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Squeezing in Some Garden Time

I’m afraid to read through my old posts and see how many times I’ve started an entry by talking about how busy I’ve been!  It just seems ludicrous how much I’ve had on my plate, and as I look forward, I feel like every minute of the next twelve months is already spoken for!  Because of this, I have decided that I must get a handle on things.  I need to set boundaries around my work and reign in the hours I spend, and also find ways to be more efficient in general.  For example, today I ran errands and ended up driving for half the afternoon.  What a waste of time and gas!  The problem was that I needed (wanted) to go to Home Depot to get some materials to make a compost sifter.  My composters desperately need to be emptied and turned, and also moved and the area underneath them re-seeded (unfortunately they are sitting in the dog yard which prevents me from planting veggies where they are… or does it?  Hmmm…).

I really should have integrated my stop at Home Depot with a required trip to London, rather than make it a trip unto itself.  It took me nearly an hour to get there (after getting lost – I don’t know South London very well), and then 45 minutes home.  A waste of 2 hours, and a trip to London on a day that I really didn’t need to go in.  I did also add a number of stops in St. Thomas, including getting milk to make yogurt as I’m out.  But still, I wasted at least an hour and a lot of gas.  But if I hadn’t gone today, I wouldn’t have picked up the material before Tuesday, and I only have until Friday to finish getting my yard in order before I leave for my 5 week jaunt around the country.

Yes, I’m traveling for nearly 5 weeks.  Yikes!  I hate the idea of being away from home for that long.  I’m missing all the good planting time, and also have not been able to start seedlings as a result, as they certainly wouldn’t survive me being gone that long.  My roommate is moving out in May so there will be no one around to tend fussy seedlings.  I’m hoping my neighbour will be willing to water my house plants once a week – I am hardening them off this week, and will set them up outside by the hose so it will be easy.  If it rains, she won’t have to do anything.  If it doesn’t rain, she can tend them in 10 minutes.  Seedlings need a lot more attention than that.

So no seedlings this year, and so far nothing else planted either.  I was going to plant lettuce and a few other things, but again they were going to mature while I was away.  I will get the beds all set this week, and will put some seeds in just before I leave and hope there will be enough rain to produce lettuce when I get back.  I’ll be back the first week of June and will just have to make do with whatever I can plant that late.  I’m sure there will still be plenty of options!

With my roommate moving out, I’ve also been looking through second hand stores (like I need an excuse!) to pick up items that will replace the things she will be taking with her.  I have a well-stocked kitchen that will be coming out of storage after my trip, but there are still some things missing.  This week I found a really nice cast iron frying pan for $10. It is old, heavy, made in Canada, and perfectly seasoned.  You can tell a well-used pan when the bottom is as smooth as glass.  I bought a new one just before moving last spring, but that one is very large.  This one is the perfect size for single portions, a nice little skillet.

I’ve also found several very pretty pyrex bowls.  I have stainless steel bowls, but there’s something about glass that I like better.  I like ceramic even more, but they are hard to find and I’ve only come across one so far, in over a year of searching.  I am constantly keeping my eyes peeled for old ceramic bowls of the right size to proof loaves of bread.  I’ve read on many occasions that you shouldn’t use stainless steel with bread, so I need eight glass bowls for my typical batch!

On the way home from Home Depot I popped into Value Village and checked their linens.  I don’t even bother looking at their clothes (they tend to be really low quality) but their household items and linens are great.  Today I found a very nice duvet cover for $15.  My youngest dog chewed a hole in the one I’ve been using for the last 10 years, and it has split and now totally fallen apart.  I’ve been looking to replace it for some time now, but have not found anything to my liking.  The cover I found today is not perfect, but it’s pretty nice and matches my room.  And it was only $15.  I also bought a crock with a lid which I plan to make fermented foods in.  It’s a bit smaller than I wanted, but I have yet to find a bigger one other than in antique stores for $50+.

The other thing I’ve been collecting at second hand stores is napkins and hankies.  I really want to move away from the amount of paper consumption that I use, specifically tissues and paper towels.  I have a boatload of kitchen towels, but had only paper towels to offer guests who wanted napkins (which a surprising number of guests seem to like to use!).  So now I have a small but pretty collection of cloth napkins.  I have also found about half a dozen handkerchiefs.  These are fun to find as they are so old-fashioned!  So far they have all looked brand new, and a couple even still had tags on them.  They are made from pure linen, and are very light and thin.  Lovely.  I’ve washed them all up, and now I have to start training myself to use them.  It seems so wrong to blow my nose onto cloth, almost like a taboo!  It’s amazing how we’ve programmed ourselves to think the way industry wants us to.

Well I must get down to a bit of work before calling it a day.  Tomorrow I’m going to assemble my compost sifter during a break, and try and get the rest of my fencing up around garden beds in danger from dog toes.  Perhaps I’ll fence off the area where the composters are and see what I can grow there.  It’s a pretty sunny spot and last year sprouted a large patch of mystery squash all on its own.  I suspect things intentionally planted will do very well.  That will unfortunately block the dogs from their only morning shade spot (in behind the composters), however, so I’ll have to build something to replace it.  That shouldn’t be hard!  After all, what’s one more garden project this time of year?!

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