Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where did August go?

Earlier this month I asked my boss to slip in an occasional vacation day for me to catch up on the home stuff...well, that obviously hasn't happened! Work is busier than ever. Weekends don't seem much better; yesterday was spent helping my niece move and unpack. Today I caught up on laundry, mowed the lawn and dug the potatoes.

Because I have zip for will-power (and it's worse when I'm stressed) I'm setting a small goal that will still be a challenge. This season I will not impulse buy the Halloween candy that calls me. Very hard because that stuff is at eye-level in all the stores right now! I met and won the first round with the addictive sugary stuff this morning when I went to pick up my son's insulin supply for September. Victory!

This is also the time of year when I have the opportunity to pre-buy LP for the furnace at a set cost. $1.22 per gallon which is much, much better than last year. Still, it's a guessing game as to how cold the winter will be and how much we will need. I think I'm going to go for 700 gallons. Imagine how much less it would be if I had solar heated water plumbed into the system. Forget the pumpkin coach and ballgown, if I had a fairy godmother I'd be wishing for practical stuff.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Checking in

We are still alive. Search parties not necessary.

It's just been too busy to focus on the blog. I haven't even had time to keep up reading my favorites!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Still more harvest...

This is my pantry so far this year. Lots of homegrown goodness saved up for the long winter. My mom also kept a pantry of canned vegetables in her basement. We never had much money, but we had enough to eat.

Recently I read a blog post that spoke of boiling canned veggies for 10 to 20 minutes after opening. I couldn't understand why anyone would do that because of course you would end up with overcooked mush. No wonder they didn't like canned vegetables! After being assured that this was recommended for all home canned items, I did some more research. Based on an average of 25 cases of botulism each year this is the recommended practice. Uh still sounds like scare mongering to me. My family has canned for generations without any illness. The pressure canner is designed to work at the same temperature and pressure used by commercial canning factories. Clean jars and lids, pressure canner with a good seal, appropriate pressure and time are all that's needed. If you are uncertain of canning safety, then freezing may be what is best for you. I will continue to can my harvest and enjoy a full pantry that won't be at risk when the power goes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Leeks and other news

I took a stab at getting some more energy back into myself by going downstairs and riding my stationary bike. I want to do it again tomorrow but that will require a bit more dedication (getting up an hour earlier than usual).

Two weeks ago (!!!) I bought leeks at the farmers market. Because I'm a coward when it comes to trying new recipes, tonight found me pulling them out for the first time. I cheated and simply substituted it for the onion I normally use for this dish. Fortunately, I had put the leeks in a green produce saver bag and they were still just as crisp and fresh as when I bought them. I enjoyed cutting it up and separating all the little rings; no tears! Flavor: nice, subtle.

Question: how do you store leeks when you grow your own? Do you simply dig them as needed and when the garden season is over, that's it?

I've got diatomaceous earth (sp?) dusted all over my house. My son says he can smell it although I can't (which is a complete reversal from normal). Keeping a close eye on the flea situation...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting swamped

This may be a very rewarding time of year, but it's also extremely busy. Even with the garden in full production I still have my full-time job and all the normal upkeep of my home. I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. I'm going to ask my boss to work in a day off wherever he can spare me. There's just so much to do!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

beans, beans and more beans

This first picture shows the bush beans; low to the ground but prolific producers.

These are climbing beans. I've only got one cropping out of them so far but should see more. They're bunched at the top of the 6 foot bamboo support I built so it may need redesigning for next year to give more height.

Question: has anyone had this happen to their zucchini plants (courgette)? I had the same problem last year in the other garden. It strikes just when the plant is starting to produce well.

Next question: can I use cloves from this years garlic harvest to plant next years crop?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A day in the life

Sometimes my day doesn't get really busy until the evening. Last night was a good example. I don't get home from work until 6 p.m. A quick change out of the work clothes, feed the guinea pigs (gps), throw a couple hotdogs on the grill and head out to the garden. I picked the climbing beans, then the second crop from the bush beans, a quick meal and went back outside to clean out the dogs wading pool and enjoy a nice chat and cuddle with them while it refilled. Off to the farm where I collected the eggs, reassuring the turkey that he doesn't look THAT bad due to his moulting, inside to check on the cat and show her she is still loved, then back out to harvest my mom's beans. Unfortunately, even with the rain the night before they had gotten too dry and were limp and soft. I took them back home to give to the gps. Downstairs to start a load of laundry, realizing it's too late to start a loaf of bread plan on eggs for breakfast, fill the gps hay racks, online to solve the tanga puzzles, back downstairs to hang up the laundry, decide I'm too tired to write this post and off to bed!

About the beans: I was thinking the climbing beans were a disappointment because they took so long to produce but I've changed my mind. These are so easy to pick (no bending over) and don't get dirty when it rains; I'm going to plant more next year.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beets - blimey!

Beets (beetroot) is easily the messiest, most time consuming vegetable I've canned so far. I am absolutely knackered! And I only had enough for four quarts; imagine if I had planned for more.

First they had to be boiled until the skin slipped off fairly easily (seperated by size), skinned, sliced and packed in jars. Add two tablespoons of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt to each and fill with boiling water. Finally, in the pressure canner for 35 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. What a relief when they all sealed. How frustrating if some hadn't! I'm still clearing up the mess in the kitchen.

Friday, August 7, 2009


A long week, a longer day. I've got a busy weekend planned; digging the rest of the garlic and digging and canning the beets.

We had hamburgers and fruit salad at the farm. I'm still working on trying to convince my parents that the barn is worth saving. A farm without a barn is a sad, barren, naked place. As bad, or worse than a farm with no life. Now is the time to act, before the cost of steel rises again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More harvest

I wanted to make a beef stew in the slow cooker today but I was out of potatoes. Obviously, it was time to dig up one of my Yukon Golds in the garden. Aren't these beauties? I'm definitely planting more next year!

This afternoon I went to check out the local farmers market. A lot of the produce is exactly what's in my garden, but it gave me a chance to fill in where mine is less productive. At the Hutterite table I got 8 large slicing cucumbers for $1.00 and a large jar of honey for $5.00. Another farmer had leeks which I've never tried. If I like them I'll make room in the garden next, what do I do with leeks???

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Even more special: this is the first garlic I've ever grown. So, now that I've dug it up, what do I do next? Should it be allowed to dry like an onion?

Today was a good example of why it's beneficial for me to work from home some days; I was so angry I was swearing loudly at the emails. At the office I'd have to bottle all that up and seethe.
I inadvertently revealed my blog to my parents! I've avoided that because on some topics we have wildly divergent views and I will not censor my opinions on my own blog. Of course, they may quickly become bored and stop visiting like my sister did. While this is multi-purpose, keeping friends and my brother updated and providing myself with a journal of my gardening; I mostly write as a way to give back to those bloggers in the UK who delight and fascinate.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More fun from the past

My dad and my son at a Twins game many years ago. We always went when they were playing the Yankees and they always won. That made the game even more fun.

I hadn't noticed until now what a tip the stadium looks after the fans had been eating and spilling all over the place.

This is about all I can manage for a post after a tiresome day of work and stopping at the store.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What do you hear?

An intriguing post on Mrs. Nesbitt's Place (archives): describe what you hear right now.

The fan is whirring. Guinea pigs are munching on corn husks and rumbling at each other. Filters on the fish tank splashing. Muffled explosions from son's room as the latest battle rages.

That's it. 10:30 pm.

Back in history

How is this for a flashback? My brother, two sisters, and me with the broken arm.

I don't know if I was sent as a trial for my parents or a notice that four kids were enough but I seemed to cause a lot of bother. Breaking my arm was traumatic even for me; I can remember falling off the horse (sliding sideways, no saddle of course). I'm glad I don't remember landing! My arm never did heal right and is still shorter and crooked compared to the right.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Canning corn

Today I bought 2 dozen ears of sweet corn from a local farm family. I wanted to try my hand at canning corn. It wasn't cost effective compared to buying canned corn at the store, but I'm trying to get experience with as many local veggies as I can.

I was waiting for the roofers to come get the rest of their equipment out of the yard, but since they haven't I'll just have to mow around it tomorrow.