Tennesseetransitions


Eating Humble Pie- June 27, 2014
June 27, 2014, 11:02 PM
Filed under: Frugality | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have simply been too busy during the day, and too tired at night, to post to my blog this week. That makes me kinda sad because I really enjoy the thinking, researching, picture-taking and writing that a decent post requires of me. Too bad THIS post isn’t one of those 😉 But in between the morning spent cutting grass and helping the ‘women in rehab’ in their community garden plot, and the preparing for friends-for-supper-and-drum-circle this evening, I’ll just write a quick, down-and-dirty Frugal Friday post. Regardless of how busy I get, how tired I am or what’s going on in my daily life, frugality isn’t one of those things that I need to research and think about. It’s simply something I do each day, like brushing my teeth. Because our garden is producing regularly now it’s requiring a fair amount of attention, but the pay-off of course is all the fresh organic food we’re harvesting every day. Of course THAT means cooking, preserving and eating it every day too. So, this week’s frugal focus was on food:

Monday: One of the community gardeners put up a unique plant support over the weekend and so I took a picture of his wire shelf turned on end. He is from Thailand. I have noticed over the years of communal gardening that those gardeners that hail from other countries like Russia, Africa, (and Thailand) are excellent scavengers, recyclers and repurposers (is that a word?). The lady from Russia brought her family’s heirloom Russian potato seeds with her when she came to this country and because her yard is too shady to grow there, she sought out a spot in the community garden to allow her to perpetuate her heritage and to grow things like fava beans and artichokes and other strange-to-me veggies. She uses styrofoam meat trays that she cuts into strips and writes on for plant markers, pallet wood for her paths between beds and fallen shrubby sticks for pea and bean supports. She grows bamboo in her shady yard and uses the as tomato stakes. The gardener from Africa several years ago had the prettiest garden you’ve ever laid eyes on, using similar ‘found’ props and techniques. The fellow that has propped up his squash with the wire shelf so it doesn’t get struck by the string trimmers, stops at Starbucks on his way home from work every night  to pick up a supply of spent coffee grounds that he adds to his beds and compost bins, and made unique flea beetle protectors for his eggplants out of plastic jugs that had the bottoms cut off and fine screening stapled to the top. Here’s his ‘trellis’:

plant support(1)

The point here is that those of us here in the United States use far more resources than any other country on Earth and whenever I’m feeling smug about being frugal all I have to do is look at the garden plots belonging to those ‘other countries’ to eat a slice of humble pie. I suspect I’ll be learning lots of lessons from these folks during their time in the community garden. Savings? PRICELESS!

Tuesday: Michael and I harvested our potatoes today, promptly adding home made compost and more of the free shredded leaves that our city delivers to us each fall back to the plot, before replanting it with more beans and squash. We grew 43 pounds of organic Yukon Golds in 40 square feet of soil. The moldy straw that was given to me free, and that we used to ‘hill’ around the ‘tater plants was then moved to the path to top off the cardboard we’d laid there for weed suppression. Using the straw for two purposes (actually three, since it will eventually end up as compost) makes me happy. 43 pounds of potatoes in my currently rat-free cellar make me even happier. I just called Earth Fare, my favorite, and closest, healthy food store to check on the price of their organic Yukons. 5 lb bags are selling for $6.99 and individual pounds are selling for $2.29 lb. I’ve done the math: With sales tax, my 43 lbs would’ve cost me $68.35 there. My seed potatoes cost me about $3, and a very pleasant hour planting them one spring morning back  in April. Savings: $65! 

 

taters,

 

Wednesday:  We went to a luncheon/meeting of our local Community Partnerships group this day. The catered meal was excellent and the plasticware we used to eat with was very high quality (ok, it was almost as nice as my everyday silverware!) so I wrapped up the six pieces that Michael and I had used, tucked them into my purse, and brought them home to wash. I added it to my ‘stash’ of used-just-once plastic ware that I keep with my emergency preps, along with a stack of paper plates and napkins. If the water is ever shut off because of overwhelmed city storm drains ( a real possibility in my town) I just use it and toss it rather than worrying about washing dishes in such a situation. We also take the stash camping and to potlucks too so even though it’s still wasteful to use a disposable ANYTHING, at least they get a second or third or tenth life. But, eating another slice of humble pie here, (I’m getting rather full of it actually) a young mother and daughter that sat at our table not only brought their own water filled bottles, passing up the ubiquitous red plastic cups and sweet tea and disposable bottles of water, they also shared one of the rather large paper plates AND PASSED UP THE DESSERT ENTIRELY! (Now that’s taking things a little too far 😉  ) Savings: No monetary savings since I wouldn’t buy the plasticware anyway. The humble pie was free too.

Thursday: I’m always learning from, and sharing with, the other community gardeners. This week alone we gardeners shared bamboo stakes, seeds, extra plants, tools, energy and friendship. We were also given free soil tests by the owner of Downtown Farming who taught us about our soil’s microbacterial action at our monthly gardener’s meeting. (Thanks again Yancy!)  Savings? Priceless! 

soil-test-kit-topsoil

 

Friday:  Today I harvested  enough zucchini to serve tonights’ dinner guests stuffed zucchini boats and we enjoyed them along with roasted rosemary/garlic potatoes and cabbage cooked with bacon drippings. I also harvested the first big red onion, the last of the spring planted kale, a huge bag of swiss chard, beets, carrots and enough collards to feed a horse! I also cooked a big pot of collards mixed with sautéed onions and garlic, diced potatoes, black-eyed peas, a jar of home-canned tomatoes and then splashed it all with hot sauce. It was so good that Michael even liked it-and he’s not a collards lover like I am! I didn’t take a picture but you don’t even need a recipe for this dish. I managed to use up a tiny part of what you see here on my kitchen counter:

produce on counter(1)

Tonight after supper we went to the drum circle in our town’s newest park. It was a lot of fun and it made me kinda misty-eyed being there with good friends, in a beautiful park within walking distance of my home, realizing how FULL my life (and my refrigerator!) are.  If we collectively plan and act early enough, we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. Now is the time to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being

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7 Comments so far
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Another great post, Sam. You might want to check your link to Downtown Farming. It doesn’t work. You may have omitted the : after https. ~rlm~

Comment by rlm98253

Thanks Dick for catching that for me- It seems to be working now. Have a good day on Whidbey Island.

Comment by simpleintn

You had another great week. I am so envious of your growing season and what you can grow in your climate. The potatoes look amazing, and what good production from a small space!

Comment by sarasinart

Well don’t be too envious Nancy, because it’s been a hot and humid week and since I’m such a fragile flower, I wilt easily 🙂

Comment by simpleintn

It has been here too, and stuff is growing good because of it, with a little help from the garden hose each evening. I had to take your heed about the black walnut tree……I had read articles after you told me about the stuff it sends out in the ground. I thought maybe it might not matter till the tree got bigger, not so! A few days ago I noted to myself that 2 tomatoes planted near to that little tree should be twice as tall as they are at this time. So, last night I made a decision and the little tree met an untimely demise…….I had also read that correcting the pH of the surrounding soil after one of those trees is gone should help, by using lime. So, this morning I put a little lime in the tomato area and some water to wash it down. I hope to still have a good tomato crop, and thanks to you teaching me something I never knew, I might get as good of a crop as I’ve had other years. Take care of your fragile flower self in all that heat!

Comment by sarasinart

I’m guessing you know already to not compost the leaves from the walnut tree and I Hope that you were able to get the whole root too. It’s cooler today, but Michael’s not feeling well so we’re simply enjoying it. I was excited to meet a new friend nearby that had some pineapple mint for me…but when I got there, I saw that it was apple mint instead 😦 Who knew the pineapple would be so hard to find??? I’ve started a little porch herb garden and need orange and pineapple to complete my ‘collection’ but no luck on either one-yet! Enjoy your day!

Comment by simpleintn

Yea, I read that it’s all parts of the tree so it’s gone. Thanks again for telling me about that! I’ve got plenty of chocolate mint and regular spearmint but I never had those others. I hope Michael feels better as the day goes on, and you both have a good weekend.

Comment by sarasinart




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