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right now

Jan 3, 2010

Looking Back... 2009 Ups & Downs

Before I post my 2010 goals for our little suburban homestead, I thought I would review the past year's highs and lows so I have something to measure my accomplishments with this time next year! I am actually taking a cue from Judy over at My Freezer is Full, who posted her 2009 accomplishments and goals for the next year - good idea!

1. Composting - we did well with this, we have had 3 large compost bins built and cooking since last spring, but need to be better about turning the pile more often so as to have adequate heat to kill weed seeds (since sailor/hubby likes to compost weeds!). We have filled a couple of new beds with our compost and happily report that we have never had an issue with smell or critters, it seems silly now that this was my main protest to hubby about composting!

2. Repurposing/Reusing/Recycling - We used our old fencing that blew down in a storm to build compost bins, creating all garden stakes, tipis, etc out of stuff we already had. We scored a huge section of plastic drainage pipe that will become a potato cage in 2010, also scored a rain barrel from hubby's work. All seed starting stuff this year is recycled from last year's operation. Hubby made several garden shed tables, seedling shelves, and potting bench from leftover lumber from home remodeling. Turned our old large aquarium stand into our homebrewing station with the addition of a recycled door/countertop. We can always do better in this area, but those are the ones standing out in my memory!

3. Growing our own food - Each year is getting better and better, and I can't think of the last time I visited the produce section of the store. We find that we are eating what's in season instead of paying too much for tasteless tomatoes and the like in the middle of winter! Last time we had hamburgers we just topped them with Chard and winter greens and a couple of pickled peppers from our stash... no tomatoes, no problem! Lows - Kids were still not eating veggies out of the garden the past year, fall lettuces were under-utilized, fall peas were a total failure due to planting a bit late. First year planting potatoes, used wire cages & straw for fingerlings, big success! We also started brewing our own beer, which is one of the best things we have done, it's fun & the taste is far superior to store bought!

4. Changing the way we buy meat - score here! Have not bought any grocery store meat in almost a year. We purchased a small deep freeze last spring and ordered our meat shares through a pastured, humane local farm. We just eat a little less meat to compensate for the increased cost, but the taste is well worth it, not to mention the other benefits to buying local. The main issue here is budgeting, since we buy our meat all at once.

5. Gardening "as a family" - total flop! Hubby gone most of the year, he helps when he can, but the kids are not quite as helpful as I had hoped they would be this year.
6. I wanted to save seed but didn't this year other than a few flowers... total bust here.

7. Community Gardening Activities - check!... went through Master Gardener Training and Certification and graduated in November. I am very proud of this accomplishment since I have two little boys at home that normally put a stop to any of my "selfish plans"!

8. Preserving Food - although I did do this, I didn't do nearly the amount I should have. Maybe it was due to being busy with classes, but this year's stash is pathetic compared to 2008. Mainly, the tomatoes... I just got overwhelmed and gave alot away!

All said, not too bad, better than the average suburbanite - but still can definitely do better! So now I think I can work on my goals for 2010, and can look back on this and see if I have done better than this year. What about you? Are you where you had hoped to be at the end of the year?


  1. Erin, I think you did great! These are a lot of goals to set. I generally limit mine to one. :)

    Like you, I hope gardening this year will become more of a family affair. Too bad we aren't neighbors, I'd garden with ya!

  2. Baby steps Erin, you had a GREAT year!

  3. I think you had a wonderful year, Erin. Help in the garden? What is that, may I ask?

    I was very happy with most of last year's garden, although I grew too much of some things (tomatoes, anyone?) and not enough of others...more of the old standbys like lettuce, potatoes, carrots and onions needed.

  4. Thanks all! Thomas, if we were neighbors I would be borrowing your photographer, too! Granny, you should photoshop a tomato head into your profile pic...not that you aren't beautiful, but really... I still think you need that tomato intervention! Come to think of it, A & E should do a new show Intervention: Gardeners, where they tell us what we are doing wrong and then send us away to a Gardener's Rehab/Spa for 90 days to dry out!

  5. Have you watched Hoarders on A&E? I think I'm a tomato hoarder!!! I love that show, it makes me clean house every time I watch it ;-)

  6. All things considered, I think you did GREAT this year. And about the kids helping...sorry to inform you that it really doesn't get better as they get older. Well, maybe not true- they are more likely to be able to do what you ask, they just have more attitude!
    Good luck, I'll have to check out your goals for the new year.