Saturday, December 08, 2012

Snowbird Christmas

My Aunt Pat contributed to a compilation of Christmas stories. Check it out. . . Kindle edition is on the right.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Desert Garden Carrot Harvest

A long time ago Ben found on old dresser dumped in the parking lot of his office. He hauled it home and we turned it into a raised bed for carrors and radishes. It is filled with a mixture of potting soil, compost and sand and we've been very happy with the results.

This month we are harvesting a mixture of baby carrots, including chantenays, oxhearts, Paris Market, and Dragons- the beautiful crimson colored carrot. Nothing goes to waste from this raised bed- the hens love eating the carrot tops.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Encyclopedia of Country Living - 40th Anniversary Edition

When I first started reading blogs about growing my own food, the book that was mentioned most frequently was The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.

As my interests expanded into raising chickens and sustainablity, people in the know were still pointing the Carla's book as a resource. Living in the 'burbs I thought that this book wasn't for me but boy was I wrong! Anyone from homesteader to apartment dweller can use the great tips and advice from Carla.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Leanna’s Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Leanna’s Refrigerator Dill Pickles


6 to 8 pounds cucumbers, scrubbed and sliced into ¼” thick rounds
10 fresh dill sprigs
2 tbsp dill seeds
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, sliced into thirds
1 quart water
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canning/pickling salt


In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil; cook and stir just until salt is dissolved. Place a sprig of dill in the bottom of each sterilized canning jar.

Pack layers of cucumber and onions tightly into the jars, leaving ½ head space. Place garlic pieces and dill sprigs into the jars and sprinkle with dill seed.

Pour liquid mixture into jars to cover the cucumbers. Move the cucumbers around with a knife to release any air bubbles. Make sure the liquid covers the cucumbers, onions and dill completely.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for 48 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Growing potatoes in the desert?

I accidentally pulled these up while weeding. It looks like the experimental potato bed is coming along nicely. Now if we can just get them thru the summer months. . . (fingers crossed)

Lucy and Piccata in the chicken tractor

Sunday, February 19, 2012

After 18 months of looking at the chicken tractor in our yard we finaly got around to putting the chicken wire on it. The tractor is fabulous and Picatta and Speckle love it. Lucy and Molly were not impressed. The next step is to put the tractor in our smaller raised bed garden so the hens can clear out the weeds and turn the soil.

One project completed, 23,674,992 to go!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Belated Christmas Present - An All American 921 Pressure Canner

After tons of research and opinions from message boards, I took the plunge and purchased a pressure canner with my Amazon gift cards and some cash I received for Christmas. This should give me lots of blogging topics in the future. The pressure canner I thought I'd get - the All American 915

The pressure canner I ended up buying- the All American 921 Not that much more money but it can hold more pint jars in one canning session.

I am so glad I went with this canner. You can double stack pint jars but it is still easy for me to lift on to the stove.

January 2012 Garden Update

Yes, I am a slacker blogger! Sorry!

The garden did fabulous this winter. We changed a few things that we have done in the past and learned some things about the new microclimate in our yard.

First off, we decided to keep the screen porch mostly free of plants this winter. It's usually cramped with salad greens, herbs, aloe vera and what ever else we are trying to save from the frost. This winter we only kept the parsley on the porch and that was mainly for easy access while cooking.

We knew we had to go bigger this year with our garden of salad greens so DH added a 2x8 bed that we made into a mini greenhouse. using tomato cages topped with chicken wire, we built what DH affectionately called his "ghetto greenhouse." It was covered with a large plastic paint tarp from Ace Hardware. During the bone chilling (for us desert dwellers anyway) and very wet 3 week winter (LOL!)- the garden stayed warm and the greens thrived. We had several varieties of lettuce, swiss chard and broccoli.

The Ghetto Green House

Inside the Ghetto Green House

We also used the paint tarps to keep out potted herbs out of the frost. We pushed out outdoor tables together and tented them with the plastic tarps. A few bricks held the plastic down in the wind. All the potted plants stayed under the tables during the cold snap.

Last year my neighbors on either side of me replaced the old wooden fencing with new brick walls. Since then the frost warnings have meant nothing to us. When the low temp is supposed to be in the mid 40's - I have a birdbath full of ice. We've had to be extra careful this winter to make sure everything was protected.

We try and reuse and repurpose what we can. I saved some plastic containters from the trash at work. They are fairly large clear containers that caterers use to bring ice to the office during parties/meetings. They are very durable and as soon as I saw them I thought they would make terrific hot caps. We tried them out on some containers I found on clearence at Kmart (Main and Lindsey in Mesa, I love that place!). We are growing brocolli raab and so far - so good. DH and I both see lots of recipes in cookbooks that use brocolli raab but we couldn't even find it in stores. I've since learned that Sprouts carries it ($2.99 per lb -not!).

Brocolli raab with our repurposed hot cap!

The front garden was awesome on it's trial run and we will certainly be keeping it up. I was running around like crazy picking peppers and tomatoes before the frost and all for no reason at all. Although the lantana was killed last year by the frost - it did not touch anything it the front garden this winter. In fact- I still have flowers on the tomatoes. I'm going to let the current plants stay, just to see how they produce for a second season. Trial and error!

Peppers and tomatoes picked before the first frost. We let them ripen indoors. We had a few problems with hungry little birds when we let the peppers ripen on the vine so either way they would have been harvested early. They tasted great!