Monday, August 30, 2010

Harvest Monday Aug 30th 2010

It's not a huge harvest this week.  The tomatoes are slowing down and a majority of the rest is done for the season.

The second round of cabbages was enjoyed in cole slaw this week.  We also wrapped things up with our corn.  The jury is still out on whether we'll do it again next year.  The pumpkin may be our one and only this year.  All around we didn't have a good pumpkin and squash year. 

Tomatoes are still coming in, but at a slower pace.  I'm hoping to can up a few more qts this week, but we'll see. 

This post is part of Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.  Head on over and see what else has been harvested this week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

After the deluge

This is what my tomatoes look like after 4 days of pouring rain. 

When I picked corn, I found this.  The poor pollination makes it look like it has some kind of disease.  Random kernels look rather silly.

Then I found this smart aleck grinning at me.  He's kind of cute, so I'll let him stay.  At least until lunch.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Time to save some seeds

Every year I try to save more and more of my own seeds.  Most are relatively easy to save, especially if you are a lazy gardener like me. 

Tomatoes are easy.  You get a good, slightly over ripe tomato and cut it across the equator.

Then you stick your finger in and squish out the seeds into a bowl.  Leave the bowl on a counter for a few days until it gets good and disgusting.  The rot is what you want.  Tomato seeds have a protective coating on them that has to be broken down by a bit of rot, so that they are then able to be planted.  After a few days, put them in a colander and rinse all the yuck off. 

I then put them on a piece of paper to dry with the name of the tomato type on the paper.  (It looks like an ink blot test)  When they're good and dry I will put them in an envelope to keep.  This of course, can only be done with open pollinated seeds.  Hybrids will not produce true to their parent plant. 

I also have bags of parsnip seeds, lettuce seeds and spinach seeds to be done.  These are easier.  In the case of the lettuce and spinach,  you just let them go to seed and ignore them for a while.  I then snip off the seed heads when they are fully mature and stick them in a bag to dry in the house.  When dry, I crunch them up to separate the seeds out. 

In the case of the parsnips, they need to go through a winter and then go to seed.  Carrots are the same way.  These parsnips were planted last year.  Most were dug this spring for eating, but a few were left in the ground.  The picture in my header is of the parsnip seed heads.  They are quite pretty and very tall.  This way, I have tons of seeds for myself and to share for free. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Harvest Monday Aug 23rd 2010

The first corn of the year came in this week.  It was a mixed bag.  There is still a bit to be harvested.

Tomatoes are still ruling the day.  This week I harvested about 50 lbs.  I'm starting to see a possible end to this, but would like it to go on for at least another 3-5 weeks.  Maybe in a slightly smaller capacity though.

It hasn't been a good pumpkin and squash year for us.  This is a very small Cinderella pumpkin that ended up getting composted as a result of damage.  There is also a very small Waltham butternut.  Maybe next year we'll have a good squash year.

The peppers are still coming in very nicely.  The egg is of course from my girls.

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions and see what else is being harvested this week.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Watering is something that can make or break a garden.  It is also something that new gardeners tend to overdo.  I'm asked constantly "Why aren't my veggies ripening?"  This is followed by surprise when I tell them to stop watering their gardens.

Now, don't get me wrong, watering can be crucial.  I water several times a year.  I don't water daily. 

It's crucial that seeds and seedlings have a moist environment to start off in.  It's also crucial that you make them work a little for the water.  They need to be kept moist to stimulate germination and rooting. 

After they've rooted nicely, you want to do deep, infrequent watering.  I know that your first inclination is to water them daily because it's dry.  What the plants want is to be watered every few days deeply.  They need that water to penetrate a few inches into the soil.  Plant roots go deep searching for food and water.  If you water every day, they won't develop those good deep roots that are crucial to a healthy and productive plant. 

You also need to be aware of the disease that too much water can bring.  Those of us in the Northeast can well remember last year's tomato debacle.  Once blight was found, it probably wouldn't have spread so fast if it wasn't for all the rain.  In fact, this year there was blight found in a few places, but because of the dry weather, it stayed under control.  The same can happen with over watering.
When you water, mud splashes up from the ground onto your plants.  The mud can carry spores onto your plants that will cause disease. 

This time of year, I tend to stop watering altogether.  The fall beds that are just getting started will get a bit of water, but the rest of the garden is done.  We'll have frost in a few weeks and I want the fruit that is already formed to ripen.  I'm not looking to develop new fruit.  If the plant has a little water stress, it's more likely to put all of its energy into ripening existing fruit.  That is what we want in August and September. 

Lastly, the best way to ensure that watering will be the most effective, is to build your soil.  The richer your soil, the more organic matter like compost and manure, the more it will hold onto water in the first place.  Mulches such as straw can also be helpful for cooling the soil and retaining water.

I water more frequently in the spring, slow the frequency in the summer while adding mulch and completely stop in late summer to force maturity of fruit. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Corn on the cob

This is my first year attempting corn.  I grew a variety called Incredible from Fedco seeds.  These were grown in a 4x12 plot.  I added compost at planting time and think that I could have added more.  They were fertilized with fish emulsion every 2 weeks after they broke ground.  There is such a wide variance in how they did. 

I am a bit confused.  I had heard that corn did well in large patches, so that they could all pollinate properly.  Having seen corn grown in the fields nearby, the edges seem to be smaller.  In my case, the edges were producing the largest ears, with very little in the interior of the bed.  This is certainly not all the corn to be harvested, but I'm not expecting to get too much more. 

They were very tasty.  The family was thrilled with the perfect level of sweetness and corn flavor.  I'm not very happy with the yield.  It seems like a waste of garden space.  Should I have been more aggressive with the fertilization?  Did I just need a bigger bed?  I would love any wisdom from the more experienced corn growers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quahogs for the winter

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.  Hop on over and check out who else is living simply.

If you're from New England, you know what quahogs are, if not.  For those of you from somewhere else, you probably call them clams.  We call the little ones clams, but the big ones are quahogs.   (pronounced Ko-hogs) 

I got these from my sister in law.  This picture is of only a few of the many giant quahogs that she gave me.  She and her family have a blast out clamming.  They gave me what must have been about 30 pounds.  Unfortunately, that doesn't end up as much when all is said and done.  Since I don't have the time or the inclination to do anything with them these days, I cooked and froze them.  Quahogs are usually either stuffed with a spicy sausage stuffing, or made into clam chowder.  I decided on the latter.

It was really quite easy.  I just brought a pan of water to boil.  Then put a large roasting pan in a 400 degree oven and poured the water in.  The quahogs were put in, in batches until they opened and were removed.  I then just chopped the meat.  The clam broth is essential in a good chowder, so that was saved as well.  Finally, the clam shells were thrown out back to eventually be crushed and added to the garden to add calcium to the soil.  Nothing gets wasted here.

The final product.  It doesn't look like much from so many clams, but will make a nice big pot of chowder on a cool fall or winter day.  I'm quite excited about it and am hoping that I may get a few more before summer is over. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tomato Tuesday

I apologize if you're sick of them.  But I'm just ecstatic over the production this year.  This is about 30 pounds of tomatoes.  Guess what I'm doing today?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harvest Monday Aug 16th, 2010

It's tomato time!  After 2 really bad tomato years, we're celebrating here in the northeast. 

That's not even half of what I harvested this week.  They're coming on quite strong and we're loving every minute of it. 

I'm also still harvesting potatoes as needed.  These are Kennebecs that were used for a potato salad.  We had a big birthday party to celebrate the kid's birthdays with family and neighbors.  Since they're so close together, we always have one big party for the both of them.  It was nice to have all the vegetables come straight from the garden.

This is the second harvest of beets.  There are still quite a few more to go. 

What isn't pictured are the cucumbers, beans, green peppers, jalapenos and anaheims. 

We're finally getting some rain this week, which is wonderful.  I'm hoping these harvests keep up.  We're well on our way to having a majority of our vegetables come from my garden this year. 

This post is part of Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday.  Go check out what everyone is harvesting this week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Halfway there

We're halfway through August and I'm already halfway to my tomato goal for the year.  Today I canned up 7 more quarts of tomatoes and a large batch of Annie's Salsa.  It certainly looks like we'll exceed the number of quarts of tomatoes that we need.  They'll be put away for a rainy day, or year, as the case may be.  A glut of tomatoes is a very good thing. 

This is the first year that I've been able to make the salsa entirely from produce that I grew.  Usually the peppers are way behind and I have to get them from the market.  This year they beat out the tomatoes.  I love running out to the garden for green peppers and jalapenos.  It's so much more wonderful than getting in my car.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weird and Wonderful

We had a good giggle over this one.

Being a squirrel

I love this time of year.  There are fruits and veggies everywhere.  My kitchen table and counters are covered in the most beautiful things.  I can go to the local farm and get their special baskets of fruits for canning, or pick my own straight from the bush or tree.  The smells in my kitchen are intoxicating.

I start to feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The imagery in her books of food and food storage is inspiring.  I always wanted to play in the attic with the pumpkins and hams, and braids of onions and garlic.  It sounds like heaven to me.  Increasingly, my summers are about storing things for the long winter.  No longer do we run off to the grocery store whenever the mood strikes for raspberries in January.  Now I try to plan for those things in August. 

This week tomatoes are coming on strong in my garden.  Once we got the taste for homegrown, home canned tomatoes, we just couldn't go back.  Last year's tomato blight was devastating.   We are determined never to eat another industrially canned food again.   The beauties above will be enjoyed all year in our house.  I can feel fall coming on and it makes me more determined to fill the pantry.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop.  Hop on over and check out what everyone is doing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Harvest Monday Aug 9,2010

This post is part of Daphne's Dandelions' series for Harvest Monday.  Click on over and check out what everyone is harvesting this week.

We're really into the heat of summer here.  Some things are starting to give up and others are just coming into their own.

These are the first of the Yukon Golds.  I'm only harvesting as I need them.  There are tons of potatoes (hopefully!)  still awaiting harvest, but the longer I keep them in the ground, the longer they'll keep in the house.  Most will probably stay there until October or so.  In the meantime, we'll continue to eat fresh potatoes every so often.

A typical harvest for this time of year.  The cucumbers are not looking terribly healthy these days.  I should get a few more from them though. 

Hubby had a hankering for swiss chard in his eggs the other day.  It is holding up remarkably well despite the heat.  This is actually a volunteer that showed up in the bean patch this year.  The beets need to be frozen.  They are such a winter veggie in my mind.  Can you see my sourdough starter in the background?  I'm very proud that I started that little guy myself.  It's happily bubbling away.  When it gets a bit stronger, I'll post more about it.

These poor green tomatoes are casualties of war.  I was desperately trying to tie up my overgrown vines and lost a few tomatoes along the way.  They'll ripen up nicely inside and be gobbled up just the same.  The green beans are looking to make a comeback with lots of new fruit forming these days.  I'm glad I didn't pull them up yet.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Peaches are in season here in New England.  I think it's pretty sad that just a few years ago, I didn't know that you could grow them here.  I thought they could only be grown in the south, like citrus.  That's how far away from our food supply I was.  Now of course, I have my own peach trees.  They have some small fruit on them this year, but nothing that will actually feed us quite yet. 

The local farm, however, does have quite a few peaches.  When I went in the other day, they were running a special for canning peaches at a very nice price.  I snatched them up and ran right home to use up my bounty. 

I also did the tomatoes from the garden at the same time.  While I canned, my family happily slurped up the peaches still in the basket.  I think I'll be going back tomorrow to see if they have anymore left.  We are now firmly in the no industrially processed foods camp here.  If I don't get enough tomatoes for the year, I'll go back to the same farm to get big baskets of their canning tomatoes.  There just is no comparison. 

When I was finished canning, I decided a pie was in order.  This is a crumb top peach pie.  The recipe was made up, but consisted of a bottom pie crust.  The peaches were seasoned with cinnamon, ginger and allspice and thickened with a little cornstarch.  The topping was a basic crumble with butter, flour and sugar.  It was very yummy. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bread and Butter Pickles

Canning season has begun in earnest at my house.  Last year I made jams and jellies until they were coming out my ears.  This year there is no need.  For that reason, I am just now starting to get going on canning.  The first was the bread and butter pickles.  We had used the last of them the other day and were anxious for more.  Among my notes for next year's garden is: plant more cucumbers! 

Oh and anyone who was going to ask, I use the recipe from the Ball Blue book for my pickles.  We love them!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Harvest Monday Aug 2, 2010

The tomatoes are coming in now.  It's a glorious thing!  I didn't get picture of everything, but you certainly get the idea.

This is the basics of what we're getting these days.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a smattering of beans.

They look about the same, don't they?  We're really enjoying the produce.  I think I finally have enough cucumbers for pickles.  The family is so excited since we just finished the last of the bread and butter pickles from last year.

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what everyone is harvesting this week.