Our fertilizer grows on trees

The last few days we’ve been taking advantage of our unseasonable Indian Summer. Last year there was 8 inches of snow by this time, but none is on the ground now. We had some a few weeks ago that melted.

Our garden is low in organics which is part of the reason it didn’t do very well this summer. We added some peat to the far side that helped dilute the clay and silt but it needed organics to make into really good garden soil. A few years ago we added a couple loads of horse manure. However, that brought in a lot of weed seeds including some invasive plants we’d just as soon not have. So this year we got a box of fish bone meal but didn’t have enough to properly cover the entire garden.

This year we’re adding leaves. Everyone has been busy raking the leaves from our driveway into piles. We live in the woods so our driveway gets lots of leaves. Then they get shoveled onto a large tarp and dragged to the garden. So far we’ve covered a third of the garden in about 4 inches of leaves. We also left the plants after we harvested the vegetable parts. Today the kids helped rake, load, and haul 3 big loads of leaves. Plus there is a load on the tarp ready to haul.

The best thing about using leaves for fertilizer is that they are free. It’s good exercise too. You don’t need any expensive tools, just a tarp, flat shovel (we’re using a snow shovel) and leaf rake. They are a renewable, natural, and sustainable form of fertilizer for as long as we have trees on the property. It does take a fair amount of work to rake and haul them though.

So rather than bagging your leaves for the landfill, consider dumping them on your garden instead.


Really fresh fish

One of the men who works for us went fishing on his day off yesterday. He caught 2 salmon and brought one to us. It was extra bloody when my husband filed it for some reason. I put one of the filets in the freezer and we’ll have the other for dinner tonight.

We left the fish corpse outside and the yellow jackets are really thick on it. They eat meat. We plan to bury it in the garden this afternoon for fertilizer.

Fitness update 2009 #13

My weight is stuck again. It’s gone up a couple pounds this month to 155. I know there is a smaller me in there. I just need to unpack the insulation to get to her. Not just physical insulation but emotional and spiritual as well. These things that are keeping me cheating on healthy eating. The things that get in the way of my workouts.

Unfortunately, I’m 5 pounds above goal weight this month. Tomorrow starts the weigh in week. Ugh. Another likely missed month. I did tackle one excuse tonight. I bought myself a new workout bra and shorts. My old ones are now too big. That’s good motivation. I’ve been putting off exercising because it was just too uncomfortable. Cross that excuse off the list. Properly fitting, comfortable clothes when exercising is really important.

I wanted a new shirt as well but the selection was lousy. I was lucky to find the shorts. Perhaps I’m too picky, but the ones that were left were either too skimpy, uncomfortable, or not my size. You don’t need to compromise modesty just to exercise. The shorts I bought fall at the bottom of my knee. They are a little tight but comfy and since I’m (hopefully) going to keep loosing weight, they will loosen as I shrink. So now I can exercise comfortably again. Perhaps I’ll get a new workout shirt as a reward for the end of August if I meet my goal then.

There is over 250,000 acres forest fire within 50 miles of me. The past few days have been really smoky at times. This afternoon a light ash was falling. Not very conducive for exercising outside, especially since I’m allergic to the smoke. The gym closest to me is always stuffy. That’s not too bad in the winter, but when I was there a few weeks ago, it was blah. Add those to the list of excuses.

What else? Eating healthy but sneaking junk. Got bad cramps and chocolate helps that but not my weight. Catch 22. Need to lose more weight to ease cramps longterm but eating chocolate helps short term, especially since I can’t go for a long walk due to the smoke.

Our garden is starting to be ready for harvesting. That should help with the healthy eating. Tonight’s dinner was chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, fresh garden greens, cucumber salad with fresh cucumber and tomatoes.

The pool at the gym has been closed for maintenance this month. I think it re-opened this week but I have been too busy to go over there.

My husband has been laid up with a squashed disk in his neck. That means I’m doing a lot more of the work for our apartments on top of what I do already and all the house chores. By the time I’m done, it’s bedtime and I’m tired.

Hopefully writing this and acknowledging my excuses will help me see them for what they are, excuses. I need to quit making excuses and just do it. Easier said than done I know. Still, excuses won’t make the scale go down. Only getting rid of the excuses and back to exercising and healthy eating again will.

Where did summer go?

After the driest May on record since 1925, we’ve had a very wet June. There’s been flood watches and advisories off and on the past few weeks. We get a nice day and things start to dry out, then more rain comes. First, we don’t have enough water, now there’s too much.

It’s been cool too. It never got above 60 this weekend. I actually had to turn on the furnace in our house Saturday afternoon. We went to our friend’s house Saturday evening for a marshmallow roast. Everyone was glad for the heat the little fire gave off. It was very foggy this morning with just 50 degrees. I made the kids oatmeal for breakfast and we wore our jackets when we went for our walk. It’s seemed more like the end of August than June recently.

My poor garden. First it was hot and dry. Now it’s cool and wet. No happy medium. We need a few warm, dry days then some wet ones but all we seem to get is one or the other. I did manage to get it weeded Saturday afternoon.

This is the second cool, wet summer. Last summer started hot and dry then turned cool and rainy in June too. After several below normal snowfall winters, this last winter had almost the normal amount. Are we starting a changing weather pattern again?

Fitness update 2009 #12

Wow! How’d I do that?! As I mentioned in my previous fitness update, I’d gained some weight and was back up to 159. My husband went out of town for a week, so I was alone with the kids this week. He got back last night. While he was gone I was running the apartment business by myself which kept me very busy. I guess I was too busy to snack. Anyway, my weight dropped a lot. I lost all the weight I’d gained and then some. I’ve lost 6 pounds in the last 10 days. I was down to 153 this morning.

Now that he’s back, I just hope I can keep it off. Unfortunately, he gained about 2 pounds while he was gone so he has even more to loose to meet this month’s goal. Good motivation for not cheating.

I’ve been strict with the NO S dieting having single servings and no desserts during the week. I bought 4 chocolate muffins over the weekend and we divided them to last 2 days. I was pleasantly surprised at how full I can be eating only a single plateful after getting used to it again. I bought fresh pizza twice (they were on sale for $7). Both times I had 2 pieces of pizza, but they were small and fit together on the plate. I was tempted to get a third the first time but was good. The second time, I was full after the two slices.

I haven’t done much exercising. I did make it to the gym to swim one afternoon. We went for a few walks. I also cleaned 2 apartments. Then there was the gardening. We don’t have an outside faucet and our water is a 1000 holding tank. So we rely on rain or buckets to conserve water. Each morning I had to lug 3 5-gallon buckets of water and 2 full water cans down to the garden then use a cup to pour water onto the plants. Every three days, it needs to be thoroughly hoed and weeded.

I’m now over a third of the way to my final goal weight in about 6 months. 8) That means in a year or so I’ll be at my goal which helps put into perspective months like last month when my weight was a yo-yo. It’s the long term that truly matters. As long as I keep my focus on that, I’m able to keep from getting too frustrated when the scale goes up.

The trick is to get it moving back down again ASAP. This is done through evaluating what’s going on in your life that may have caused it to go up. Once you figure that out, you can change it to start going back down. For me it was stress over my husband going out of town causing me to overeat.

Canoe adventure & garden update

Yesterday afternoon we went canoing on the Noyes Slough. With one notable exception it was fun. For those of you familiar with Fairbanks, we put in near Danby road and paddled up to the Illinois street bridge. There were a few log jams we had to plow through and one beaver dam we portaged over.

There was another beaver dam under the Illinois street bridge. We had just arrived at it and were deciding what to do when we heard a motor behind us. A jet ski pulled up a little ways behind us and stopped. We had paddled over to the side. He yelled at his buddy but he didn’t stop. There was plenty of straight water behind is so I know he saw us. Instead, the second jet ski zoomed by us, jumped over the beaver dam and kept going. We were nearly swamped. The slough is rather narrow there so the wake rocked us hard. Karen got really scared and cried for a long time afterwards. We all got pretty wet from the spray thrown up by the jet ski. Richard, Ray and I had managed to turn so it hit our backs but Karen was hit by the flying water right in her face. We decided to turn around and head back to the truck. The other jet ski rider apologized, but that didn’t change the rudeness of his friend.

Other than a few people in their yards, we didn’t see anyone else on our trip. The trip was a bit over 2 hours. We hope to go the other way down the slough soon.

After getting some business done, we went to the garden store Saturday afternoon and bought the last pots and tomato cages we need to finish transplanting. I transplanted 2 tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and flowers. We have some wire shelves which are just wide enough to hold a plant tray. We set them up out in our temporary greenhouse on the porch. Then we moved about half of the smaller pots onto them. We still have several pots in the house that didn’t fit. I went and filled the last 2 big tomato pots from the garden soil but they were heavy since the dirt was wet so I couldn’t carry them up to the house. We really need a wagon.

Today the plants are doing great. It was sunny and warm all weekend. They really took off, especially the ones recently transplanted. They were getting root bound in their old pots. I put 2 trays of smaller plants outside to begin hardening them off this morning. We will plant some seeds into the ground next weekend then do the pre-plants the following weekend when the danger of frost or freeze should be past. It was freezing in town this morning.

Odds ‘N’ Ends

Little Karen woke up sick today. She had a fever 103 when I got her up. She nibbled at her oatmeal then went back to bed. She’s now resting on the couch. I’ll give her some get-well-tea with honey (Just for Kids: Organic Cold Care by Traditional Medicinals) to sip when she wakes up again.

While she was in bed, Richard and I cleaned his room. That was a big project. His toy table had become a catch-all so now he couldn’t find anything. We cleaned that out along with the corner beside his bed where books and stuffed animals tend to accumulate. I swept and he made the bed. We filled almost an entire grocery bag with trash and old papers that were hiding in his room. Much better! I just hope he isn’t coming down with whatever Karen has. He’s resting in bed now.

I spent an hour hoeing in the garden before lunch and another this afternoon. The potatoes are up and had become overrun with grass. I spent most of my time on them. I also hoed the paths. The lettuce, beets, and carrots needed to be weeded by hand. I was just too hot. Its almost 80 outside. At least there was a little breeze to keep the mosquitoes and other bugs away. The peas still need to be weeded but that’s all. I pray we get some rain soon. Things are starting to wilt. With the shading weeds gone, they will wilt even faster but if we get rain, they will grow much better. It’s been a couple of weeks since I weeded this thoroughly. I’ve been doing spot weeding but not very well or it’s been raining until this weekend.

My husband called last night. He is in Canada at the factory making the boiler. They are running about a week behind. They offered to ship it up to Anchorage but he decided to stay and bring it up himself. That way he can start installing as soon as he gets home.