Simply Resourceful

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

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

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.

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!

Composting at Work

A gardener can never have too much compost.  It seems every gardening book proclaims that just about every plant needs compost.  This nutrient-dense stuff not only feeds the plants but is a mulch for water retention and weed control.  Jon and I throw every possible scrap into our compost but the pile never seems to get large enough for all of our needs.  One way to help bulk up the compost pile is to collect scraps from those who don't compost.  One area that is often overlooked is our workplace.  Jon collects coffee grounds at work and sprinkles the grounds around the blueberry bushes.  I would consider coffee grounds a pretty easy item to collect, unlike banana peels and fruit pits and cores because there isn't the issue of fruit flies.  The fruit flies wouldn't be a problem if the compost wasn't left for a few days but Jon isn't always there to collect it.   The coffee grounds have been collected for about 6 months now and perhaps in the future we could find a way around the fruit flies and collect the other items.  A perk to composting at work is that coworkers start asking questions about gardening, where their food comes from, and the importance of eating local.  You never know what changes you will make by starting a compost system at work!.

Our blueberry plants really like the coffee grounds!

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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