Saturday, August 29, 2020

Food Therapy

I spent a bit of time in the kitchen this morning doing some much needed food prep.  It was "needed" by the people who eat the food around here and by me as a diversion from other things that have been occupying my time lately.

 On the occasional times when Papa Pea wakes in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, he gets up, pours himself a half glass of milk, grabs a slice of my mom's fruitcake and sits and sits in the living room to read and munch for a half hour or so, then comes back to bed.  Sadness and woe, there has been no fruitcake in the house for a while now.  This morning was time to remedy that situation.

A great big bowl of batter ready to be divided between three loaf pans.

An hour and a half later (a slow baker) . . . voila!  A substantial supply for those late night forays.  You can find the recipe and explanation of what we call "fruitcake" if you go way down on the right hand side bar and insert "Our Fruitcake Tradition" in the Search box.

I always mix up and put in the freezer enough pie dough for a big bunch of crusts so I don't have to take the time to make the crust(s) when I want to make and/or bake a pie.  So I did that, too.  

Then I rolled out two of the balls of crust to make pre-baked pie shells.

I used one to make this pie for the weekend and one pre-baked shell went into the freezer for another time.  I can make this delish-to-the-max pie only when we have fresh blueberries.  Using frozen just doesn't work.  The recipe for it is in a post entitled "How to Eat a Whole Pie in One Sitting," if you're interested.  The pie will be gone by tomorrow night.  We may or may not confess to having had help eating it.

Took a walk through the garden this afternoon, on this loverly fall-feeling day, and I'll share that with you soon.

Hope you're all having a good weekend!



Saturday, August 22, 2020

I'm Just . . .

 Tired.  And I know all of you who are serious gardeners are probably feeling the same way.

Once the harvest starts (yes, this is the wonderful harvest we've all hoped and worked for all season long), it seems there may never (such dramatics) be an end to it.  When one crop is picked, processed and tucked away for the next many months of feeding the family, another one is not-so-patiently waiting for you to get busy with it.

My garden seems to look more unkempt each day as I can't find the time (or oompf) to pull he spent plants and clean up the bed or area in the field garden or berry patch that is done for the season.

Our unusually high temperatures of this summer have dropped a bit and nights are already cooling off the way they do as we creep closer to our glorious fall weather.  But, strangely, the humidity has stayed in the triple digits (okay, that's an exaggeration) which makes one feel unpleasantly . . . well, cool and clammy most of the time.

My garlic is pulled and hanging to cure.  (Go away humidity, bring on the dry air, please.)  Onions, for some reason, aren't sizing up this year.  Usually, I have no problem growing a year's supply (and more) but this year, not so much.

Papa Pea came out to the garden with me with spading fork in hand a few days ago to dig a sampling of potatoes as I'd run out of the ones purchased at our local food co-op.  (The 5 pound bag was $9.99.  Can you see why I decided to start digging ours?)  We dug under just one plant and found about three pounds of medium to small-sized red taters.  They were delicious.

My Red Kuri winter squash is turning from pale yellow-green to a deep yellow.  They need to make it to a deep red-orange before they are mature.

Pumpkins, both jack-o'-lantern and pie, are plentiful but still showing no color other than their unripe green.

Our domestic blueberries that started ripening early this year are winding down now.  We picked three and a half quarts yesterday, and we have only three or four large bushes of one variety that still have a good quantity of berries yet to ripen on them.  The end is near.

I'm not sure where this post was/is going, perhaps only a record for me as to what's happening in the garden at this date in the month of August.  Plus, I promised myself I was going to spend only 30 minutes here at the computer this morning before getting on with my list.  (You know, getting on to those 23 items that are at the top of The Priority List.)  And guess what?  I've already gone one hour and 12 minutes over my intended 30 minutes.  Whoa down, day, I'll never catch up at this rate!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Garden's Tired, But Still Producing

 My garden has passed the neat and tidy, attractive stage, but still has a lot to offer.


There are some lush, healthy-looking ferns appearing in the asparagus bed.  Our harvest this year for our winter's supply was exactly the same as last year, but I do think we ate more fresh this year.


The shell peas have long been done, and I should have had these spent vines pulled by now.  I got a start on them the other day, but didn't finish.  Our supply of peas put by is double what it was last year when I planted the peas in "new" ground that had been worked up for only two years.  Goes to show that a soil full of adequate nutrients produces a better crop.  (Ha, who'd a'thunk it?)


After our strawberry harvest was over this year, I was a bad gardener and neglected the whole area which became full, full, full of weeds.  It took me a while, but I finally finished the removal of weeds yesterday.  Now to keep it that way until the frost hits and I cover the whole bed with heavy mulch for the winter.


My patch of jack-o'-lantern pumpkins is producing BIG pumpkins.  If Mother Nature will cooperate and let them mature enough to turn a nice orange color, all will be well.


The little pie pumpkins are even more prolific than the big ones.  If they get time to mature, I'll have all I want for pumpkin puree plus decorations in my fall window boxes.


This is a peek at a couple of the tomatoes on the full-sized tomato plants (that I said I would never bother planting again until I had a greenhouse).  Two plants were given to me that I stuck in a spare corner and they've produced good-sized looking tomatoes.  Like the pumpkins, if we get the proper weather, they may even ripen on the vine!  And wouldn't that be something?


I've never had Swiss chard grow so big and vibrant.  This is one patch of it and there is another bunch of the "Bright Lights" variety that is even bigger.  I have so much Swiss chard this year I can't use it all.  (I think I planted too much.)  If I can squeeze in the time, I'll dehydrate some of it to mix in with the poultry's feed during the cold winter months.


Our tasty Red Kuri squash (so yummy!) has produced prolifically.  Granted, those yellow orbs still have to turn a deep, dark orange color before they'll be good to eat, but I have hopes.  I put two plants in a raised bed (as experimentation) and this patch in an area that I was afraid might not get enough sun to grow squash.  (Also an experiment.)  So far, the shady patch has out-produced the ones planted in the raised bed in full sunlight.  Go figure.

The garden is showing more and more bare, empty spots as the days and weeks go by, but that gives me a sense of keeping on top of things, too, as I clean up the areas and ready them for winter.  Do you remove the old debris from the garden at the end of the season or wait until the following spring?



Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sunflower Crazy

 Yes, I'm a little obsessed with sunflowers.  But I don't like the ones on the giant stalks that have to be removed from the garden in the fall by using a chainsaw to take down the stems.  In recent years I've been growing a variety called "Ring of Fire" that grows about five feet tall and is a bit more manageable when it's time for the compost pile.

This year I planted a new variety that was touted as being a "bush" sunflower.  Apparently, some of the seeds didn't get the memo as the plants seem to be reaching for the clouds high above.

Here's a shot of the sunflower bed over and through a couple of other beds.  That's a bed of green beans in the foreground, then the hoop trellis of Scarlet Runner beans and then the bed of the new sunflowers.  Can you spot the very first blossom peeking out at you?

This is the first flower to open fully day before yesterday.  Last night I spotted three more almost open.

I love to bring in sunflowers where I can enjoy them even more than in the garden.  This flower from the "bush" (ha!) measures 8" across.

Gotta try new things, but next year I'm most likely going back to the "Ring of Fire" variety planted in the field garden.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Harvest Is On!

Many of you that garden have been harvesting for a while longer than I have, but now I'm truly in the midst of it.  Once the fruits of our labor (pun intended) start coming in, it seems there's not much time for anything else.

My latest mint harvest yielded five more cups of dried peppermint.  The bed now looks fairly sad, but I think it would start re-growing if it got a good dousing of moisture.  We're to the point where we need to haul out the sprinkling system again.

Yesterday was the "B" harvesting day.  Lots of beans and blueberries.  I put by fifteen more servings of a mix of yellow and green beans, and another one and three-quarter gallons of blueberries.  That puts me at my yearly quota of beans but we can never have enough blueberries!  Thankfully, there are still lots and lots of ripening berries on the bushes to be had.  That's another reason to get some water on the garden as there is no rain in the forecast for the next week.

All of our garden areas need a good clean-up effort.  There are those nasty weeds trying to get ahead of me that need to be pulled out by their tenacious roots.  The plants are all big and healthy to the point that they look more than a little blowsy and disheveled.  I need to do a trimming of all the vining crops so they will stop putting so much effort into growing another twelve inches each day and start working on developing the fruit.  At this point, it's not looking good for pumpkins and winter squash to have time to mature, but we'll keep the hope and wait to see how that goes.

We've been existing on meals that are thrown together with the bounty from the garden and whatever else I can add in a short period of time.  Lots of eggs appear at our meals; thankfully the chickens are laying well.

Right now, there doesn't seem to be the time for many of those every day, little necessary tasks like trimming my fingernails (they grow so fast . . . I think it must be nutrients from the soil because they're frequently grimy) or putting away clean laundry (hey, at least it is clean) or cleaning out and organizing the refrigerator (which is stuffed to the burping point with abundance from the garden that either needs to be eaten or preserved).

Yep, harvest time.  Wonderful, hectic, busy harvest time.  We work for it from early, early spring so as soon as I have a minute to sit (pant-pant) and think about it, I'll appreciate it all to the utmost!