Tuesday, June 5, 2012

5 June 1948 “Your Thrift Habits, In the Garden, and How to Make Short Pastry”

I may have shared this film with you before, but come along and learn how Ralph can teach Jack (and us) some common sense saving tips. In the modern world, unfortunately, the 0% interest rates do not encourage savings. One finds now it costs more to keep one’s money in the bank. But, we should learn from the smart aspects of the past and forgo the bad behavior our modern Federal Reserve and Spend Thrift government demonstrates to us.

ediblebouquet I call this my ‘edible bouquet’. You can see a cluster of broccoli, little radish seedling leaves, and the flowers from my arugula. This looks lovely and I keep it in water in the kitchen and cut off it for my meals. Why not enjoy your garden produce as art as well as food.

My little garden is coming along nicely this year. I downsized as we have the house on the market. I am now farming four 4 x 4 raised beds. One row of the picket fence around my veg garden also has some fennel, rhubarb, chives and onions. And my tomatoes and herbs are in pots on the terrace. If we decide not to sell or it doesn’t sell, next summer my garden will double, that’s for sure.

arugalabloom Here I caught this little insect pollinating my arugula flowers. You are not meant to let them flower, but they grow so fast and I simply hack them down and put them in my ‘bouquets’. They are edible and look lovely in salads. As long as I don’t let them go to seed.

Arugula is a wonderful salad green. It has an almost savory quality to it, rather like meat or slightly peppery. It is a treat fresh or also quickly pan seared with served with meat.

radish Radishes are the easiest thing to grow. From seed to food is mere days! The seeds are fine you simply sprinkle them close together and then as they sprout you want to thin them. And don’t they look wonderful all lined up in their loamy beds. Next to them are sprouting two rows of carrots.

 radishseedlingsThese thinned sprouts here, demonstrating they are radish by their lovely red and white roots, are delicious. They are milder than when they are full grown and go straight into salads. What doesn’t end up in my mouth of course. Even if you only have a pot on a window sill in the city, you could grow radish non stop for your summer eating.

radishseedlings2 I just loves the up close images of these so had to share a closer photograph. Aren’t they beaufitful?

 broccoli My broccoli is growing like a weed! In fact I let these bunches go a bet too far, as they are about to flower, but I rather like them this way. Again, salads or steamed or simply dropped on top of your grilled chicken for the last minute of cooking and its a dream. Fresh garden veg will always outside the Styrofoam over grown varieties at most major Super Markets.

snowpeas2Snow peas, or sugar snap peas, are another easy to grow crop. You start them early in the ground, they like a little cold. And while these are producing I have my lima beans starting on the same structure. When these are gone the limas will be going nicely and I will plant a second crop of snap peas in another spot this year. They are eat of the vine wonderful.

Some of the other fun plants in my garden this year include this Tesal plant (medicinal) the beautiful artichoke (the fern like one in front) and fever few and dill. The fever few is both medicinal and good in herbal teas. And we love artichokes here, so good and fun to eat, sucking each yummy morsel out of their little shells. Rather like the Lobsters of the Garden, really.

plants blueberries1 My blueberry bushes are brimming with a nice little harvest. And my graps are beginning their budding. The little flower clusters look like mini bunches of grapes.grapebloom These are a small seeded old variety, but the taste. When you eat these and compare them to the plum-sized hard and firm seedless market variety, you can really taste the difference. These old small seeded grapes taste like heaven and are as sweet as candy. Of course, I have to fight the birds for them, but enough make it to my kitchen to make me happy and every year the vine grows bigger leaving a bigger share for both of us.

As we are in the 1940’s today, I though I’d share this fun scan of making short pastry from the war time ministry of foods in Britain. Short Pastry, of course, is simply flour and fat. It is used for both sweet and savory.




I realize I am still rather lax in my posting. And as I said last post have begun to simply live more and research less. I still research, though, its simply part of my life now, but much more focusing on doing. I think I see myself and this blog moving in a new direction but still keeping the old values. I believe what I have done thus far has been a solid base and that I in no way see me abandoning it. My new project might be more focused on an outside source, such as an artwork project that goes for a year, that I can share but with still sharing my daily living and usual tips on living vintage.

The old ways are now simply My ways. I no longer see a differentiation between what I am trying to do and what is modern to do. I see the vast crevasse between how we live now and how we used to and I simply try to do more of the old ways, as they have become more normal to me. Though I am daily reminded (well not daily, many days I am happily at home blissfully ignorant of the changing world out there) of how much harder it is to simply be frugal.

As an example I was going to sell some homemade things this summer at my local farmers market. Now there are SO many laws set up to ‘protect’ us that the homemaker and small business starter has little chance to make it against the big guys. After I would get my kitchen inspected ($70 every year), pay to take a two day Serve Safe class (around $400), buy Liability Insurance (insurance the scourge of the modern man and the road block to cheaper prices for all and more money for the little man!)which is $550 a year, plus the food license for my town also required, another $60. All that before I even pay for the table at the Farmers Market or buy the ingredients.

At least in the Depression one could put out a sign and sell things no problem. Today the road blocks to self-sufficient money making are immense. And many of these ‘health precautions’ mean little to the large factories where chickens float in vats of bleach. Yet, if I wanted to slaughter my own home raised chicken and sell it to my neighbor I could literally go to jail for it.

It is hard, sometimes, living in the past when the present slaps one in the face at every turn. But, I try and shall endure as I hope all of you shall as well. We can do it, we past loving home bodies, but we must be craftier in how it is done.

Happy Homemaking.



  1. Lacey Starr (strangeways)June 5, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Thank you for sharing the pictures of your garden! I haven't had a garden space since I was a child but that will change this year. Where I live is very urban. I don't have a yard, per se, but I share a brick courtyard with my neighbors. My husband is going to build me a little 4x4 raised bed and I'm buying seedlings from our local CSA (farm collective). It will be mostly herbs but also a variety of heirloom tomatoes and peppers, and strawberries. I'm very nervous as I definitely don't have a green thumb and I'm pulling all my hard earned pin money for the project. Buying from local farms is more expensive than going to someplace like Home Depot but it was important to me to support our farmers. Wish me luck!

    Thanks again for the post. We love getting a glimpse into your daily life.

  2. You should read "Everything I want to do is Illegal" by Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm. He discusses all the road blocks he came up against by the government agencies and how hard they make for local farmers to sell their own produce or work together with their neighbors to create a "Farmer's Market".

  3. So, so sad. Hopefully with documentaries like Weight of the Nation, pressure will mount for the government to relax its rules so that reasonably priced produce is more easily accessible to the public. As awareness rises so will the pressure on government to back off. We can only hope.

    50sgal, your garden looks great. I accidentally over fertilized mine so it's not doing very good at all. I have one watermelon plant that is doing good; it must like the overly rich soil.

  4. First off, welcome back Pl! I meant to welcome you back on my last post, but just as I have been a bad blogger, so too have I been a bad responder to comments.
    I want to thank all comment-ors and often, as in last post, I read them and think out loud to myself. As if I AM responding, only none of you are aware of that, silly homemaker!
    I actually find at our local farm up the street the veg prices are comparative and sometimes cheaper than our Stop and Shop. Also, many veg are easily planted from seeds which are very cheap. My one $1.50 packet of radish, as an example, will give me at least three consecutive growing rows this summer, that's a lot. And some farmers would do well to save seed and sell back to community, but again, we run into trouble. IF anyone wishes to see how controlled and heartless our country can be to the small farmer, look up Monsanto and you will find endless tales of their suing and destroying small family farms that have been passed down over laws concerning seed saving. Very frightening.
    The only fertilizer I use in my garden is dried chicken droppings from my chickens (But one can get such manure from local farms or even dried at garden shops-there are also wonderful Seaweed fertilizers from Maine) and I also use my pond water to water once a week. My koi, frogs, polliwogs, and decaying plants make a lovely rich broth that the veg and flower plants love! If you don't have room for a pond, take a whiskey barrel or large plastic tote(for the tote pile rocks around or simply stack up old wood around it to make it look 'rustic', fill with water, some oxygenating plants and some water plants some 10 cent gold fish and you have something to watch and enjoy and also a place to 'grow' wonderful liquid fertilizer. There are so many options available to us, lets hope the world doesn't find out or we will have to get permits for those as well! I wonder how much longer before permits to have a simple vegetable garden?

    1. Thanks!

      We started a compost bin so that we can develop good soil over time. Along with our own compost scraps, we have a man that gives us his organic garden scraps so that we can add it to our compost bin. We should have some good soil before long.

      The pond ideas sounds good, too. I've never heard of anyone watering their garden with pond water, but that makes sense now that you've mentioned it.

  5. Thanks for the information on radishes! We just bought a house and radish will be going in next week after we move (or possible this weekend if I'm lucky.) Most of the planned garden is coming from plants I bought at the farmers market (tomatoes, peppers, herbs) but I did go for a few seed packets at the hardware store of heirloom variety radish, carrot and spinach.

  6. Teru-Congratulations! Are you still in Boston or in the surrounding area, if you don't mind my asking? SO much fun a new baby and a new house, good for you.

  7. Thank you! Yes, we've only gone as far out as Dorchester. There are lots of beautiful late 19th-early 20th century houses there (ours was built in 1900.) We needed to stay close to public transportation but our new house has not only a driveway (for friends/family with cars) but a 2 car garage at the back of the property which we already call the shed. We have grand plans for using it to build shelves for the pantry and counters for the kitchen.

    The selling point for the house for me was the large clawfoot tub and the double basin, double drainboard sink. Well, and the yard.

    1. Your new home sounds wonderful. Enjoy making it your own. And congratulations on your new baby!

      Sarah H

  8. You garden is looking great! Mine....not so much. Heavy soil and the incessant rain that we are having and i think my seeds have rotted! I have amended the soil over the years, and have mounded beds, but right now the grass clippings that I put on the pathways are actually floating! I saved some articles that I had read over the winter on container gardening and I think i am soon reduced to that. :o(

    The book MissFifi recommended sounds interesting. Joel Salatin was also interviewed in the film "Food, Inc" which I highly recommend. What an eye opener!

    1. ..forgot to sign my name!

      Debbie (in PA)

  9. "At least in the Depression one could put out a sign and sell things no problem. Today the road blocks to self-sufficient money making are immense. And many of these ‘health precautions’ mean little to the large factories where chickens float in vats of bleach. Yet, if I wanted to slaughter my own home raised chicken and sell it to my neighbor I could literally go to jail for it."

    How very sad, but true. Today the average man and women has a very low self-sufficiency skill base. We have had many years of goods that are cheaper to buy than to make. What a price we have paid!

    If one lives a life of thrift, the move toward the "old ways" is the natural direction. While DH and I have always been rather thrifty, we have decided that we must become more diligent. Costs are increasing greater than our budget and self sufficiency is becoming harder to do. By doing as much as we can on our own and reducing our costs, we are saving money. To us, it is the same thing as making money.

  10. Our garden was very good last year....we have high hopes for a similar success this year. I agree with you about the type of fertilizer you apply. We, too, use the chicken manure after it's dried out. I've been reading up on different animal manures & came across a chart outlining the varying compositions of the most common ones: cow, sheep, chicken & so forth. I was surprised to learn that of all those listed chicken manure was said to be the best all-around one, having the important components in very balanced amounts.

    For all those commenting here who are newer gardeners I want to encourage you not to give up if things don't go right the first time or two. Truly, you will learn by trial & error (sometimes lots of error!). And the most experienced gardener will always be at the mercy of the weather, & wildlife too. Every year is a little bit different, & some things that grew practically without trying one season will, the very next season, refuse to be coaxed into decent production no matter what is tried. Frustrating, to be sure!

    But, it's a satisfying endeavor, & good for us too, I think, to teach us appreciation for everything we eat....even the food we don't grow ourselves.


  11. Lovely post. I am still reading and enjoying your blog, but I am VERY busy - both at my job and at home. Have a nice weekend, both of you. :)

  12. The laws are changing somuch that they are even trying to stop home canning and trying to pass laws about charities selling baked goods unless they too are inspected! Really when will it all end?

  13. Lovely post. I would love to keep hearing about your day to day life. We just purchased a house, so I am going to try my hand at gardening and growing some of our own food. Thank you for the inspiration.

  14. Your garden looks wonderful. I gain so much from your posts, I hope you keep writing them even if they don't follow a theme. They're inspiring. Thank you.

  15. Hi 50s Gal,

    Judging from the # of post you have done in the 1930s compared to the 1950s, you appear to be in a bit of a funk. Here is hoping that you return to the 1950s and begin posting your wonderful homemaking posts that once did when you began this project. There is no shame in abandoning a project that you have lost interest in or is not working.

    Good luck!

    Rosie Buckley
    (Osterville, MA)

  16. Enjoyed your post on the garden. I tend to agree that edible plants can be decorative as well as tasty.

    My niece told me about a book written by a woman who bought a small piece of land and tried to make and grow everything she needed. I think the name of the book was "Made from Scratch". I think you might enjoy it.



 Search The Apron Revolution