September 2010

Slugs and rain included, this was by far the most productive gardening season at Maxwell House. Why? This success is by no fault of my own olive drab thumbs, I assure you. Two words: healthy soil. Additions to our lifeless dirt included fall leaf amendment (everyone thought I was crazy but it rawked the house garden come springtime), spring compost, and fish fertilizer (advice curtesy of Mr. JB who really DOES have a green thumb).

In a nutshell; I spent four years depleting soil that didn’t have much nutrients to begin with, and my garden was looking more terrible with each passing year. In one year, with a healthy dose of once-per-year amendments, I’ve seen crazy good results.

Though the pumpkins were itsy bitsy, and the green beans yielded an average of one lousy bean per plant, the carrots, lettuce (pre-slugs), squash, and kale did great. Kale was the real king of the garden this year. I enjoyed the spring spinach, but the season is so short for its cold-loving self. The kale (from seed) came on early, and is still now producing spectacularly. I was even more excited when google enlightened me on the storing options of kale: freezing, drying, and canning. This year I’ve been drying the plants, and I love that I only have to run the dehydrator a few hours to get the leaves perfectly crisp and storable. Now the challenge is to actually remember to use these sweet bits in soups this winter 🙂

Here is this year’s list of garden winners and losers (dontcha like how I make it sound as if this is a list I’ve been posting here every year, rather than this being its inaugural writing?)


  • Kale
  • Mixed lettuce (pre-slugs)
  • Crookneck squash
  • Carrots (scarlet nantes)
  • Broccoli (Green Goliath?)


  • Green Beans
  • Patty Pan squash (they seemed great in the beginning, but they just took up too much space)
  • Munchkin Broccoli (I know I loved you last year Munchkin, but this year you just annoyed me)

I’d like to start getting serious about planting species of veggies that are truly suited for this area. I’ve played around with tomatoes and some veggies that do OK here, but now I’m interested in understanding which veggies will provide the most food for the least amount of work. If I were a colonist, and my family were dependent on this garden, which varieties would I be choosing? Next year I want to try beets, turnips, onions, and garbage-can potatoes. We’ll likely put in more carrots and Kale. I’m really excited to see how beets fare in the garden.

What about you? What varieties worked well for you this year?

Here’s an interesting link for possible perennial veggie varieties (yay for perennials!):’s cold-hardy list

7 quick takes Friday – 7 blurbs about the week

  1. A four hour outtage last night had me thinking about how we could be better prepared for an emergency. Thankfully, it is Sept. and not the middle of freezing cold January. I am sooooo glad that we put in a woodstove. As I lay in bed last night thinking about our plans to have company over today, I was mentally figuring how to prepare the dinner I had planned on the wood stove. Chili on the stove is easy, and I think the corn bread could be done well enough in the dutch oven. But how to bake a pie crust? Could that somehow be done in the dutch oven too? I’m realizing how beneficial the dutch oven would be if I needed to do any baking on the stove.
  2. Last night the four year old woke up several times freaking out because his night light wasn’t on. He was quite convinced that he had been transported into a cave. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized “Hey, why didn’t I just open the curtains in his room to let the moonlight in?” Silly momma. I feel a little bit like I’ve failed him in that respect: being so used to having every convenience that modern life provides, and barely an ounce of thankfulness or ingenuity.
  3. I really want a milk goat. Technically, it’s frowned upon by the homeowners society. Even though I will comply, a piece of me is thinking “We have a fence, and it’s not like there aren’t umpteen annoying dogs already tromping around the subdivision.” Apparently in some states people get around their assoc. rules by claiming the goat as a pet. Lucky for me I have a smart husband who will put his foot down when need be 🙂
  4. Did you know that the Matanuska valley sportsman’s range offers NRA handgun classes for cheap ($30ish)? Coming up next month: First steps pistol, handgun skills enhancement, basic pistol, and refuse to be a victim classes. I’m not looking to become Annie Oakley or anything, but it’s about time I stepped up and got some proficiency training. Otherwise it’s a bit silly to have a firearm(s) around.
  5. I really want to go knit, so that’s it for this Friday. I doubt I’ll ever actually accomplish 7 quick takes. I think I’m ok with that.

Here I am, following a meme I have recently seen orbiting the blogosphere:

7 quick takes Friday – 7 blurbs about the week

  1. We’re in the throes of school decision time. Our four year old will be joining the ranks on school-aged children throughout the country in the fall of next year, and we’re kicking the education option research up a notch. Traditional public, charter, private, and homeschool choices abound, and we (I) have been researching them up the wazoo lately. I had no idea that the decision would be so difficult. I always assumed that my kiddos would go to a traditional public school, like I did. I think we’re really narrowing things down, but I’ll leave that post for another day.
  2. Can ya believe that Murkowski has announced her intentions to start a write-in campaign? That’s gutsy. Very, very gutsy.
  3. We had a fabulous day at the park today. I went friendless, and enjoyed meeting a mom of five boys. I’ve always sort of thought that I didn’t like people. Really. It’s only lately that I’ve been realizing that I DO like people, I just don’t like oodles of them all at once. But give me a shy mom at a park and I LOVE to gently engage her in small talk and meet her kiddos. I love the mental workings of engaging a person in conversation, judging their interest, and communicating at a comfortable level. This kind of communication leaves me feeling energetic and full. The only thing better? Engaging that mom in a conversation about Christ.
  4. The boys were playing with legos this week and Jimmy built a tower-ish structure that he claimed was a spray bottle of household cleaner. Later, Jacob used the same imaginary tool to shoot down an unnamed victim. One imaginary tool, two boys, two very different uses 🙂
  5. My first meme, and I’m already a failure. C’est la vie. Maybe next week I’ll complete all 7…

I would like to confess an addiction. I am addicted to wool socks. Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. If you noticed my gallivanting around in wool socks in July and thought I was crazy, now you know why. With umpteen months of winter and just a handful of months of un-winter, I’ve found the best way to ensure that I am as warm and toasty as possible is to keep my feet covered to the max. In addition to its warming abilities, wool has many uber cool properties, including its ability to maintain warmth even when wet. Now that the cat is out of the bag, on to my real dilemma: wool socks are expensive. Several pairs for each family member have been on my to-buy list for months now, with no action (I’m such a cheap-o!). Searching the ‘net high and low for a decently priced sock, along with the local box stores to no avail (“excuse me lady, you’re looking for wool socks in August? No, we don’t carry those this time of year, you crazy hillbilly”). Now I’ve moved on to plan B: knit up a few pairs. I have a few caveats to this process. The socks must 1) knit up fairly quickly, using perhaps a size 5ish needle, and 2) they need to be sturdy. I nearly purchased this pattern, but decided at the last minute that I would rather draft my own. I already have a good toe-up pattern knit using the magic loop method (love toe-up, and love ML). And finally, here’s where I need your help: how to change this pattern to add the reinforcements necessary to produce a sock that will truly last? I’d like to work it double-stranded perhaps, and reinforce the heel and toe. Do any knitters out there have any advice or resources on adjusting the pattern? TIA 😉