Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Canning shelves

The year in canning is slowing tremendously.  Here I have my whole tomatoes, salsa, peaches, peach butter and bread and butter pickles.  I didn't make any jams or jellies this year.  I made so many last year that I still have enough for quite a while.  If I can find some grapes at a nearby farm, I may make some grape jelly.

Under the stairs is more of a mish mash of things.  There are a few more jars of salsa and whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef stock and chicken stock.  There are also a few leftovers from last year like applesauce, minestrone soup and the last jar of tomatillo salsa.    I love looking at all the pretty jars.  It will all be so very yummy in January.

Since there are still tomatoes coming in, a few more jars of things may make their way downstairs.  There are still 3 qts of tomato sauce sitting on the kitchen counter, along with more tomatoes waiting to have a place to go.  I'm out of pint jars, so everything from here on out will be in quarts.

Giveaway winner

The winner is Number 6!  Pacy, you are the winner of A Nation of Farmers.  Please email me at hethrrn@yahoo.com with your mailing address.  I'll send it along as soon as I get your address. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Harvest Monday Sept 27th 2010

It's all about the potatoes this week. 

First we dug the rest of the All Blues and the Yukon Golds.

A few russets for dinner.

All of the Kennebecs.  We now have over 100 lbs of potatoes and I still have to dig the russet bed.  It looks like a ridiculous amount, but I keep reminding myself that these will be our potatoes for the year.  I'm hoping that I'll have some to plant in the Spring.  It will be interesting to see how much we truly use for the year.

Another butternut, some broccoli side shoots and more tomatoes.

I really can't believe how many tomatoes and peppers I got this year.  They just keep coming with no frost in the forecast yet. 

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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gardening with the kiddoes

Today has been gorgeous.  True fall weather after some pretty significant heat.  What better day to dig potatoes?  I have already dug the bed with the All Blues and Yukon Golds.  Today was the day for the Kennebecs. 

It started out with just me digging.  Then the kids realized that they got to play in the dirt.  It became a contest to see who could get the bigger potato.  Some were huge, with a few at the bottom over a pound each.  I ended up with about 50 lbs from the 5 lbs that I started with.  Those potatoes sure seemed to like the chicken manure they got.  I still have to dig the Rio Grande russets, but they'll have to wait a bit.  We're due to get rain this week and I just don't think I can dig anymore today.

When the kids got tired of digging, they started searching for worms, grubs and bugs.  It became a game of naming them and then feeding them to the chickens.  The chickens were very appreciative.  They got moved into the garden a few days ago and have been happily weeding, turning the soil and fertilizing for me. 

After the potatoes were dug we moved on to the tomatoes.   J's son N started eating them like an apple.  When we got to the peppers, they were all excited.  D, from up the street said, "I love jalapenos" and proceeded to eat one right in the garden.  N, Morgan and Noah decided that sounded like a great idea and did the same.  Many glasses of milk later, they decided that it was probably not the best idea.

They were all thoroughly exhausted and napping on the patio.    I think I may go do the same thing.  Enjoy this wonderful weather!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Toby hanging out

He thinks this is his couch.  If someone is sitting there, or if there is clutter, he will stand there looking anxious until it is cleared.  Nope, he isn't spoiled.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cherry Potatoes

Morgan has decided that the little potatoes are called Cherry Potatoes.  "They're just like Cherry Tomatoes Mama."  How can you argue with that?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our trip to Monticello part two and a giveaway

When I was researching our trip to Virginia, I went off on multiple rabbit trails of things to do while we were there.  Our original plan was to go to only to Williamsburg.  While running down rabbit trails, I came across the site for the Monticello Heirloom Harvest Festival.  As Thomas had written in one of the comments, 'Monticello is the mecca for gardeners'.  How could I pass up going there and seeing the wonderful gardens? 

I continued to look at the list of things to do and realized that Sharon Astyk was one of the speakers.  Sharon is someone whose blog I started to read several year ago.  She's a peak oil writer and when I first started reading, she completely freaked me out.  As time went by, what she said started to make more sense to me.  Her writing helped me to formulate more of a plan for how my gardens, preserving and many other things would impact my life. 

Her talk was on her book A Nation of Farmers that she wrote with Aaron Newton.  It is based on many of the teaching of Thomas Jefferson, so was quite apt for  a talk at Monticello.  The tent was actually in the gardens. 

She spoke about how far many of us have come in our food supply, and how far we have to go.  She talked quite a bit about the age of farmers and the fact that for the first time ever, we will have our food raised primarily by people who did not grow up on farms.  As farmers age and their kids don't take over, newbies are taking over those farms and basically starting from scratch.  Instead of having knowledge passed down from generation to generation, we're trying to figure things out for ourselves.  Starting from scratch so to speak.

Thomas Jefferson believed that we needed to be a nation of farmers.  He felt that if we weren't intimately involved in our food production, that as a nation we would be sick and out of touch. 

I wish that I could have gone to her second talk.  It was on food preservation and based in part on another of her books called Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation.  My copy is very well worn. 

When we went to Monticello, I brought my Independence Days book with me for Sharon to sign.  Somehow, I had forgotten to bring A Nation of Farmers.  We caught up with Sharon prior to her talk and she signed my Independence Days book for me.  Hubby then watched the kids as I braved the tasting tent to get some seeds.  While there, Hubby apparently decided that I needed to have both books signed, so he bought a second copy to have her sign.  So, now I have 2. 

That brings us to the giveaway. 

You see, I now have 2 copies of this wonderful book.  I decided that this would be a wonderful opportunity for my to give this copy away.  So, to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling me what you would love to see most at Monticello.  I'll giveaway the book next Tuesday, so please make sure that I have a way to get in touch with you. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Harvest Monday Sept 20, 2010

We returned from vacation on Friday, so all of my harvests have been in the past 3 days.   I didn't post to Harvest Monday the week before we left, but did get the first broccoli then.

When we returned, the tomatoes were looking a little rough.  The plants are starting to get diseased and tired.  I'll be ripping out the Legends this week.  It has been an amazing pepper year for me as well.  The ananheims and jalapenos were just crazy.  I have so many frozen, I'm not sure I'll plant any next year. 

This is just a sampling of the 20 pounds of my All Blue potatoes dug so far.  There are still a couple hundred pounds of potatoes to be dug.  I'm taking my time.  Last night we had blue mashed potatoes with garlic from the garden.  My little one didn't like the color, but after some coaching decided the potatoes were ok after all. 

This morning's haul.  Those tomatoes keep coming and my one and only acorn squash. 

This post is part of Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.  Head on over and check out what everyone is harvesting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our trip to Monticello part one

Monticello was amazing.   We visited on Sept 11 for their Harvest Festival.  It was a gorgeous day up on the mountain.  The garden was on a large terrace that they had carved out of the mountainside.  On it, there were beds going the width of the terrace with walkways in between.  Most of these beds had one type of plant per bed, although there were a few mixed beds.

The tomato supports were built from wood found on the property.  They had many different kids of heirlooms growing.  One thing that surprised me, was that there were tomatoes in various stages of development.  Some were fully grown, but there were several that had clearly been planted fairly recently.  I'm not sure of their growing season, but would imagine that in the mountains, they can't be far from frost.  I wish I knew why they had grown tomatoes that clearly would never make it to fruit. 

The orchard goes down the hillside from the garden.  There were multiple kinds of trees, although I'm not sure what varieties.

These bean towers looked like fun.  If I was a child, I think I would have liked to hide inside them.

More bean towers, not fully grown. 

These squash were huge.  Behind them you can see some of the herbs grown on the property.  They had many different types of herbs, both culinary and medicinal.

I wish we could get goats.  This one was a real sweetie.  Do you think Toby would like to play with her?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Home and ready to work

We got back from vacation last night.  It was glorious to sleep in my own bed.  It was strangely wonderful to wake up and have a million things to do. 

Toby had been dropped off at the house by my parents before we got home, so he and I spent the morning doing our usual routine.  We went and checked on and fed the chickens.  He sniffed around to see if there was anything good to eat that they had left.  Then we went to the garden.  I picked the tomatoes and overflowing peppers.  The pumpkins are really taking off now and coming back to life, where I thought they were dead.  The broccoli is heading up nicely and sending out side shoots where I picked it before vacation. 

While I was emptying the car, the neighbors came for a visit.  Toby got to play with his best bud, Brutus, a 9 month old boxer.  I chatted and caught up while the kids and dogs ran around and played. 

Then it was into the house for breakfast.  I can't tell you how good it was to have poached eggs on toast with eggs from my chickens and my homemade sourdough bread.  Real food is a wonderful thing.  You don't realize how wonderful, until you don't have it for a while. 

I have so many posts and things to tell you.  The picture is of the Monticello gardens.  We attended the Harvest Festival and had a wonderful time meeting Sharon Astyk and seeing all the fabulous things they had to see and taste.  We went to a farm where they cure hams the old fashioned way, saw how peanuts and cotton grow and just generally had a blast.  I'll be giving away a book later in the week as well, so keep your eyes open.  Today I need to get things straightened, tomatoes processed, peppers dealt with, pictures looked through and many other things.  It's wonderful to be home.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What a great harvest I had today.  The broccoli finally decided to do something.  There were 2 heads to harvest this morning and several more on their way.  We've had such a hot summer, that my broccoli just didn't do anything.  I had beautiful, big, healthy plants, with no heads.  Patience prevailed and now I have a bunch to put up.  The potatoes went into homefries for breakfast and the tomatoes went into tonight's chili. 

I apologize for the lack of blogging lately.  With the start of the school year, several weddings to shoot with Hubby and prep for vacation, I haven't had much time.  We're headed off to vacation tomorrow, so blogging will probably cease until I get back in a week or so.  We'll be going to Monticello for the Harvest Festival and then to Williamsburg for homeschool week.  The kids are so excited for Busch Gardens and Water Country.  I'm excited for the gardens at Monticello and the fact that I'll get to meet Patti Moreno and Sharon Astyk.  They are both amazing women, doing amazing work.   I'm sure the gardens and speakers will give me lots of inspiration and ideas for my garden.

See you soon!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall garden update

The fall garden is really starting to come into it's own.  The broccoli has finally started to make a head.  I was wondering if it would ever behave.  The heat this summer is messing with things.  I'm hoping that the heat we're having this week won't stop the broccoli progress. 

The pac choy is doing extremely well and really needs to be harvested.  In the background is some chard sizing up nicely.  I think I'll plant some more of the pac choy this week.  It grows very quickly and is very yummy as well.

This is some more broccoli that the bugs have been enoying along with some red cabbage.  This bed also contains some carrots that seem to be doing well.  I'm hoping that they'll put on some good growth in the next few weeks.

In the second bed, the beets are also doing very well.  We are big fans of roasted beets in the cooler weather.  These won't over winter well, so we'll eat what we can and harvest the rest for storage in a few weeks.

Also in the second bed are my second crop of cabbages and broccoli.  Some of the cabbage was harvested last week, the rest needs another week or two. 

This is my first year doing a real fall/winter garden, so I'm still figuring out what works and when they need to be planted.  The spinach I sowed a few weeks ago didn't do anything because of the heat, so I'll re plant that.  I'm thinking of starting the mache as well.  We're really looking forward to eating fresh from the garden this year.  It seems odd to think about harvesting in the snow.  I know it's possible though!