Thursday, March 25, 2010

Treasure Hunts!

I'm still not done with the garden. We ran out of money until the first of April. There are some things we have to buy. We are doing square foot gardening so we have to buy our soil. It's composed of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite. For our garden it is going to cost us about $100 to buy the additives. The good news is, we only have to buy this stuff once. Here after, we only add compost to the mix and that is free! In the mean time I've been going on treasure hunts. Different parts of the city have "big trash day" on different weeks. When it's in a close neighborhood I've been going in search of scrap lumber to finish off my last box. I also had to hunt for vermiculite. It is a very important part of square foot gardening and is very hard to find. It's also the most expensive part! I've also been looking for a reputable source for free range, organic chicken. I found the most amazing deal from a friend. is the place she recommended. I can't wait to try their product. Their prices are superb and the chickens are free ranged, slaughtered and processed (with only vinegar as a disinfectant), at the same location. If you are in Oklahoma check them out. Other jewels we found on our hunts were that my parents wanted to get rid of their deep freezer. Score! We traded our 3 cubic foot one for their monster. Now we can go in search of beef and pork to fill it. Plus we will have plenty of room to freeze produce. My mother in law also decided she was done with gardening so she gave us all of her big tools and lawn equipment. Of course, doing square foot gardening, we won't need most of them. But their good to have for other projects. She also had some scrap wood that might help as well as she had a baby fence of ours that was enough to finish (for now) the fence around the garden to keep out the dogs. I don't feel behind yet. It snowed last week so I'm glad I didn't get to plant. Hopefully next weekend we get to plant something!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Work Day in the Garden

Finally! I feel like I'm getting somewhere on the garden! Over the winter I did a lot of research. I came to the conclusion that what I needed to do was use the Square Foot Garden method. I love this method. It is basically raised beds and intensive planting. There is so much more to it though. Not that it's hard to understand, just more to fall in love with. I used to help my dad garden when I was little and I hated all the weeding and tilling and pulling and heat and watering. This method eliminates 80% of that with the same or more yield. I highly recommend you check out the book, The Square Food Garden, from the library or the video if you are thinking of gardening. Today we used all the scrap wood lying around from the previous owners and made two 4X4 boxes. We did have to go to Lowe’s and pick up some more wood. So far I've spent $20 in lumber, $25 in seeds, and maybe another $10 in miscellaneous supplies for my garden. For free and little elbow grease I've got compost from the race track, pallets to make a compost bin out from the dumpster down the street, wood lying around the yard to make boxes, part of a wire fence to fence in the garden, news papers out of recycle bins around the neighborhood for weed block and screws left over from another project to make the boxes. We managed to finish the compost bin, make four boxes and partially fence in the garden with the wire fence we found. I'm so excited! I can't wait until March 28. That's when the Farmer's Almanac said the danger of frost is over. Of course I'll watch the news to be sure, but that's when I'm shooting for.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Staff of Life

I decided to start with bread. Good, wholesome, bread. Or at least that what bread is supposed to be. Look at the ingredients of most any bread off the shelf at the grocery store and it is far from wholesome. It is in fact completely lacking in nutrients and has a glut of preservatives and additives. We eat a lot of it. And if we're not eating bread, we're eating pasta which is the same mass produced story. But bread is the base of every civilizations diet. It was so important to some cultures that it was used in worship of gods. It is even used in the Bible to explain foundational things.

But who knows how to make bread unless they have a bread maker? I was sure it could be done. But what was bread supposed to be made of if not those little packets of ingredients in the bread making isle? How did our grandmothers and their grandmothers make bread? Where did they get yeast? How did they make the flour? So many questions. A little research and I found the answers. But making bread from scratch was going to have to wait. I had neither the skills, time, nor money to undertake that task.

I started with just plain old white flour and yeast. Eventually I want to mill my own flour. I made one loaf. I was hooked. Then I made another. Then we stopped buying store bread. I found this awesome website with the best bread recipe and instructions. . All your bread answers are there! Recently she even covered the topic of how to make yeast which I haven't tried yet but it's on my list.

Making bread is so rewarding. There is something primitive and fundamental about it. The physical act is a balm to the harried soul. My sister said it is therapeutic. She thinks if every mother made a loaf of bread everyday we would have less child abuse! I agree. The pounding and punching in making bread releases stress. And I can assure you, there is nothing quite like a warm slice of bread straight from the oven, that was made by your own hands.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010



I'm Emily. I'm a stay at home, home schooling mom of three and wife to an awesome hardworking husband. Last year was really rough for us. You can read about that crazy year at . In that year we lost everything but gained so much more. One thing we gained was a desire to be more self sufficient. We traveled to disaster zones and the experience of seeing others so helpless coupled with the fact that we ourselves had lost everything steered us in the direction of Urban Homesteading. This blog will chronicle our journey as we, city folk, try to live the farm life in urban sprawl!

The first thing we had to accomplish was a house! We found the perfect one. It is an old 1950's house in the middle of the city on a 1/4 acre corner lot. We are leasing the house with an option to buy, so until we get the house in our name there is only so much we can do to the land, and so many animals we can raise. We moved here in the fall, and though I know now there was much I could have done, I started with what I saw were the basics: being able to cook from scratch. The most logical point from there was the staff of life. I started baking bread and from there things only progressed. At this point I'm ready to plant my garden and my goal is to not have to buy any bread or vegetables from the grocery store by the fall. I also want to be stocked through the winter by canning and freezing our produce from the garden. This should prove to be interesting since I've never grown a garden.

I do, however, have experts at my beck and call. My dad has had a garden as long as I remember. Unfortunately, all I remember is pulling weeds and him making me eat my turnip greens....which I WILL not be planting. My Nana and Dadadee used to live off the land as children and I have been and intend to continue to glean from them information about gardening, preserving and being self sufficient that has been long forgotten by America.

So here we go!