This change to start producing as much of our own food as we can, during the summer months, came with the birth of Ri. That is when we switched really to all organic 95% of the time. We eliminated fast food restaurants from our diet. And luckily my new hobbies as a homemaker were hobbies that happened to save us money and time in the end. It's nice not to have to sweat teacher's gifts when you have canned jam or tomato sauce on hand to give as gifts. Knit up a quick wash cloth or make a quick loaf of bread, and you've got a gift that will bless anyone--hostess, birthday boy/girl, teacher. Before i didn't think like that--gift giving always required running to the store for something bought. Now it can be a cute find from a thrift store, or an upcycling artist even.
And to make matters more precarious, our deck and most of our yard for playing in, running through sprinklers, and gardening in is in the front of our house. Imagine a 75 ft x ~100 ft. grass lot--that is our (front) yard. We feel like we are on display when we are mowing or bbqing or just kicking the ball around. But at least we have a yard, right? Most of our acquaintences have a McMansion with a 6,000 sq foot yard. I complain about mowing too much grass, i wonder what the incentive is for hauling out a big ol' stinky gas powered mower just to mow 400 sq feet of grass?
The top of the cross is my lavender and hydrangae plants, some alpine tulips and some hardier herbs like sages, savory, and thyme. The sides of the cross are ever changing--think kitchen garden with cauliflowers, broccoli, onions, garlic, leeks usually ending up in there with some sunflowers too for the birds; however i am slowly coming around to the idea of planting things that wouldn't require me to dig out the area every year due to weeds. At the bottom of the cross is my daughter's sandbox--a nice way to garden and keep her occupied while she was too young to help plant.
the top of the cross garden with french and Jean Davis lavender, white coneflowers, "Jupiter's Beard"
this year's artichoke (this past summer was so cold and snowy here, most gardeners lost their artichokes and rosemary)
The next project was to take out a 10 x 40 foot swath of grass for a veggie garden. We've had a lot more success with this than just trying to dig rows in the grass and plant seed like we were doing before. Here we are able to grow 8 rows of corn, 4-6 tomato plants, beans-pole and bush, peas, potatoes, and zucchinis and sugar pumpkins. This year we are adding a grapevine. My advice: don't try to do too much at once...pick 1-2 new items each year that you would like to try your hand at. You'll feel more successful that way.
Last year, we added a rhubarb plant. If we ever have a farm, Hubbie and i think that is what we'll grow. It does well here, along with hops. WA used to be the capital of rhubarb and hop production.
Also, last year, we moved the raspberries out from the semi-shady spot in the back. They have grown in size by gargantuan amounts!
It's been amazing the amount of food we can get out of this garden in a good summer. The first year we had 50+ ears of corn, green beans running out our ears, so many tomatoes we were able to can 15-20 jars of pizza sauce from the recipes in Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy. This inspired me to stop calling out for pizza and to learn to make our own dough. That saves us $20 each week right there. This year, i am really looking forward seeing how many raspberries we have this year--we never buy them anymore because nothing compares with the taste of off the vine--which saves us $5.00 a pint.
The front entry to our home is still a work in progress. It is the only place i will allow fussie plants (like roses). I have some lavender in there too, and a poppy here or there. We just replaced our windows this year (that were original 1 pane, aluminum framed from the late fifties) with aluminum clad wood windows (another thing we did outside of the normal vinyl windows.) One of the nice features of the entry is that brick planter near the front door.
It's as handy as the deck for keeping commonly used herbs like parsley, oregano, and thyme. We also plant sweet peas there to cascade down the wall: we use these for cutting flowers (double as an air freshener in the bathroom!) and their nice welcoming aroma.
This past year we also added chickens to our family in our quest for semi self sufficency. They have been a welcomed addition in our lives, not only because of their entertainment value, but because they are quite the rewarding pets. What do cats give you in return for the care we give them? Attitude and self-righteousness. What do fish give you? Nothin' but a guilty conscience at the first sign of algae in the tank. :o)
And, besides, the best gift chickens give you is if you are too tired for grocery shopping for dinner, there's always breakfast for dinner! :o) And in the late summer, combine that with a little basil, tomato, and zucchini from the garden and you've got an awesome strata!
Although there are still tons of things i'd like to do (beekeeping = candle making, making our own soap, bettering my sewing skills so we can give more handmade gifts), we are saving a bit in the summertime by gardening.