Friday, August 17, 2018

In A Pickle (A Good One)

Our temperature has dropped a few notches in the last two days along with a bit less humidity so canning pickles yesterday wasn't too bad.

The only part of making pickles I don't care for is scrubbing off all those little black nubbity-nubs on the pickling cucumbers.

But listening to an audio book while doing so makes the task go quickly.  Sort of.

I got exactly six quarts (down to the very last pickling cuke I had harvested) for this first batch of dill pickles.

We go through about eight quarts a year of the dills, and I like to plan it so I have to plant and grow the pickling cukes only every other year.  That means I have a couple more batches to go for my two year supply.  Actually, the vines are just starting to move into full production so I shouldn't have any trouble getting as many as I need.

Humidity is back up there already this morning so it's gonna feel not-so-pleasant again regardless of what the thermometer climbs to.  Guess it's still summer time in the north woods!

Anybody else dreaming of those cool, crisp autumn days on the horizon?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Green Weeds and Green Tomatoes

Just to prove weeds do grow in my garden, below shows a portion of the green buggers I hope to attack and eradicate in our blueberry patch today.

That bale of peat moss has been patiently waiting to be spread under the bushes and between the rows for ever-so-long now, but of course I can't do that until all the weeds have been first yoinked out.

Seems the whole garden needs a good weeding, but I've been tied up with harvesting for two or three weeks.  Not complaining about the bountiful harvest, that's for sure, but it doesn't leave much waking time for anything else.

I've got asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries (what there were of them), blueberries (still coming in), green peas and yellow and green beans put by.  Also chives, parsley and some peppermint.  (Waiting for it to grow a little more before giving it another hair cut.)  Still to do are beets, green peppers (stuffed) and Brussels sprouts.

The cherry tomato plants are a good five feet high, taller than they've ever grown before in our garden.  If all the fruit matures, we'll be buried under the little orbs as all three plants are heavily covered with still green tomatoes.  I've been pruning the DIV-ull (as my Scottish grandmother would say) out of them which seems to have been beneficial.  But wouldn't you think with the hot, humid weather Mother Nature has been bestowing upon us we would have ripe tomatoes by now?  Just something else going on in the garden this year that doesn't make a lot of sense.

We're supposed to have a little drop in temperature today (HOORAY!) so I'm looking forward to being able to survive several hours out there trying to get everything shaped back up.  The whole garden has reached that overgrown, flopsie-mopsie, unkempt, blowsy state, and I feel like it's gotten away from me.

Yep, the disheveled garden and both of us, too, are approaching the end of this busy season!

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Summer Continues . . .

The summer continues with heat and humidity.  It's taking a toll on the garden.  (And us!)  Take a look at my poor nasturtiums.

They're not lacking water, just getting too much heat, I think.  Could be worse.

And this head of cauliflower is definitely "worse."  I think I've mentioned I put seven of the cauliflowers I started inside this spring out in the garden later than those I set out earlier.  I held them in their peat pots until I found an area of the field garden in which to plant them.  I didn't really expect them to do much because cauliflower is a cool weather crop and doesn't like to grow in warmer weather.  Still, when the little nubbins of heads started to form, I tied the leaves up over them to keep the developing heads white and forming nicely.  So what happened to this one?  No idea.  I chopped it up and tossed it into the poultry yard.  The geese, especially, seemed to like it.

We've been working on the cleaning and sorting of our big storage shed for the past two mornings.  As the sun moves across the sky, it shines directly on the front of the shed and with our continuing heat and humidity (90 degrees in the sun today), it gets a bit unpleasant to work back there as noon time approaches.  We're almost finished, possibly one more session there and we'll be satisfied with what we've accomplished.

Yesterday right before dinner time we checked blueberries in the garden and saw there were more to be picked.  Then I was surprised by the number of pickling cucumbers that were ready to be harvested.  Deciding I'd better "unwrap" and check those seven late cauliflower plants, I found two that had gone wonko on us (one which is pictured above) and two that were lovely and needed to be picked and processed.  Those two heads are shown (cut up and soaking in salted water in the picture above) prior to being blanched and frozen.  There weren't enough of the pickling cukes for a batch of dill pickles but they'll keep nicely in the spare refridge until I harvest more, probably tomorrow.

After lunch today I tried to work in the garden but it was just too hot.  (Might maybe could have had something to do with the beer Papa Pea and I split with our ham sandwiches for lunch.  Sure did taste good going down though.)  Anyway, after taking a couple of pictures, I came in here to our cool bedroom and my desk to get caught up on some paper work.

I'm not sure this picture shows off the red cabbages to the best advantage, but they are really pretty (I think) this year. 

The green ones grow faster than the red.  This head is about 10" across already.

Hooray!  Had to show you that my California Poppy seed mix finally came through with more white ones and a few of what they call red ones.  Makes a pretty picture, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Just Chitchat

I've started to do some cleaning up in the garden already.  Pea vines have been pulled, lettuce and other salad greens have turned bitter so are being tossed either to the poultry or compost heap, broccoli side shoots have stopped shooting so those two beds are now empty.  It always amazes me that pulling out a crop is just about as much work as planting it.  How can that be?

It was hot, sticky and humid when I was in destruction mode in the garden yesterday.  Hard work, too, so I announced at dinner time that I was going to do the dishes, take a shower and get into bed early to read.

Of course, circumstances made that impossible (sigh) and I ended the evening on the couch by my lonesome (hubby, having done his share of physical work during the day, sensibly went to bed as soon as he could), eating popcorn and knitting until 10:45 p.m. when, funny thing, my eyelids wouldn't stay in an open position any longer. 

I had a good night's sleep, though, and was up and going early this morning.  Made it to the Co-op to shop and pick up a special order shortly after they opened.  I buy what I can in bulk so upon arriving home, I joked with Papa Pea that it would probably only take me 45 minutes to divide up and properly store my bulk purchases.  Ha.  It took me one hour by actual count.

I do love buying in bulk and find it's quite an economical way to go.  I've already started on my fall list of stocking up those items we purchase for the coming winter season and my bank account is already showing the "extra" monetary outlay.  But finances will look healthier this winter 'cause I'll have to purchase so little then, right?  Right!

At 10:30 this morning I met with a dear friend who's been gone for several weeks visiting relatives across the country.  We had such a pleasant visit and caught up on all the extremely trivial important things going on in our respective lives.

Back home to make sandwiches for lunch.  Then I got a thirteen pound turkey prepped and into the oven.  I've recently sorted and reorganized our freezers and it was deemed necessary that Mr. Young Tom Turkey give up his space for vegetables coming in from the garden.

Then the back of my Chevy Tracker was loaded up and I made a much needed run to our wonderful Recycling Center.  Me along with half the population of the county!  What was this?  National Recycling Day??

I'm home now for the rest of the day (hallelujah!), just made myself an iced latte (first caffeine of the day) and am determined to work through this piled up mess on my desk top.

Tomorrow we're tackling the cleaning and sorting of our big storage shed.  This necessitates parking the flat bed trailer (to act like a really big table) next to the shed, hauling most all of the contents out and going through all the junk vitally important contents that have magically accumulated in there over the last couple of years since we've been brave enough to do the job.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that we have a sunny-not-too-hot day in which to complete the task without either one of us threatening divorce. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

One Is Not Like The Other

This is what happens when you knit a pair of socks for Bigfoot.  I mean Papa Pea.

When nearing the end of the second sock, I began to wonder if the remainder of skein of yarn was going to be enough to finish.  I knit as fast as I could  (So I would finish before running out of yarn, ya know.)

With only twelve decreasing rows to go, I came to the end of my rope yarn.

I had purchased the yarn on a close-out sale so knew I couldn't find it again from the same source.  Chicken Mama said, "I bet I can find it for you on eBay."

After searching there (and a few other places), she did find a skein.  In Romania.  Or Scotland.  Or someplace else far, far away.  I can't remember where.  The price was about three times what I paid for the skein on sale, and we didn't even go so far as to check out what shipping costs would be.

Papa Pea said he didn't really care what yarn I used to finish the sock.  Who was going to see it?

So I went into my super sized tote storage container of sock yarn and came up with a smidge of what seemed a workable match.  Well, not a match but at least it wasn't pink.  Or yellow.  The piece of yarn in the picture above with the socks is all that was left of the original skein.

This close-up gives you a better look at the un-matching last twelve rows of the toe.  Also a more realistic color of the yarn.

Next up on my sock needles?  This gorgeous orange yarn sent to me by my good friend Linda in New York.  These will be for me.  Not Bigfoot.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Looking at the Raised Beds First of August

Once again (this is becoming a habit), I wasn't able to get a comparison photo on the first day of the month to show you.  We had a steady day of rain on the 1st (Wednesday) and then yesterday was very gray in the morning.  The afternoon and evening were spent picking peas, shelling peas, blanching peas and getting them in the freezer.  With my dear husband's help, we added 15 more servings of peas (a serving being enough for the two of us) to the larder.

Today the sun came out and I got a couple of good pictures.  Doing the comparison of views of the raised beds on the first of each month (tired of this yet?), let's recap (again).

Here's the first of March in the north woods.
(There are raised beds out there?)

And then the first of April.
(There ARE raised beds out there!)

Well, it looks as though something was happening in May.

June was looking a little better.

July almost looked like a real garden.

And now the first of August.

After our heavy rain on Wednesday, some of the plants look a little beat up.  But it's all for the best because we really, really needed the rain again.

I took two more shots that show things a little better.

This is the left half of the raised beds.

The plants in some of the beds have grown so tall that they block the view of those behind.  (I need to plan that a little better next season.)

And this is the right half of the raised beds.
(A bit of the field garden showing
on the upper right.)

My harvest season is well under way and there's more out there as we speak that I could be processing.  It's been a crazy week just past with a few unusual happenings that caused me to be downright grumpy yesterday because of my lack of time to do what needs to be done.  But I talked myself out of it (after a bit of a sulk) by pulling on my big girl panties which Susan at e-i-e-i-omg always reminds me to do (thanks, pal), and running down the huge list of all I have to be thankful for and appreciative of regardless of the fact that sometimes it's hard to get it all done.  (Understatement, of course, as we all know.) 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Tale of Two Tables

I'd always wanted a b-i-i-i-g kitchen table.  One that I could spread a project out on one end and still have room for the two of us to sit down at the other end for a meal.  One that would comfortably seat six people when necessary.  One that would have room in the middle for serving dishes.  One that was big enough for mounds of vegetables spread out on after harvest.  One that would hold six different kinds of Christmas cookies.

Several years ago, we saw a table advertised by some folks who were leaving the area and selling much of their furniture.  We went to see it, I liked the style and best of all it had a leaf to be inserted in the middle to make it the b-i-i-i-g size I wanted.

The good news was that it was reasonably priced.  The bad news was that the top was not in very good condition showing several dings and scratches.  Papa Pea said if I wanted it, he would refinish the top for me.

In short order, I soon had the large kitchen table I had always wanted.  I've loved it, we've used the heck out of it and certainly gotten our money's worth.  You can't see it very well in the above picture, but my dear old table has become sway-backed.  There's an inch (or two) dip in the middle of it where the leaf is.  I don't think it's about to collapse or anything, but it needs some reinforcement if we continue using it.

Recently we went to a huge estate sale that had some wonderful pieces of furniture including . . . a kitchen table.  The measurements of it were smaller than our current table, but we thought maybe, just maybe, it would be big enough to suit our purposes.  We bid on it and got it for $17.00!

Hauled it home (well-built and HEAVY), took the old table down, and put the new table in its place.

It's a much nicer (much!) quality than our old table, looks better with our chairs and the wainscoting in the kitchen.  It's beautiful.

It's too small.

Pardon me now while I have a spoiled brat, wailing fit that it's just not big enough.  We've been using it for over a week, even had extra bodies sitting around it, and it's just not big enough.

Papa Pea is going to use it up in his office where the beautiful top will be buried under stacks of books, files, papers, machinery manuals and other "important" stuff.  Our seventeen dollars will not have been spent in vain.  Sigh.  And sniffle.

Back in will come our old faithful, sagging-in-the-middle, slightly beat-up table which has served us so well.  Maybe old things, proven things, loved-but-not-beautiful things are the best ones after all.  (Hey, I think I may have just described myself!)