Plantain Seeds

I have Plantains all over the yard. I have been wanting to forage throughout the year so I was looking for a way to put these plants to use. I read in Healing Secrets of the Native Americans that Plantain seeds can be used in a tea for weight loss and lowering cholesterol. I was all over it and I went out and gathered seeds from the yard. The seeds are also high in fiber and a natural laxative.

It’s fun foraging for stuff. You need to have an eye for what you are looking for. The Plantain does not look the same now as it did in spring or summer. Today my yard was covered in leaves. I recognized the stem with the seeds standing up. I put my thumb and pointer finger at the base of the stem, pinched it lightly and pull my hand up gathering the seeds. I then put them in a bowl. After gathering the seeds I went through them to take out any unwanted debris.

The book says to put a teaspoon of the seeds with the husks in a cup, add a cup of boiling water and let cool. After it is cool drink the liquid with the seeds. Do this a half hour before you eat and it will help with caloric intake and high blood sugar levels. When you have to drink a teaspoon of seeds, it feels like a lot of seeds; I was able to get it down.

This is the first time I have had this type of tea and I don’t know what to expect. The plant is edible but does it help with weight loss? I need to be in touch with my body and how the plant effects me. I will need to use my whole half pint jar of seeds and go from there.

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Dandelion Root Beer

I just made some real, honest, non-alcoholic dandelion root beer! In the book Wild Fermentation  by: Sandor Ellix Kats, I rediscovered a recipe for ginger beer and I asked myself: How can I do this with what’s around me?

Last year I made Sandor’s ginger beer. It didn’t go as planned. Come to find out I let it ferment way too long, like weeks too long, and I had a one gallon glass bottle explode. I was hit with a piece of flying glass and I had one gallon of sweet ginger juice flood my entry way and go down into my heating vents.

This year I followed the same recipe, but with the ingredients that were around me. Instead of ginger root, I used dandelion root. And no, I didn’t buy the roots at some fancy store. I went out to the yard with a spoon and dug them out of my soil. The rosette of the dandelion plant is still in the grass, even if the stem and the flower are not, making them easy to spot.

The first step was to make a starter: 1 teaspoon of the diced dandelion root and one teaspoon of sugar. I want to be local, I want to do things myself, so for the sugar I used a mixture of local honey and local maple syrup. I mixed them because I didn’t have enough of one of them to make the brew. You put the root and sugar in a pint jar with one cup of water. Let that sit on the shelf with a paper towel over the top to gather wild yeast for a few days. The second day I added a teaspoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of dandelion root. By the third day it was bubbling and ready to go. Continue to add the sugar and roots everyday or two until it starts to bubble. This process collects wild yeast. Yes, there is a big debate on types of yeast to use…I’m doing this one, you could do another.

I had to then brew a tea. I didn’t have enough dandelion root, so I added some hollyhock root I got from the yard this past summer. I washed the roots and threw ten of them in a pot with some dried and cut up hollyhock roots and let them boil for a few hours. I turned the heat off and let it cool over night.

The next day I added 1 cup of maple syrup and 1 cup of honey to a one gallon glass bottle. I then added the tea and the starter that was bubbling. I added some water and mixed it all up real well. At this point Sandor says to add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the ginger brew. I can’t forage for lemons, so I needed to improvise.

Check this out! I went down to my favorite park in Saint Paul and foraged for some sumac. If you don’t know what sumac is; it makes a type of acidic drink often referred to as “sumac-aide.” The hairs on the red sumac fruit are acidic and it tastes similar to lemonade. To make some of this drink; Go forage for 7-10 sumac fruit clusters and put them in a pitcher. Pour some cold water over the top and let it sit for .5-12 hours. Strain out the fruit and you have a drink. I poured 2 quarts of that into the gallon glass jug to top off the dandelion brew. I put the jug on the “fermentation station” and let it sit for 24 hours.

I opened the stuff and poured it into a glass… It was lovely. It is similar to root beer. It is lighter than root beer, the honey and maple syrup add awesome flavors. It was well carbonated. It is honestly my favorite dandelion root beer I have ever had…and only. I drank two glasses of it, with intent to finish my gallon in the coming weeks. I gave some to Kristina and she wasn’t as impressed as I was. I’m not saying the stuff is perfect, but I am proud of it! I plan on drinking the whole gallon and foraging for materials to make more.

Dandelion Beer

Time expected to brew: 3 days- 1 week

Ingredients-for one gallon:
Water
7-10 heads of sumac
1 cup of honey
1.25 cups of maple syrup
1 cup of dandelion root- diced
1/2 cup of hollyhock root- diced

Process:

Starter:
Pour one cup of water into a glass pint jar
Add one teaspoon of maple syrup and one teaspoon of dandelion root
Put the glass on a shelf with paper towel covering the top
Check on it every day to see if it’s bubbling
If it’s not bubbling- add one teaspoon of maple syrup and one teaspoon of dandelion root

Sumac-Aide:
Fill a half gallon jar with the sumac
Pour cold water over the top until jar is full
Let sit in the fridge overnight
Strain out the sumac saving the water

Tea:
Take the hollyhock root and the rest of the dandelion roots and add them to a 4 quart pot with a lid
Add 3 quarts of water
Cover and boil for an hour
Let tea cool overnight
Strain out roots

Filling the jar:
Add the sumac-aide, the tea and the starter to the jar
Add the rest of the maple syrup and the honey to the jar
Mix real well
Top off to one gallon with water if necessary
Cap and set on the shelf for one day
Put in fridge to cool down and stop the fermentation
Once it is cool, open and pour it into a glass

Dandelion Root Beer on Punk Domestics

Lunch

Today I found a heirloom zucchini in the yard. Zucchini is one of my favorite things to eat from the garden. They taste good and we get them in abundance. I found a dozen dandelion flowers also, so I fried everything up for lunch. I fry the zucchini the same way as the dandelion:

2 eggs
1 cup flour
Small pan with 1/4″ oil at the bottom over medium heat
Cut zucchini in 1/4″ slices
Dip flowers and zucchini slices in egg
Then flour
Fry for a couple minutes per side
Set on plate with paper towel to cool
Salt

I got the zucchini seeds from EGG|PLANT Urban Farm Supply in Saint Paul. They are from Baker Creek Seeds: Squash Cocozella Di Napoli.

Zucchini grow a lot in a short amount of time. It is easy to not see one and come back the next day and it is double or triple the size you expected. I really want to save all the seeds I can this year. I will let a few of the zucchini get very large so I can harvest their seeds.

Foraging for Berries

My once a year trip into a Saint Paul park for raspberries was today. I grabbed two-one quart mason jars and Aurelia; and off we went. We hiked into the park late morning and found our first raspberry patch right away. This park we typically go to for family walks and always keep our eyes open for berry plants. We picked for about ten minutes when a Saint Paul Parks Security Officer stopped us. I am a novice forager and I was not sure what to expect. She was a very nice lady I talked to her for about five minutes. She told me a family was living in the park and ask if I saw anyone. We just got there and I said I did not. We ended up talking about jelly and she told me about a very ripe mulberry tree in Como Park.

Aurelia and I picked berries for two hours. We ended up filling the two quart jars. It was hard work. You are deep in a patch of raspberry plants with thorns, thistle, bugs and weeds. Sweat was dipping off my face, my hands were stained from the berry juice, my arms have several scratches, I became close with beetles, spiders and mosquitoes; and have the bites to prove it. What I find neat about foraging is the intimacy with nature you have. You become very focused on your job. There were several plants and several berries. I wanted only the ripe ones and you have to look hard not to miss them. At one point I looked around, I was up hill from a swap, the raspberry plants were over my head and I was not able to see the trail we were off. I got a bit anxious and thought I was going to be swallowed up and never seen again.  We were both glad to get into the air conditioned car to go home.

During the Raspberry picking

I was not able to resist the chance to get mulberries. I grab Annika for our first foraging adventure and we went up to Como Park. I found the tree right where the Officer told me it was.

This year was the first time I learned about a mulberry. I saw a mulberry tree in Platteville, WI on a family trip about a month ago and didn’t know what it was. Fruit is easy to forage for, so when a plant has fruit you try to find out if it’s edible or not. I found some more mulberry trees in Saint Paul and figured out the fruit is safe to eat. The ripe fruit looks and tastes a lot like a blackberry.

The problem I came across with the mulberry tree, is that it is a tree and the fruit is up high. I grabbed what I could off of the two trees I found, getting only about one pint. When I walked out of the patch of trees I was covered with sticky weeds and my hands were a lot more purple than they were with the raspberries. There were a few families with their kids around an attraction at the park; I felt a little self conscious.

When I got home I took all the berries and put them in the freezer until I get around to making jam with them. I need to harvest the raspberries from the yard. I am sure I have at least two quarts out there.

Aurelia with the Raspberries

Loca-WHAT?

Today I started to read The Locavore’s Handbook, by Leda Meredith. Great book! Leda has a lot of cool stuff in her book about eating local on a budget. Most of what’s in the book is right up my alley. I started to day dream about becoming a locavore.

When I was driving to work today I thought, ‘Is it worth it?’ This whole food thing. Is it worth the emotional price? Why can’t I just eat normal? I think about food SEVERAL times a day…as we all, but I give it a lot of thought. Basically I am trying to define my diet in my head. Get it set so it becomes second nature and I don’t have to worry about eating, too much, what I call “crap food.” You know: junk food, fast food, easy to make food… Wendy’s two times a day, four days a week, followed up by two quarts of ice cream and five pizzas per week. Crap food!

Maybe I am tired and need to be encouraged. Maybe I am getting too much information and I need more time to process everything. Maybe I need more time just eating well. Maybe I just need a couple days off.

Last night I was trying to find plants that I could forage for medicine. I want to find plants that would ease heartburn and take care of athletes foot. The basic thought of it is good: I want to find and use plants in my city to help my body’s needs and stop depending on the pharmacy down the street. Take a step or two back, and it’s like: WTF? Why would you go to a park instead of going to WALGREENS? DUMBASS!

Over the past two years I have been experimenting with the consequences of “eating normal.” Every time it’s the same stuff: heartburn, weight gain, fatigue, nausea, breakouts, shortness of breath… I can feel my body’s disapproval of my diet. At my lowest I was taking 30 ibuprofen A DAY, puking weekly from over eating, and eating a bottle of antacids a week. 

I know I am doing the right thing. The next couple of days I might need to take an emotional break…but eat O.K.

It would be cool to get connected with other people that have similar ideas to myself: plant too much food in their yard, desire to kill chickens, forage for food, want to give the middle finger to the USDA and Monsanto… I saw this really cool 29 minute documentary called Bryan’s Garden. It shows clips of Byran in his garden talking about his experiments with gardening and raising chickens. In a very intense scene homeboy kills a chicken. Straight chops its head off! He processed the chicken- wrong, (I am not being snotty) something I wouldn’t have caught before the Chicken Processing Class. Homeboy is the real deal; he lives in Minneapolis and he cooks!

I will go to bed tonight and for the next few days take it easy on food.

Romaine In Our Lawn

As a young homeowner I was excited about my land. I would take the girls out to the lawn in the evening, just to lie in OUR grass and talk. This is my spot in the world. The first year of owning our home I mowed the lawn twice a week. Since, I have mowed a lot less. Now I get upset when my neighbors mow every two weeks and I have not, it makes my lawn look worse. These past few weeks have been different though. I have not mowed because I don’t have the time or that I am lazy. I have not mowed because I have been eating plants from my yard; Dandelions and Greater Plantain.
My view on foraging has changed since we started our garden four years ago. Before that I never viewed plants as food. Even plants that are food I never viewed as plants. For example: corn on the cob, potatoes, sunflower seeds, apples and lettuce. I thought they were magically and safely made for human consumption. Plants that you eat seemed wild and risky. Not something you would do unless you had to.
When I started learning more about types of beneficial plants that we could grow from our land, I came across medicinal plants. Mainly herbs, very similar to cooking herbs, which you could use in teas. Things like mint, chamomile and echinacea. We have tried growing different herbs and using them in teas. This seemed safer than foraging for food in the wild. We always bought chamomile tea at the grocery store now we can grow it just like squash or tomatoes.
My gateway foraging plant was the raspberry plant. I have raspberry plants in my yard and there are wild raspberry plants that grow in Saint Paul. Picking berries out of plants in your yard is very similar to picking them in a park. Last year I took Aurelia to help me pick so we could get more berries. We had quart mason jars and filled them to the top. Our hands were stained with the color and smell of the berries. We were able to bring them home and cook them into a jam.
I bought foraging books and dreamed about going to foraging lectures. The more I learned about our food system and the more my views on how I eat changed; the more I became comfortable foraging for my dinner. Here are some of the main reasons I enjoy it: Self reliance, knowledge of your environment, sustainable, low cost, a connection to our ancestors and being disconnected from our industrial food system.
I have mowed my grass once this year. We went through and weeded the gardens, pulling up dandelion roots for roasting. Last week something clicked for me while I was looking at the dandelions in our front yard. My thought was, “We have hundreds of lettuce plants in our grass. We don’t have anything from our vegetable garden yet and I want to live off our land.” I went out and picked a salad bowl of dandelion leaves, cleaned them and tossed them in with our store bought lettuce.
Earlier this week I learned about broad leaf plantains. I had sandwiches on the menu for dinner and I wanted a vegetable besides salad so I went out and picked plantains. This weed is more common in my yard then dandelion and I never knew it was eatable or medicinal. I picked a bowl full that I cooked up and served with dinner along with a couple dozen fried dandelion blossoms. It made for a great meal.
I am a very novice forager. For some people this is crazy, to other people I am a complete poser. I am comfortable eating plants that I am very familiar with and if I have the foraging spirit. Plants are food. We should be appreciative of what we have and what is around us.
I want to give a couple easy recipes. Cooking is not always technical and you don’t always need instructions in front of you to do it. I wing a lot of stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the time it does. Both of these dishes are a good starter foraging dishes because they are cooked or fried with oil and topped with salt.

Broad Leaf Plantain Crisps:

Pick a bowl of young plantain leaves, maybe 4-6 cups. Your compost will be hungry for what you don’t cook.
Clean them real good. I use a salad spinner and rinse them three times.
Put them in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Drain them and let cool.
Spread them out on a cooking sheet and sprinkle with oil. I use coconut oil; you could also use olive oil.
Bake them at 350 until they are crisp. Do not overcook.
Salt and enjoy.

Plantain Crisps

Fried Dandelion Blossoms:

Pick at least 2 dozen good looking blossoms
Rinse well with water.
Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it.
Pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour into another bowl depending on how many blossoms you have.
Heat a small pan with oil to medium. I use my 8″ cast iron skillet with 1/4″ of coconut oi at the bottom.
Dip the blossoms into the egg than the flour.
Shake off any extra flour before frying.
Fry blossoms around 12 at a time.
Fry on one side till golden and flip. 2-3 minutes per side.
Take out when golden, put on plate with napkin to soak up extra oil.
Salt and enjoy.

Fried Dandelion Blossoms

The Y-IS-ARD!

The Yard

On a romantic May weekend in Rochester, Kristina and I found a dead grape plant that has changed our lives. Looking for something to do in Rochester we took a trip to the Home Depot so we could walk hand in hand down the aisles. It was to enjoy the freedom of not having the kids with us; it’s what we happily refer to as being “kid-less!” We came across a grape plant in the garden center. We were thrilled because we didn’t know you could grow grapes in Minnesota. We picked up two and went to ask a team member about buying them. She told us the two sticks poking out of the soil were dead and brought us to the live plants. We grabbed two beautiful plants that had two foot green vines and large leafs. By the time we came across a Honeycrisp apple tree there was no stopping us. We grabbed a tree and a dozen packets of seeds. We paid for our magical plants that grew fruit and took them out to the parking lot not knowing how we were going to get a tree back up to St. Paul. We were able to jam the tree in the van and take it home safely.
I will explain the 99’ Ford Windstar. We paid $2000 a few years ago to get it off a couple of good friend’s hands. We don’t have a truck so the van does all the hauling for us. We have taken that thing to the nursery and packed it with trees, plants and our kids. I took it to the country and found a REAL farmer and loaded it up with straw.
A few years ago we drove city kids to church events in the van. That’s the nice way of putting it. Everyone else that volunteered to drive kids to our church events were single, had cars and said they could take no more than one or two kids to the events every week. We were more easygoing and took all the kids that needed to go. So we would drive to the homeless shelter downtown Minneapolis, load up a dozen inner-city kids, have half of the kids had to sit on someone’s lap- including our kids. We would drive through North Minneapolis hoping we would not get pulled over.
The van got vandalized one night and got all the hub caps stolen, it was broke down in our back yard for six months, I rolled on a flat down Lake Street stuffing my face with Popeye’s chicken, it lost a wheel while I was driving down the road, it got stuck in our garden…We lovingly refer to it as: Ghetto. Ass. Piece of Shit, Van.
At the time we found the grape plant and Honeycrisp apple tree I was parking my work truck straight in our backyard, redneck style. I was planning on making it into an official parking spot, but it turned into a perfect garden space.
We knew very little about gardening. We tried to buy a dead grape plant! We bought a few books and decided to make a 12” deep vegetable bed. So I dug it out by hand, it took a few days. We planted corn, peas, pumpkins and lettuce; your typical Burpee vegetable seed mix. Our lives were consumed by gardening. Not no ornamental garden either. We were gonna we live off our land. If we could grow it in our zone, I wanted to buy it. We went to Home Depot every other day just to look at plants and buy whatever else we could pack into your yard.
Kristina had this crazy idea. She told me I couldn’t go “overboard.” She thinks when I get into something I’m 110%. She wanted the garden to save us money on our grocery bill. Yeah… that didn’t happen. I went to Wal-Mart and found a pear tree I couldn’t pass up for $18. We found out that you need to have a fruit tree to pollinate another fruit tree. So we had to go out and buy another apple tree and a pear tree. We went to the real nursery where they had older fruit trees for $60. By that time we had 5 grape plants, 4 fruit trees, dozens of strawberry plants, 6 raspberry plants, and 3 dozen packs of seeds… That first year we had 60 different types of edible plants growing in our yard. Overboard my ass!
In St. Paul we have a lot of Hmong immigrants. They are authentic. They know very little English, dress funny, walk around the neighborhood talking to themselves, pick weeds in other people’s yards, forage for dinner on the side of the road, squat in open lots to build community gardens, making real basic garden fences with dead sticks and snow barrier mesh; real, rural Asians.
We have several Hmong families on our block. One of these families has kids our kid’s age. The kid’s parents are my age and the kids grandparents live with the family too. We call the grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma is cool, her real name is June. She doesn’t know too much English and she used to farm for a living in Thailand. She has several well kept garden beds in her yard. She butchers whole pigs in her kitchen and makes a super good egg roll.
When we planted our garden we walked down and got Grandma to ask her for advice. She walked down to our yard not knowing what we were talking about; she saw our garden then understood us. I felt very American and white. I feel like I have two strikes against me being a white American. It may be because I grew up in a prejudice town or because people from two different cultures don’t always live well side by side.
Grandma looked at out under kept yard and told us to put a fence around the garden. Her beds are totally enclosed. At that time we just had tilled soil. I was sort-of let down. I was hoping for some good Asian gardening secrets and a fence is all she told us. Grandma walked back up the alley and I told Kristina I was gonna put up a Hmong fence. I went out and got mesh snow netting. I almost bought the neon orange one but decided it was best to get the green. I put up the fence. Made a gate for the fence and a grape arbor by hand. It was my way of showing respect and support to the Hmong community in St. Paul.
Our yard was changing. Just to the east of us we had a neighbor whose house was in the same family for decades. In the past the North End neighborhood of St. Paul was a European- American working class neighborhood. Our neighbors were good people but had a harder time dealing with the diversifying of their neighborhood. I flat out told them I support our diverse neighborhood and I was very accepting of our kids marring outside of our race. Her young daughter was expected to marry a white guy. That year we had a shooting on our property by our black neighbors on our west side. The white neighbors on our east side moved the next year.
By the end of that first growing season we had over twenty pumpkins! We got some corn and lettuce, zucchini. I packed some Asian vegetables in there too. But our enthusiasm about garden work slowly died. Our backyard looked like the Amazon. We had 14ft tall sunflowers, 20ft long pumpkin vines, several tomato plants, 3ft long Asian pea’s pods, zucchini plants… It was awesome! We got noticed by the neighbors. Most people said they liked it but I think they were being polite. Our garden took up most of our back yard open space. I made a large compost bin I threw all our yard crap in. We started to kitchen compost. I would have Kristina cut my hair in the backyard and throw the clippings in the compost; Asian immigrant style!
By the second year we started to understand what a perennial plant and an annual plant were. We have had chamomile growing in the same spot in our garden for the last four years. Perennials are easier. The raspberries, trees, strawberries, some herbs, and bushes- they are less work. We extended the main vegetable garden the second year and bought more plants to add to our collection. We have rhubarb, blueberries, black currants, more grapes and a family rosebush. We tried growing potatoes and onions. Again, whatever we could pack into the yard and was edible we would try to grow.
I started thinking more about medicinal plants: dandelion, types of mints, different herbs and traditional medicine. Then I began to get upset I couldn’t grow weed. Screw the government for telling me I can’t grow medicine in my yard and responsibly use it. I have only smoked maybe six times and not in twelve years. But I want my freedom to do it if I want. Obviously there is a huge gray area there and I haven’t ever needed to use weed but I support the use of traditional medicine.
The second year we wanted to grow watermelons but were running out of space for more plants. I read we could make “watermelon mounds” on our lawn and grow the seeds in there. So I made 4- 150 pound manure piles in our front yard and planted watermelon seeds. The watermelon plant vines along the grass and grows in the lawn. Our mounds have been growing the last three years, but I have only got one small watermelon from it. I just like telling people I am growing watermelon from four mounds of shit in my front yard.
At the beginning of our third year we had a bad incident with our Honeycrisp apple tree. Aurelia and I went on a walk and left Annika and the punk neighbor boy out in the yard playing. It was real early spring and the trees didn’t have their leaves yet. Annika and the boy were playing with sticks. We got back from our walk and I didn’t notice anything at first but then I saw the destruction that two- six year olds could do. They chopped down our Honeycrisp apple tree. Cut it in half! They were hitting other trees too, but the Honeycrisp took most of the beating. I almost threw up I was so sick. I knew it was the punk neighbor boy but Annika helped. For her punishment I told her she had to help me plant a new tree and she was not to play with sticks for a year. And I was STRICT with it. 11 ½ months later she looked at a stick and looked at me and I would shake my head no but then allow Aurelia to play with the stick. I laugh thinking about it. I love Annika, she’s a wonderful kid.
I ended up moving the Honeycrisp to the front of our yard near the side walk and transplanting two of our fruit trees to allow more garden space. Then I went out and got an heirloom apple tree and Annika and I planted it in the front yard. That leaves a total of 5 fruit trees: 3 apples and 2 pears. The Honeycrisp grew that year, but we still haven’t got any fruit from it. Hopefully this year we will.
We have wanted chickens and a couple of goats. We would get eggs and milk. I never had a farm fresh egg or had goat’s milk so it be a change for me. But I could make cheese, yogurt and ice cream. In order to do this we would need four things to happen.
First, we would need to get our trees trimmed. We have three mature trees in our yard. We have two in the back. The good tree in back we would trim the branches a good way to the top. The bad one is half dead and we would cut it down to the top of the trunk. In the front we have an overgrown Silver Maple, we just found out we can get syrup from. But it is clobbering the house and it needs a heavy prune. That would give us a lot more yard space to garden. Second, we would need a fence. Third, we would need a permit for the chickens and one for the goats. To get the permits we would need permission from our neighbors. Fourth, we would need more discipline.
Half way through our third year we let our garden go. There was a couple week period we didn’t weed because it was too hot and there was too many bugs. I didn’t want to weed by hand. I ended up going to Sears and spending $300 on credit and got some gas powered yard tools. I got a Mantis. It is a small tiller and cultivator. I love it. But by the time I took it to the garden it was too late. Our garden was the typical overgrown jungle our neighbors have come to expect and we just let everything grow to see what fruit we would get; Not much from the vegetable garden. We got a lot from the perennial plants. We made a lot of jam and got a good crop of heirloom tomatoes. I told myself in order to bring animals on our property we would have to keep the garden up for a year.
We have been learning how to use our crops too. We never had a zucchini before we planted the garden, now we love them. It‘s great to eat fresh salads from the garden. We have learned to can pickles and green tomatoes. We have come to a spot were the garden is not as much for show but to make a stand against our food system. We were a lot of talk and not a lot of walk. We are starting to come around. The first year we didn’t can anything. We planted all Burbee seeds and didn’t save seeds. We have started to use more of what we grow, plant heirloom vegetables and save seeds. This year we have put $110 into the yard, which is way down from previous years.
We have dreams for our house. We have a 1 1/2 story with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. We want to make it a two story, four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Replace the garage with a two story garage to have a greenhouse on top of the first floor. Turn it in to a true Urban Farm. Dreams! It will never happen.
This year has brought changes. We are in the middle of a short sale on our house. We bought in 2005 for 170, we now owe 160 and our house is worth around 55. We want to go back to school and can’t have our cake and eat it too. So we decided to give up the house. We are not sure when we will be moving. I was going to put down grass seed after taking out the Hmong fence but I decided to plant the garden. We used the whole garden. We have a total of 1,288 square feet of garden. Our lot is a total of 6,944 square feet. We didn’t pack plants in, giving everything its appropriate space. I planted a lot less veggies this year; pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, summer squash, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, dill, a lot of basil, cilantro and greens. The garden looks very nice. The perennials are doing great. I added to the manure mounds in the front and planted some watermelon seeds.
We threw around several ideas where to move; Oregon, California, to a farm in Wisconsin… We are planning on staying in the Twin Cities. Probably in the city and hopefully a house with a yard. We are tempted to take all our plants with us. We have dozens of raspberries and strawberries, 7 grape vines, 9 blueberry plants, 2 black currants, 5 fruit trees, perennial herbs and flowers, and a family rosebush. At the least, we will take the Honeycrisp tree which was cut in half; it’s about three feet tall, and the family rosebush. We have spent hundreds of dollars on the plants but we have had them 2-4 years and they have matured. To start over would be hard due to the amount of time the plants need to grow. But who digs up five trees and throws them in a G.A.P.O.S. van when they move? Tom Miller does, along with his super nice toilet! Overboard my ass!
I don’t know what this year will look like. I might have to trespass on lawn after we sell to harvest fruit and veggies. We are not sure the extent of gardening we will be doing next year in a rental house. I can say we have more experience, patience and discipline. I love to garden we hope have chickens and goats someday. Our view on self reliance and our culture has changed. It’s not about our half-assed effort with our yard. It’s about respect for culture and our community.