Chard and Green Onions The Prudent Homemaker

January is a busy time in the garden for me. A month before my last frost date, it’s time to prune fruit trees, prune roses, trim hedges, fertilize the garden, plant seeds, and even harvest (I have several things big enough to eat in the garden right now, including chard, leeks, beets, green onions, parsley, thyme, garlic scapes, carrots, radishes, and lettuce). I may even have a little weeding to do.

It’s beautiful outside, which makes it even more delightful to be out there right now. We had a wonderful rain on Sunday, so I won’t have to water this week (in winter I only run the drip system one day a week, and my assigned day is Monday. I turned off the drip yesterday so that it wouldn’t come on today. It’s only 4 minutes of watering for the week, but I’m still grateful for the water savings).  

Going through my seeds, I realized I don’t really need to buy many at all this year. I haven’t placed any seed orders yet; everything I am planting so far is left over from last year or something that I collected from my garden last year.  (I do want to try a few new things, including  celery and sugar beets, and I do need seeds for parsley, red noodle beans, and more radishes for fall planting, so I’ll still place an order).


Garden Goals:

1. Prune hedges in the backyard

2. Prune roses in the backyard

3. Dig leeks and plant them deeper. Dig trenches for planting more leek seeds. Plant more leek seeds in them.

4. Prune grape vines (I got a good start on this after Christmas but still need to finish).

5. Plant more snow peas. I normally plant them in fall but I am going to add some more to the garden. I still have plenty of seeds from last year. 

6. Plant more lettuce seeds in the garden. I’m planning to add more to the front yard this week. I will be planting lettuce over several weeks to have a continuous supply of lettuce throughout the spring.

7. Plant more carrot seeds in the garden. I normally buy 60 pounds of carrots a year. I’d like to eliminate that expense ($23.28 a year), and I have plenty of carrot seeds left from last year. These are open-pollinated, so I should be able to collect seeds next year (carrots take a couple of years to go to seed) so that I will no longer have to buy seeds. I will plant more carrots in two weeks, and then more again in two weeks, and so forth, to ensure a continual supply of carrots. I’m growing parsnips, too, which are similar in taste to carrots, but they get much longer and take longer to grow. As the year goes on, I’ll harvest both carrots and parsnips.

7. Plant more beet seeds in the garden. I’ll probably harvest a bunch of beets as well, depending on size.

8. Plant more radish seeds. To maximize space, I’ll be planting these with the carrot seeds, with the turnip seeds, and with the parsnip seeds. They will be harvested before the carrots, so this will help maximize space in the garden.

9. Fertilize roses  (I’ll be using bone meal in place of superphosphate, and blood meal in place of cottonseed meal, since the nursery switched to carrying cottonseed meal only in small amounts a year or two ago. I already have these on hand).

10. Plant turnip seeds

11. Plant mustard seeds

12. Plant more spinach seeds

13. Plant more parsnip seeds

14. Prune Dorsett Golden apple tree. Because the weather has been so mild, this tree hasn’t lost all of its leaves yet, and is almost ready to start leafing out again. It’s the first tree to blossom in my garden each year (the apples are ripe in June).

15. Stake two trees in the front yard.


Cooking goals:

1. Make quiche. I have a ton of eggs still left in my fridge and Swiss chard and green onions in the garden.

2. Make turkey a la crescent. Due to the freezer no longer staying frozen/going out on my second fridge/freezer last week, I cooked a pork roast (which we’ve now eaten), dehydrated lots of bell peppers that I had frozen, and cooked a turkey on Saturday and one on Sunday (everything else I managed to move to other freezers). We’ll be having lots of turkey this week in several meals, since I cooked 38 pounds of turkey this past weekend (some will go in another freezer for other meals).

3. Cook a large pot of beans (in the solar oven) and make chili.

4. Make 2 lemon meringue pies with our lemons.

Bean Sprouts The Prudent Homemaker

5. Make stir fry with turkey, Swiss chard, green onions, and bean sprouts over brown rice (the chard and onions are from the garden, and mung beans are easy to sprout; you can buy them in bulk from many places and sprout them for some quick greens any time of year; I have these in my pantry).

6. Make several salads and soups.  We’ll be having salad and soup every day this week.

7. Make banana bread. I had some frozen bananas that defrosted that need to be used up.


Blogging goals:

1. Photograph and publish 3 new recipes.



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  1. Sounds like a ton of cooking went on this past week with more to come!!! I cant wait to hear more about your solar oven cooking =)

  2. Can’t wait to see the solar oven cooking and I’m excited for the 3 new recipes so I’m really cheering for you to meet your blogging goal!

  3. Sometimes if the freezer is not freezing properly it just needs to defrost for a day. Ice can get frozen inside the walls of the freezer which does not let it work the way it should. You can simply unplug it for a day or two, or you can put pans of boiling water inside to speed up the process. Plug it back in and give it 24 hours to see if it freezes again. This often works!

  4. My goals for this week are:
    1. To collect & cut down more apple boxes to hold my empty jars in the garage, & to take to my oldest daughter to hold her empty jars in her shed. When the jars are in boxes with dividers, they are far less likely to get broken than if they are just loose on the shelf & get bumped, or shaken in an earthquake. Apples are on sale here for 99 cents a pound, so this is a good time to pick up apple & grapefruit boxes for free at the grocery store.
    2. Continue to declutter & organize in the house, & to make room on the garage shelves for empty jars.
    3. Complete visiting the sisters on my visit teaching route.
    4. Accompany my husband to a medical appointment in Salt Lake.
    5. Cut the branches from the fir trees rescued from curbside last week, & place the branches where I want the needles to drop.

  5. 38 pounds of turkey at once could be a major inconvenience. I’m sure you will make good use of it and get some cooked turkey into the freezer also. My sister lives 10 minutes from me, and last time I had that happen, I drove to her house with a bunch of food in the car as she did have space at the time. I was lucky!! She has 6 children of her own and then raised 4 grandchildren, although they are all out of the house now. She still has a big freezer for cooking when they come home for visits, though. I hope you didn’t lost much. ‘

    I, at the other extreme, have been using a cooler on the side porch as extra freezer space for the last couple weeks. I froze some uneaten food from when I entertained my family over the holidays, and froze several dozen cookies that we don’t need out all at once. Just emptied the cooler last night as there is now space in the freezer AND we got above freezing today for almost the first time in 2.5 weeks.

    Can your freezer be fixed or will it have to be replaced? That is usually my biggest worry. We just put 2 new seals on the refrigerator–already nearing 20 years old—in hopes of postponing a purchase for a while longer. Refrigerators have gotten way more expensive since we last had to buy one!! We had a spell of things that had to be replaced last year, the dishwasher among them, and the stove and refrigerator were new about the same time, so I’m mentally thinking ahead that those will be the next casualties. The seals for the fridge were a $200+ “gamble” so I hope they last a while. At least it shouldn’t catch us unawares!

  6. Hi Brandy, I’m a long time reader but never commented. I live in NYC so it’s so much different than what you work with in terms of prices, storage space for the stockpile, which is almost nonexistent even considering every clothes closet, under the bed or on top of the cabinets space, and the biggest difference is lack of the space to grow food. I miss the garden so much, I had a huge one back when I lived in Poland… but even with all those constraints I always learn something from you so thank you 🙂 I decided to comment because I’m very curious what you are planning to do with the sugar beets that you want to plant… I remember my grandfather growing them and selling to sugar factory and the leftovers were the feed for cows or other domestic animals, I’m not sure which one 😀 I don’t remember us eating them in any way even thought most of my childhood and teenage years were spent in communism and post communism and the food was very scarce, we were actually getting little cards that said how much of everything you can buy in stores because there was nothing on the shelves, so if something was delivered people were fighting to get it, so if not those cards, only few people in the line would get everything that was delivered… maybe that was some type of sugar beets that wasn’t edible and you have a different kind… I’m just very interested 🙂

  7. Hi Joanna!

    Sugar beets are used to make white sugar (if your sugar doesn’t say cane sugar, it may very well be beet sugar). The leftover beet is used as feed for animals, and you can grow the beets just for feed as well. After watching an episode of War Time Farm last week, where they showed sugar beets, we looked up how to process sugar beets for sugar. We watched videos on You Tube of how it is done commercially for white sugar, as well as how you can make it yourself. The simplest way is to use it to make your own molasses.

    Beets are so easy to grow, and these ones are HUGE (they have even bigger ones that have less sugar and are used primarily for animal feed). I think it would be fun to try making our own molasses from them. You only need a few beets to make quite a bit of molasses, so I can just grow them in a small spot to try it.

  8. If you can, would you please post your recipe for pesto. My husband and daughter got my raised bed filled with dirt this weekend. According to planting guides I’ve read for my area, I should be ready to start planting around the 15th. I’m so excited.

  9. Oh ok 🙂 so I remember correctly… I thought maybe we didn’t use them to their full potential… but that’s exactly what they were used for, making sugar and animal
    feed… and I remember them being huge, as a kid I was always taken to the fields for harvesting potatoes and sugar beets and I could hardly pick some of them up because of their weight 😀 I would never think of looking up making sugar out of them on youtube…. I hope to find out some day how this went 😉

  10. I’m really interested in hearing about how this turns out for you. I hope you will do a post about your experience, good or bad!

  11. Hi Brandy

    I used to work for a company that made sugar from sugar beets. I remember the guys in the factory saying that the molasses made from beets would cause one to umm have the ‘runs’! They always sold it to cattle farmers…maybe it was the way we processed it, in a hot water bath to leach out the sugar.

    Lisa H

  12. Hi Brandy, have you grown celery before ? I tried it a couple of years ago and was dissappointed. It wasn’t plump like the store bought and took more than four months to grow. They are not a quick vegetable to grow and need lots of water. If celery is dear in America then go for it. Last Summer I was able to buy whole bunches of celery from the supermarket for $1 each. I used my Nicer Dicer to chop it up and placed it into freezer bags in meal sizes and froze. It does defrost watery but is great for stews, soups and casseroles.

  13. Brandy,
    good luck on your sugar beets! I have wanted to order some heirloom sugar beet seeds for several years to try growing as a fun experiment but never have. Making molasses sounds like a fun project and a great way to be a little more self sufficient.

  14. How many freezers do you have? Just curious. I have the usual in the house, and a big, almost 24 cubic foot standing freezer. No other fridge/freezer combo. I would like to purchase another freezer but don’t know I want to give up the cost and space. Plus in Houston you run the risk of power outages due to hurricanes, and I haven’t yet invested in a generator. Although I will say, the big freezer paid for itself (we bought it used in Las Vegas) through being able to stock up on meat sales for super cheap dinners. My issue is the broth – esp. chicken. We eat a lot of it, because it’s currently on sale for 59 cents a pound in Houston, and I save the bones etc. I have quarts and quarts and quarts of ham, chicken, pork and turkey broth. I use it when I cook dried beans, make rice, soups, but good heavens! There’s just no end of it, and having a whole freezer just full of broth wasn’t really my idea when I set out to get one!

  15. I have grown celery from the bottoms of store-bought bunches of celery before. Some took and some didn’t. I have some growing outside right now in the front yard with my herbs. It’s not a tight head, but I didn’t expect that, it being the center of a stalk. It’s more leafy–but the leaves add great flavor to soups. I just go cut some when I want it; I primarily use celery in soups. There are differences in tightness depending on the seed variety chosen. I wanted an open-pollinated one, so that is what I am planning to try. It
    s supposed to need lots of water, but where I have it, it doesn’t get any more water than anything else; everything in my garden is watered with drip irrigation, and I only water that section for 2 minutes at a time, twice in one day, one day a week right now; in summer I just increase the number of days watered. It’s in a place that gets afternoon shade. I’ve got another place like that where I want to try it. Celery has gone up to $1.79 a bunch here. I only buy it once a year when it goes a little lower in November; the rest of the year I use dried. It is much cheaper for me to buy a #10 can of dehydrated celery and just use a handful at a time to throw in soups (no waste that way, either). I want to try growing it from seed since I have had success from the bottom parts. I don’t need much, so a little at the back of a shady bed wouldn’t take up too much space.

  16. Love your blog, made your rosemary olive oil bread yesterday and it was a big hit with kids and grandkids. 4 loaves didn’t last long !!
    Have you ever taken the bottom of a stock of celery and planted it. I did this with several last year, all grew and they also come back up in the spring. You could even have friends save the bottom couple of inches of their stock of celery for you. It tastes so good and fresh. I dehydrated some last fall to use in soups, etc. I live in central Utah, so we get some cold weather. I love having things in the garden that come back every year.

  17. On the advice of our landscaper (BS in Biology/Botany with Horticulture Minor), we planted “celery leaf” or “leaf celery” as it appears to be called on some sites. It’s great for seasoning soups, sauces and salads, and grows well in Central Texas. It overwintered for several winters but finally bolted summer before last during a period when I just could not collect seeds. It supposedly is a compact plant, but it grew to about three feet tall in our herb garden and essentially took over a section of it. If you have problems with stalk celery, you might try that. Not many people seem to know about it. Thanks for reminding me that I need to replant!

  18. My goals for this week are
    1. Finish unpacking
    2. Take boxes to recycling center
    3. Research gardening,planting times for our new home

  19. I feel your heart break over the freezer dying on you. Our’s did over the summer. Glad you was able to save what you did.

    You give me hope on days I can’t find it myself. Blessed Be

  20. What do your children usually do when you’re cooking? I try to involve my 4 and 6 year olds, but after awhile they go off to do their own thing. If I cook for too long (trying to batch cook for 1.5 or 2 hours) the three kids just keep fighting. Suggestions? Especially since you have more than double the number of kids I have? Thanks!

  21. I don’t do batch cooking; it would be difficult, for the reason you mentioned. When I am cooking it is chore time; they have their own chores to do. Click on my schedule (below in the black section) to see how it works and see what chores they have. In the morning, for instance, they have rooms to clean, beds to make, and laundry to fold while breakfast is being made. My 4 and 6-year-olds fold cloth napkins, washcloths and cleaning rags, and match socks.

    If they get done before the meal is done they usually go play outside.

  22. I have a fridge/freezer in the house, plus a freestanding freezer, and another fridge/freezer combo that we got for free. That is the one that is having trouble. The fridge part still works, which is a blessing; with a family our size, it is so nice to have.

  23. Yes, I have done the celery like that; I have some growing in my garden now that I harvested from this week. This is why I want to try growing it from seed. I mostly get leaves from the ones from the store, and I’d like to get more stalks, so I will be trying it from seed.

  24. I have a lot of children. Many are grown now. I only have 3 left at home. In the past, when I needed an insane amount of food it seemed to be quite hard to cook it all because of the children getting in trouble, fighting, etc. so I was having to supervise closely AND cook. It seems like you are in the same boat. To make my ideas make a little more sense to you, all of mine are children who have had a rocky start in life, have learining issues, special needs, etc (some are not very affected, some greatly affected)….you get the idea. Here are some things that worked (some part of the time, none all of the time, but I took what I could get).

    Give them something useful and productive to do (i.e. Brandy gives hers chores) I did that sometimes, but mine couldn’t do the chores without supervision a lot of the time, so I either picked a chore they COULD do, or made something up that was useful, but not vital, so it didn’t matter if it was done perfectly. For example: Sort these patterns, please–put the little girl ones in this box and the ladies ones in this box–look at the pictures if you don’t know which box to put them in.

    I had them do things that were more important when they were able. For instance, my daughter who is 14 now was right by my side on a stool, or the counter, doing kitchen jobs like frying hamburger, mixing, etc. since she was 2 or 3. She would scrub the toilet with the brush, or happily swish comet around in the tub and then I’d come behind her and finish up.

    I had a “keep Ja’Ana busy” bin. It contained items that were desireable to her. It was just a plastic Rubbermaid tub. It was kept up high. When she was getting naughty, I pulled it down and let her choose 1 thing to do, and ONLY 1. Then, she would do it for a little while. It might only buy me 20 minutes, but it distracted her and let me finish my task. She could not have another item until the first one was finished and I usually only let her do 1 thing per day from there. It included things like magnetic sticker sets, small craft sets, puzzles, etc., depending on her age at the time. For some of the other kids, I kept a box of craft kits and supplies and often set them up with a project before I started mine. I got a lot of those from JoAnns or Michaels, plus general supplies like paper, paint, etc.

    I let them watch something on tv. Often, we didn’t have cable, so it often was a library movie, but sometimes it was cable or a gaming system depending on what we had at the time. I limited their viewing/playing, so when I wanted to cook, etc. they were really excited about watching/playing.

    When I did a large batch cooking day–sometimes 30 meals, I often broke it up into 2 or 3 days. I often waited until my husband had a day off to help with the other kids. I had the ones who were old enough and capable enough help.

    A lot of the canning, drying, freezing, gardening, cooking and sewing got done very early in the morning, or in the evening, often until late at night. Although I’m not contending with anyone below the age of 10 right now, I still find myself canning early in the morning, or late at night….I guess old habits die hard:)

    I hope some of these ideas help. I know how it was to not be able to take a shower unless my husband was home. Those days are past, but the memories linger:)

  25. Brandy,
    Just wanted to say how much you inspire me and that I truly love your website and postings. You have taught me so much about living a more frugal life. I recent needed to type some business letters and downloaded your suggestion of OpenOffice. Thanks for letting your readers know about this free site. I would love to see more postings about how you dehydrate. I got a Excalibur for Christmas and have done a sweet potatoes and peaches but would love to know what all you use it for. Thanks again for your informative blog and website.

  26. I’m amazed that you only buy 60 pounds of carrots per year. We eat at least 5 lbs per week! There are 8 of us and we eat most them raw (either fermented or with dip). I was just reading your recipe for white bean alfredo sauce; perhaps freezing is more economical for you but I LOVE pressure canning beans to have on hand. I try I do up a full canner (14 quarts) at a time a couple times a month. So easy for homeschool lunches. Your blog is always such an inspiration to me!

  27. Carrots are really inexpensive, so good for you! My family likes them, but they don’t love them, so I buy a 10 pound bag about every 10 weeks, depending on what I am making.

    I don’t have a working pressure canner. My mother-in-law gave me hers years ago, but it doesn’t work; it never reached pressure and the beans were mush. I often just eat the beans that week that I’ve cooked, but leftovers get frozen, if there are any,

  28. We are still using a pressure cooker (not a canner) that is older than I am-and I’m 57. Every so often we have to replace the rubber seal so that the pressure cooker will keep the proper pressure. I found it was still available for purchase on the manufacturer’s site. Perhaps your mom’s canner just needs a new seal. I did buy a pressure canner but I’ve been too afraid to use it on our glass-top stove. I haven’t yet bought a single burner stove/hot plate to use instead. I was glad to learn that the dial gauge can also act as a weighted gauge so that as long as I need 15 lbs. of pressure, I’ll never need to get the accuracy of the dial gauge tested again.

  29. You can easily dry celery and chop it in small pieces (Before or after drying) or ground it in a mortar. Celery (and loads of other herbs etc) can be dried utside in the sun hanging (on a wall or clothesline) or laying on a newspaper in a thin layer.

  30. This week I plan to….
    -Complete my sewing project of making valences for the bedroom, I try to sew in the mornings for 45 minutes before I go to work and haven’t gotten as much done this week as I had hoped to.
    -Deep clean the bathroom, all drawers, wash walls, wash shower curtain etc. This will remind me on what I don’t need to purchase/use up what we’ve got.
    -Bring out some Valentines’ Day decorations to place here and there in our house.
    -Make a detailed grocery list…we have been using up and not purchasing much.
    -Be thankful and sing praises.

  31. I am so inspired by this blog, the pictures, conversation, and kindness of words is wonderful…
    This week, of what remains….
    -Wrap up a sewing project.
    -Decorate the house with my saved Valentine Day decorations from year to year.
    -Cook a 10 lb. turkey, nothing compared to what Brandy is doing, I got it for like .69/lb. and today the circular for bone in turkey breast was 1.99/lb. Planning to host a Sunday dinner with all the fix-ins.
    Here in the midwest the days are getting longer and the snow is melting. I can only dream of planting my spinach and lettuce seeds.

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