Thursday, September 10, 2020

Hay is Up!


Today we got 90 bales of sweet, second-cut timothy/orchard grass/clover hay put in the barn for winter. Man, is that a good feeling!


We bought off the same folks as last year. The lady had a whole plate of no-bake cookies for the kids to take home. They helped a good bit and got a little wagon ride on the way home. Good times! 😊

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It's a Jungle Out There

 
 
Summer is winding down, but with all of the late rains we have had, the garden is still very green and lush. This has been one of the most bountiful and healthy gardens I've ever had. I did lose control of the weeds as we had a couple of weeks of continual rains. As the bulk of the harvest came on, my whole family caught Covid! I was thankful to feel well enough keep up with the canning. It amounted to something like a mild flu/bad head cold for us. The kids recovered quickly, but my husband and I were sick a good two weeks.
 
I have seen so many beneficials out in the garden this year. The brown marmorated stink bugs seem to have leveled out finally. They had been the worst pest I've had for several years now, sucking juices from the fruits and spreading disease. This year my nemesis was the cabbage moths. I sprayed the cauliflower several times with BT, but they were relentless. Now with all of the rain we've had, the cauliflower is beginning to rot out. I will probably just go ahead and pull those. I used insecticidal soap a couple times to get the thrips and aphids. I have seen a lot of lady bugs too. The only place had to  spot check with Sevin spray was the summer squash and zucchinis as we battled so many squash bugs. I was careful to spray late of an evening so it would dry before the new blooms opened and the bees came back in the morning.

 

 
The luffa gourds have taken over both sides of the hoop trellis now. It is an aggressive spreader. They bloom during the day, which is nice; a sunny, yellow bloom. I canned a lot of pole beans and left the rest here to go to seed. I kept hitting my head on the dangling fruits as I was picking beans. They are heavy!

 
I've had some gorgeous sunflowers this year! These are called "Teddy Bear", I think.

The grasshoppers have arrived, looking to fill their bellies.

 
I have lost control of the tomato patch. It is difficult to get around. I have canned up 3 wheelbarrow loads of tomatoes and saved lots of seeds. I wish I hadn't planted them so close together. I was desperate to get several varieties in the space. I have saved seeds from multiple fruits to lessen the chance of any being all crossed out. I don't usually get many crosses, but it does happen sometimes. I did pretty well photographing and documenting all the varieties I saved. You can find those on my Instagram feed -- journey011.


The Glass Gem corn reached about 12' tall. I planted densely, in a spot that was well fertilized with chicken manure and compost. Each stalk has 3 to 4 ears each! They are filling out well and I am beside myself with anticipation for the joy of shucking them when they dry. 😄

 
My fingers are crossed that the Thai Red Roselle will set seed before frost. I can't wait to have a glass of this tangy, red tea as soon as these buds develop. We sure could have used that natural Vitamin C while we were sick! They are just now appearing. These were started back in February. The plants are much larger than I expected and I have them crowded, of course. I am considering digging one or two up to bring inside for the winter. 

 


September and I have a love/hate relationship. I love the crisp, cooler days, but I also get a little bit of SAD as the days get shorter. I do hate to see the garden come to an end, but I guess everything--myself included--needs the break. We have eaten so well from it this summer and I am grateful. 💚

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Kitchen Floor Pickles

This is an old-fashioned, lacto-fermented pickle recipe that I got from my next door neighbor and garden buddy, Mavis. She shared a jar with me last year and they were THE best pickles I've ever tasted.

I used larger cucumbers than what it called for because that was what I had at the time. You cut them up later, after they've fermented for a month. I've made gherkins before by a similar process, but they only go about 5 days. On the second step, I am going to try using monk fruit, instead of regular sugar, since we are keto. I'm not sure I'll put the full amount in either. I am not certain how that will work out, but if it does, I will update and let you know!

ETA: 09/09/2020 -- Monkfruit worked out perfectly! I used about 1 cup, give or take. You can use as much as you want until they taste best to you. Since fermentation also utilizes some of the sugars in the cucumbers themselves, these sweet pickles are very keto-friendly. The larger cucumbers I used on this first batch still turned out good and crunchy. I was able to get a bunch of smaller ones for the second batch, which is pictured above. I decided I would also trim off the blossom ends as you do with regular pickles. There is supposedly an enzyme in them that can affect the crispiness, as I understand it.

Kitchen Floor Pickles

Using small to medium-sized cucumbers, pack tightly in a gallon jar. Add 2 tablespoons alum, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 cup whole mixed pickling spice, and 4 cups vinegar. Fill the rest of the way up with water. Cap and let set for 1 month. Be sure jar is glass or plastic. Shake jars often. (Rolling the jar across the floor each day is how this recipe got its name.) 

Remove from jar and wash thoroughly. (Wash jar too.) Cut in chunks and put back in jar. Add 4 cups sugar. Cap and shake jar. Shake until cucumbers are covered with juice. Pickles are ready to eat. Refrigerate.  

Have fun shaking! These pickles are delicious. And you don't have to can them. They won't last that long.  

Note: When I say wash, I wash with water only, not soap and water. Also, these pickles make their own juice while you're shaking them.

Friday, July 24, 2020

A Reviving Rain

The garden has been at a standstill for most of June and July due to little rainfall this summer. I haven't done the best job keeping up with watering the garden, very hit and miss. My cistern has gone dry and I hate using city water and running up the bill. With the help of the kids and my husband this year, I thankfully had everything mulched right off the bat and that has made a big difference. Yesterday's continuous rains finally managed to saturate the ground and the garden (and weeds) seem to have doubled in size today. 

Here are a few of the peaceful scenes I got to soak in last evening. 😊


My luffa gourds and pole beans are beginning to climb. These all were planted during the first week of June. I only put in 5 bean varieties this year as I needed the room to work with renewing several of my tomato varieties. Also, we are low on tomato sauce and salsa, so I plan to do a lot of canning with them.


These are WV-63, an heirloom canning tomato with high yields of uniform red fruit on a very disease resistant plant. They are an indeterminate, but put most of their energy into bearing. I sucker prune my indeterminate tomatoes and these stayed short and bushy after that. I put in half a row of them and they are all just loaded.



My Feher Ozon peppers are doing great. These will turn fiery red and then will be smoked and dried for paprika. It is a sweet and slightly spicy pepper. This is the second time I have grown them. I will have seed available of these later as well. 


Now, I'll share with you a moment of peace as happy frogs sing tranquilly in the little pond over the hill. Monroe, our one-eyed barn kitty who has adopted us, photo bombs at the end. She is very demanding of affection! 💗