Whew, what a busy last couple of months.
I've still been cooking and living as local as I can, but I just haven't had time to blog about it. Around the time we had a death in the family (early March) I was also looking for full time work because my husband's job that's sustained us for the past four years and allowed me to very nearly complete my own degree, ended with little fanfare. Unfortunately, that's the way it goes with grant-funded research, and to be honest we were expecting that might happen with the economy and government expenditures being what they are at the moment. But finding out for sure kind of kicked everything into high gear over here for me.
So for several weeks I was working part time, going to school full time, and seriously looking for work, in addition to all the things I do here at home. Long story short, I finally found a great job! AND, it's close enough I can walk to work! AND I go in early - early enough that when I get home there is still plenty of time to garden and putter around the house if I want.
At any rate, I was all set to get back on here and update all my challenges and such, and then the computer I was using blew up. No warning whatsoever - just...dead. I had backups - I'm a career geek, you see - but I still had to move everything to a borrowed computer for a few weeks and then from there on to my new work computer, reinstall all my programs, reset all my passwords, import all my old bookmarks and also finish up some final work at my old job, and then take a bunch of final exams for school, and then get everything ready for going back to work full time...and then there was the garden.
The garden, I'm happy to say, is doing wonderfully. Despite all the challenges this spring brought (including freakishly long winter weather - you can see three inches of snow out in the yard behind this snapshot of one of our early tomato transplants - and this was during the first week of MAY) we managed to start, grow and transplant pretty much all of our own starts this year. We started about a dozen different kinds of tomatoes, including some heirlooms we want to trial this year, about 6 different kinds of peppers, two kinds of eggplant, red and gold coin onions, two kinds of broccoli, heirloom watermelons, and six kinds of basil! We already have tomatoes - yes, little green ones the size of the end of my pinkie finger - showing on the vines we planted out just last week. Those tomato transplants are some of the nicest ones I've ever grown and in spite of the really late start everything is getting and the over 90 degree weather we had the week we set them out (necessitating twice or three times daily watering until they "took") we should still have the earliest ripe tomatoes we've ever had here. If we're lucky, they'll be ripe by the end of June!
One of the funner parts of the whole garden thing this year has been trading extra transplants and starts with my friend AtomicWombat. I thought *I* was growing a lot of seedlings this spring - I swear she started enough this year to supply a small nursery! So she and I are trading a few tomatoes and some peppers that we have extras of, thereby increasing the variety in our plantings, and some of my wayward chives, raspberry canes, oregano, mints, and shallots starts found a good home in her new garden.
I bought a pressure canner this spring as well, so I can can local meats and homemade soups and stews and low-acid vegetables so I can have room in the freezer for all the stuff that'll be coming out of the garden soon. So far I have canned several jars of "pulled pork" (a southern delicacy my husband just loves) from some local pork roasts I got earlier this year, the rest of the elk stew meat we bought this winter, some red trout that I wanted to can and see how we liked it, and various other odds and ends. I'm planning to can some lamb stew meat that we bought locally just a couple of weeks ago from Lau Family Farm, plus some ready to eat sloppy joe mix from the local ground beef we have left - also from the Lau's. With my going back to work full time this summer, we'll need some convenience food - and making it ourselves from local foods is better for our health and better for our budget.
Right now I'm researching the sorts of herbal teas I can make here at home from things we are growing in the garden or in pots. This year my big thing will probably be raspberry and strawberry leaf tea. We have raspberry shoots shooting up all over the place, so if I have to cut them down I'd prefer to make something yummy out of them rather than just compost. Compost is good, but it doesn't warm your belly in the middle of winter like a nice pot of homemade herbal tea. :-)
I'm going to post this and see how many other pictures of the garden I have that I can put online tonight. So, brb with more pictures....