Monday, August 29, 2016

Our 2016 Garden Totals

This post is to help me keep track of what we harvested from our garden in 2016 (moved from other blog).

Picked so far....
Cucumbers 1086.11 ounces
yellow squash 245.05 ounces
tomato 410.63 ounces
Cherry tomato 233.30 ounces
Zucchini 34.20 ounces
Sprouts 23.80 ounces
4 hot pepper
3 tiny green peppers
purple green beans 9.1 ounces
pole beans 7.75
Watermelon 204.80






Harvest Monday August 29, 2016

I will start this post off with a little heartbreak.

The little warped heavy as a bowling ball melon (it is triangle shaped), fell off it's fence perch and busted a second watermelon in two :(

The big watermelon ran out of room to grow, and the last time we moved a melon it died, so we picked it. It looks just like the melons, size, weight, thunking-ness, as the ones we buy at Aldi. I am giving it a few days before I cut into it. I don't think I can handle seeing more light pink under-ripe melon guts. This melon's vine was an overachiever and had three. Now maybe the two others (that haven't really grown) will have the opportunity to grow larger. 




Our cucumbers produced something! I was watching one very closely, I didn't want to miss the first heirloom. While I was watching it, two grew unnoticed almost under my lettuce pots. They were delicious, and were more dense than the first batch we grew. 

Our beans have produced three handfuls! No clue what kind they are, but they taste great. 


I also picked two scrawny zucchini to give the plant a chance. Substandard siblings are all dead. The bugs got them. But they won't get my good plant, it is already sprouting new leaves and has two more baby zucchini this morning. Our dawn pesticide worked great on the tiny babies, but not on the adults. So I am going old school and squishing them. Good thing I am not squeamish, because they squirt green goo. I don't leave my plant until I have squished 100 and sprayed the dawn again.Usually twice a day because I am irked. Never would I have thought 20+ plants would die :(

And we are still picking all our tomatoes when they get a touch of yellow on them. It is working out really well. We have about 5 out of 16 cherry tomato plants that have decided to grown more tomatoes. So this week we will clear out the others. They are mostly ones that were broken in the storm or have run their course. Then I will put spinach in their place. We pay $6 a pound for organic spinach. The plan was to grow 100+ pounds of it this spring and summer. Eat what we could fresh and freeze the rest. But TN weather decided to be blazing hot and none of it would grow. So we will try again.

We have sugar peas growing! Some of our corn is three feet tall! The lettuce is growing well in the container. I should probably thin that.


Lots of baby cucumbers, we have two bees now. Next year we will keep cucumbers blooming all year long. And this is batch three of cucumbers, they popped through the dirt. We have 12 new ones to make up for all the heirloom ones that fizzled before they were a foot long. The heirlooms also have holey leaves compared to their engineered brothers. I thought that was interesting. You don't think about stuff like "genetically modified", and why it was modified, until you have it in your backyard.




And check this out. These aren't cherry tomatoes, they are the celebrity ones. I staked them for the 15th time, fertilized them as an apology, and a week later we have little tomatoes. These grew faster than even the cherry tomatoes. As a newbie I didn't know tomatoes would keep going and going like that. For every 20 we pick in a week, there are 20 more new babies. And check out those weeds! I grow those REALLY well! (they are outside the bed)


And these are the two cherry tomato plants that grew themselves. I plant two inch tall ones 2 months ago (their siblings are 6+ feet tall) and they died. There must have been extra seeds in the starter cup. 



Grown this week:
Tomatoes - 71.63
Cherry Tomatoes - 98.10
Zucchinni - 3.25
Cucumber - 12.40
Green beans - 6.35
Sprouts - 11.45
Watermelon - 204.80
407.95 ounces or 25.50 pounds

I think that is it for this week. Be sure to check out the other gardens at Our Happy Acres

Meal Plan Monday (Day 71) Kroger Has Great Deals Through Tuesday

I know it can vary by region, but Kroger has some great deals happening this week. $.88 cantaloupe, peaches, broccoli, and grapes. $.99 summer squash, sweet onion, and green beans. T-bone steak is $5.99, and chicken breast is $1.99. Lunchbox fugi apples were $.20, corn on the cob was $.33.

But...the sale was so good they were out of peaches, grapes, green beans, steak, and corn. But I got rain checks so I will still get the deals Wednesday onward.

For $32.82 we got about 4 pounds of broccoli, 2 bags of lima beans (digital coupon 50 cents off two), 2 pounds of zucchini (which was rang up as cucumber so they owe me $2), carrots, onion, 20 apples, 4 teeny cantaloupes, baby spinach, Italian bread, pineapple, 5 packs of turkey (5 @ 1.99, $3.98 pp for lunchmeat), and some bananas.

This is our meal plan for the week. Anyone else doing the meal plan thing? We aren't eating out much anymore because we decided to start doing bigger vacations. Next year Italy, the year after, China. I would rather eat at home (on a diet anyway) and go do stuff.

Next week meal plan
Soup beans, zucchini and onion, tomato salad
Lima beans, BLT, cantaloupe
Mongolian beef and broccoli
Beer brats, potato salad, and fruit salad
Pulled pork tacos, black beans, green salsa
BBQ chicken/sweet onion pizza and fruit salad
Fancy salad with grilled chicken on sprouts, broc, carrots, cucumber, etc

Lunches will be turkey, pretzels, popcorn, apples, peanut butter crackers, carrots etc The hubs will take leftovers. I eat leftovers too.

Have a good week! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grocery Shopping with Pictures (cause that is more fun)

First you might have noticed that BAM! there are a lot of posts here suddenly. I am in the process of merging two blogs.

I missed blogging about food, deals, and vacations so I started it back on a different blog. then I thought that is dumb, I should put everything here to keep it all together. I will have everything transferred in the next few days.

First pictures from my Aldi run.



That was $37.69. That's all! 2 milk, 1 carafe OJ, 2 watermelons, one beer brat, 1 cheese, 1 ham, sour cream, 2 bunches of bananas, 4 pounds of grapes, pretzels, pringles, tortillas, frosted flakes, 2 breads, and 6 yogurts.

(And if you remember me from a long time ago you might be like "wait that doesn't look like her kitchen" and you would be right. I got hitched, we moved to a fixer upper auction house in the fancy part of town. It was super rough and the kitchen was redone. I love it!)

Then I went to Kroger for their advertised deals.





They sent me a stack of loyalty coupons. See that chicken? I don't normally buy prebreaded anything. But I think it is better than fast food nuggets because they aren't fried. So I had a coupon for $2.50 off two. Do the math with me...each pack was $.54. Score!

Drum roll please.....

I got about 12 pounds of chicken breast in that stack of chicken. $1.88 per pound :)
I got ten apple juice for $1 each, minus a $.55 coupon and a $.75 coupon.
The carrots and lima beans were free :)
The pasta sauce was 5 for $5 if you loaded the digital coupon.
The peanut butter was 5 for $5 if you loaded the digital coupon.
The pasta was $.60 after coupon.the bacon wasn't great in price, almost $4 with coupon. But it was a lean pack.
The corn was 3 for $1.
The peppers were on markdown for $.99.
The Worcestershire sauce was an awful price, $3.59.
Apples were $.50 each, the onion was $.53, and the sub rolls were mark down to $1.79.

All in all my Kroger bill was $61.80

$99.49 for this week's food plus a bunch in my stock pile. I am happy with that!

Oh and here is a picture of the kid trying on clothes last week:) She is stellar! Straight A student. Tn State Champ for gymnastics. She also got her probationary black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Oh and she is nice and sweet. Best kid ever :)











Monday, August 22, 2016

Harvest Monday August 22nd

It is Harvest Monday! You can see other gardens at Our Happy Acres!

It is a shame we don't have any tomatoes.....




But that is about all I have. I only have one bad tomato in that batch. And the green ones look way green in the photo but they have substantial yellow on them so they will turn on the countertop.


We had a ton of rain and the corn has really shot up. Unfortunately the winds blew our poorly staked cherry tomatoes over and they started rotting. Maybe blight? I don't know. We didn't trim or stake these correctly.So I guess it is a miracle we got what we did. We have 16 plants, 8 feet tall, practically laying on each other on their sides now. There are 200, 300? cherry tomatoes on them. So I am not sure what will happen with those. We cut off 75% of the nasty went mushy stuff. Oops


Our bell pepper plants bloomed and are producing peppers! Lesson learned, never plant squash with anything but squash. We have three nice pepper plants and two more meh plants. Our hot pepper plant also started growing once the yellow squash plant was pulled. We have one enormous lovely hot pepper trying to turn red.

The sugar peas are sprouting :) The second batch of basil grew crazy fast :) Our beefstake tomatoes are like a whole 3 inches tall now :)



One lettuce grew a little, one did not. I did find more watermelons and was very excited about that. We have nine large ones that look great and about 10 that are little and may or mat not make it. I had to throw one, the size of my fist, away on Thursday because it rotted on the end. Fickle little things.

Our green beans are actually "beaning" and we have a handful close to picking size. 

The main zucchini plant isn't happy, it's two fruit haven't changed much in a week. Its substandard siblings are still substandard. Why? Squash bugs. Ug. I am pretty ticked. We sprayed them with dawn and drowned all the white babies today. I am squishing the adults as I see them. Hopefully the watered down dawn won't hurt my plants. I picked one zucchini to give the plant a chance to rest and have two babies growing.

The cucumbers haven't produced anything yet. With the other plants, we had teeny cucumbers just a few days after the yellow flowers appears. We have nothing this time. We also don't have our bees, they went away :( 

So lesson learned this week, plant lots of flowers around veggies to attract bees. 

This is what I picked this week:

104.30 ounces of tomatoes
96.90 ounces of cherry tomatoes
4.35 ounces zucchini
1.04 ounces pole beans (so pleased with this! it is a handful!)
-----
206.59 ounces or 12.91 pounds


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 63 Meal Plan

Meal plan went pretty well. The Alfredo made two meals so we had leftovers. We did eat Wendy's on Wednesday because we were 45 minutes from home. Tonight I will make the pork and potatoes.

So this week I will do:

- vegetable creamy Mac and cheese, fancy sausage
- that poor chicken taco I have been trying to do for 2 months. Except I am doing shredded pork. Also a side salad of organic lettuce and our organic garden cherry tomatoes.
- a double batch of porcupine meatballs, half pork, half beef. I will also do another salad (we have a lot of tomatoes), California mix, peas, and corn. We will eat this two nights in a row.
- spaghetti
- Philly "cheesesteak" and watermelon (I am going to use ground beef instead of steak)
- home made potato soup, tomato sandwiches and fruit salad


Lunches will be:
pbj, pretzels, cantaloupe, bananas, cherry tomatoes, muffin
chicken salad, pretzels, grapes, yogurt, pb crackers, muffin X 2
ham sandwich, cheese popcorn, pb crackers, bananas, muffin X 2

I am going to start making muffins for lunches. My daughter is a competitive gymnast. She weighs about 57 pounds at nine years old. She is 99.9% muscle. And she eats like a teenage boy. So when you see me packing a sandwich, half a pound of melon, 2 bananas, a bag of pretzels, half a pound of tomatoes, and a muffin in one lunch, know that is for the kid. My husband doesn't take that much food to work.



Aldi:
provolone cheese slices
watermelon (on sale $2.69)
bananas (on sale $.29)
red and white grapes (on sale $.79)
honeydew melon (on sale $1.29)
bread x 2
sour cream
2 milk
pack of ham lunchmeat
onions
bell pepper
fancy sausage from their cold case

Kroger
french bread or a type of roll (whatever is cheapest)
Worcestershire sauce
2 apples (just for fruit salad)
10 pounds of chicken breast (on sale)
10 apple juice (on sale)
10 yogurts (on sale)
bacon (on sale)


The hubby is going to try to make bread tonight so we can use up our wheat. We bought chemical free organic wheat berries in a 100 pound sack awhile ago. The hubs is going to make french bread so I might be taking that off my list. (and more stuff gone out of my pantry yay!)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Weekly Shopping Trip

My husband ran to the store and bought two packs of bacon, a bunch of bananas, and a loaf of bread. And has no clue what he spent. It was at Kroger and he bought substandard bacon (really? with the home grown tomatoes?). I will put down $3 per bacon, he got the gross $1 bread (aldi .85 bread is way better), and he got about a dollar I would guess of bananas. So with tax and all I will put down $9 for him.

Now on to me. The one with a list, plan, and receipt.

milk times two
10 pounds potatoes
2 OJ
cantaloupe
butter
pineapple times two
yellow mustard
cucumbers times two (and they stink compared to our garden ones that are gone)
salsa
organic lettuce
pepper jack
cheddar
red grapes
yogurt times three
lots of bananas, 4.75 pounds (in addition to what he bought. The kid eats a lot of bananas.)
small pack of turkey lunchmeat because they were out of ham
tortilla chips
frosted flakes
honey wheat puffs
bread times two
$47.36

Monday, August 15, 2016

Harvest Monday August 15th

I am participating in harvest Monday with Our Happy Acres.

Monday, I pulled up two small zucchini plants and moved them to milk jugs. They were getting smothered by the other zucchini and the watermelon. I picked this:



(and apparently can't rotate it)

The squash was on the part of the plant where they always rot. I got it in this time, haha

The one neon green tomato was for my Monday lunch. Then I saw the other two with bad spots in them, so I grabbed for those fried green tomatoes too. Yummo

Our second batch of heirloom pickling cucumbers are blooming. These are the ones I plan to use for seeds next year. There are six plants, I hope we get another ten+ pounds eating off them before the frost.



I also got two flower planters of leaf lettuce planted. Our first batch of lettuce burned up, we had a very hot summer very early. I hope by using a planter, the lettuce will retain water.

On Tuesday, I picked lots and lots of cucumber and two tomatoes. The pretty little red one has ant damage on the bottom. I picked the big one to finish ripening inside so it would stay nice. It is probably the largest tomato that has been picked.


I was surprised to see my lettuce sprouted on Wednesday. The bag of miracle grow was in the driveway and it was boiling hot when I planted the seeds. I was a little worried it was too hot. Tada!


Wednesdays picking includes another zucchini! 



On Thursday I discovered you can't grow zucchini in a milk jug. I moved them to a corner of the cucumber bed before they totally died.

More bug bitten tomatoes for lunch. I have decided it is better to pick them yellow and let them ripen on my counter, than to lose them to bugs. I want to keep pesticides out of the garden so I am willing to lose a little flavor. I am going to try to use the seeds from that mutant cucumber.



Next year we will do little yellow pear tomatoes. These cherry tomatoes are huge for a little tomato and take forever to turn red. Maybe I can do several varieties of little ones. In my head, I was going to roast tomatoes for freezer sauce blah blah. I don't think we will get enough to even try that.

I officially gave up on cucumbers and squash on Friday.

The cucumbers went from beautiful green leaves to yellow, curling and gross in a couple of days. I also found two one pound + yellow cucumbers. Even the little ones were growing yellow. Next year we will put a row of cucumber on a trellis of some sort along the backside of the house across three beds. That should give us 8 in each bed, 24 total. I think properly trellised, that will give us more cucumbers than the mess we grew this year. The vines grew 8-10 feet all over each other into our mulch, into the tomatoes, and into the beans. I had to lift massive amounts of greenery to find the cucumbers.

The squash had 6 squash on it, 3 rotted. Its leaves also turned yellow and the whole plant looked pitiful. I had problems with rotting squash this year. We have decided not to grow that kind anymore. Not having a garden before, I didn't know how different kinds grew. These squash kept curling on the ground and rotting. My zucchini is growing straight up from the center of the plant. It isn't touching the ground at all. So next year, no yellow squash, and I will do a couple of varieties of zucchini instead.



I took three zucchini from their bed and put them in the old squash spots. We just don't have enough dirt in that long skinny bed for big plants. Since I started trimming the squash, my pepper plants grew from 6 inches to 18 inches. Like in a week. Does anyone know if I have a chance of getting a pepper off them? Should I fertilize and see? The plants look really nice, dark green glossy leaves.



And this is what I picked today, more yellow stuff to ripen inside.


Oh, and I lost all my herbs. Cats decided to knock over the buckets and poop in them. Joy.

We have red spiders in the watermelon. I squished all these:



I also squished 20 long skinny big beetle things, that was satisfying. My garden, MY vegetables.


Corn!



These beans look so much better than the last. And there is my gorgeous zucchini plant along with its two substandard siblings.

This weekend I learned that I cannot successfully transplant zucchini, I killed all five plants. oops. I did pick more yellow stuff.



It has been ripening beautifully on my counter too.




This week we picked (in ounces)

Cucumbers83.85
Yellow Squash15.9
Tomatoes87.7
Cherry Tomatoes35.4
Zuchinni19.25

15.13 pounds :)






Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 56 Meal Plan

Once again, did so so on the meal plan. We had date night at steak and shake so the spaghetti wasn't made. Then the ham had more leftovers than anticipated, even after five lunches. So tonight we will finish it up.

This is my plan this week:
Pork roast, gravy, potatoes, peas
BLTs and fruit salad X 2 because our tomatoes are coming in
Fancy salad with sliced chicken
Chicken chili lime tacos...you know the thing we have been trying to eat for a month
Home made pizza with asiago cheese, real sausage, and carmelized onion, mushroom plus a side salad
Chicken Alfredo and a freezer veggie or leftover salad

Lunch will be:
Pulled pork sandwich with home made pickles, watermelon, cutie orange, pretzels, pb crackers
Pulled pork sandwich with home made pickles, watermelon, peach, pretzels, pb crackers
Pbj, 2 bananas, pretzels, cherry tomatoes
Ham sandwich, banana, regular orange, pretzel, mini cucumbers (store bought...sigh)
Ditto

This week I need to buy:
2 milk
2 OJ
Two, maybe three loaves of bread
Bacon X 2
Two cans of pineapple
Lots of bananas
Potatoes
Misc fruit (need to take inventory of leftovers in fridge)
Lettuce
Small pack of ham
Oranges
Mini cucumbers

I am going to Kroger too, their chicken breast is 1.88 pp. I don't want to be caught without chicken in the freezer. They also have Zuchinni, squash, corn, eggplant, and green beans on sale.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Grocery Shopping

I grocery shopped yesterday and I feel good about what I spent.

First things first, I went to Aldi :) I spent $40.90 on:

2 milks (2.19)
2 OJ carafes (1.99! this went down 20 cents! You are probably thinking big whoop but I buy two every week. 40 cents time 52 weeks times 7.5%. It is like someone just handed me $22.36 a year!)
watermelon 2.49
mandarins 2.49
all purpose flour 1.49
cheese crackers 1.79
pringles 1.45
grape jelly 1.29 (because they wont eat homemade eye rolling good strawberry with peanut butter. Freaks.)
Italian Seasoning .99 (and I found my other huge container minutes after being home. oops.)
spaghetti sauce 1.19 - wait a minute, why did this go up in price? I need to keep an eye out for a $1.00 ragu sale.
peanut butter 1.49
tator tots 1.65
honey nut oats 1.19
bananas .70
garlic powder .99
tortillas 1.69
frosted flakes 1.29
saltines .99
3 eggs .79
4 pounds of red grapes .78 pp
bread .85

Then I ran over to Kroger. As much as I love Aldi, Kroger is like my Macy's of grocery shopping. I like looking at their weird and fancy stuff although I rarely buy it. It is my fun store.

I bought 20.12 pounds of pork loin at $1.79 pp. That is 20 meals of meat. I used the first pound last night. I am going out of order on meal plans again. I put the rosemary garlic sauce on it instead of chicken. It was a fantastic crock pot meal! That meal with peas, potatoes, gravy and roast was under $5. And it was delicious!

I also got lured into the produce department where I bought:
one romaine lettuce .99
3 peaches 1.18
fresh green beans .87 (two big handfuls)

Total there was 42.16

So for the week, I was a little higher than I want to be. BUT I have 18 pork roasts going into the freezer for later use. Things like the eggs, seasonings, peanut butter, jelly, flour, and cereals will last longer than this week. So I feel good about it overall :)

Monday, August 08, 2016

Harvest Monday August 8

I am joining Our Happy Acres in their harvest Monday posts :)

I took a few pictures this week of our garden stuff. I wish I had tallied last week's haul separately, I will start doing that.

Our garden consists of 7 4x4 beds, 1 2x2 bed, and 2 2x8 beds. I also have a bucket of tomato sprouts, and several small buckets of herbs. I also sprout alfalfa, broccoli, and radish seeds for salads in my windowsill.

One 4x4 is all pickling cucumbers. We have picked 60+ pounds of them with about 8 pounds being just this week (made 6 quarts of dill pickles). We didn't trellis them as we should have (first time gardeners here) so they are a mess. We have two kinds of pickling cucumbers in there. I bought a six pack of mystery vines when our plants from seed didn't look like they were going to grow. Well they did, and we have a lot going on in such a small space. This is normal for my every other day pick.

Just one day of treasure...



We had heirloom purple beans in a bed for awhile. They didn't do anything, I don't think they liked our soil. We also had ants invade them. So I yanked them up. Normally I would not have picked these tomatoes but can you see the holes from those thieving ants? They moved to the tomato bed. We have home made ant killer out there now so I hope it fixes the problem. I couldn't leave these out there to mush up and get worse.



So I made freezer salsa :) Tomatoes, onion, hot pepper, bell pepper. I put this in a ziploc raw then dump it on precooked ground beef. I can have a taco dinner ready in 15 minutes. 


I also sprouted 4 tablespoons of alfalfa this week. I used to do it all the time and stopped, I don't know why. Normally I mix my seeds up, but this week I did just plain alfalfa because I was using it as a salad base. I think it tastes just like crunchy lettuce, I love it. These are a little hull-ish because I didn't switch the strainer lids on the right day. Once they green up and curl up, your hulls are pretty much trapped. They don't taste like anything, it just isn't as pretty as it could be. 4 tablespoons made over 12 ounces of sprouts. Converting pounds to grams to tablespoons, I should get 20 pounds of sprouts from my 2.5 pound bag of seeds. It was $20, so $1 a pound for organic greens? I'll take it considering Aldi organic lettuce is 3.49 a pound and you have to recycle the large clamshell. 


My first zucchini :) This is going to be pizza for dinner tonight, delish. And there is another cucumber harvest back there. I have about 4-6 vines in one corner that give me weird shaped cucumbers. They taste ok so I just go with it. If I don't pick them as gourd shapes, they grow into large balls. Weird huh? Anyway, we also have 20+ zucchini plants. Some are very small, two are very large. If I can get 5 plants producing like our squash did, I will be happy. My goal is to freeze stuff for winter and I can eat zucchini all day, every day.


This is our corn!!  I did four corn in each square foot (saw it on youtube). So a total of 64 plants (and actually I did more than that because I didn't know they would all sprout). We have about 20 that are up and growing. We are racing the clock with our first frost, this is mostly just a learning thing for us. If we can actually get corn from a raised bed I will be very excited :) 


Our watermelon bed is a 2 X 8. It has now extended through the fence 6 feet into the yard (you can kiss all that goodbye, we have deer). It also extended underneath the zucchini in their bed (another 2 X 8), 10 feet past that bed around the corner (trying to keep it on our edge out of other beds), and 10 feet the other way (wrapping itself into an empty area so that is ok). I have no idea what kind these are. Our sugarbaby seeds did not sprout in our fancy cups. So I bought 8 plants for $1.50. We have ten watermelons, from the size of a roma tomato to the size of a cantaloupe. 


So that's the summary of our little garden this week. We have 50 small cucumbers growing. We have 100 cherry tomatoes trying to turn red. We have 50 large tomatoes trying to ripen. I have 7 yellow squash trying to make it to picking size, 3 zucchini, and 10 watermelon. Our basil has sprouted, along with the beefstake tomatoes in the bucket :)
Picked so far....
Cucumbers 989.86 ounces
yellow squash 229.15 ounces
tomato 147.00 ounces
Cherry tomato 2.90 ounces
Zuchinni 7.35 ounces
Sprouts 12.35 ounces
4 hot pepper
3 tiny green peppers
green beans 9.1 ounces