Sometimes Simpler is Better

This has been a complicated last few days, but it seems to be heading to a close. I don’t like complicated. I like life to be simple. I like my food to be simple. Simple like baked salmon, boiled broccoli, garlic toast, and a bowl of strawberries. Or foil packets of codfish and asparagus roasted in the oven. Or a beef or rabbit stew made from home-canned meat and veggies and a little flour. Or a pan-fried steak seasoned with just salt and pepper, 3 minutes per side in a hot cast iron pan set to medium with cucumber slices on the side. I think simple is underrated. I can make food that tastes like it comes out of a gourmet kitchen, but with no frou frou ingredients list. Not that frou frou doesn’t have it’s place, but that place is really not in my kitchen.

I am hoping that simple will be back now. The house officially sold on Friday and the money was deposited that same day. I have since cancelled the phone, the security system, the propane, the home owner’s insurance, and the water/sewer. The new home owner’s turned in our old phone modem to Comcast so we won’t be charged the $80 for that. I still have to make sure the power is no longer in our name, but I’ve spent enough time on hold with them yesterday and today, so I will try again tomorrow. Yesterday I paid off our van so that will no longer be a monthly expense. It feels good to not have that in the budget anymore.

Once we get the title for it I can change our insurance on it, too, since we won’t need full coverage anymore, just liability, medical, and uninsured motorists, so it should drop quite a bit. We have enough money in savings that if we needed to buy an inexpensive used vehicle outright we could or that if we had to do repairs we could. But I very much doubt we will be in any accidents where we are at fault. We are both very careful drivers. I haven’t had an accident since 1988 and the husband hasn’t had one since 1995. So while it could happen where we are at fault, it’s unlikely. We’ll have to revisit once the kids start driving.

We did our seed orders last week. The first of our seeds arrived in the mail yesterday. From Victory Seeds we bought two types of organic corn, Yukon Chief (55 days) and Sunshine (75 days). We also bought hulless Japanese popcorn (95 days). We are hoping with the staggered days until ready we won’t have cross pollination. There aren’t any vegetable gardens near us that grow corn, so I think we will be okay doing this. If not, we will find out. I also received two types of tomatoes, Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom tomatoes and Abraham Lincoln Heirloom tomatoes (really red).

I’ve got more things coming from 3 different companies. I will have 50 strawberry plants coming from an organic company. I settled on half everbearing (Eversweet since they were out of Ozark Beauty) and half Junebearing (Sequoia). They are both supposed to do very well in this area. I figured this way I could have enough to cut up and freeze and make a batch of jam when the Junebearing ones come on and then we’d have the everbearing ones to eat through the summer and into the early fall.

Once the husband returns home he is going to build me a light stand out of PVC pipe to put over the seedlings I’m going to start. It should be easy enough to make with the pipe, a couple chains and hooks, and two sets of four foot long grow lights. We have the pipe on hand so will only need to purchase the lights and the chain. We may have to purchase elbows or t’s as well, but I think we have some of those on hand as well. I am going to use plastic cups for starting the seedlings and then a larger size of plastic cups to pot them up when they get big enough. They are see-through so I can see how much water I am putting in. Then when I am done with them I can wash them and put them away for next year.

This is my first year for starting my own seeds. I have done just a couple things before in the past, like herbs or green onions, but nothing like what I am attempting this year. We will still buy starts of some things though, like the first batch of brassicas and some herbs. But in order to get the varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, peas, and kale I wanted I need to plant from seed. Plus I have a ton of chard seeds so no sense in buying those. Obviously some things will have to be direct seeded like the corn and carrots, since they don’t transplant well (well, sometimes corn does). We’ll direct seed the beans, too, since that is easy as well.

I am excited as we are going to have a lot more room to grow than I’d been originally led to believe. The first section will be the same area I had my hay bale garden on last year, only the pad has been completely cleared off, so I’ll have a lot more room there. We are going to build raised beds on it that are two feet high. Last year with the hay bales and straw bales we found that while one foot high was helpful to my knees and back, two feet high would have been better. The full area available there is 16′ x 20′.

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The second area is currently part of the duck and chicken yard. We got it roto-tilled today and the ducks and chickens have been having a field day eating all the things the upturned earth has revealed. It is a 20′ x 20′ area.

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The birds will probably be quite unhappy to be fenced out of it, but since there is still plenty of space for them to roam and since we will be growing some vegetables for them, they’ll get over it.

We’ve got quite a lot of compost and bedding and manure that can go into building the bottom layers of the raised beds. I will mix in some fresh straw, too as we build it up, lasagna gardening style, so the bottom layers will continue to compost. We will bring in good soil for the top foot or so of each bed. We can get it by the pickup load from a place that composts organically.

The long strip on the far side of the house will be planted, too. Mostly in corn and potatoes. I think this is going to be a very good gardening year now that I will have far less constraints on what I can do.

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