Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Early March Gardening Bug Begins

The greenhouse has been back-ordered so I have been starting long growing things inside and for the cooler season veggies (leeks, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts etc...), in the garage under my new lighting system I built. I also started 96 Bachelor Button flowers too which should be beautiful in a few months.

I have been putting a few things in the garden beds too. I put in some carrots, peas, radishes, and a couple kinds of beets. I figure a lot of those will be ready and harvested by the time gardening really kicks into gear.

Once again I am so so excited about this year with the addition of the greenhouse and the Titan sunflowers around the property. As soon as the greenhouse arrives, I'll assemble it and update with pictures.

For now, here is the gloomy look of early March:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to 2012

New year...etc...

....The first thing I thought I would mention is the fact I am using all non-GMO (genetically modified organisms). My veggies this year will be 100% natural, open pollinated plants from old heirloom varieties. I have a wonderful company I am buying from that only has heirloom non-GMO seeds. I want to get one thing straight though, I am not doing this to save the planet. To be quite honest, I am a selfish individual. I recycle because it keeps space out of my can I would have to pay for, I have a rain collection system to save money on the water bill, I compost to save money on buying compost in the stores, and I am raising only non-GMO plants because of flavor. Whatever the reason, I have some amazing plant types that on average, originated since the early 1800's. Most of my varieties are from 1820's Italy.

In order to help germinate these seeds, I have built a shelving system that can support linkable F22T5 florescent lights. I also purchased a mini greenhouse lean-to with plenty of space on the South side of the house for maximum sunlight. This should double as a cold frame as well as a place for my Ghost Pepper plants.

These veggies are open pollination and to keep up with the demand, I am going to be hosting some mason bees. This should provide the pollination I need to support my uppity-uppity veggies this year.

Aside from that...I'll be switching grade levels to teach and baby Jack is now 10 weeks away.

New updates though won't be happening for a few weeks. I just thought I would post an initial entry for 2012.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

End...For Now

Things are pulled up...garlic for 2012 planted...weed block down in the front...

...see you in 2012...thanks for reading

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sporatic Blog Update

With getting a new teaching contract and a baby on the way, I've been a bit neglectful of the gardening blog. I took some of my tomatoes and made ketchup and salsa with it. The ketchup wasn't that hot but the salsa with added Ghost Pepper was great. I also made pesto from homegrown ingredients...the taste is the good times. This looks like the last canning of the season before I winterize.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

110 Pounds of Apples Into 56 Pints of Apple Sauce

I used to have many fruit trees, but over the past few years, I have been slowly taking them down. Last year, Craig and I decided on sort of a whim (and questionable circumstances) to take down an apple tree leaving one remaining. Usually the apples on the tree start to drop off before they can get to a decent size for eating leaving my lawn looking horrible and inviting critters to come into the yard.

This year, my mom drove up to help pick, process, and can the apples into apple sauce. I don't think she knew what she was getting herself into. We were thinking there might be about 40 pounds of apples we could pick but we ended up with 109 pounds. To round it off, my mom threw in another pound to make it 110 pounds of picked apples.

I didn't realize how labor intense making decent apple sauce was in addition to the sheer time to can that much fruit. We started canning the picked apples around noon and did not finish until after 8pm. All apples had to be washed, cored, boiled down with some sugar, mashed up, strained, packed into jars, and then given a boiling bath for 20 minutes. We had quite a system going on in my fairly small kitchen.

So from 110 pounds of raw apples we ended up with 24 pints and 16 quarts or another way to think of that is 56 pints total or 7 gallons of pure apple sauce.

This was the most canning I've done in one session. It was an endurance test to can for 8 hours but we sure got a lot of product out of it.

Click the images to enlarge:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nyla Vs. Raccoon

I have slowly been pulling some of my veggie plants for the year and started to put some things away for the season. I am still getting lots of cucumbers, peppers, leeks, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and rhubarb.

My last plantings which were a few rows of lettuce and carrots are taking off in the last growth of the summer especially now that some of the Brussels spout plants have been removed.

The last cannings of the year look like they will be salsa and homemade ketchup from my tomatoes, and apple sauce from the apple tree. My mom offered to help pick the apples in the upcoming weeks. I'll be sure to post pictures of the canning in future posts.

I picked the hops and froze them to give to Mr. Campbell. I didn't get much but they sure looked good on the trellis.

Nyla was a bit off this week. She kept getting scared to use the restroom (errr, read backyard) late at night. Jen figured out what it was and took some pictures of some racoons in the cherry tree eating the leftover cherries as well as eating some fermented ones on the ground. I bought Nyla a stuffed raccoon to train her to overcome her fear of the raccoons. I think the raccoons might just eat Nyla one of these nights.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Visit with Mom, Burlap Bags & Video Tour

I had a really nice visit with my mom the other day. She taught me how to can, raise a garden, and cook. In addition to the nice visit, we also pulled up some red potatoes and admired her huge sunflowers. These things have to be about eight feet plus and their main trunk is like a baseball bat. I didn't have my camera with me so I took a picture from my cheap cell phone:

I really want to have a few of these monsters growing next year on the South facing side of the house.

Also she mentioned she picked up some burlap bags to cover her roses for the winter at the co-op so we took a trip down and picked up some huge burlap bags to keep the winter from making a joke out of my brand new JP Voluptuous roses that I bought and planted this year. I was never so happy to see a pile of burlap bags in my life. I was looking for a while but never found a place that just sold the bags at a decent price.

I've really got to get started getting my shed ready to become a grow house again before winter starts to hit. Right now, it is filled with random junk as we turned the office into another purposed room. I have to get the main table up again and leave enough room for the lighting fixtures, heaters, fans, water jugs etc...

Anyway here is a video tour of what I have left going on in the back yard:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beware: Ghost Pepper Pickles + Winding Down for the Year

The picture below may look like regular pickles but these are my cucumbers canned with Bhut Jolokia (aka the Ghost Pepper, the hottest pepper in the world). I just made them tonight but I can already tell these babies aren't for the faint of heart.

Everything is else seems like it is winding down this year. By the time this posts, one of my three raised beds will be empty and starting to be filled with compost and manure. The tomatoes will be canned as salsa within the next month or so while the rest of the veggies are going to start dwindling down as September arrives.

One of the last things I'll can for this year will be apple sauce from my tree. It is loaded now and getting fairly close to picking. I know some will want these apples for making hard apple cider while some will want them for pies and sauce. I'll do some sauce but I won't go nuts. I do have a lot of quarts jars just looking to house something.

I think this blog will end with the planting of the elephant garlic in October. After that, I won't get the blog going again until around February when the grow house heat and lights go on.

I added some flower pictures since I always skimp on those and favor the veggies (as always click to enlarge images):

Monday, August 15, 2011

Next Year Insights

I've learned a few things over the course of this year and previous years which I was in denial of up until this year. I would like to share them with the five people who subscribe to this blog:

Getting the boot (or getting a slight boot)

- Horseradish - I've tried growing it twice and every year I am as disappointed as a soccer mom seeing her daughter flounder around the field. The green is pretty impressive if you like weeds but the harvest is so disappointing. I don't know if I am just inept at growing horseradish but it takes up valuable space that I could use for other primo veggies. If you don't believe me (which I don't know why you would doubt me), check out the pictures of how it looks in the pot and then the actual harvest:

- Brussels Sprouts - Yeah yeah I am a Brussels sprout fan (not the overcooked variety but the kind cooked in brown sugar and bacon fat al' dente). The problem with these green jeweled marbles is they take up so much space. I only have about 300 square feet of veggie growth as allocated by the wife and for the harvest I get, I would opt out of Brussels sprouts for next year despite how cool they look as a plant.

-Green beans - they are out for next year. Usually I dedicate half a raised garden bed for these guys but I can so much dilly beans that next year I am going to pass on these staples of the Clawson garden because I have so much canned.

- Tomatoes - Ok so these are my fav I start in my shack in January but I have close to 30 plants around and the wife would projectile vomit rather than eat them. They take up bucco space (as my mother-in-law would say).

-Mass amounts of onions - I grew a lot of onions this year but really how many can I eat? I got quite a few good sized bulbs but if you want to put the moves on your wife, you can't grow and consume all these greens. I ended up freezing the greens which is pretty lame but might make for a decent soup.

- Hops - Sorry Craig but they didn't produce as much as I thought and they are on their way out. I'll save the harvest I have in hopes you'll share the brew but this is the last year for hops.

Getting the green light

- More peppers, they seemed to do really well this year despite the bad weather . I would do more peppers next year in the buckets on the side of the house where it gets pretty hot.

- Cucumbers - I used to can my own pickle mix but they have Mrs. Wages mix which cuts down the effort ten fold so I was able to process more pickles than I thought. Next year I could see myself doing more...a lot more.

- Snap peas - always golden for munching

- Elephant garlic - The size of these babies are around the size of a softball.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Onions and Pickled Veggies

I picked all the onions I had growing. They didn't get as big of bulbs as I wanted them too but enough to dice up and grill for burgers or dogs. I took the greens that were getting so big, diced them, and then flash froze them so they would not clump together when they went in the freezer. I have a lot of theses frozen diced green onions which should be good in soups or hash-browns over the winter.

I also pickled and then canned a veggie mix consisting of (yes, sorry to say) Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, and cauliflower. I added a few hot peppers to make it suitable for me.

Below are some pictures of the onions I got before processing, during the flash freeze, and then a picture of the three quarts of spicy pickled mixed veggies: