I keep for the purpose.  by the fall they are ready to be planted elsewhere for the winter, with a spring harvest.  This never gives me a lot, but does allow me to keep them alive and aclimatized should I ever want to expand them.

Today went round and found one of the grape plants had fallen over and leaves that had hit the ground had all turned brown and crispy.  Just a couple of days!  Anyway, got them planted and fertilized all the way around the blueberry, the grapes, the blackberry, the rhubarb, the nectarine and the fig.

Speaking of the nectarine, see ONE fruit trying to form.

Then into the main garden.  Seeds are coming up for the replacement zucchini and two of the spaghetti squash.  This would have encroached on two of the peppers I had planted over the weekend, so moved them.  had been keeping a section of the garden open for bush beans, but my instead plant them in the raised bed next to the kitchen.  That has not been much of a success yet as I keep forgetting to get out there and water it regularly!

Have not planted any basil this year

Did get some potatoes in a large grow bag outside.  Last year potatoes had done okay, but kept getting eaten, so immediately put up some protection for these seed starts.  The ones planted in the greenhouse succumbed to Verticillium fungus, I think.  Everything was growing well and suddenly they turned yellow, wilted and died.  Had added some manure/compost to the soil and hope that was not the issue!!  Have added the same to the pots that I replanted with existing turmeric plants and they are also doing poorly.  Right now, have a salvia in the pot that had the potatoes in it.  don’t know if that will be susceptible or not.  Of course, it could have come from the seed potatoes also.

After all that garden work, watered and then set up the solar oven for some chicken breasts for lunch.  The sun hadn’t reached around to the point where I set that up until then.

When all this was done I had spent about 2 hours working in the garden, maybe more.

and I thought about how hard this would all be if I had to do enough of it to completely satisfy our food needs for a year – every single day – and I admire our ancestors for their back breaking labor.  It also made me appreciate why they were so anxious to embrace the “time saving” appliances of vacuums, refrigerators, toasters, washing machines, etc.

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May 5, 2018 update


IMG_1096 Thornless boysenberry, Monrovia.  Will it stay here?  maybe no.  Seem to be doing fruits in the Eastern garden.  Will revisit this soon.

cutting back on my veggies, but also squeezing more in, almost square foot gardening.  first planting got caught in a cold snap and some have been completely lost, and some are maybes.  Bought some other seedlings, and a neighbor gave me some.

IMG_1097starting upper right, an armenian cucumber, two beefsteak tomatoes and in front of them are all romas.  you can tell which are stunted vs the just planted seedling.  the little things sticking out of the ground are Ollas and usually have caps on them.

IMG_1098 some overlap with the picture above un named beefsteak tomatoes in the back, plus a possible recovering beefsteak planted a month or so ago. Romas in the front.  There is also two better boy tomatoes from the neighbor, one upper left, one more center between the ollas.  There is also a recovering Brandywine tomato back there

Have an early girl in the greenhouse which has fruit on it that are starting to ripe.  they are small, but it will be the earliest we have ever had tomatoes.

IMG_1099moving past the tomatoes to eggplant and chards

IMG_1100at the end is this grow bag of snap peas, two small ollas in the bag to keep watering even

IMG_1101outside the fence is White sage, only one plant from last year is coming back and to the right is my comfrey which has been in the same spot, in the same bag for probably close to 10 years now.


IMG_1103eastern bed, you can barely see a little toilet paper roll with a couple of zuchhini seeds starting to bud.  Then some sweet peppers.  This had been about 5 zucchini plants that got nipped badly by the cold.  There are still two plants in the greenhouse and we’ve already harvested on zucchini off them.

IMG_1104middle, sweet peppers and some sort of melon from the neighbor.  that’s all she called it, a melon.  Melons haven’t done well for me in the past, we’ll see how it goes

IMG_1105sweet pepper, and again with the toilet paper roll and spaghetti squash seedlings

IMG_1106 more sweet pepper and one spaghetti squash that is showing maybe a couple of little leaves

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solar cooking

In addition to making jerky in the solar oven, did a piece of pork yesterday for making pulled pork.  Set it up early and let it sit in the sun at 200F from about 9am to about 4am.  Since I had a chiropractor appointment this AM, put it back out to warm up so it would be ready to eat when I got home – just had to do a quick veggie and a grain and we were eating.  Came out tender, and was just the right temperature!  Gotta remember this is a real option at this time of year for cooking meals.

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making jerky!

have been making jerky for the dog for years now, both chicken and beef.  The chicken from chicken breast, the beef from both ground beef and from sliced pieces; basically, what ever’s on sale.

This week, decided to try to make jerky for human consumption, and for ease, went with ground sirloin.

Seasoned the meat and using the jerky cannon, made my strips and put them in the dehydrator for 12 hours.  now I’m finishing them in the solar oven and cannot believe the fat that is coming off the strips!  The instruction said to oven dry them for 1.5 hours per side at 200F and that’s how hot the solar oven gets.

They’re pretty tasty.  Will dry them VERY crispy dry, not the chewy dry, as I want to also see how well they keep over the long run when sealed in a vacuum bag.

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weather update

So after the surprise 65F night time low, the next night was 31F!  and even with the covers, pretty much everything under there took a hit from the cold.  Don’t know if they’re dead dead, or just the top leaves and the plants will recover.  Since we’re still have COLD again, will just wait to replant

Even the best laid plans . . .

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