Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

2014 Preservation List

We have officially ran out of space on the canning shelves!  We still have a lot leftover from the previous two years so this year we selectively grew produce that had few jars on the shelves.  For instance, we still have about 45 quart jars of green beans from last year so we grew shell beans instead.  Here's the official preservation list followed by a few pictures.  Keep in mind that these totals are only the excess we grew.  There were plenty of berries and vegetables for fresh eating and pies!  And as you already know, we grow everything without using pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

5 quarts, 8 pints stewed tomatoes
15 pints tomato soup
10 half-pints BBQ sauce
18 quarts, 1 pint tomato juice
10 half-pints green tomato relish
13 pints tomatillo salsa
11 pints tomatillo enchilada sauce
5 quarts whole tomatilloes
13 pints peas
35 pints beets
22 pints pickled beets
8 pints dill pickles
17 pints picked okra
73 quarts carrots
21 quarts peaches (purchased)
2 quart bags full of dehydrated peaches
7 quarts applesauce (purchased)
1/2 gallon jar dehydrated apple slices
15 pints, 14 half-pints strawberry jam
10 pints strawberry lemon marmalade
3 pints, 3 half-pints strawberry-rhubarb jam
10 trays of strawberry fruit leather
2 gallon freezer bags whole strawberries
5 quart freezer bags raspberries
8 pints, 3 Weck jars blackberry jam
4.5 pints ground cherry preserves
5 pints sauerkraut
2 gallon bags frozen snap peas
3 quart bags frozen cabbage
2 quart bags edamame
3 Turks Turban squash
4 Golden Hubbard squash
3 Acorn squash
13 jack-o-lantern pumpkins
9 pie pumpkins
12 quarts potatoes and 5 gallons for fresh eating
70 garlic
18 lb, 4.1 oz dry beans

A nice variety of beets this year.  (Click to enlarge)

First year canning peas...not enough freezer space for everything!

First year canning Tomatillo Salsa.

Jon is really proud of the pepper plants this year. 

Just picked from the garden--a beautiful assortment of peppers. 

Our assortment of shelling beans.  These will be great in soup, chili, and casseroles!

Carrots and Beets.  Picture taken: 5-30-2014 

Carrots and Beets.  Picture taken: 6-26-2014

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

How to Make a Bag Drying Rack

We have been reusing our plastic Zip-loc bags for years.  We simply wash them and hang them to dry on our handmade log dryer. 

Making a bag drying rack is really easy.  A log is cut in half, sanded smooth, and coated with two applications of polyurethane.  We leave the knots and other features on the log because we like that unique look.  

Holes to fit the dowels are drilled randomly on the rounded side. 

We use a 3/8 inch oak dowels for our drying racks.  The dowels don't have to be symmetrical.  The longest dowel is 15 inches long and the shortest is 6 inches.  The racks in the picture above are being sold at the Wild Ramp, a local food and artisan store.  Reusing our Zip-loc bags is one simple thing we can do on a regular basis to conserve resources.   

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

How to Kill Yellow Jackets Without Chemicals

This month Jon came across a yellow jacket nest while mowing the lawn.  The nest is located about 3 feet from an apple tree so using chemicals or gasoline like many suggest, just wasn't an option.  Doing a quick Google search, we came across this idea: put a glass bowl over the hole so the yellow jackets can't escape.  The bowl lets light into the nest so they fight like mad to get out and tire themselves out without any access to food and water.  

We used two bowls to ensure that any yellow jackets that managed to sneak under the first bowl were caught in a second trap.  After four days we checked to see if there was activity and discovered the bowls off the hole and the nest dug out of the ground.  We're thinking a skunk found the nest and raided it since the yellow jackets were probably pretty weak at this point.  Problem is now solved! 

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

Growing Buckwheat for Honeybees

During a visit to Portland, Oregon early this summer, I stopped at Ruhl's Bee Supply. This was my beekeeping supply store when I lived in Portland and I couldn't resist stopping by to look around, taste some honey, and take deep breaths of the beeswax smell!  Before leaving, I purchased a Swienty Feeder for use inside my vivaldi board and one pound of buckwheat seeds.  The seeds were planted in mid-July and flowered in late August. Buckwheat was sown after the carrots were pulled.  Buckwheat is a great green manure/cover crop, weed suppressor, and an excellent nectar source for honeybees producing a very dark and rich honey.  This very low maintenance crop will be grown again!

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

Shelling Beans: Harvest and Storage

In August, I posted about our awesome bean trellis using the existing greenhouse frame for the beans to climb.  Well, the beans are finally harvested and put away for the winter.  The results: 18 lb 4.1 oz

All together we grew six different varieties of beans.  Three required a trellis and three didn't.

Once the bean pods are dry, the beans are removed.

The beans are then put on drying racks for about a week to remove any remaining moisture before permanent storage.  

The picture above was taken last year when I discovered mold on the beans because they weren't completely dry when stored in the jars.  I did manage to "save" them by washing them in warm water in a colander and then drying them in the oven on a low setting. 

Even with the wet weather rotting the beans touching the ground and the Mexican Bean Beetles, we still harvested more beans than we will need this winter.  For each type of bean that we grew, we planted an entire package (about 50 seeds per package) that we purchased from SSE with an exception of the Tiger's Eye.  We planted about 30 seeds of the Tiger's Eye that we saved from the previous year.  

Tiger's Eye (bush): 2 lb 5.4 oz
Lina Sisco's Bird Egg (bush): 3 lb 12.9 oz
Calypso (bush): 3 lb 3.4 oz
Cherokee Trail of Tears (pole): 3 lb 5.7 oz
Good Mother Stallard (pole): 3 lb 3.3 oz
Brockton Horticultural (pole): 2 lb 5.4 oz

We use a pressure cooker for cooking our beans.  Here are the cooking times for the varieties we grew. Cooking times (not soaked) vary depending on the size of the bean. 

Trail of Tears: 15 min
Good Mother Stallard: 30 min
Brockton Horticultural: 35 min
Tiger's Eye: 35 min
Lina Sisco's Bird Egg: 25 min
Calypso: 30 min

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

Teaching Others About Homemade Cleaning Products

This week I was invited to a local MOPS group to speak about homemade cleaning products.  I was surprised to find so many women eager to learn alternative ways to clean their homes.  We covered everything from floors, bathrooms, laundry to everything in between. 

 In the picture above I am holding a bottle of essential oils talking about the artificial perfumes that are put into products that make us think something is clean.  

The items I brought with me to the class include: vinegar, borax, super washing soda, baking soda, a spray bottle with a vinegar water mix, Fels-Naptha soap, a reusable mop pad, microfiber cloth, rags (instead of paper towels and disposable wipes), essential oils, and gloves.  Before the girls left, they filled their own spray bottle with a vinegar and water mixture (1/2 cup vinegar to 5 cups water) and took home a microfiber cloth.  This is the handout the girls received with recipes to make at home.

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

Hot Summer Days

There are only a few hot and humid days left this year.   I am enjoying the final ones reading a good book and drinking homemade ginger ale on the porch.  

During the really hot days, the chickens keep to the shade of the woods and only wander in the yard occasionally with their wings slightly flared to catch a breeze.  We think they look pretty funny with their wings out like this! 

The honeybees form beards outside their hives at night to bring in the cool air. 

And Jon and Paul make homemade ice cream.  Just when we are about to complain about the humidity, we remember the frigid January days when the pipes froze last year and we were huddled under blankets.  We are grateful for all of the time outside and soak up the heat when we have it!

* I look forward to your comments. If you have trouble commenting, please contact me using the form at the right. Thanks!

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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