Grow it Like it’s 1919…Victory Gardens/War Gardens: Resource for growing and preserving your family’s food

3g10234r Creator(s): Flagg, James Montgomery, 1877-1960, artist

How did they do it? I recall my grandma (dad’s side) put out two huge gardens every year. This woman grew everything from tomatoes and potatoes, to okra, cabbage and corn. She lived in a little house with just my cousin at the time, but had raised nine children through the Great Depression. Even when I was a kid in the seventies and eighties, she still put out these giant gardens every single year.

What she didn’t cook through the growing season, she canned, froze, or dried.  One of my uncles had an old car that did not run anymore parked next to her house. She would put green beans and apple slices on window screens, and then put them in the back window of the car with the windows rolled up. This kept the bugs away and provided a great dehydrator.  She also would break beans and string them up to let them dry. We used to call these shuck beans and they were one of my favorites. I haven’t had very many shuck beans since granny passed.

You could not play hide-and-seek inside grandma’s little four-room house. Under every bed, in every cabinet and every closet there were canned goods. There’s no telling how old some of it was. She even had some jars squirreled away inside the outbuildings. Granny and her family were NOT going to go hungry. Every Sunday after church the whole family that lived in proximity would gather at Granny’s house for dinner. She would use two and three quart jars at a time each Sunday.

I see a lot of gardens today, including my own, that would barely fit in a corner of just one granny’s garden plots. I think of all the work it takes just to maintain my little spot, and I wonder how in the world did a 75 year old lady  do this on the scale she was able to?

I think a lot of it had to do with sheer determination, and growing up in a less cushy world then we have. She never had air conditioning.  Until the late seventies, she had to draw her water up from a well. Even after she got a well pump to bring it into the house she still had to boil any water that she used because she did not have a hot water heater.

We have been working toward growing more of our own food. There are lots of gardening books and magazines out there but one I like in particular is the victory gardening manual from World War I. What those folks were able to accomplish is encouraging to me. You can find a PDF copy from the Smithsonian library website. See the link below….

What are some of the challenges and suggestions you have from your garden?

Homeschool by DVD

I love living in the country. We’re at the rural edge of one county, where it joins up with the rural edge of another county. Twenty minutes to the nearest small town, in any direction.

Life on the county line is good. Internet service, not always so much. So when I started looking at video lessons for my visual-learner son, I searched for DVDs.

Need help with algebra? They’ve got algebra. And physics. And chemistry. And Engineering DVDs. They also have worksheets on DVD that you can print off as needed, along with step by step solving answers.

I’ll be reviewing these in more depth later, but color me thrilled with the options!

Definitely starting here for next semester. They also offer free quick algebra lessons in your inbox. Just sign up.

When I told my son he was getting DVD Latin lessons, his reaction was underwhelming. When the Visual Latin I package came, there was much excitement to pop the disc into the player. It was all my excitement, I must say. My scholar simply said, “*sigh* -*eye roll*-Mommm. Fine, I’ll watch it later.”

Five minutes later: “Hey, Mom….this guy’s pretty funny…”

Ten minutes later: “Hey, Mom! Did you know how to make a Latin plural?”

Fifteen minutes later: “Hey, Mom….did you know the didn’t use the word the?”

Inner-Mom-Geek did the happy dance!

Next year, I’m looking to source our History and Economics from Compass Classroom, as well as Visual Latin II.

Do you have any ed video sources you recommend?

A Long Row to Sew

IMG_20161218_110024When I was a little girl, my Mom taught me to sew. I remember the cardboard sewing cards and the yarn that taught me how to stitch. As I grew older, she let me go with a real needle and thread using scraps from her sewing and quilting. I made doll clothes and doll blankets.

When I graduated to the sewing machine, I felt like such a grown up. I could sew seams, take in the legs of my pants (the stovepipe look was in) and do basic repairs.

Then life moved on. I didn’t sew much for a while, and then mostly a quick repair by hand. My machine, an old Montgomery Ward model from my grandmother, saw little use.

About thirty, I made a horrible realization. Most of the latest fashions at stores were not my taste. Okay, plain put, they were just ugly. Color. Cut. Fabric. Just…yuck. And my tall frame limited the selection further.

Hello again, Monty Ward…

I sewed a number of garments that year from pattern. I loved it! Everyone asked where I found my wardrobe, and were shocked that, “Wow, you really made that yourself?!” Everything fit right, and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment.

Despite the enjoyment I got from sewing, I put my machine aside when I started driving a truck over the road the next year. And I left it there when the babies were born.

There Monty sat, gathering dust in the corner.

This past winter, I got the whim to start sewing again. My daughter is hard to fit. Small for her age, what’s long enough in torso and leg is too large in the waist.  A fit in the waist is too short everywhere else. And now a tween, she needs clothes that are more “sweet young lady,” and less “cute little baby.”

So…I sew. So much so, my darling husband got me a swanky new Singer sewing/embroidery machine for birthday/Christmas. (Thanks, Honey!)

It hasn’t been in the corner since. I’ve made three “re-dos,” repurposing adult slacks into skirt/vest sets. And made one button-up blouse from scratch, making the base pattern from one of her other blouses. Turned a pair of corduroy pants into a blazer (coordinates with two of the sets.) Made outfits for her gazillion Barbie dolls. And a denim purse was born from jeans my son outgrew. Okay, the purse was for me. Still…

Ever realize that you’ve put something you love to the side? That you’ve unintentionally pushed something that brings you joy into the corner? Let it collect dust, until it falls into the forgotten realm of used-to-be?

Our spiritual lives can fall into the corner, too. I’ve been guilty of putting off regular Bible reading (despite the challenge schedules I printed off.) And have at times gone from seeking to God several times a day in prayer just for the closeness it brings, to going long stretches without even thinking about prayer. One missed Sunday service can stretch into several, until not attending is the habit.

But when I seek Him, guilty-hearted in my neglect, He is there. And the rush of joy that fills me astounds me. Makes me wonder how could I have ever put my relationship with God in the corner to gather dust.

I’m not a perfect seamstress. I make plenty of errors. And certainly I’m not a perfect Christian, for such a thing doesn’t exist. But I try. And hopefully, I get a little better each day.

May your seams be straight, and your pattern be true. God bless.

Leg Room

IMG_20170422_122803.jpgJust transplanted some young Brandywine tomato seedlings. I had transplanted a couple of plants a few weeks ago, but didn’t have enough cans to transplant the rest. I’m astounded at the difference in the two sets.

Both sets were planted at the same time from the same batch of seed. Both sets were approximately the same size  when I transplanted the first ones. But the smaller of the two sets has remained in the seed tray until now.

Just that little bit of leg room has allowed the earlier transplants to flourish visibly.

It is easy to want to stay in our own familiar comfortable surroundings. But to truly grow we have to get out of the seat tray. Give ourselves a little bit of leg room to grow.

But what about others? Oh sure, we say, they try to keep us in small compartments. To limit who we are, who we strive to be. Maybe so… But do we do the same?

How often do we see a friend or acquaintance trying something new, and think to ourselves, “I can’t believe they really think they can do that… Oh, they’ll never stick with that… It’s just a phase… It’s just the newest, latest and greatest bandwagon they’re hopping on…”

How supportive are we of others, when they try to stretch beyond the limits we expect of them?

When we accept Christ and truly follow Him, we become new creatures. We are to put away the old habits that kept us from God, and to take up new habits to bring is closer to Him. And yes, there are times when some of the old gang scoff at our newly adopted ways. Christ came to save the Lost, not the perfect, because no such man or woman exists. Do we pray for the conversion of that lost, lost soul, the one nobody expects to come to Christ, then doubt that new Christian’s conviction when he or she does give their life to the Lord?

Are we the ones secretly scoffing, watching and waiting for the first time that newly-founded Christian messes up? Are we the ones to pounce immediately, crying, “See?! I told you so! It was just an act, too good to be true, it would never last…”

If we are scorning the new Christian for stumbling, then we are as deeply mired in sin as that Soul formerly was. More so, I suspect, because we as Bible-believing, forgiven, redeemed Christians ought to know better.

Jesus saves all sinners who repent and believe on Him. He can and does use even the lowest of us, even those whose hearts were once  farthest turned from Him. Even Paul, formerly called Saul, who actively sought out Christians to persecute. If Christ can save even Paul, if God can use even Paul, then He most assuredly can use that girl down the street who had the bad reputation…the guy who used to do drugs…the man who drank his paycheck away and cussed his neighbors. If they come to Him, God will lift them out of their cramped seed tray, straighten out their roots, give them new soil to nourish them, and bid them bear fruit….who are we, for whom He did the same, to say they will never grow and bear fruit?

Yes, it’s good to seek leg room. But we must also allow others their leg room as well, and accept the direction in which the Lord leads them to grow.