The Wild Side

Not everything around here grows in pots!

Osso, or “Indian,” plum.  Edible…but I really don’t recommend it.  A berry flavor, followed by a big astringent finish (kind of like bitter cucumber.)  These tiny plums are mostly pit- the seed is about the same size as a cherry’s.  Once the fruit turns dark and soft, it quickly falls off the branch, so it can be hard to make a harvest of these anyway.  These are the first things to bloom in our woods though, with little white flowers popping out in February, followed by leaves.  They look so pretty in the otherwise bare woods.  They grow, and spread, like mad though.

osso plum

Our backyard is almost ringed by wild, “Himalayan,” blackberries.  Non-native, these take over city lots, grow through sidewalks, and have spines that will tear through your jeans, they’ve generally entrenched themselves in the local ecosystem.  The berries sure are delicious, though.

wild blackberry

The “big mushrooms” are still going strong, even though I keep kicking them over.  This time, it’s just one, but what a monster!

large mushroom

large mushroom

Wild red huckleberries.  Generally these grow out of old stumps and fallen logs, from seeds deposited by birds.  The berry load is so skimpy, I don’t have the heart to pull off the few berries and deprive the birds.  When I was a kid we had a few really huge bushes around the yard, and we’d spend hours picking enough of the tiny berries to make a batch of Mom’s famous “huckleberry muffins.”  (Betty Crocker’s blueberry muffin recipe, with as many berries as the batter will hold, and all of the sugar it calls for.)

wild red huckleberry

Tree canopy over the back half of my yard.  This is why my garden has been in pots, set around the yard to catch the available sunlight!  It sure is nice and cool back there in the summer though.

tree canopy

Not technically “wild” but we have a few compost piles stashed around the property- this was squares of sod from the front yard, stacked upside down.  They’ve composted quickly.

sod compost pile

Garden Update

Things are starting to look promising!

Bush beans
bush beans

Potted basil (with bush peas, winding down, in the background)

Potted carrots, and swiss chard (the red in the understory) Bad Myrnie! Definitely time to thin these poor things.
carrots and chard

Tiny green italian prune. It blooms so early, I was afraid it wouldn’t be pollinated.
italian prune

Miraculously….a squash. A real, live squash. I could kiss it.
summer squash

Fading blooms on an (as of yet unidentified) squash/melon.
unidentified squash or melon

Green raspberry- yay! Our neighbor wants to plant a blueberry hedge between our lawns in the fall, and mentioned raspberries- next spring when the new canes come up, we’ll plant a new patch in the front yard. I’m excited- what a great neighbor we have!

Another unidentified squash
unidentified squash

Potatoes. Both cans are full. Now we wait.

Garden Update

Time for another garden update!  I packed a camera around the yard while I did a few chores during the kids naps the other day.  Let’s go!

Did I ever show you guys these bulbs?  Wonder Daddy helped dig up all the plants in our front yard to save them from the earth mover.  The summer bulbs were transplanted (temporarily) to the backyard, but the spring bulbs we set out to dry on an old window screen and some saw horses.  These daffodils were totally green when we pulled them out- just finished blooming.  When the tops are totally dry, I’ll pull them off and stick these all in a burlap sack to re-plant in the Fall.

drying daffodil bulbs

Both potato cans are still doing well.  The purple is full,  the yukon potatoes are about half full.


Wonders never cease.  It only took a month, but a squash seed has ACTUALLY sprouted in my yard.  This will be a sugar pumpkin.  If it ever gets any bigger.  I’m giving it another week, then giving the space to something that WANTS to grow.

pumpkin sprout

Unidentified squash blossom.  Or it used to be.  Seems I need a few slug deterrents around this pot.


Kale- slow and steady, it keeps growing.


Mustard greens

mustard greens

My little tomato bed is still alive.  Tomato on the front right is doing especially fine- must get the most sun!

back tomato bed

Where my ground cherry used to be.  It was covered with an upturned milk jug, and it’s GONE.  What could have done it?  Tiny slugs?  That creep under milk jugs?

ground cherry.  Used to be

These are new to you guys- I dug up a sack full of wild rose shoots- I plan to put them in them in the front yard when it’s ready for planting, but for now they’re in a bucket, hopefully getting roots.  Since they’ve been in there over a week now, and look marginally healthy…outlook is getting better on these!

swamp rose

Alaska Bush peas- the kids love these!  I didn’t plant enough to cook with, but it’s definitely enough for a little hunter-gatherer action from the kids.

alaska bush pea

Cute little carrot tops and swiss chard.  Carrots are probably big enough to thin now.  I’m hoping the chard will shade them- carrots aren’t supposed to grow well in pots.

carrots and chard

Time for squeeing- apparently baby cilantro is adorable!  Who knew?  (Got this idea from Better Homes and Gardens years ago- this is basically a “cut and come again” set up for cilantro.  Hopefully I’ll get 2 or 3 cuttings.


Ground cherries.  Maybe getting big enough to transplant…they just don’t like it here.  Can’t imagine why, all this nice wet, damp weather…

ground cherries

Bush beans and basil.  Basil is sadly munched on.  Luckily, it seems to be acting like a trap crop- the basil pot behind this has no slug damage at all- knock on wood.

bush beans and basil

Tom Thumb peas- adorable!

tom thumb peas

Mesclun lettuce mix

mesclun mix

Oh my gracious, these are marigolds.  I’m supposed to transplant these…but at this point, I’m thinking let them stay- they’re enormous!


Tomato starts

tomato starts

Curly-haired gardener, one moist morning.

gardener with curly hair

Gardening buddy- found him sleeping in my spare gallon pots, in a dry box outside.  Fairly certain he’s not poisonous, but still- these guys give me the willies.  They like dark, dry places, in moist environments.  Corners of basements.  Behind furniture.  Under the tools in your garage.  In your shed.  I’m always careful about where I stick my hands when I’m outside or in the basement.  Luckily, these fellows don’t climb walls.


Mindset Makeover


OK, I’m re-loading my outlook on life.  Yesterday’s post was just…umm…a little depressing, no?

SO.  For background, it’s turns out I’m human.  My parents just bought an adorable beach cottage, furnished it up nice with brand-new, matching furniture.  My sister just moved to town, and is getting ready to move into a gorgeous house, with pretty  much the kitchen of my dreams.  Soaring cherry cabinets.  Lots of them.  Gas stove.  Kitchen island.  I am SO happy for them!  But, I come home to my adorable and happy home…and sometimes all I notice are the library books piled up by the hearth, the baby socks under the coffee table, the dishes in the drainboard (and sink, and counter, and table, depending on what was happening when we left the house.)

This morning I woke up early with the toddler, we cuddled for a while, then I made french toast for breakfast with the rest of last week’s bread.  Because my husband is home most mornings, he gets to join us for the breakfast which I LOVE.  He said the prayer, I cut up Mimi’s toast, he helped Ernie…and it struck me that, even though my house is cluttered, even though there are normally dirty dishes somewhere (because I’m normally cooking SOMETHING)…I wouldn’t change a thing.

I love that our grocery list is down to vegetables, bulk items, milk, and fruit when it’s local and on sale.  I love that I don’t have weekly shopping errands to run at this store and that store.  I love that kids are happy and healthy with big imaginations.

Yeah, I’m nervous about what this year will hold, for a lot of different reasons.  I have to believe it will all work out great, but part of me really wants to know HOW it will work!  But my goal this year, and it was my goal months ago, is to enjoy today, prepare for what will come, and not worry about tomorrow.  If we’re prepared, really we’ve done all we can.  Worrying and fretting won’t change anything.  Well, that’s not true.  It will make us grumpy and haggard looking…and then our children will think they’re being raised by a demon-ogre-woman…but really, that’s not the kind of change you want, is it?  No.

So bring on the sun- I have a garden to grow.  And you can bring on the rain, too- I have a jacket.


Days of Thinking

I apologize for disappearing for a while- I might be scarce for a while, as the yard and home life take more and more.  Even with all of winter’s dreary rain and half-light, it IS a respite from certain household chores!

I’ve been thinking about this space, and what we talk about.  Ever since I’ve had a home to run, I’ve tried to be frugal, efficient, and accomplished.  I want it cheap, I want it easy, and I want it nice.  Don’t you?  We keep improving in little increments, and I’m sure we’ll get better as we add skills to our repertoire, and get better at what we already do.

BUT, when times are good and you’re giggling to yourself about how much money you can keep in your pocket by making yogurt, it seems a heck of a lot different when times are uncertain and you’re constantly running an adding machine in the background.  “Let’s see…if I DON’T buy that, then I’ll have more cash left over for later.”  Somehow the perceived inability to make purchases makes the frugality feel a little more restrictive,  when it’s not a rebellious choice.  Why is that?

I guess what I’m saying is that I hope I’m never glib in our quest to be self-sufficient, frugal, and accomplished.  There’s a real need to be prepared.  Sometimes it’s a game we play with ourselves, and sometimes it’s a coping mechanism for what life throws.  My hope for this space is to share what we’ve learned, maybe encourage someone to try something new they never thought they could.

Alright everyone- shine on!