Monthly Archives: May 2010

Community Supported Agriculture: CSA

We eat our share of vegetables.  I love to garden and the kids like their garden club, so we have more variety now than before all this gardening…but I’ve been intrigued by the idea of CSAs since I first read about them a few years ago.

I would read blog posts about the fabulous things people were eating.  And the value of eating locally grown food that was fresher and better tasting!  Oh how I read it all with envy…

I had never heard of one anywhere near where I live.  And MN has a not-so-long growing season so I wondered if that discouraged the formation of CSAs in my area.

So for the last 3 years I’ve tried to be content with picking buckets & buckets of strawberries at a local berry farm.  WOW! Those berries, fresh from the field are so good!

Then it happened!

I started to hear ads for a local CSA on the radio!  Could I be hearing this right?  It is actually about an hour away, but there will be a drop-off in SmallTown.  I was so happy.  Then I started having reservations about actually buying a share.

A full share (to feed 3-4 people) is $500.  I don’t typically lay that kind of cash out.  We’ve never been ones to buy 1/2 a hog or large quantities of beef…so this was a little outside my comfort zone.

The boxes would come weekly for 20 weeks.  So that broke down to $40 a week.  This is 40% of my consumables budget (food, household/personal products, pet food).  And in addition to the 20 weeks of boxes there are 7 farm pick events.  For instance you get 10 dozen ears of corn when its ready…enough to freeze for winter.  A bushel of cucumbers for pickling, extra tomatoes to pick (for canning) when September comes, and pumpkins in the fall…there are lots of good extras.

So now that $40/week average looks like less since there will certainly be plenty of food to preserve in one way or another for winter.  Two clover-fed chickens are included as well…yum!

Finally last week I signed up!  The boxes start coming next week & I am anxious to see how much food is there each week.  I am excited to eat locally-grown foods and discover new and interesting ways to prepare our old favorites as well as new-to-us veggies.  Each week we get recipes for the veggies that will be showing up that week and the next.

I’ve made a promise to myself that if we have an over-abundance I will find a way to preserve as much as possible by freezing, dehydrating or canning.  When I told my hubby (who supports this whole-heartedly) that I was concerned about waste, he said “how would that be different than the times you occasionally throw out produce now?”  He’s right…sometimes you just can’t get to it all.  So I’ll do my best to use it all in some way…and not sweat the rest.

I would love to know if you have any experience with CSAs.   What can you tell me???

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Filed under Gardening, In the Kitchen, Shopping

Textured Paint

I am quickly reminded why we haven’t tackled redecorating Grace’s room before now… and I’m wondering why we’re doing it now.

When we moved in her room had been a decorated years earlier as a baby girl room.  It has mauve carpet.  ick.  The walls were a light pink on top with a rag-type paint treatment in a darker pink/mauve color.  The bottom was some comb-type texture paint treatment.  Near as I can tell it was painted the darker color then the lighter color was thickened a LOT and applied, then combed to create a striped effect.  Our problem is that half way up the wall, where the previous owners placed a lovely border of pink cabbage roses, the texture stops.

When we moved in, we had a day to paint before the movers brought everything so I scrambled to find a border to match the paint we were using and went with it.  For almost 5 years the bottom half of her room has been purple with 2 green and 2 yellow walls on top.  A tie-dyed swirl border has camouflaged the transition from smooth wall to texture.

Now she is going to make a switch to a more streamlined black and white look.  Everything is bought and we’re even replacing flooring this weekend.  The thing is, we have a timeline!  I have to have it all put back by 6:30 Tuesday morning so I can work.

We have been told that we could just sand down the texture, so we were resigned to the fact that it would be a messy job, but do-able.  Not long into it, it is evident that this could rip up the drywall too.  The sander keeps grabbing more than it should.

My hubby is out getting a haircut and then he’s going to pick up some different sand paper to see if that helps.

I washed the top half of the walls and was researching other possible ways to smooth out these walls… it seems there are two choices if the sanding doesn’t work.

1.  use a gel-type paint stripper and strip most of the paint off that way, then sand and paint (this would seriously mess with our timeline)

2.  buy smooth wall board and cover this problem up (not a great option and definitely not good for the budget)

Stay tuned for updates!  I’m sure this could get interesting…

And if you have ANY experience with this stuff  SPEAK UP!!

**I’ll add photos later

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Filed under Adventure, Attitude, Home Projects, Kids, You Don't Have to Like It

Gardening

Here we are at the end of May and gardening season is off to a strong start.  I have most of my two raised beds planted and only need a couple more plants.  The best part so far is that I started a garden journal.  Every year I think I’ll remember, but then I don’t know what I planted the year before.  What tomato plants did best? Where was the spinach planted last?  It all becomes a mystery.

Not this year.  I have been writing in it each time I work something new into the garden.  I hope to track when things come up and when they are ready to harvest.  I am also adding expenses in…not because I care a lot (or spend a lot) but because it’s a curiosity.

So far there are salad crops planted: romaine (first attempt), leafy lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots.  And salsa fixings: jalapenos, tomatoes, green peppers, onions.   There are also green beans, sugar snap peas and cucumbers.  I’d like to add another variety of  hot pepper so I’m going to go look for a couple more plants this week.

In the remaining squares I will add some more green beans and some other things to stagger the harvest.

We decided to forgo the squash this year.  Last year we got powdery mildew on the squash and while our harvest wasn’t bad, we thought it best to rethink the squash.  They take up a lot of room & the mildew drove me crazy.  We also skipped the broccoli and cauliflower.  I like both but we’ve had poor luck with cauliflower & I don’t think I take care of broccoli properly.  I know there is a way/time to make the first cutting off of it so you continue to get growth but I haven’t gotten it figured out.  Any of these things could show up next year but this year I was looking to grow the staples that we like and are easy.  Call me the 2010 Lazy Gardener.

I would like to incorporate zucchini at some point but not this year.  And maybe some other new & different things…we’ll see.  So while I”m growing my easy staples I’ll be looking at the advanced/adventurous MN gardeners to see what their doing and how it is working.  Maybe I’ll actually do more pre-planning for the 2011 garden season.  Because some pre-planning is more.  Compared to the none I’ve done lately.

The raspberry bushes along one side of the house are doing ok.  I need to add a few more and maybe work in more compost.  We’ll enjoy a couple bowls of raspberries to put on cereal (or eat straight from the bushes) but I don’t see having enough to preserve.

I moved the rhubarb this year too.  It was small and in an awkward spot so I moved it along a fence.  It is growing, but ever so slowly.  I am losing hope of a large harvest of rhubarb.  Maybe next year.

And finally there are the apple trees.  We planted two more last year and one is doing well while the other seems to struggle.  We moved another that we got a couple years ago, in line with the other two so we have 3 in a row along the back part of the yard.  I’m hoping in a few years I’ll be making applesauce and pies again.

The apple harvest last year...one little apple.

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Filed under Gardening