We are making big changes around here! Since I decided it was not quite the right time to buy a farm/homestead, I’m going to do everything I can to turn our house into a little urban homestead. I was very excited to get The Edible Front Yard. We were very inspired so mapped out some plans for next spring.
My only concern is that in Michigan our growing season is short. So, there will be a period of time at the beginning of Spring, and the end of fall when it is very brown in the yard. We are looking at somethings that will stay green or at east keep some structure and have come up with the following: hens and chicks, hostas, lavender, juniper, blueberries, etc. Any ideas? We will probably transplant a lot of other perennials from the backyard. The book advocates kind of an artistic over utilitarian scheme. I think the author lives in a warmer climate where she doesn’t have to start over new annuals every year. In that sort of zone I could see not having to worry about rows and structure. However, because of where we live if theres no orderly rows the weeds will get on top of us before we can figure out what is what. I think the solution is basically carpeting all the beds with greens and things like early beets from March 15 to May 15. Then on May 15 we can deal with structure more by putting in established started for the most part, and carpeting the rest with herbs. This will work well for things like tomatoes, but squash and others will require a little more thought. Oh well, its all an experiment. I just hope it isn’t an epic (and extremely visible) failure. But, John hates mowing and the monoculture of grass anyway so if it doesn’t work perhaps we can just put big fruit trees and bushes all around the front yard once the yard is gone. I also don’t know what to do with our very sad looking easements. I don’t want to put raised beds in them, and this past year we killed all the grass. We put in some hostas and ivy thinking we could split them and the ivy would take over. Instead, we have this weird creeping weed that has covered the whole base. It works for now, but it seems like such a waste of space. Since we have fruit trees in the easement (where we know we risk them, but space is limited), we don’t want to put anything in too much competition with them, but are toying with the idea of some blackberry bushes. Lots to think about and I am sure we will know a lot more next year.
Other things that happened this weekend include the Fiber Arts Festival at Wayne State! Since I didn’t register for any classes I was sort of annoyed at having to pay the entrance fee, but once I thought about it seems like great marketing. There is no way I would pay $5 to get in and then not buy something. I bought some roving from an alpaca named Fred:
Thats his natural color. I plan to spin it up and then ply it with some natural cream roving I already had. I also splurged on a Dragonfly colored braid of Wesleydale. No pictures on that but it certainly felt good to break out my spinning wheel again (although my muscles are out of practice!).
My friend Eva came to stay this weekend. She just lives in Ann Arbor, but often comes out around Detroit and when she does we love to have her come and stay with us. She was so patient with the agenda I had planned for us and even curled up with a book for about 3 hours on Sunday so I could get some work done. With her help we canned 42 cups of salsa.
After John and I made fools of ourselves at Eastern market we had a full bushel of tomatoes. Half became salsa and half became pasta sauce. We also bought 2 melons and juiced them for wine, but found that we had terribly overestimated the juice production of a watermelon and will need about 4 more. Also, apparently watermelon wine requires champagne yeast? Anyway, we froze the juice putting the new freezer to its first use and are very impressed with it. We’ll pick up the wine in a few weeks.
We also decided to test our new root cellar with a half bushel of apples and quite a bit of squash. I cut the sunflower heads finally to for fear the birds would be all over them soon. I’m worried it was a bit early so I’m going to hang them to dry out in the basement. Finally, we tried something new:
I had been intimidated by bagels before because so many recipes require very specific ingredients. We had everything on hand to make these and while not beautiful, they are delicious. I think in two weekends we will make a big batch to freeze.
We were very excited to get news today that the CSA we were hoping to join still has room for 2 members. Provided we can negotiate a good pick up and drop off we should be good to go. They (kindly) offer a payment plan. Despite having a total meltdown about the dairy thing, I never considered whether we could actually make the pickup times. Spoiler alert, we can’t. However, this way the cow lease will start just a few months before the CSA crops so I should be able to get ahead in putting up cheese so we can quit the grocery store mostly starting in the spring. We will still need to buy a few things, namely coffee, sugar, and flour. Oh, Michigan. I’ll leave you with an image of what this darling puppy got up to this weekend.
Yep, he’s eating a book about dogs. And yes, I stopped to take a picture before I took it away from him.