Ellaberry Gardens
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January 2013

Ellaberry Gardens January 2013 Newsletter


"He who has a why can endure any how."~~Friedrich Neitzsche

Hardest thing in the whole world to be working hard at something or struggling with a project or a relationship and not know why you're doing it or what you hope the outcome will be.  I find that in my years as a mom, a wife, and an urban homesteader that if I keep my "why"s in focus, my "how"s tend to make more sense to me.  On the mornings that it's 18 degrees and I'm outside cleaning up chicken poo, it makes sense because I know keeping chickens for meat, eggs and garden fertility is part of my urban homesteading plan.  When it's time to butcher a chicken, some quail or (soon) a rabbit, it makes sense because I know that occasionally harvesting our own meat is part of my urban homesteading plan.  It's all part of my plan for my family---increased food self-sufficiency, eating healthier foods, learning new skills.  I'm not saying remembering my "why"s makes these jobs any easier.  But it sure does keep my head clear and keep resentments and frustrations at bay. 

A new year is always a lovely thing.  I know that marking time with a calendar or declaring today the beginning of a new year versus yesterday is simply a human invention.  But I do believe that we respond psychologically to this time of year.  We make resolutions, to-do lists and new plans.  We often then proceed to beat ourselves up for the ones we don't keep.

So this year, let's change it up!  How about we figure out our "why"s and then plan our "how"s?  What is most important to you this year in your urban homesteading journey?  Yours is going to be unique to you so don't go by anyone else's.  Do you want to grow an herb you've never grown?  Do you want to butcher an animal for the first time?  Do you want to try to grow through the winter next year?  Pick a "why" or two and then plan accordingly.  When you're frustrated and overwhelmed (cuz it'll come), reflect on your "why"s for inspiration.
 And don't be afraid to adjust your "why"s along the way.  Sometimes the "how"s show us that our "why"s need some adjusting.   

Thoughts on Employment: Part 2
(see the last newsletter of 2012 for part 1)

I quit.  After less than two weeks.  Yep.  I lasted less than two weeks.  And let me tell you why.

I was utterly exhausted.  It was only part-time, in theory.  I was working 5-11am, Monday through Thursday and 3-9pm on Fridays.  That meant going to bed way earlier than I was used to and missing out on some kid time and some pillow talk time with my man (irreplacable.)  That meant being so tired during the afternoon that I dozed off a couple times when I needed to be doing stuff with or for the kids or the house.  That meant fighting being just plain cranky way too often.

My husband got called away to work the damage that hurricane Sandy was causing just a few days after I began working.  This made the importance of my role as an at-home mom and head caretaker extremely clear.  If I'm not managing the kids (homeschooling, talking, guiding, feeding, all that stuff kids need), who is?  If I'm not managing the house, who is?  If I'm not managing the garden, the chickens, the rabbits, the quail, who is?  That doesn't mean I can't delegate or share the jobs. It became extremely clear to me that our family functions as well as it does because of what we all do.  Including me.  And having a j.o.b. just didn't fit into that. The fact that he was going to make more in overtime in three weeks than I'd probably make in six months wasn't very encouraging either.

And, frankly, as much as I was enjoying some of the people where I worked and got excited about what I might be able to do there, it just wasn't what I wanted to be doing.  I was increasingly frustrated with working for a company who markets themselves as a "natural living" business but who was throwing out literally hundreds of pounds of organic produce and wasn't willing to consider alternatives. I didn't like it one bit.  Don't tell anyone but I even put some of the "trash" in the back of my car a time or two.  I might have even had a friend who's a criminal like me come and get it out of the dumpster just as soon as I deposited it.  See?  I'm not cut out for the workplace.  Less than two weeks and breaking the rules.  Sheesh. 

So, we're back to one sustaining income and pinching pennies. I have to admit that I love it and find it challenging and fun to see how much we can do with what we've got. Sometimes I think we're going to crash and burn but we also do ok.  More than ok actually.   

I do very much appreciate the opportunity I had.  The woman who hired me is very kind and it took me a while to get over feeling anxious that I let her down. But it is what it is.  And I feel horrible for the folks who want to be working and can't find employment.  I do. I hear there's a natural foods market hiring.

Right Now in the Garden

Ellaberry Gardens' main goal is to help home food growers and urban homesteaders (and wannabes!) to gain confidence in their abilities to grow a little or a lot of their own food---vegetables, fruits, edible flowers, herbs, eggs and even backyard meat operations.  I have many "subgoals" though.  One of them is to do my best to get folks gardening for more of the year!  So, what would you be doing in the garden in January?  So many wonderful things!

  • Buy any straw you might need for the year for mulch or animal bedding (straw is seasonal.)
  • Weed your beds very, very well.
  • Add a layer of compost to existing garden beds if you didn't get to it in the fall(consider covering with a layer of mulch as well.)
  • Sow spinach, radishes, cold hardy lettuces like romaines, arugula and endive under hoop houses or cold frames
  • Prune your fruit trees.
  • Check your trellises, gates, and fences for any repairs they may need while they're naked---and do the repairs.
  • Start broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, collards, kale, Brussels sprouts and onions indoors for late winter/early spring transplanting.
  • Build a new bed for something new you want to try---an entire bed of different basils, a medicinal herb garden, a salsa garden or cucumbers just for pickling.
  • Order your seeds for the entire year (including next fall/winter) to save on shipping. This will naturally involve some planning but you can do it!

Our winter gardens can be bountiful and beautiful if we just do a little planning.  I have a bed full of cabbages, a couple of rows of turnips, a small patch of spinach, a bed of kale and some chard to harvest from right now.  They've all made it beautifully through temperatures as low as 15.  So expand your ideas about gardening.  It'd make just happy as a duck on a junebug if I could get folks to give up on the idea that gardening has a season.  Gardening is always. 


Ellaberry Gardens' Black-Eyed Pea Yum

I know New Year's Day is nearly over but this is a warming, easy peasy, super delicious dish any time you want something warm and filling. 

It's a two-part recipe because you serve the black-eye pea mixture over polenta. 

Basic Polenta

1 cup cornmeal
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Bring water and salt to a boil.  Whisk in cornmeal.  Stir frequently until it begins to pull away from sides and/or is very, very thick (takes between 20-40 minutes depending on how fine the cornmeal is ground.)  Drop a generous 1/2 cup into the bottom of several (4-6)soup bowls.

Black-eyed Pea Yum

1 large onion, diced
1/8 cup olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup bacon grease
2 tbls brown sugar
4 cans black-eyed peas drained (or a generous 4-5 cups cooked)
1 can diced tomatoes with peppers (like Ro-Tel)

Place onion , bay leaves and olive oil in large dutch oven or stock pot.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Remove bay leaves and stir in bacon grease and brown sugar.  Cook until onions are just beginning to brown.  Stir in black-eyed peas and tomatoes and let simmer for 15 minutes or so.  Spoon over warm polenta.

You can add sour cream or freshly minced cilantro if you'd like.  Yum!

Edible Garden Tour

Planning for the 2013 tour is underway! 

Tentative date is June 8-9, 2013.  I have a couple of gardens lined up but am still looking!  If you have a garden you'd like me to consider, please contact me so we can set up a tour! 

I'm also looking for vendors.  Anyone who has a service or product relative to urban homesteading is welcome to inquire.  There is no fee but we do ask that you donate 10% of your sales to the benefactor of the tour (yet to be determined.)  I also ask that you donate a small gift to the homeowner whose driveway you're set up in. If this appeals to you or know someone it might, please contact me! 

Ellaberry in the Community

As spring comes around, folks often ask me to speak for their garden clubs or garden related events.  If you're a non-profit, I do my best to show up for free.  If you're not, my typical fee is $50 for up to two hours which includes a talk (of your choosing from a list of topics), printed materials and a door prize. 

Don't wait until the last minute!  Contact me through the website, via email at
ellaberrygardens@yahoo.com, find me on Facebook or just plain ole call at  918-346-1760.

Services Offered by Ellaberry

Aside from our regular monthly classes, Ellaberry Gardens is available for:
  • consultations on designing your urban homestead (garden beds, small orchards, animal yards, etc.)
  • speaking engagements
  • mulch hauling
  • quail enclosure building
  • raised bed building
  • garden clean up

If you are in need of any of these services, please email or call!  We'll get to you just as soon as we can!

For Sale

We are now taking orders for spring transplants.  Plants will be $2 each.  Email with your plant selections.  Payment may be made via paypal or cash (by dropping it off.)  If you would like to order more than a dozen, payment is expected before your plants are received.  Plants will be ready mid-February. Here's what we're offering:

Broccoli---Nutribud, Calabrese, Early Green
Cabbage---Danish ballhead, Drumhead Savoy, Golden Acre, Mammoth Red Rock
Cauliflower---Snowball X, Snowball Y
Collards---Vates, Georgia Southern
Kale---Vates Blue Curl, Dward Blue Curled, Dwarf Siberian, Walking Stick
Kohlrabi---Purple Vienna or Early White Vienna

Happy growin'!


Bunnies born 11/25/12

Texas A & M quail male: hatched 11/1/12

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