Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Garlic Has Arrived!

Today I came home and my garlic from seed savers had arrived! I was very excited, it was like Christmas! I got two kinds, one softneck and one hardneck. I have one other kind coming from another source. I didn't get my first choices in the garlic because I had a computer screw-up.

I had three different softneck varieties in my cart on the seedsavers website...but in the midst of completing my order, I had to get up and do something else. By the time I came back, it had timed me out, and I had to sign in again. I wasn't sure if my order got completed or not. So, I didn't check it out right away, I waited to see if the charge showed up in my account. It didn't, so I got online to check my order history. It said that I hadn't made an order, so I went again to try and reorder my garlic. Unfortunately, in the week that had passed, everyone else had come in and ordered theirs...so most of it was sold out. They only had a couple kinds left, so I ordered some of each. That is why I had to order another variety from a different site, because I wanted at least 3 different varieties.

I am excited to plant garlic anyways...I can just order different kinds earlier next year. Today I got broadleaf czech and extra hardy German. I think the other one that is coming is a Red softneck variety. This along with my Egyptian walking onions will keep me busy for awhile...not to mention all the spring flower bulbs I ordered.

I had to use up some more tomatoes, so I made bruschetta and I am pressure canning it. I got 4 pint jars out of the last of my grape tomatoes. I got the recipe from my friend Jen's Gardening Spot website. Here is the link to her site...I steal a lot of her recipes...they are good!

http://jennsgardeningspot.blogspot.com/

I have to go now...I hear the pressure canner calling me...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Birthday and Some Blooms

This is my son enjoying not one, but two pieces of ice cream cake. I didn't give him two pieces of cake, someone didn't finish theirs, so he took it over. I don't think he actually ate both pieces. But he looks awfully smug, doesn't he?

The weekend before Labor Day was Lincoln Highway Days in Nevada. It was also the weekend we celebrated my stepson's 14th birthday. We didn't have a huge party this time, but we did take some time for cake and presents. Everyone scrambled to get a piece before it was gone.

For a small town, they have a fantastic parade. Today, I went to the Fall Festival parade in Beaverdale. It was very similar to this parade, except Beaverdale had better candy and more schools and churches walking in it. Nevada had more fire, police, and rescue vehicles. Both parades are almost 2 hours long. Both had lots of cool dogs in cute costumes.

I also like the horses. This was the first year the big kids got to see the parade. I've taken my littlest one the last 3 years.

Like I mentioned before...with the cool weather, many things have just been taking off in my garden. Here, the nasturium gives the sweet autumn clematis a run for its money. I've never seen nasturium take off and vine across the flower beds like this.

Here is my brugmansia, I call trumpet flower. I am not sure what variety it is. The flowers are pale pale pink with faint yellowish streaks inside. The blooms are 8 to 10 inches long and always point downward. It is my understanding that people often confuse brugmansia and datura. They look extremely similar. Brugmansia blooms point downward though, and datura blooms point upwards.

One of my hibiscus varieties has really taken off with blooming. When I can keep the stupid little green beetles out of it, the flowers look great. They like to hide inside and eat big cheese holes in the petals.

Another surprise...my dwarf iris, banbury ruffles, decided to bloom again. I got so few iris this year that I am just thrilled to see him here.

A close-up of the hibiscus flowers...you can see it is a little moth-eaten around the edges from the beetles. I have been fighting a war against them all the 2nd half of the summer.

video

Finally, here is a video of the kids getting a little impromptu football game in after they finished their ice cream cake. Happy Late Bloom Day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And Then We Are Back to the Carrots...

One of my first blog posts was about my first carrot harvest, this time last year. So, it is with satisfaction that I note a year of food preservation has come full circle. This is my helper for harvesting carrots. He was actually enthusiastic about this job, and I was surprised. Sometimes I ask him if he wants to help me in the garden, and he says...Nahhhh. He wanted to dig, but I really didn't think that was a good idea, because the dirt was hard and I don't have a spade. If you don't dig straight down next to the carrots and pop up the dirt just underneath, you end up with a lot of broken carrots. So, his job was to take the carrots I dug up, and remove the green tops. Then he loaded the carrots into his red wagon. That's a good idea for another blog post: Which of my child's toys I have used as gardening implements?


We got quite a few from one 25 ft garden row. The garden looks so empty without the lush green tops. I walked by that area today, and couldn't figure out why it looked so sad and forlorn... it was the absence of the carrot tops. I still have two half rows of heirloom and red carrots, but those were planted later, so I am going to give those a little longer before I dig them up. Also, carrot harvesting drives me a little crazy, because it is so work intensive.

I thought this picture was kind of funny. That is my son, you can barely see him, under the entire massive pile of carrot tops that he picked up at one time. He insisted on taking the entire pile to the compost bin at once. If he had sat down, you almost wouldn't have known he was there.

The carrot digging took about an hour...then we drug the wagon down to the front drive and used the hose and the vegetable scrubber to clean all the carrots. This took about an hour and a half. But I got a lot of carrots from one row...my son brought the scale in, and we weighed the tote...almost 25 lbs!


Today, I chopped and peeled the carrots. This is only about 3/4 of the carrots. This took another hour to chop them all up. I precook my carrots and hot pack them into the jars. I leave most of the skin on because I want to keep as many vitamins in as possible. All the funny looking little or bendy pieces get put into a baggie in the freezer to be used to make vegetable stock later.

I didn't really think I had that many carrots until I started putting them into jars. Yeah, I have a lot more than last year. I think my final total is about 19 pints. And there are still carrots growing in the garden!!!


I sort them by size...the littlest ones and the scraps become the future vegetable stock bag...the ones that are about the size of my thumb go into the feed to the guinea pigs bag. My picky guinea pigs actually turn their noses up at the organic natural carrots. They prefer the lathed baby carrots you buy at the store. Too bad picky pigs!

My poor clean kitchen...it is destroyed now. As I write this, the 2nd batch of carrots is processing in the pressure canner, and a full pot of tomatoes (skinned and seeded) is cooking on the stove to make into sauce. I won't even put a picture of what the kitchen looks like now after all that.

Yesterday we picked and shucked the last of the sweet corn. There wasn't a lot left, but we needed to get them picked or we would lose them to the bugs, or they would dry up. I let my son practice his photography skills again, he wanted to take this picture of me.

I ended up blanching the corn and scraping it off into a big bowl. Then I put the corn into freezer bags...I ended up getting five decent sized bags of blanched corn.

My son helped me go through the corn and check to see if there was any left. Maybe he will grow up hating gardening, and not wanting anything to do with it, or maybe he will have herbs and vegetables on the balcony of his first apartment. Either way, I want him to understand and care about where his food comes from, and to have real memories of us growing and making food together.

Monday, September 7, 2009

BeeBums in the Sedum and Wasps in the Fennel

This is a carrot patch test I did the other day...If you look you can see three kinds of carrots. I am rather disappointed with the oxheart carrots. I was promised large fat carrots some up to 1 lb! The first time I planted them they didn't come up. The second time was in early june...and all they did was make little stubs...hardly anything at all. The foliage on all was very lush and big and green, but I am a little unimpressed compared to last year's harvest.

http://gardenmom29.blogspot.com/2008/10/canned-veggies-naked-crabs-and-packed.html

Of course there will be a lot of them...but I was hoping to see giant carrots. I guess I could wait a few more weeks, but they have been in there long enough...they should be ready by now.

The bees and wasps are really going crazy in my garden right now. I have always had a lot, but it has just been nuts lately. The wasps are digging my fennel. I saw at least 5 different species of wasp on this plant at one time. I have two kinds of black ones, one with shiny blue on it, and a brownish white one, and two different ones that look like your standard wasp. They tolerate each other, because they really like fennel, but if one tries to get on the same 'landing pad' as another, they buzz each other until one leaves. Sometimes they can sit together on the same pad if they are the same kind. I have never stood so close to wasps without being afraid. They act like I am not even there though.

This is the bronze fennel, which they also like, but it isn't quite as opened up as the regular one yet. I don't think I have ever seen it get so big. Both of them are as tall as I am...and wider across. The regular fennel is standing behind the bronze in this picture.

They are pretty, but I can't quite be comfortable around them.

The Beebums (remember, my son's toddler version of bumblebees, now it is a family word) are FLIPPED OUT over my sedum. They crawl all over it, all day long. I took a little video showing how many there were. It is allergy season for me, so excuse my congestion.


video


This guy was completely huge. He was about as big around as my thumb. He was having a good ol' time.

And this is my new hosta bed. What? You can't see it? Look, right there in the middle. That is my earth angel hosta that is right now the sole occupant of the new hosta/shade bed. It is under two trees, so hopefully it will retain its blue color. Later I put a few bricks around him to make sure my guy didn't mow him down, but I am not going to really build 'the bed' until spring. I just thought I'd sink him in the ground and get him going. Evidently he gets big, so he has plenty of space to expand right now!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ratatouille...Not Just a Movie

I have done more canning in the last month than I have ever done in my whole life. Having a yard with sun makes all the difference. I am growing so many things that I have never grown before. Of course this means that I am doing many things wrong...but oh well, you learn by experience. Tonight I canned eggplant with hot peppers, more yellow/orange salsa, and made ratatouille for freezing.

When I mention ratatouille, many people look at me strangely. I am sure they are thinking of the children's movie with talking rodents. A few weeks ago, I was asking around on twitter about how I could preserve eggplant and squash. Ratatouille was suggested, and being open-minded, I googled it. I found out that ratatouille is actually a french word meaning 'chunky stew that is stirred'. It can involve any number of things and ingredients, but is based loosely on a similar grouping of vegetables.


I sauteed 2 onions and garlic in olive oil, and then added the following ingredients: tomatoes, eggplant (peeled and chopped), and yellow squash. When the veggies were soft I put in salt, pepper, and dried basil. This can be eaten immediately or frozen for later, which is what I did. I made a lot, to use up my eggplant and squash, and got three meals worth to freeze. I can envision thawing it and adding it to rice, pasta, potatoes, or perhaps spaghetti squash. This is the ultimate convenience meal. Organic and grown fresh in my garden, to enjoy in the middle of winter.


I found these funky beetles being naughty on my oregano today. I assume that is what they are doing anyways. I think the oregano blooms are lovely. I know it reduces the flavor of the herb, but I don't care, it's pretty. One of these days soon, I am going to make flavored herb vinegars.


Here is one of my tallest sunflowers. The window you see in the side of the patio is about thigh high on me when I stand there. I grew three varieties this year, and they are all different. The really tall ones are actually much taller than the mammoth ones, but skinnier, with multiple blooms, while the mammoth have only one head.


The sunflowers grow all along the west side of the house. A few fell over when they bloomed, but I just walk around them. You can see that the heads of the mammoth sunflowers are now so heavy they hang straight down. The other day I caught a gold finch standing on one getting a snack. I will have to try to catch him with the camera the next time.


My guy may complain about my produce piles, but I know he loves me, because he brought me this pretty mum the other day. He was very proud that he remembered to get one with as many closed blooms as possible. It has opened up a little since then, and looks very nice sitting on my porch.

This is my new garden spider. I got him from a friend on Twitter. He looks quite adorable among the carnations. You can go to http://www.homekitchengarden.net/yard-birds if you want to get one, or the cute birds that go with him.


Finally, my pineapple sage. This has to be one of my favorite herbs...it grows fast and smells fantastic. This year I am finally going to make pineapple sage jelly...which I have wanted to do for a long time. I think it is getting close to blooming. Hummingbirds are very attracted to the red flowers. When this sage blooms, I know it is truly fall.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What Is He Complaining About?

I really don't know what my guy's problem is...I mean it's only a few beans drying on the living room floor...

Some tomatoes and squash and eggplant on the counters...

And some more produce plus rhubarb and dill on the kitchen floor....

And crab apples on the floor....

I really don't know what his problem is...
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