Monday, August 29, 2011

Harvest Monday - August 29 2011

My first harvest was the harvest I found when I got back from vacation. I had beans in the fridge and tomatoes on the counter.

Tuesday's Harvest

Since Tuesday was my first pickings since being away, it was pretty large. It featured a huge zucchini and lots and lots of peppers, both hot and sweet.

Friday's Harvest

Friday's harvest also had a huge zucchini, but not as large as the first one. And the first of the butternut squash. This one set early. The others have all set in the last month. I hope they have time to ripe.

Saturday's Harvest

Saturday's harvest was about bringing things in before Irene hit. I probably would have left the eggplants up for a few more days, but better safe than sorry. I picked any of the Lemon Queen sunflower heads that had gotten heavy with seed. I figured the weight alone swinging back and forth would bring them down. Those boards are about 4" wide so that large head was 8" across. I picked a lot of these bags of dried beans. These were the cranberry beans. I'll be adding to them over time as the pods dry out. Neither the sunflowers or dried beans have been weighed the seed has to be separated first.

And Irene? Well she did a bit of damage, but it wasn't too bad. She bent down one of my dwarf fruit trees as you can see above. That tree is now upright and staked. My beans were leaning over I have them temporarily propped up. But they will need a better job probably tomorrow. I'm busy all today and they aren't about to fall over if they didn't yesterday. I lost one sunflower, but the rest are leaning crazily into the path. I hope I can pull them back. We lost one branch of our maple tree. It didn't seem to hit anything. And ripped one of the row covers off my bed. So all in all not too bad. The beans were fixed in the middle of the storm. Yes I'm a crazy gardener that went out into the storm to deal with her bean towers. The eye had passed when I got out to fix my peach tree though. I got about three inches of rain according to my weather station. But the output said it was raining cats and dogs (yes it literally said that, made me laugh) and at the maximum rate. So I think was it raining too hard for the gauge. If I get a chance I'll deal with my other rain gauge and see if it said three inches too.

  • Beans 3.32 lbs
  • Cucurbits 7.01 lbs
  • Eggplant 1.70 lbs
  • Pepper 9.10 lbs
  • Potato 6.03 lbs
  • Tomato 7.66 lbs
  • Weekly Total 34.82 lbs
  • Weekly Spent $0
  • Yearly Total 442.01 lbs
  • Veggie Garden was worth $886.09
  • Fruit 1.69 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Batten Down the Hatches

Yesterday I spent a little time in the garden in hopes of keeping my plants upright during Irene. Irene will probably not be a hurricane when it hits (there still is a chance), but the forecasters think maybe we will get 50-60 mph winds. That is enough to damage the garden.

There isn't a lot I can do with my walls of green. The beans are seven feet tall and a fairly solid mass. I've found that toward the path they have been starting to lean into the bed. This is because the pole inside the bed tends to work its way farther down into the soil as the soil is fairly loose, but the soil outside of the bed is the path and gets compacted. So that pole can't work down. So slowly over time the trellis has started leaning into the bed at the end. The other end doesn't get walked on as much and seems to be fine.

So I put up a few more supports at that part of the trellis. As you can see I put two metal t-posts to hold it up here. I put one on another trellis that wasn't as bad. This one is the worst. The beans here are very very heavy. The runner beans really put on a huge amount of mass over time. I hope the trellises can survive the winds. I'm not too optimistic however. So I did a good picking of the dry beans. Any that had started drying came off, but there are a lot of very green beans in there. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Then I tied up the peppers and the eggplants. They all have bamboo stakes near them and some have a lot of heavy fruit still hanging on them. The winds could tear the branches right off even with the ties I put in, but it is the best I can do.

Wish me luck. Irene hits on Sunday and will be all gone by Monday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How To Braid Onions

When I showed my onion braids a couple weeks ago, I was asked how I did it. I had one kind of onion left to be braided so I took photos as best I could while I did it.

The first step is to dry the onion tops. Make sure when you dry them that they are dried straight up. You don't want them kinked or going all over. They tend to break more that way. Also you don't want them totally dry. Above is probably a touch dry, but OK. I would have done it several days earlier, but since I was on vacation I did it as soon as I got home. The drier the leaves are the less they will shrink and the tighter your onion braid will be. The less dry they are the easier they are to braid since they are still pliable.

The second step is to sort them. You want the largest onions in the middle of the braid. So count the onions and divide by three. I had eighteen in this group so I took the six largest onions. And sorted them (lower onions left to right) by how big they were. Then I took the rest and put then next biggest two with the largest onion (on my left). Then the next biggest with the next large onion down the row. So you have a bunch of groups of three. In each is one larger onion and two that are smaller but about the same size as each other. The photo above shows them all sorted.

The braid starts with the largest of the groups of three (one on the left) and it works its way to the smallest of the groups of three. You are making a braid. I'm going to assume you know how to braid. But this is more like a French braid. So as you go along you will add to your braid. To help with the structure I cut a long piece of string that should be a couple feet longer than twice the length that your braid will be at the end. Say about 5-6 feet, but it really depends upon how many onions you are using and how large the onions are.

Take the first three with the largest one in the middle and tie them together toward the bulb. You should make the knot in the middle of the string. The string will be part of your braid. Put one end of the string with one onion and one with another. It doesn't matter which ones get it, but make sure the strings are in different parts of the braid.

Get the next set of three onions. Take the largest and put the bulb in the middle and the tops in the middle. The tops will ALWAYS be put in the middle, but the bulbs will be put to make the braid look nice. So the large one in the middle and the small ones to either side. Right now only put the large one in the middle.

Then fold the right side leaves over so it is now in the middle (if it has a string make sure the string comes with it).

Now put one of the smaller onions on the right side, but with the tops in the middle. Then fold over the left side, so it is in the middle.

Next put the other small onion on the left side with the tops in the middle. Then fold over the right side into the middle. Keep going like this. When adding a new onion always go large one in the middle first, small one on the right second, and small one on the left last. And always alternate folding over right, left, right, left...

When you are done add in a few more braids, so you can see the braid coming out from underneath the onions. Then take the two strings - one on the left and one on the right and tie them together in the front. Then loop them around very tightly several times in opposite directions and tie them off in the back. To make a loop to hold them tie the two strings together in the back a few inches from the knot going around the stems.

Loop to hang onions

When you are all done cut off the tops evenly about four inches above the knot (you need a lot if your onions were fairly green when you braided because the leaves will shrink as they dry and the string will loosen, but not too much if your onions were very dry).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Harvest Monday - August 22 2011

Monday Harvest

I was gone most of last week so I just had harvests on Monday and Tuesday. I had Allie take care of the garden, but I didn't ask her to weigh all the produce or photograph it. So I have no clue as to what else came out of my garden this week.

Tuesday Harvest

  • Beans 0.81 lbs
  • Cucurbits 1.25 lbs
  • Tomato 18.06 lbs
  • Weekly Total 20.13 lbs
  • Weekly Spent $0
  • Yearly Total 407.19 lbs
  • Veggie Garden was worth $776.34
  • Fruit 1.69 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Random Photos

I had a bunch of photos I had taken, but never got on the blog. Since I'm stuck inside I figured I'd post those. The above is a bee that I had never seen before. It is totally black except for two yellow stripes, one on either side of its hind end, right near the tip. It loves the corn pollen as you can see. It helped pollinate the squash below it while the corn was putting out pollen, but afterwards it disappeared. Anyone know what kind of bee it is?

And speaking of corn. I'm sure it was saying, "Help save me before the murdering gardener chops me up and buries me in the compost."

I might point out I did not plant a beet here. I was planting beets on the other side of the brick path. I must have dropped a seed and it washed over here. Tenacious isn't it?

I don't see many of these. The soil was totally devoid of these when it was brought in. It will be a few years before I dig multiple up with every shovelful. My compost used to crawl with them. I really miss them, but I suppose the worms attract mice, and I don't miss the mice.

A typical summer lunch being made.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Harvest Monday - August 15 2011

The beginning of the week had some nice harvests. Monday was raining hard. We had three inches of rain over three days. This caused my melons to split. But just because they split doesn't mean they don't get eaten. Some of the melons were divine. Some just OK. And don't think these are big melons. They aren't. For me they ran about two pounds each which is a perfect size if you don't have a family eating them.

Tuesday was my big harvest day. The first harvest wasn't even photographed. I totally forgot. It had peppers, broccoli, and kohlrabi. The second was a nice diversified basket.

Then I pulled out most of my tomato plants as they had finished producing. But first was the harvest of the tomatoes.

And weirdly of the carrots too. I had a line of carrots in the middle of the tomato plants. I had to pull them all as the spinach was getting planted there. They had good sun early in the spring but were still small when the tomatoes were planted. After that the tomatoes took over and they had no sun at all. But they still put on some roots. I was surprised they did as well as they did.

Wednesday had a nice little harvest. Very little.

But Wednesday didn't stop there. Most of my onions were dry enough to braid. They they are finally weighed.

Then my garlic was taken out of the shed as it was dry. I cleaned it up and weighed it.

Thursday my asthma really kicked in. I quit gardening except for the real necessity of what needed to be picked. Which was basically beans and cukes on Friday. I even gave away the tomatoes you see in the above basket as I didn't have the energy to can any more. And yes I am getting better now. Filtered air, lots of drugs, and lots of rest. I miss my garden.

And again on Sunday. I should have picked my tomatoes on Sunday too as today the rain is again pouring. I wonder how many will crack with all this rain. Most of the tomatoes left in the garden are Market Miracle and Amish Paste and both aren't big crackers. The one Cherokee Purple sadly is. I'll have to cut parts out before I weigh this week.

And speaking of this week. I'll be traveling and may or may not have internet service. I might be able to get to all your posts, but probably not. I'll pre-schedule next Monday's post so you all can have fun without me. My garden will be taken care of. My townhouse mates will be here. I'll see if I can get them to harvest it all and weigh it. I hope so. But next Monday won't have many photos.

  • Alliums 24.11 lbs
  • Beans 1.66 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.80 lbs
  • Corn 2.61 lbs
  • Cucurbits 17.77 lbs
  • Pepper 0.64 lbs
  • Tomato 20.47 lbs
  • Weekly Total 70.04 lbs
  • Weekly Spent $0
  • Yearly Total 387.07 lbs
  • Veggie Garden was worth $699.58
  • Fruit 1.69 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Feel Like an Ant

Surely you all know the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper. Well I'm the ant busily storing up for the winter. Yesterday I made paneer (an Indian cheese) for the first time. I just love Shahi Paneer and can't seem to find the paneer locally. And since it really is just a home made cheese, I could make it easily.

It is probably the easiest of cheeses to make. It only requires milk and an acid (lemon juice is traditional, but I used buttermilk) to curdle it. So heat the milk; throw in the acid; watch it curdle; pour through a cheese cloth; let hang for a while; kneed until smooth; refrigerate. It takes no aging, no enzyme, and no trying to get a clean break. So simple. It makes a cheese that doesn't melt like other cheeses do. So you can simmer it in the sauce and let it absorb the flavors.

Today I make the sauce and put them together and froze five servings and ate one. The sauce uses up a lot of things form the garden like tomatoes (whoohoo more tomatoes gone), onions, garlic, and coriander. Remember that pile of coriander I got this year. Well two teaspoons have been used up. Boy do I have a long way to go.

Onions being sorted

Oh and speaking of using up onions and garlic. The garlic was dried and removed from the shed. The onion tops from the Copra onions had dried enough to make braids. So they have been braided and hung (four hanging in the photo above). I made some different sizes of braids. I really like the one long one the best. I'll see how it holds up over time. I also made one braid for my CSA friend. I put in all three kinds of onions on that one. I've got three Alisa Craig that are on the bottom. Then I put Redwings up the middle all the way up and the Copras along the side. The first is a sweet onion that needs to be used up first, but the last two are storage onions and can be kept for a long time.

The last thing I did today was make some pickles. I made one jar of dill pickle spears. Yes just one jar. I made it at the same time as the bread and butter pickles so I didn't have to boil all that water bath water twice. The last time I made dills I didn't like them. I had kept the spices in the jar and they got way too seasoned. So I tried a very simple recipe. The only seasonings are dill and mustard seed. Very simple. I didn't even use onions, though that might be a mistake. I love onions in my pickles. These will be the only pickles I make this year that are canned. Any others I make will all be refrigerator pickles since I like those best.

So this ant has put away a lot of things for the winter in the last few days. Though unlike the ant in the story, I do share if entertained. But not if you sing like a cricket. That cricket that got in the house has been serenading me when I go into the basement is not welcome. The other day the sound was getting higher. It had better not crawl up the walls into my bedroom. Then I'll become an insane murderous fire ant and no one wants to see that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tomatoes and Spinach

As you saw in Harvest Monday my tomatoes gave me a lot. So on Monday I canned. And canned. And canned. 18 pints. My back hurt after that. I did both sauce and chopped tomatoes. I should have done the chopped tomatoes today, but I really wanted to get them off my counter.

I was thinking the tomatoes are out gassing something that irritates my lungs. I have asthma and was doing fine before the massive line of tomatoes on my counter. Though it is probably the ragweed starting to bloom. But for now I'm keeping the mass of my tomatoes down.

And what I do have is being kept in air tight containers. I let them breath once a day outside. It has helped a lot, but not totally gotten rid of the issue. So I'm guessing ragweed and tomatoes were an issue. Interestingly enough the cooking tomatoes don't bother me. It is whatever they put out when they ripen that is irritating.

This morning I picked some more tomatoes. Many were cracking due to the rain. I picked all that were in the section closest to the path. Most were turning already. Just a couple were still green. And I got rid of all of the Heinz no matter what bed it was in. They had mostly all turned. So I ripped out 12 plants and have 5 left in this bed and 4 (mostly cherries) in another bed. This bed will be my spinach bed this fall. I planted up the empty section. I may or may not plant up the rest this fall. I may wait for it to be the spring spinach. But then again I may just make it some overwintered spinach. I'll figure it out later.

I put in three types. Gigante D'Inverno (2 rows), Olympia (three rows), and Space (two rows). I'm hoping they can all produce this fall and over winter. Especially the first one since it has winter in its name.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Harvest Monday - August 8 2011

Monday's two harvests were full of tomatoes.

Tuesday's harvest was just corn and cukes.
There was no harvest on Wednesday.

Thursday's five harvests had tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, onions, corn and peppers.

Friday had no tomatoes, but potaotes, two melons, and the first onion braid.

Can you say tomatoes?. I picked massive quantities of tomatoes before the first big rain storm in the last month - 1 3/4". I didn't want them to crack. I should have picked more. I'm afraid to go out and check the ones that are left. I've got my work cut out for me today canning.

Sunday had no harvest, but above was the biggest tomato in the garden so far. It is an Amish Paste which makes it more amazing. Paste tomatoes don't have as much water as slicing tomatoes. And yes that is a dinner plate, not one of my little salad plates.

Obviously at over 80lbs, last week was the big tomato harvest of the year. In a week I think I'll be pulling some plants. Most of the black tomatoes have no little tomatoes on them. They have a couple almost ripe, but sadly the heat wave a while back stopped them dead in their tracks. They don't have time to grow and set more so once the ones currently on the vine are ripe, which will be soon, there is no reason to leave them in anymore. The Heinz will all get pulled. They are a paste that produces all at once so that is to be expected. All that will be left is one Cherokee Purple (maybe) and the Amish Paste and Market Miracles. The last two are later tomatoes and weren't as affected by the heat especially the Market Miracles. So they at least will give me tomatoes into September.

I did buy a stool for the garden last week. It was a total of $20. I also rearranged some of my amortized costs. I am going though my fertilizer faster than expected. I've had a lot of successions of things and each time I do that I put down more compost and fertilizer. So I amortized over two years and not three.

  • Alliums 5.64 lbs
  • Beans 0.07 lbs
  • Carrot 0.18 lbs
  • Corn 6.66 lbs
  • Cucurbits 4.83 lbs
  • Herbs 0.37 lbs
  • Pepper 1.61 lbs
  • Potato 3.13 lbs
  • Tomato 81.87 lbs
  • Weekly Total 104.36 lbs
  • Weekly Spent $20
  • Yearly Total 317.03 lbs
  • Veggie Garden was worth $489.48
  • Fruit 1.69 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.