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Mistr practices discernment


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Mistr Practices Discernment

 

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My biggest challenge right now is picking what to spend time doing. I know what I need to do to get back in shape, lose the weight I gained last year and do things I enjoy. The problem is that my work is demanding a lot of time and many things I would normally want to do just won't fit in my week. All that "just do 15 minutes of this" advice is not working for me.

 

Under normal circumstances I like my job. At the moment we are understaffed and having a hard time finding people to fill our open position. My boss is going to batt with management to get us two new people, if we can get some decent candidates. Until that happens, I am putting in extra hours. I realized that I have to let go of some other things or I'll drive myself nuts.

 

Last challenge @sarakingdom shared a video from a Buddhist monk that I found really helpful. He talked about the stories we tell ourselves about things. Am I enjoying soaking my hands in warm water, listening to music and feeling good about clearing off the kitchen counter? Or am I feeling resentful about doing a chore instead of something more fun? Am I unhappy about my arm hurting, or am I feeling relieved that I got a vaccination and it is doing something? An awful lot of how I feel depends on how I view what is going on. I can work on that.

 

Knowing that I can only do a few things makes it easier in some ways. My tendency is to want to to ALL THE THINGS.  Since that is obviously not going to happen, I can pick and choose a few things that will make a difference. Sometimes that will be sitting still and just looking out the window.

 

Things that are high on my list:

  • Sleep. I cannot make good decisions and am a grouch when I don't get enough sleep.
  • Work. I am supporting my family. Work anxiety is worse that working lots of hours.
  • Time with my family. This is always in short supply, enjoy it whenever I can get it.
  • Zen. Very useful for dealing with anxiety and choices
  • Exercise. Good for making me feel better in lots of ways
  • Fiber arts. Creative outlet and destressing.
  • Gardening. Outdoors and a feeling of control over my environment.

 

Cooking and cleaning are only happening when I am inspired or something is bugging me. We have the household cooking divided up so we each cook one day a week (in theory). Elf and I usually batch cook something. I grilled 5 lbs of chicken breast last weekend. The previous week I made a ham. I can live just fine on frozen veggies and protein with an excessive amount of dark chocolate for snacks. I will do my share of the dishes and laundry. If the kitchen is a disaster in between, I can ignore it. I've been practicing and getting much better at letting cleaning chores wait.

 

Scoring for this challenge will be how I feel about the week. Do I feel like I took care of the important things? Am I stressed out? Did I make good choices about self-care?

 

I would love to lose 10 pounds and get back in shape, go biking and deal with the boxes in the garage. Maybe some of those things will happen, but I'm not going to judge on them.

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Level 56  Viking paladin

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Hm. Reads like a process as progress challenge.

 

I like it. I suppose you've already heard about the Punnett Square of Decisions, right? You organize decisions along "Important/Not Important" and "Urgent/Not Urgent" and act accordingly. I suspect the trick, then, is to track these day by day and to be open to changes. That seems like it'll require a great deal of awareness and honesty with yourself.

 

So... yeah, this'll be a lot harder than it looks at first blush. That's okay. You're up to it. :)

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11 hours ago, Kishi said:

Hm. Reads like a process as progress challenge.

 

 

Animated GIF

 

The best processes are flexible and adapt as they need to, in order to get the job done. 

 

Focus on process is tiring and can be difficult... but a strong short-term focus on process makes long-term progress a lot easier.

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“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

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I love your outlook and attitude, 

On 5/4/2021 at 7:12 PM, Mistr said:

Last challenge @sarakingdom shared a video from a Buddhist monk that I found really helpful. He talked about the stories we tell ourselves about things. Am I enjoying soaking my hands in warm water, listening to music and feeling good about clearing off the kitchen counter? Or am I feeling resentful about doing a chore instead of something more fun? Am I unhappy about my arm hurting, or am I feeling relieved that I got a vaccination and it is doing something? An awful lot of how I feel depends on how I view what is going on. I can work on that.

 

I may have to look for this video

RES...and I want to live days worth dying for...

Current: RES: CUTE 2021 - cute is consistent

Spoiler

Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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4 hours ago, RES said:

I may have to look for this video

 

It is available in the library appendix to my current challenge, with the monk things.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

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Just now, sarakingdom said:

It is available in the library appendix to my current challenge, with the monk things.

 

Oh, wait, maybe that's not the one! I assumed it was the cleaning one, but there was another, wasn't there, by the guy just talking g meditation and neuroscience and stuff...

  • Like 1

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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I am back at home after a week at the family cabin without internet.

 

Being by the lake watching the leaves come out on the trees was great. Quality time with my mom was very nice, but weird after not dealing with anyone outside my household for so long.

 

In some respects, it was a vacation. I did not think about work or have to plan out all my time. However, it was sadly lacking in downtime. I had a couple medium-sized projects I wanted to do. My mom added on two more things she wanted done.  Dumbledore agreed to help me with figuring out and labeling the lights in the garage. Then he got bit by the cleaning bug and insisted we clean the entire garage instead of just organizing the gardening stuff like I intended. That took a whole day of hard work. We did the minimum of cleaning in the house, not the full spring cleaning that was originally in the plan. I would have liked more time knitting with my feet up.

 

Overall I am happy with what we got accomplished. One of the things was meeting with the installation person for fiber optic cable, so there will be internet the next time I visit. That will make Dumbledore much happier, since he had to drive into town to get enough bandwidth for meetings and calls. I'm not sure it will make me happier, since I will have to make space for Dumbledore to work. That is fine in good weather, and not so great in bad weather. In the long term, it made my mom happy and helped deal with a bunch of maintenance tasks that will keep the place in good shape for the next several years. It also sets the bar for my brothers doing their share, which they promised to do.

 

I feel like I'm back to square one on exercise. I did yoga most mornings while I was on vacation. I only sat zen once. One of my friends at the dojo is starting up a six-week "get back in shape" class. I'm planning on doing that to help get back on track.

 

I did pretty well with getting things done at work today. I just need to keep up that momentum and make good choices so I don't feel overwhelmed. So far, so good. Tonight I am going out for a walk or a bike ride instead of going to aikido. That will let me finish up the laundry. It will probably be a while before I can catch up with all of you.

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Level 56  Viking paladin

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Glad to hear that it was a good trip! Sounds like you had to take charge and lead by example. I hope the rest of your family are good students. :)

 

Though I am sorry to hear that you didn't get to spend as much time doing your hobbies as you wanted to. Tends to make time away less restful than it could otherwise be, and that kind of sucks. It's like you need a break from your break time, which is just... ornery.

 

Sounds like you're making good choices in line with what works at the moment. Gotta roll with it, right? The moment will change and you'll have your shot at what you want soon enough.

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This morning I did both exercise and zen for the first time in a couple weeks. I picked a short core routine so that I would not have any excuses.

 

Tomorrow should be a strength day. Yesterday I did TGUs and sumo shiko (related to squats). If I pick up my previous plan, I should do circuits. I might cut back the number of circuits if I feel pressed for time. I'm planning on going to aikido in the park unless it rains.

 

My dojo is opening up in June! We have dojo cleaning this weekend to get ready for that. I expect there will be a better turnout than usual because people miss it. One of the younger black belts is a personal trainer in her regular life. She is giving a special "get back in shape to train" class that will meet a 7am on Fridays for six weeks. I never go to morning classes, but I am planning on going to this one. I need all the help I can get. :P 

 

In home news, Dumbledore and Elf did all the mowing on Monday and Elf did dishes today. The fridge is still full of food that Elf cooked last week. Work is still a pain but I feel like my family has my back.

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Level 56  Viking paladin

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I feel like if you did anything on vacation that's a win, you need down time my friend...

and I love that your family has your back, everyone should have such a family :D 

 

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RES...and I want to live days worth dying for...

Current: RES: CUTE 2021 - cute is consistent

Spoiler

Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda

 

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My big project for this weekend is gardening. That should have happened a couple weeks ago but I was waffling about spending money on compost and then we went up north. Now the weather has turned warm and I feel like I've missed the first two weeks of the growing season.

 

I talked it over with Dumbledore and he agreed we should buy compost to finish filling our new raised bed. Delivery is expensive and we have a small car, so he suggested we rent a pickup for $20 + mileage. That is about half the price of delivery. So I found the closest place to get compost and priced out the options. Dumbledore is being a gem by going to get the truck and pick up the compost because the places close by the time I'm done with work. I told him what kind to get and how much. He just came back with the right amount but got the kind that is twice as expensive. 😱

 

I am very proud of myself for telling him that it will be fine, he did a great job and we will have a lovely garden. It is going to take us several years to hit payback from reduction in our grocery bills. I need to get on it and get seeds planted tomorrow. 

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2 minutes ago, Mistr said:

I am very proud of myself for telling him that it will be fine, he did a great job and we will have a lovely garden. It is going to take us several years to hit payback from reduction in our grocery bills. I need to get on it and get seeds planted tomorrow. 

 

I'm very impressed and you should be proud. After the year I've had, I would have lost it. (Anxiety gives me anger management issues.)

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“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

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20 hours ago, Mistr said:

It is going to take us several years to hit payback from reduction in our grocery bills. I need to get on it and get seeds planted tomorrow. 

 

  • I recommend beets and chard to start. They're sturdy and and reliable, and not always summer-averse for greens. You might get away with a kale, even though generally don't love summer. (I've found Italian varieties of chard and beets and kale do fairly well over summer. They slow down, but they keep going. )
  • Herbs are expensive in stores, and very hardy. You can grow a lot of them as ground cover under larger things so you don't need to water as much, and the strong smell is said to confuse predator insects. Consider the tiny ones freebies you can scatter between things.
  • If you get chives and garlic chives in there, you may be able to cut down your allium purchases even before you can get a round of garlic and onions in. Also, I recommend a cheap bunch or two of green onions from the store, just plant them as is. Pack them in tight, they like growing close. They have roots, they're hardy, and whatever variety they are, they'll last you a good long while, and save you from buying as much onion. If you're lucky, they're perennial bunching onions, and will keep going. They don't give you bulbs, but they give an endless supply of onion greens.
  • Throw radishes everywhere while you're waiting for other things to grow. You can often get them in and out of the same space as other things while the other things are still getting going. That'll help get your payback going faster. (Radishes are good roasted, by the way. The greens are edible, if nothing special. Probably fine with garlic. They're just healthy generic greens.)
  • Fennel is perennial, if you cut the bulbs off at the base and leave the crown. The later bulbs are never as big, but whatever. (The stems are also useful.) It's nice (and mellower) cooked as well as in salads, and give you fennel seeds once a year.
  • Watercress is perennial and super good for you.
  • If you're not too close to summer, snap peas and lettuce; if you are too close, try the lettuce in the shade of something else. (This is when climbing beans/cukes/etc are useful; a nice space-saving tipi or trellis, with lettuce shaded from summer sun at the base.)
  • I'm not a fan of things that are slow to grow (cabbage, Brussels sprouts) or give a single big crop all at once (cabbage, cauliflower). It's a lot of space investment where you could be getting a lot of other meals. Two or three kale plants in the same space as one cabbage will feed you all loose-leaf cabbagey leaves at least one meal per week, for the 4-6 damn months you're waiting on the cabbage. Leaf lettuce rather than head lettuce, one planting will feed you for at least a month, but likely all season, rather than waiting for one salad or having rows of heads all at once. I'm a fan of quicker things, and cut and come again things.
  • Celery is hard, I hear. Fennel stalks are crunchy stalks, but taste anise. Lovage tastes like celery, but is just little leaves. Chinese celery is said to be easier, and has stalks.
  • Asian greens in general are kind of bulletproof. Heat tolerant, cold tolerant, vigorous.
  • A lot of things can be planted more densely than the packets say. Square foot gardening is useful for packing stuff in. Beets can go nine to a square foot, but also, they're fine multiple in one hole, up to five or so. (Yes, I'm saying I've planted 36-45 per square foot.) What it does is, you don't get them all maturing at once, but one per clump becomes dominant. You pick off the biggest in each clump, and then the next biggest starts growing into that space, so you get multiple successive rounds from one sowing. They're not ginormous, but perfectly normal sized, for the small side of normal. They will get bigger with more room, but I find little and often works better for the home grower than massive crops to deal with. You can also take a few greens here and there while they're growing to supplement the chard in summer.
  • For summer veg, my best advice is not to put your eggs all in one basket. Maybe peppers will have a bad year. Cherry tomatoes may do better than your regular tomatoes. Variety is hour friend, at least till you know what likes your garden.
  • Speaking of dense planting, you can often interplant things as overstories and understories, and mix root veg with greens that have light root systems, and maybe a ground cover of herbs, and forget their spacing requirements because they're not really competing for space. It might make them a bit hungry, though, so when your compost pile produces more, scattering a top dressing would help. Just feed 'em what you've got.
  • Any empty soil? More radishes.
  • Winter. You will want to grow during winter to make your payback. Your garlic will be chugging away underground. You could probably steal a tiny bit, if you overplant, which I suggest you do. It can bee tucked everywhere and it's a good pest deterent. Some of your herbs will be pretty happy, though they might want some frost protection. Your best bets on actual things to eat are chard, beets, kale, and spinach. They're very, very winter hardy. But they don't grow in the cold, just fail to die. So you'll want to go into winter with lots to graze from. The same with a lot of root crops; many can be stored in the ground over the winter and pulled out as needed.
  • Lettuce probably won't make it through your winters, but with a little frost protection or maybe even a little plastic cover, they can go past frost. They're quite good in cold, just not the pure antifreeze that kale and chard and spinach are.
  • MIGardener has cheap heirloom seeds and good advice for growing in cold climates. The great thing about heirlooms is finding traditional varieties meant for your climate. Russian kale, Scottish leeks, and Polish tomatoes might make more sense for you than generic varieties.

In my experience, growing enough veg for a small household isn't too hard; the difficulty is that you need to learn to eat what you can grow. If you have tomatoes, you get tomatoes. If you have chard, you have chard. (You will have chard. Everyone has chard. Grow several; it's reliable.) If you have green tomatoes and it's October, well, you roast up green tomatoes. (Garlic and cheese, by the way.) If you have green onions and the bulbs aren't ready yet, adapt whatever you can to use green onions. Commiting to cook what you have is a really different lifestyle than always having onions, carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes in the fridge.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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So far as winter, it looks like cilantro is also a winner. Like lettuce, not unkillable, but will go past freezing. Carrots and parsnips will store in the ground over winter. (I think also turnips and rutabegas, but check me on that. Also look at winter radishes.) Parsley, chives, sage, oregano, and thyme should be basically evergreen, though, again, they won't grow bigger in winter, just live. (I think he's wrong about parsley being perennial, but I think it's biennial, which is like a very short perennial.) Mustard greens are on his second list; there are great Asian mustard greens.

 

 

His cold frame will extend your season a lot, but you don't need to go that fancy - a simple plastic sheet loosely on the top or a frost cover (even a plain old sheet) to physically keep frost off leaves will help extend your season. A lot of things can take real cold, but don't like actual ice crystals touching them.

 

In this second video, he talks about growing without a cold frame. He implies kale won't harvest well frozen by grouping it with lettuce, but there are other people showing the reverse, so I think he didn't mean to imply that.

 

 

Cold hardy greens. I forgot arugula. There are some good lettuce recommendations here for cold-hardiness (including one he overwinters without protection in Michigan), and also good high density planting to get more from your area, and some obscure greens (another also good all winter green - sorrel can take some hunting for recipes, but it's a good green).

 

He's planting very, very densely - 100 plants in a row instead of 4. The key is rich soil, so just keep feeding your compost pile and sprinkling on your soil. He thinks the density helps with overwintering. (Cut and come again is part of this; constantly taking off the outer leaves keeps the plants smaller, and more plants is larger harvests at each trimming. Waiting for full heads just isn't as efficient.)

 

 

There you go. I know it's not winter yet, but if you plan your fall seed purchases for winter growing, you can probably get 3.5 seasons out of your garden, and maybe some light grazing on roots, greens, and herbs in that last chunk.

 

I tend to trust simpler things like greens more than fruiting things for reliability. Sometimes fruiting things just fail, while it's rare for a leaf not to come up. But fruiting things can make bundles of food while leaves are just leaves, so just diversify and make sure you have both. A few perennials can get some reliable harvests going, but they're often not the exciting vegetables, or are weird ones to use. (Seriously, all the fennel stalks and fronds you can eat, but how can they be used as vegetables? The stalks are a bit easier, at least.) Still, they can see you have a salad or a stirfry regularly. It's easy to grow tons of herbs, but hard to use them as the bulk of anything. Still, you'll want to be throwing handfuls in, not doling them out like they're $3 a sprig.

 

If you're willing to be flexible on what form your allium take, based on what's growing and what's in storage, you can get those off the shopping list fast. Between onions and garlic in storage (probably too late for this year), and perennial bunching onions and your various chives, you can grow what you need in a smallish space. (It's hard to justify devoting tons of space in terms of rows to onions or garlic, since they're fairly cheap, but they tuck in nicely between other things and deter pests. So you can drop garlic around the edges of your lettuce or between it, and forget spacing a bit. They're using different growing space, one is root heavy and leaf light and the other is the reverse. But the perennial clumps of bunching onions and chives are very space and effort efficient.)

 

Herbs, you'll be self-sufficient in no time.

 

Salads and cooking greens are your next easiest category to be self-sufficient year round, but you're going to need to think about the height of summer the depth of winter. Winter, ironically, might be the easier, since kale and chard will stick by you if you plan a bumper crop, and it seems sorrel and some lettuces will go all winter in MI, which has got to be in your wintery vicinity. Salad and greens in summer is harder. There are some obscure or old-fashioned ones that do okay in summer, like orach and malabar spinach, but I wouldn't count on them being in your family's comfort zone the first year out of the gate. I'd just see how far chard and shade will get you.

 

Of your fruiting things, peas and beans are the easiest. When you harvest the plants at the end of their season, cut them off above ground and leave the roots, so their nitrogen nodules stay in your soil as fertiliser. (If you do dense planting, this alone is worth growing them for, especially where your greens live. Leaves love nitrogen; fruiting things can be distracted into making more leaves than they should by it at the expense of fruit, but I doubt you'll develop that problem from bean roots and compost.)

 

When you get to the point you're willing to try climbing things, there's a Italian squash variety that makes a great zucchini-ish summer squash and also matures into a great butternut-like winter squash, so you could do double duty with one plant, and eat two seasons. If you're not plagued with squash vine borers, squash are obviously the easiest way to grow sixty metric tons of food, but I'd only do winter squash vertically. They can swallow your bed. A zucchini bush is worth it, though.

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I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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High density planting:

 

 

Really overcrowd. It mimics natural ecosystems better, so plants retain water better and shade out weeds, giving you a lot less work. And also up to 10+ times as much food. (What he's not doing is a ton of interplanting, and I'd still recommend that. There's a ton of density and ecosystem-mimicry benefits from that. Shove leafy greens, herbs, and radishes under everything tall. Anything that spills over the edge of the bed, like herbs or marigolds or alyssum is a freebie and makes your pollinators happy.)

 

When you decide it's time for trellises, those cattle panel trellises are pretty cheap and offer a lot of vertical growing space. The panels are about $25, and need some cheap metal posts for a few dollars. They're four feet wide; if you put one flush at each end of your bed, they can double as an extra-tall winter hoop house by supporting your plastic sheeting and give you an extra month or two of growing at the end of the season plus overwintering, as well as giving vertical space for large summer climbers (squash, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, small melons) so they take up next to zero bed space, and provide shade to extend the season of cool season things beneath them (lettuce, spinach, chard, maybe peas).

 

(We will hit your payback, dammit.) ;)

  • Like 2

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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As expected, I spent most of my weekend gardening. Here are the before and after photos:

 

Before

tK6fBMIb.jpg?1

 

After

PItnIKv.jpg?1

 

I used the Square Foot approach and made a plan for where everything should go. I couldn't find my garden stakes, so I used string and paper clips to mark off the main sections. The whole bed is 4 x 12 feet. The tomatoes are in the center in cages. There is an empty 4 inch section to the right - the strings are 16 inches apart running down the middle. The area next to the tomatoes is designated for borage as a companion plant, if I can find seed for it. At the back you can see kale, cucumbers and salvia plants.

 

More comments behind a cut for length

Spoiler


On 5/22/2021 at 4:23 AM, sarakingdom said:

 

  • I recommend beets and chard to start. They're sturdy and and reliable, and not always summer-averse for greens. You might get away with a kale, even though generally don't love summer. 
  • Herbs are expensive in stores, and very hardy. You can grow a lot of them as ground cover under larger things so you don't need to water as much, and the strong smell is said to confuse predator insects. 
  • If you get chives and garlic chives in there, you may be able to cut down your allium purchases even before you can get a round of garlic and onions in. Also, I recommend a cheap bunch or two of green onions from the store, just plant them as is. Pack them in tight, they like growing close. They have roots, they're hardy, and whatever variety they are, they'll last you a good long while, and save you from buying as much onion. If you're lucky, they're perennial bunching onions, and will keep going. They don't give you bulbs, but they give an endless supply of onion greens.
  • Throw radishes everywhere while you're waiting for other things to grow. You can often get them in and out of the same space as other things while the other things are still getting going. That'll help get your payback going faster. (Radishes are good roasted, by the way. The greens are edible, if nothing special. Probably fine with garlic. They're just healthy generic greens.)
  • Fennel is perennial, if you cut the bulbs off at the base and leave the crown. The later bulbs are never as big, but whatever. (The stems are also useful.) It's nice (and mellower) cooked as well as in salads, and give you fennel seeds once a year.
  • Watercress is perennial and super good for you.
  • If you're not too close to summer, snap peas and lettuce; if you are too close, try the lettuce in the shade of something else. (This is when climbing beans/cukes/etc are useful; a nice space-saving tipi or trellis, with lettuce shaded from summer sun at the base.)
  • I'm not a fan of things that are slow to grow (cabbage, Brussels sprouts) or give a single big crop all at once (cabbage, cauliflower). It's a lot of space investment where you could be getting a lot of other meals. Two or three kale plants in the same space as one cabbage will feed you all loose-leaf cabbagey leaves at least one meal per week, for the 4-6 damn months you're waiting on the cabbage. Leaf lettuce rather than head lettuce, one planting will feed you for at least a month, but likely all season, rather than waiting for one salad or having rows of heads all at once. I'm a fan of quicker things, and cut and come again things.
  • Celery is hard, I hear. Fennel stalks are crunchy stalks, but taste anise. Lovage tastes like celery, but is just little leaves. Chinese celery is said to be easier, and has stalks.
  • Asian greens in general are kind of bulletproof. Heat tolerant, cold tolerant, vigorous.
  • A lot of things can be planted more densely than the packets say. Square foot gardening is useful for packing stuff in. Beets can go nine to a square foot, but also, they're fine multiple in one hole, up to five or so. (Yes, I'm saying I've planted 36-45 per square foot.) What it does is, you don't get them all maturing at once, but one per clump becomes dominant. You pick off the biggest in each clump, and then the next biggest starts growing into that space, so you get multiple successive rounds from one sowing. They're not ginormous, but perfectly normal sized, for the small side of normal. They will get bigger with more room, but I find little and often works better for the home grower than massive crops to deal with. You can also take a few greens here and there while they're growing to supplement the chard in summer.
  • For summer veg, my best advice is not to put your eggs all in one basket. Maybe peppers will have a bad year. Cherry tomatoes may do better than your regular tomatoes. Variety is hour friend, at least till you know what likes your garden.
  • Speaking of dense planting, you can often interplant things as overstories and understories, and mix root veg with greens that have light root systems, and maybe a ground cover of herbs, and forget their spacing requirements because they're not really competing for space. It might make them a bit hungry, though, so when your compost pile produces more, scattering a top dressing would help. Just feed 'em what you've got.
  • Any empty soil? More radishes.
  • Winter. You will want to grow during winter to make your payback. Your garlic will be chugging away underground. You could probably steal a tiny bit, if you overplant, which I suggest you do. It can bee tucked everywhere and it's a good pest deterent. Some of your herbs will be pretty happy, though they might want some frost protection. Your best bets on actual things to eat are chard, beets, kale, and spinach. They're very, very winter hardy. But they don't grow in the cold, just fail to die. So you'll want to go into winter with lots to graze from. The same with a lot of root crops; many can be stored in the ground over the winter and pulled out as needed.
  • Lettuce probably won't make it through your winters, but with a little frost protection or maybe even a little plastic cover, they can go past frost. They're quite good in cold, just not the pure antifreeze that kale and chard and spinach are.
  • MIGardener has cheap heirloom seeds and good advice for growing in cold climates. The great thing about heirlooms is finding traditional varieties meant for your climate. Russian kale, Scottish leeks, and Polish tomatoes might make more sense for you than generic varieties.

In my experience, growing enough veg for a small household isn't too hard; the difficulty is that you need to learn to eat what you can grow. If you have tomatoes, you get tomatoes. If you have chard, you have chard. (You will have chard. Everyone has chard. Grow several; it's reliable.) If you have green tomatoes and it's October, well, you roast up green tomatoes. (Garlic and cheese, by the way.) If you have green onions and the bulbs aren't ready yet, adapt whatever you can to use green onions. Commiting to cook what you have is a really different lifestyle than always having onions, carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes in the fridge.

 

Quite a few of those things are in my garden. I planted Swiss chard (the multi-colored kind), carrots, beans, salad mix, cilantro, basil and parsley from seed. No beets because Elf is allergic. I am familiar with the trick of planting radish seed with the lettuce so that harvesting the radishes thins the lettuce. However, none of us like radishes.

 

We have several years of experience with CSA veggie deliveries every week. That gave us a good idea of what we are happy to eat and what we struggled with. I chose three salad tomatoes and two cherry tomatoes. All different varieties that I have not grown before.  Last year I had several roma tomatoes and a cherry tomato plant. We missed having regular salad tomatoes. Cucumbers are one of the veggies we bought frequently, so those were at the top of the list to grow.

 

If I had more room I would grow winter squash. Summer squash are easy to grow but take quite a bit of space and are too prolific. I can pick up a few of different kinds at the farmers market when I want them. One zucchini plant is enough to feed us and the neighbors.

 

I already have all the garlic and garlic chives I need.

tR53pRO.jpg?1

 

See the grass-like plants lining the walkway on both sides? Those are garlic chives. On the left past the garlic chives is a bed of garlic. The garlic is a little taller and darker green than the garlic chives. They bloom at different times, so it is easier to tell them apart later in the season. Garlic chives are invasive. There was one little patch of them in the bed on the left that I started from seed seven years ago. Now they are coming up between the pavers and fighting the oregano to take over the world. The plant in the lower left of the photo is oregano that self-seeded from the herb bed 8 feet away. I wonder if it crossed with something, because the flavor is not as strong as the original plant (which is still going strong). I also have chives past the garlic in the herb bed.

 

I planted the garlic bed last fall from the few garlic plants that I abandoned in the garden a couple years ago. Those had small heads with only a few cloves each. Even so, it was enough to fill the bed and they survived the winter. I'll see this fall if I want to plant more in other beds. I'd rather have other herbs as companion crops this year.

 

On 5/22/2021 at 3:19 PM, sarakingdom said:

So far as winter, it looks like cilantro is also a winner. Like lettuce, not unkillable, but will go past freezing. Carrots and parsnips will store in the ground over winter. (I think also turnips and rutabegas, but check me on that. Also look at winter radishes.) Parsley, chives, sage, oregano, and thyme should be basically evergreen, though, again, they won't grow bigger in winter, just live. (I think he's wrong about parsley being perennial, but I think it's biennial, which is like a very short perennial.) Mustard greens are on his second list; there are great Asian mustard greens.

 

In this second video, he talks about growing without a cold frame. He implies kale won't harvest well frozen by grouping it with lettuce, but there are other people showing the reverse, so I think he didn't mean to imply that.

On 5/22/2021 at 3:19 PM, sarakingdom said:

He's planting very, very densely - 100 plants in a row instead of 4. The key is rich soil, so just keep feeding your compost pile and sprinkling on your soil. He thinks the density helps with overwintering. (Cut and come again is part of this; constantly taking off the outer leaves keeps the plants smaller, and more plants is larger harvests at each trimming. Waiting for full heads just isn't as efficient.)

 

There you go. I know it's not winter yet, but if you plan your fall seed purchases for winter growing, you can probably get 3.5 seasons out of your garden, and maybe some light grazing on roots, greens, and herbs in that last chunk.

 

I tend to trust simpler things like greens more than fruiting things for reliability. Sometimes fruiting things just fail, while it's rare for a leaf not to come up. But fruiting things can make bundles of food while leaves are just leaves, so just diversify and make sure you have both. A few perennials can get some reliable harvests going, but they're often not the exciting vegetables, or are weird ones to use. (Seriously, all the fennel stalks and fronds you can eat, but how can they be used as vegetables? The stalks are a bit easier, at least.) Still, they can see you have a salad or a stirfry regularly. It's easy to grow tons of herbs, but hard to use them as the bulk of anything. Still, you'll want to be throwing handfuls in, not doling them out like they're $3 a sprig.

 

I have my doubts about his winter recommendations. I have not been able to get thyme to survive the winter, either taking it indoors or leaving a pot in a protected spot on my porch. It did not survive the summer in my old herb bed because something ate it. Chives keep going until frost. Oregano gets tough and the leaves get some sort of rust in the fall. I try to harvest and dry a lot of it in late summer. I might be able to get a second planting of cilantro to go into fall. The spring planting bolts in hot weather.  So does the lettuce. Some of the lettuce roots survive the winter, but the leaves die back with frost. I expect kale to be fine based on what I saw in the garden at the monastery.

 

Carrots might store okay in the ground, but we aren't going to be able to dig them out once it snows. By rights those should go into sand in a root cellar, which I don't have. I might be able to set up something with bins of sand in the garage. I only planted two square feet of carrots. I think we will just be able to eat them. That said, last night at spinning I saw the host's garden. She is a big time gardener. She has carrots and beets planted in plastic waste baskets - the kind that are about knee height and rectangular. She does that to protect them from voles. I have voles and extra compost, so I might pick up some cheap waste baskets and plant more carrots.

 

I agree on harvesting lettuce as leaves. That works much better with our actual use pattern.  Ditto for basil, cilantro and parsley.

 

On 5/23/2021 at 3:22 PM, sarakingdom said:

He's planting very, very densely - 100 plants in a row instead of 4. The key is rich soil, so just keep feeding your compost pile and sprinkling on your soil. He thinks the density helps with overwintering. (Cut and come again is part of this; constantly taking off the outer leaves keeps the plants smaller, and more plants is larger harvests at each trimming. Waiting for full heads just isn't as efficient.)

 

There you go. I know it's not winter yet, but if you plan your fall seed purchases for winter growing, you can probably get 3.5 seasons out of your garden, and maybe some light grazing on roots, greens, and herbs in that last chunk.

 

I tend to trust simpler things like greens more than fruiting things for reliability. Sometimes fruiting things just fail, while it's rare for a leaf not to come up. But fruiting things can make bundles of food while leaves are just leaves, so just diversify and make sure you have both. A few perennials can get some reliable harvests going, but they're often not the exciting vegetables, or are weird ones to use. (Seriously, all the fennel stalks and fronds you can eat, but how can they be used as vegetables? The stalks are a bit easier, at least.) Still, they can see you have a salad or a stirfry regularly. It's easy to grow tons of herbs, but hard to use them as the bulk of anything. Still, you'll want to be throwing handfuls in, not doling them out like they're $3 a sprig.

 

I planted marigolds along one edge. I have a seedling nursery for several things on the other side. More winter savory, hollyhocks and asters. I plan on moving baby lettuce plants around to fill up empty spaces.

 

I just picked up two fence panels to make an A-frame trellis. They are black enameled metal, not cattle panels. Much more substantial than the cheap A-frame trellis in the garden section and only a little more expensive. I hope they will hold up to their 10-year warranty. Once things are a little more established I will set up a soaker hose in a big U through the bed. I have three soaker hoses that I need to test and see if they still work.

 

 

 

The new herb bed where my vegetable garden was last year

UgOJB02.jpg?1

 

That is lavender on the left, rosemary in the middle and there is one over-wintered lettuce plant right by the corner of the fence, next to the dandelion. I took this photo at 1pm on a sunny day. You can see why this spot is too shady for vegetables. There is a rapidly growing evergreen just on the other side of the fence.

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4 minutes ago, Mistr said:

That is lavender on the left, rosemary in the middle and there is one over-wintered lettuce plant right by the corner of the fence, next to the dandelion. I took this photo at 1pm on a sunny day. You can see why this spot is too shady for vegetables. There is a rapidly growing evergreen just on the other side of the fence.

 

I would love and sincerely welcome advice on how to keep the lavender plants in my backyard alive and well to the point they start to thrive. They are not doing well, and it makes me sad. :( 

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21 minutes ago, Scaly Freak said:

I would love and sincerely welcome advice on how to keep the lavender plants in my backyard alive and well to the point they start to thrive. They are not doing well, and it makes me sad. :( 

 

I had a lovely lavender plant in a pot on the front porch last summer. It did not quite make it through the winter inside in the mud room. Probably not enough sun. I have had mixed luck with lavender overwintering outside. I am in zone 5 which is on the edge for lavender. I might try covering it with straw in the fall.

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42 minutes ago, Mistr said:

 

I had a lovely lavender plant in a pot on the front porch last summer. It did not quite make it through the winter inside in the mud room. Probably not enough sun. I have had mixed luck with lavender overwintering outside. I am in zone 5 which is on the edge for lavender. I might try covering it with straw in the fall.

 

I think we are 7 here.... and we're a mountain desert, so though we have irrigation we also have some scorching hot sun in the summer, and no clouds to speak of.  The lavender plants winter outside just fine, but I struggle to help them do more than just sit there and survive through the year. Initial research suggests they may be over-watered, as they are hit by the sprinklers that water the lawn. I will have to research more!

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1 hour ago, Mistr said:

I planted Swiss chard (the multi-colored kind), carrots, beans, salad mix, cilantro, basil and parsley from seed. No beets because Elf is allergic. I am familiar with the trick of planting radish seed with the lettuce so that harvesting the radishes thins the lettuce. However, none of us like radishes.

 

If they're allergic to beets, chard might also be a problem. They're nearly the same plant. Unless it's just the root, not the leaves.

 

For radishes, if you have them, try roasting like potatoes. Gets rid of the radishy taste, I understand. Not everyone is a fan of raw.

 

1 hour ago, Mistr said:

See the grass-like plants lining the walkway on both sides? Those are garlic chives.

 

They are beautiful and I love them. Since you have so many, it may be time to tell you that Asia stirfries them as an actual vegetable, not an herb, so you can likely find recipes. :)

 

1 hour ago, Mistr said:

I have my doubts about his winter recommendations. I have not been able to get thyme to survive the winter, either taking it indoors or leaving a pot in a protected spot on my porch. It did not survive the summer in my old herb bed because something ate it. Chives keep going until frost. Oregano gets tough and the leaves get some sort of rust in the fall. I try to harvest and dry a lot of it in late summer. I might be able to get a second planting of cilantro to go into fall. The spring planting bolts in hot weather.  So does the lettuce. Some of the lettuce roots survive the winter, but the leaves die back with frost. I expect kale to be fine based on what I saw in the garden at the monastery.

 

It's weird that thyme won't survive even indoors. Something else is going on there, i think. Zone 5 might be borderline for your variety outdoors, but that stuff should be tough as old boots in general. I know it bounces back in the spring from an unprotected pot in zone 6, though it's not evergreen with that much exposure. I'm wondering, given your oregano rust, if they're too damp and shady. They kind of want near-desert, or at least really hot rocks, like lizards. Maybe they're stressed by how luxurious your garden is.

 

Lettuce and cilantro definitely hate the heat. My experience with kale is that if it gets established, it'll tough it out through the heat, though isn't at its happiest. The stuff that goes till frost, like lettuce and chives, might go a bit longer with an old bedsheet over them. For a lot of those plants, it's the physical ice crystals from frost, not the air temperature. Something between them and the sky tends to help a lot.

 

1 hour ago, Mistr said:

I have a seedling nursery for several things on the other side. More winter savory, hollyhocks and asters.

 

Hungry Give Me GIF by Naomi Maria

 

1 hour ago, Scaly Freak said:

I would love and sincerely welcome advice on how to keep the lavender plants in my backyard alive and well to the point they start to thrive. They are not doing well, and it makes me sad. :( 

 

I have the same issue with rosemary. If they're happy, they're tanks, but I just can't convince them they live on Mediterranean hilltops.

 

28 minutes ago, Scaly Freak said:

I think we are 7 here.... and we're a mountain desert, so though we have irrigation we also have some scorching hot sun in the summer, and no clouds to speak of.  The lavender plants winter outside just fine, but I struggle to help them do more than just sit there and survive through the year. Initial research suggests they may be over-watered, as they are hit by the sprinklers that water the lawn. I will have to research more!

 

Ah, yeah, that'd be my guess. They should adore mountain desert. But an irrigated mountain desert is, like, mellow grasslands,  and they probably want the drought.

 

Thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and lavender really all want to grow between the cracks in the sunny ruins of the acropolis, watered once a year by a single tear from the cheek of a sentimental old Greek, whose goat wanders by and has a nibble. That's their idea of heaven, apparently.

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The first summer after we moved here, I dug up a bunch of daylilies in the back garden and put in herbs. I also discovered one of the previous owners had herbs there. The chives survived the competition with weeds while they were neglected. The main problem is that the trees have been growing like mad and the back garden is now too shady.

 

IG1bd1Z.jpg?1

 

This shows the old catalpa tree that is the main source of shade. There is a young maple tree in the back left of the photo that should not be there and is getting big. Off to the left out of frame are several very happy cedar trees. My earlier herb garden is in the back left of this photo, by the pile of bricks. Right next to it you can just see my big compost piles. Thankfully the ferns hide them from view from the street.

 

Under the tree I have Heuchera (coral bells), hostas, horse mint (blooming, on the right), blue flag and daffodils. And lots of ferns. Not to mention the garlic chive border that planted itself. ;)  I am working on dividing and transplanting hostas and other shade plants so that I won't have to weed this area someday.

 

My new herb garden is still part shade, but not as much as this one.

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6 minutes ago, Mistr said:

Under the tree I have Heuchera (coral bells), hostas, horse mint (blooming, on the right), blue flag and daffodils. And lots of ferns. Not to mention the garlic chive border that planted itself. ;)  I am working on dividing and transplanting hostas and other shade plants so that I won't have to weed this area someday.

 

There are some great shade plants out there. (Also, I believe hosta shoots are edible, so arguably you are growing food...)

 

I think mint and lemon balm might like the shade. It might keep them from being so invasive, even. I mean, slightly more so than with the garlic chives. ;)

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19 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

I think mint and lemon balm might like the shade. It might keep them from being so invasive, even. I mean, slightly more so than with the garlic chives. ;)

 

:D  In fact I have chocolate mint in that garden near the fence, where it is doing its job of taking over that corner. I have spearmint by the back door, in the corner by the dryer vent and the hose reel, behind a juniper. It is doing great. I might try adding lemon balm. It would be a better plant to have by the patio than the ferns.

 

My task for tonight is to go buy borage seed and more flowers for the front. I can look for herbs too. I'm going to a garden center on the other side of town that is supposed to have a much better selection than the one by me.

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