Sunday, October 19, 2014

Still Enough Growing for a Garden Tour

Believe it or not (I can't), we've yet to have a hard frost.  Here's what's still growing in my raised beds.  (Tour of the field garden in the upcoming week.)

I have a cold frame over three of the raised beds.  Two of them are salad greens that I started in late summer hoping to stretch out our salad meals as far into the fall as I could.

This is the first one and has four kinds of lettuce and Swiss chard in it.

The next has some salad greens in it starting with baby kale closest in the picture, then arugula, Scarlett Frill and more Swiss chard.

My green pepper plants have lived under a cold frame all this cool, cool summer and are still there going strong.  I've harvested most of the peppers and made Stuffed Green Peppers that are in the freezer, but there are still many huge peppers on the plants.  This time of year they are sooo sweet that we've been crunching up a whole one raw every day.  They're almost addictive.

Isn't this kale beautiful?  I have another half bed of it in another raised bed, too.  The cool fall weather really does improve its flavor.  Past the kale in this bed are beets I'll harvest and store "fresh" in the root cellar.

Last but not least (or maybe it is least depending on how you look at it) is my one cherry tomato plant that survived this year.  Standing out in the open with no protection even now.  Sure!  Here it is past the middle of October and I'm FINALLY getting tomatoes that really do want to ripen . . . but don't stand much of a chance this time of year.  I've been picking the ones that have started to turn color, setting them on the counter inside where they do become a lovely red and . . . surprise, surprise, even have a nice flavor.

That's the raised bed garden report, folks.  Green tomatoes or not, I'm very, very grateful to still have the luscious salad greens we do.

Scarecrow Winner - Take Two!

I misinterpreted Mollie's comment on the scarecrow giveaway, and then didn't get (!) an e-mail she sent me (before the drawing) saying she didn't mean to be included in the drawing.  (Dang computer glitches.)

So, despite the fact that I announced Mollie as the winner last night, I needed to draw a new name this morning.  (Still with me?)

The name I drew as the really, truly, bona fide winner of the scarecrow giveaway is:

ANGELA (a8383)

So, Ms. Angela, if you would send me your mailing address, I will get a package off in the mail to you first of this coming week.

My, my.  Hope I have this all straight and goin' down the right road now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Scarecrow Giveaway Winner!

I just now came in here to my desk and drew the winning name of the person who has volunteered to invite the smiley scarecrow doll into her home.

Here he is sitting on my messy desk and ready to go on to new adventures.

Mollie, your name was drawn so if you will send me your mailing address, I'll bundle Mr. Scarecrow up into a box and ship him off to you.

Thanks, everyone, for entering this giveaway . . . and helping me purge (!) our household of one more item.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Time Is Running Out . . .

Hey, all you readers!  The time for entering the drawing for Mr. Scarecrow (see post below) is running out.  You have only until about 9 p.m. tonight to place your name in the hat for a chance to win him.

He would make a chirky decoration in your house (or barn . . . maybe he'd like to keep the animals company!) this autumnal season.

Doesn't matter if you've never left me a comment before.  Don't be shy . . . go ahead and enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finding Buried "Treasures"

We've just ended our second (long) day of sorting, cleaning and reorganizing our big storage shed.  In some ways, it's like finding treasures that have been long forgotten, but we're also finding a lot of junk items that make us wonder why we've saved them for all these years.  (I don't suppose any of you can relate?)  In many ways, we're both feeling that having material possessions we aren't using is like an albatross around our necks; they all take up storage space and weigh us down mentally knowing they are there . . . perhaps feeling badly we aren't using them, while maybe someone else could.  So we are being ruthless (well, we're taking turns being ruthless while the other one waffles) in our sorting and deciding what we should keep and what would better be relocated . . . either to the junk pile, recycling or to someone we know who could use it.

Did we finish up the job today?  Nope.  Golly-gosh, I hope at the end of our third day at the task we will be done.

One big box that I sorted through today held decorations that my now-retired teacher husband used in his third grade classroom.

So how 'bout it?  Wouldn't one of you like to give this smiley scarecrow guy (he measures about 20" from tip to toe when seated) a new home?  I'm offering him as a giveaway on this post.  If you'd like him to travel from northern Minnesota to anywhere (Your home?  Your classroom?  Your child's room?) in the U.S., just say so in the comments section of this blog post and I'll enter your name in the hat for "adopting" him.  I'll end the entries when I shut off my computer this coming Friday night, October 17th, and post the name of the winner sometime Saturday.

I found some decorations for Valentine's Day and also for Easter, but I'll wait to post those as a giveaway closer to those holidays.

If I can find them in the storage shed then.

(Heck, no worry.  Everything will be so organized when we finish this undertaking that I'll know just exactly where everything is!  Uh-huh, sure.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

This Post Is Brought To You By Procrastination

I'll readily admit it.  I'm here at my computer writing this blog post in an effort to put off cleaning the bathroom.  However, I have just finished vacuuming and dusting so I deserve a short break, right?

We had our first touch of frost a couple of nights ago.  'Twasn't a true, hard, killing frost to put a stop to all green and growing things out there, but it did do a number on the pumpkin vines.

Sadness and woe, it looks as though I'll have two-tone pumpkins this year.  The south-facing sides of the big, ol' gourds have turned a bright orange, but the north and/or undersides are still very green.

I have been so craving some good apples this fall to make into applesauce, apple pie, apple cake, apple slices, caramel apples . . . well you get the idea.  I think I've been especially eager to obtain a supply of apples because we aren't going to get any from our trees this year.  I know apples must be plentiful somewhere, but I haven't heard of trees being bountiful anywhere in our huge county.

We've even been trying to line up some from an apple growing area in the next state over but nothing has been firmed up yet.  So imagine my delight when I found a friend had left half a box of lovely apples on our back porch a couple of afternoons ago.  Her sister had come for a visit from "down south" in our state and brought apples which she so kindly shared with us.

I made an apple pie as soon as I could and knew it was going to fulfill my immediate apple yearnings because I sampled a slice when preparing the pie and found the apples were firm and crisp, but juicy with a really, really good flavor.  I told hubby I am going to keep using them every day until the box is empty.  I shan't waste a one of them!

Our experiment drying/curing our onion crop in the cold frames over raised beds in the garden was a bust.  We left them there for a couple/few days but found they weren't drying one bit.  Of course, those days were overcast and cool . . . which didn't help matters.

So we trucked them into the garage where we set up the ping pong table, covered it with a couple layers of newspapers and laid the onions out there.  We've left the door open from the heated workshop to the main part of the garage where the onions are so there is some heat to help the curing process.  Also, we've put a rotating fan blowing over the onions to help with good air circulation.  It looks as though they are going to cure just fine.  (Makes for real challenges when playing ping pong right now though.)

Okay, now I'm feeling a tad bit guilty about fluffing off and not getting the bathroom spiffed up.  I need to get up and do what needs to be done.

Procrastination, get thee behind me . . . and push.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Power. We are Gaining Power!

The tracker that our solar panels are on is designed to hold 20 panels.  Up until now, we've only had 10 panels installed.  It's been a long time coming, but we now have 10 more panels to add to the original 10 for a full load of 20.  Along with a new inverter, designed and built by our friend and alternative energy guru who is staying with us for a couple of days to get the new system up and going, these additional panels will really beef up our solar power.

Today has been intermittently sunny and cloudy, highs in the 40s with a very stiff wind blowing.  Not the best weather for this job, but at least it's not raining . . . or (gulp) snowing.

If you look closely at this picture, you'll see Papa Pea's legs sticking out of the truck as he's sitting sideways on the front seat.  I had to give him a hard time about not being right up there on the scaffolding (and in the wind) with C.  He informed me his job was very important; he was "on call" in case C needed anything brought up to him.  Actually, all that was left to be done was the wiring and it was a one-man job for which, obviously, C was more qualified.

This is a shot from underneath.  I cannot believe how much BIGGER the whole array looks now.

It's going to be very interesting to see how much more electrical power we're going to be able to generate this winter with our exciting, new set-up.

Progress, folks.  It's progress!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Night and Why Am I Not in Bed?

I am showered and have my jammies on.  I just finished my second half glass of wine and my eyesight has gone a little blurry.  Why am I not in bed?

I finished up my quota of Stuffed Green Peppers for the freezer (and "convenience" meals this winter) today.  I made a mistake this year.  It was such a slow growing season because of the cold, late spring and pretty much sunless summer that I didn't pick any peppers until early this month.  Big surprise!  How did they grow SO BIG?  The result is that I had these over-sized peppers with which to make my Stuffed Green Peppers.  I should have kept a better eye on them and harvested them when they were of a more manageable size.  Live and learn, as they say.  (And, yes, I did make a note in my garden journal to be wiser about this next year.)

Our weather has turned quite cool and blowsy.  Still no killing frost, or frost of any kind for that matter.  Up over the ridge north of us they have had a light snow covering already.  Is this the forerunner of another heavy snow winter like last year?  I wouldn't mind that at all if it didn't entail snow plowing and shoveling nearly every day.  Papa Pea and I have made a pact to get back into our cross-country skiing groove this winter (great exercise for my hips that seem to spread when I'm not looking) and good snowfall is a must for that.

It is said bad news comes in threes.  Within the last week our community has lost three members.  One a twenty-five year old who swerved to avoid a moose on the road and smashed into a tree.  She was dead upon impact.  Another fellow quilter lost her six year battle with cancer.  Today we said good-bye to a lovely lady who had been a delight to all who knew her to . . . well, old age.  I so admired her for her many talents.  So musically gifted, her creative artistry, her beautiful, kind and caring nature.  She was a fantastic horticulturalist and darn good cook along with being a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother.

It's a thrill to notice that the remaining salad greens in the garden have suddenly been rejuvenated by this crisp, fall weather.  They look revitalized and taste crunchier so once again we're enjoying big salads.  I feel kind of like a big old bear storing up vitamins for the winter!

I have a list of foods that seem to taste especially good in this autumnal time of year.  One of them is Alsatian Sauerkraut Soup which I plan on making tomorrow.  And, yes, it has sauerkraut as one of the main ingredients.  When we had the restaurant even professed sauerkraut haters liked it.  I haven't made it in a coon's age so doing so tomorrow seems like a good idea.

Our plans for tomorrow have changed and it looks like it will be a "home" day.  We had thought of spending one last day in the canoe on one of the inland lakes, but the forecast is for 40% chance of rain during the day (with a high temp of 49° -- brrr!) and a 50% chance of a rain/snow mix for tomorrow night.  We may have just missed the last of the canoeing weather for this year.  Oh, well.  Staying home, making soup and doing the laundry tomorrow sounds like a better idea anyway, don't cha think?  Ya sure, you betcha.