Rethinking the Garden Plot

My mind is not always very organized.  I usually start out with abstract and unconnected thoughts which slowly materialize into something cohesive and tactile.

It took me 2 years, of writing and rewriting my decades-long learning curve, to complete my book.  Most of the rewriting was organization ~ reorganization ~ of how I wanted my thoughts presented.     Get the Book

Now here, like with writing, a garden is an expression of our minds.  There are gardens that are neat and orderly and gardens where just about anything grows anywhere.  My gardens often fall somewhere in the between category, leaning more toward the ‘growing anywhere’ garden than anything that would appear orderly.

This video, that originally aired on a local California news channel has inspired my mind to make better use of the new garden space I have been blessed with.  Imagine what I could do with my yard space IF I were organized!

“Ever thought of growing your own food but didn’t think it was possible? It’s more that possible! It might even be the way of the future. If the Dervaes family can do it while living in Los Angeles, I think you can to.

The Dervaes family live on 1/10th of an acre 15 minutes from downtown L.A.. In itself that’s not strange. What’s crazy is that they manage to maintain a sustainable and independent urban farm. Complete with animals!

In a year they produce around 4,300 pounds of veggies, 900 chicken eggs, 1000 duck eggs, 25 lbs honey, and pounds of seasonal fruit. There are over 400 species of plants. What?! They have everything they need to ‘live off the land.’ From beets to bees. Chickens to chickpeas.” 1.

My garden area is a self watering leach field, that does not puddle or retain excess amounts of water.  Since it is on a very gentle slope, all the water that is not absorbed is directed into a ditch along the road.  I am not sure if that ditch floods, but I imagine that if there was a major downpour, a puddle or small lake may form in the roadway behind my home.

This garden appears to be a mix of permaculture and squarefoot gardening.  I really liked how they conserved water in a drought stricken environment.  They have chickens, ducks and goats to go along with their immense garden in such a tiny space.  I mean, if chickens really smelled that bad, the neighbors next door would be up in arms with the goats and ducks too.

Here is the inspiring video:



I’m starting to get my gardening mind organized…

May the Storage Be with You!

1. Source:



Making Pancakes…eggs are optional…oil is not.

This morning I ventured into the kitchen to whip up a stack of pancakes.  Upon opening he fridge, I realized I had neglected to buy some eggs when I was in town yesterday.

Well, I didn’t want to disappoint the strawberries, whipped cream or maple syrup so I went ahead its my plans.

I made the pancake batter without the eggs and it came out fine.

Yea…don’t need eggs for pancakes, but eggs do provide healthy protein, so if you have them, add them.

What you do need is oil.

Honestly, ‘cakers’ are better with oil.

 oil, the If we neglected fats and oils cake would stick to the pan and will bake up dense and dry.  I often add oil to my batter, as well as making sure my cast-iron skillet has a drop rubbed into the cooking surface before I begin.  This way, my cakes are moist and don’t stick to the pan.

Oil and fats are an often overlooked component in food storage.

Look over you recipes, how many of them require oil in the mix or as part of the cooking regimen?

Most recipes, for baking, call for 1/4 to 3/4 cup of a liquid or solid fat to add moisture to the baked good.  I have accidentally left out this vital ingredient in a recipe and it ultimately became bird food because the kids were not interested in super-dense and dry muffins.  :/

Fats and Oils are essential to the human diet.  Natural fats are not dietary demons.  It is man-made fats such as hydrogenated fats and fake fats made in a lab that are bad for your body, because fake and chemically modified fats cannot be processed effectively.

Oils are important for your body as well, but there are oils that should be avoided.  All corn, vegetable, canola and soybean oils on the general market, at this time, are genetically modified.  While some people think that this poses little to no health threat, there is plenty of concern that the long-term health issues from consuming these substances has yet to be substantiated.

So choose your fat and oil wisely ~ your body is counting on you to make the healthy choice.

How much oil should I get?  

Let’s say you decide that 1/4 cup of oil is all you need each day. 
1/4 cup = 2 oz.  Multiply 2 oz by 7 days = 14 oz a week.  
There are 52 weeks in a year, so 14 x 52 = 728 oz for one year, or   30+ 24 oz bottles of oil.

Will it store?
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I initially thought that my oil would go rancid within six month and could not be stored for long.  I learned, by experience, that my beliefs were mistaken.

It really depends upon what type of oil you get and how you store it. Corn, vegetable, soybean and canola oils are notorious for going rancid quickly, even in a dark, cool space. 

I recommend olive, coconut and safflower oils in smaller bottles, such as 24-30 ounces each.  Store them in the dark, in a chilly place of the house…temps between 45-65 degrees.   Other seed and nut oils have varying shelf lives, but storing in optimal conditions will help.

When I first began researching and developing my own ways of storing oil, I found the need to establish a storage baseline.  Not surprising, this baseline was the same as storing all my other food storage – in a cool, dark, dry environment. 

There are ways to achieve dark conditions for your oil, other than covering the windows with foil and black curtains.  I have stuck my smaller bottles of oil inside a large black sock, wrapped them in aluminum foil, or have draped a blanket over the shelf they are stored on.  you can then store them in storage containers on shelves or directly on a shelf. 

To keep the room your food is in cool, close the heater vent that goes into that room, you can also remove the heater vent and tape plastic on the underside, then reinstall it with the vent closed, that should help.  Having a door draft stopper on the bottom of your storage room door will help to keep it cool.   Door drafter stoppers can be a simple as a rolled up blanket or a commercial creation sold at your local store.

Lastly – you need to date your bottles with the month and year you purchased it.  Do your best to keep your oil in their original bottles, to ensure that they stay uncontaminated.  Set bottles on your shelf, oldest to youngest, use oldest bottles first. 

For example:  if I have three bottles dated for 01/12, 06/12, 02/13 – which I have, btw ~ and they are still good, I would use the 1/12 bottle first, because it is the oldest.  I would then have the 06/12 behind the first bottle followed by the 02/13, so they are used in order of purchase.

With oils and fats you won’t have to worry about dense muffins and waffles stuck to the griddle.

~ May the Storage Be With You ~

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