By P.C. Zick – @PCZick
We spent Memorial Day weekend trying to get all the plants in the ground. My husband started all the plants from seeds beginning in February. Some of those original seedlings traveled from Key West all the way back to our home near Pittsburgh encased in wet paper towels and held in plastic containers in our luggage. All survived the journey.
Today, I put out all the plants we were unable to get into the ground, including tomatoes and zucchini ready to bust out of their pots. Our mail delivery woman decided she would take them all.
We froze another 16 bags of spinach on Saturday (bringing total to 28). You can read about my freezing process in my blog from last week. That’s probably about all I’ll freeze this year. Many of the plants have already gone to seed. But some of the older variety of flat-leafed spinach are resisting our heat and dryness and still putting food on the table. Last night we had a big pot of steamed spinach. We may have another couple of weeks to enjoy those fresh treats.
Robert created a 25′ x 4′ spot to plant 11 raspberry plants. We have several varieties and five of them may be providing fruit by June.
Four more tomato plants went in bringing total to 14. He saved back four more from the give away table, which he’ll plant this week.
It’s been back-breaking work in the heat, but we’re hoping it rains today. The thunder is rumbling outside as I write this blog.We’ve been recycling all our water to use on the plants, but we’re still having to water (sparingly, of course).
Joyce, our mail deliverer, offered to pay for the plants. I told her our payment was giving these plants to a good home. It’s good to eat local even if the seeds sprouted in the Florida Keys!
By P.C. Zick – @PCZick
I challenge you to take this eye-opening Ecological Footprint quiz to take that will tell you how many earth’s it would take to offset your carbon footprint. I’m at 3.3!
I could stop traveling. We probably need to install more water-saving devices in our home. We have an oil furnace but this past month we installed an energy efficient heat pump that will be our primary heat until it goes below 20 degrees. Then the oil furnace will kick on and do the rest.
We eat seafood, but we grow our own vegetables and preserve as much as possible. Our waste management provider does not offer recycling but we have a large basement so every six weeks or so I load up the truck and head to the recycling center with all our paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminum. I’m always heartened when I go because there’s usually a line of cars in the bin area unloading their bottles, cans and newspapers. Even if our waste managers aren’t being responsible, many individuals are.
Let me know your score or if you don’t want to share your score, tell me about ways you’ve cut down or plan to cut down on your carbon footprint.
By P.C. Zick – @PCZick
The Sierra Club offers five simple ways to make a difference in your lifestyle. I’m posting them along with a few of my own. It’s always good to be reminded that we can make easy changes in our ongoing efforts to live greener.
- Keep your vehicles tuned up – A well-tuned car burns less gasoline. Change your oil every 3,000 to 4,000 miles and when the air filter is dirty, spend the money to ,change it! It will make a difference. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can improve a car’s gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
- Keep the tires properly inflated – US DOE claims you can improve gas mileage by 3.3 percent with properly inflated tires (appropriate tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb). Besides, keeping those tires at the right level will make them last longer, which is good for the pocketbook and for the landfill.
- Use “air-dry” on your dishwasher – What a waste of energy to use the heat-dry option when you wash dishes. Depending on your dishwasher, you use 15 to 50 percent less energy by not using heat to dry dishes. Towels work just fine!
- Low flow faucets and aerators – This might be a difficult one for most of us accustomed to as much water pressure as we can stand. However, the Sierra Club says if every U.S. household installed just one, it would save more than 60 billion gallons of water annually. That’s a lot of water not going under the bridge.
- Lessen your driving time – Consider biking, walking, and carpooling whenever you can. If public transportation is available, use it. I live in a rural area, eight miles from the nearest store. I keep lists of what I need, so when I go out during the day, I’m going for more than one thing. If I discover I’m missing a crucial ingredient for a recipe, I change plans or I improvise. No impulse drives to the store for me!
- Use fewer paper products – I buy cheap dish towels and washcloths and reuse, reuse, reuse. They don’t take up much space in the washing machine when I’m doing towels. We also use cloth napkins at every meal, but we keep track of who uses what and reuse them for several meals before washing. Unless it’s a picnic away from the house, we don’t use paper plates or cups either. I buy very few paper products.
What things can you add to this list?
By P.C. Zick – @PCZick
We froze twelve bags of spinach this morning – each bag contains two servings. Before we started the process, I had to seek out several sources to be reminded of how to do this correctly so spinach tastes almost fresh when thawed.
Four days ago, my husband picked the spinach. He waited for a dry day and picked late afternoon. The spinach was very dry, and he packed it in a grocery bag. He removed all the air before tying the bag shut. Then we placed it in a second bag and put it in the refrigerator. He did three bags this way. We couldn’t get to the next step until this morning, but because the spinach had been put away dry and without air, it was as fresh as when he picked it. It’s preferable to freeze right after picking, but if that is impossible (as it was for us this week), this is a good alternative.
Here’s the steps to preserving as much of the vitamins and taste as possible. Last year our frozen spinach tasted “almost” like we’d just picked it.
- Wash the leaves – Put the leaves in a sink of cold water and carefully wash off all dirt and grass. Put in colander to drain.
- Chop the leaves – I didn’t do this last year, and I was sorry. While the spinach tasted great, it was a bit stringy. I chopped them into about 1-inch squares.
- Blanch – Bring a big pot of water to boil and place one colander full of leaves into the water for two minutes.
- Ice water bath – Submerge in ice water for another two minutes.
- Place in colander in a large bowl or pot and let drain for a few minutes.
- Put into freezer bag that is labeled and dated.
One colander full equals two servings and fits perfectly into the sandwich bag size freezer bag. It’s fine if some water is in the bag – it’s probably better for the spinach. Last year we ended up with nineteen bags which lasted us until March.
We’ll probably get another dozen bags before the spinach growing season ends in the next few weeks. However, my husband is concerned because our weather has been very hot here in western Pennsylvania the last few days, and he believes the spinach could bolt and go to seed.
Time will tell, but at least we have those twelve bags of spring goodness ready to devour on a winter’s cold night in January.