Sunday, July 31, 2011

Update: squash leather

It is mine, all mine! The other members of the house tried it and then decided that they didn't care for it (to put it nicely).
It is very sweet and seems like the real deal.
It took about 8 hours at 140F.

Squash leather

My first attempt at fruit leather. In this case it is Hubbard squash from last year.

2 C squash
1/2 C honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg

So far so good. It is in the oven still.

Beans, 1st picking

The first picking yields a pound and a half.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1st ears of corn

Luke showing off his husking skills
The corn is starting to come on. We picked the first three ears this evening. The first was perfectly full, perfectly ripe. The other two, picked from the edge of our little plot weren't fully filled out. Many kernels hadn't filled in. I understand this to mean that those kernels weren't pollinated. I find it amazing that there is a strand of silk per kernel and each of those silks needs to be pollinated. This is why you need to plant corn in blocks. I've read that, because corn is wind pollinated, it is best to plant at least four rows, by ten or so feet. This size block allows everything to get a good dose of pollen.

Our block of corn is undersized this year. I expect those ears in the center of the block to do okay and those on the edges to suffer. I'll happily suffer through a couple weeks of full and partially full ears of fresh corn.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Well, here is one legitimate tomato, a
Cherry Buzz. There are plenty more on the way.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Broccoli transplanted, withering in the sun

In retrospect, it wasn't the best day to transplant. But the broccoli in the nursery bed were plenty big enough. It was time. I transplanted a dozen broccoli from the nursery bed to their final locations last night. I took
great care to saturate their roots. I soaked the ground they were going into and coated their root ball in mud made from soil and fresh compost. This morning they looked great, but they withered soon after the sun touched them. I erected this quick sun shade to keep some heat off them. I also have given them another dose of deep watering. They seem to be bouncing back a bit. I am hopeful.

The garlic is ready

Garlic hung where it can chat with the Eggplant
We have three variety of garlic in. This is the last of the soft neck variety, hung for drying (there's another bunch hung in the garage). There are two hard neck variety still in the ground, but those are going to have to come out soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cleaning the worm bin

This is a wheel barrow full of mostly processed material from the worm bin. It looks like more in the wheel barrow than it does laid out the plastic. A lot of food scraps went into making this, from last summer until now. It is amazing how so much apparent volume condenses through decomposition.

I'll gather any worms that I can from here and send them back to the bin for more action. I also need to see what I'm doing wrong with the bin, as my population of red worms is very small and the population of white ones is very large. Even though the white worms love the environment I foster, I'd like a little more balance to the bin.

Update: The number of red worms I collected from here was pathetic. I certainly killed off most of the population sometime back. From what I've read, that could mean lower moisture content than optimal, too high of temperature, or lack proper air circulation. I think I can rule out temperature. My best guess is that the worms died off early in the spring. I bet it was the moisture content. I will try again to order worms and make adjustments.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bean season approaches

Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder? I am pretty
sure I wrote it down someplace. Either way,
they are nearly ready.
Steve Solomon write something like this: "by the time the peas run out, you'll be tired of them and the beans will be coming on."

That is almost where we are. The peas are gone and the beans are right around the corner. They started to bloom a couple weeks ago and some fairly well developed beans are showing themselves here and there.

We may have 15' of beans, Blue Lake I think (or Kentucky Wonder). It is the first year for this many and I hope to freeze much for the winter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Need some basil?

I am sure that 23 basil will overwhelm our best pesto efforts. Let me know if you need basil plants. I suspect the'll be ready in about three weeks.

These 23 starts grew in 3/4" soil blocks and are now snug in 2" blocks.


The picking is good today. I'm a few days late in going through them, as I'm finding quite a few overripe berries. I'm about 2/3 the way through here. My mixing bowl will overflow as long as the labor force doesn't switch entirely to grazing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raspberry jam

Shari and Luke made the first (correction, the third - I seem to recall a flat of strawberries now that I think of it) batch of jam for the year. It is a raspberry. It is destined for a buddy of Luke's. This batch is traditional style, meaning that it is more sugar than berry. Shari found some great low sugar / no sugar pectin a couple years ago. It is amazingly good. The resulting jam tastes like berries, not berry syrup.

There was a discussion on the radio last year. It was about canning, preserving and so forth. Not much stands out to me except the little segment on jam where the guest was down-playing these new low-sugar pectin jams. Her position was that jam made in the high-sugar way was the one true way, that it was more natural in some fashion. Natural may not have been the word, but that seemed to be what she was getting at. To me, though, there's not much better than berries straight from the plant. The further you get from the plant, the less natural it is. Berries with a touch of sugar makes a jam that is very natural, to me.

Sugar and berries get to know each other.

Pouring the finished product.

Leeks looking good

Luke adjusting the Leeks. Some had
slumped over, almost as if a cat had
walked through the recently.
The leeks are now around seven or so inches in height. The close knit community promotes competition and a lanky demeanor. This allows them to be transplanted more deeply, resulting in more edible goodness.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Everything is coming on

What's are we picking now, what is close? Everything is the answer. The long days, the heat and our recent clear skies have brought everything out of whatever funk it was in. We are picking raspberries and strawberries daily. The last stand of snap-peas is absolutely loaded and being picked on demand. I've been picking around a pound each of the last few days to take to work. Shari has also been picking daily for the house and neighbors.Our lettuce supply is actually dwindling, but I have a couple flats to plant out. They may not be big enough to pull and eat, but we should be able to pick leaves if needed. The winter squash and pole beans are also blooming.

Lettuce to plant out

Snap Peas, super sweet as always.

Bell pepper, yellow if all goes well.

Big Bomb pepper. Will it bring the heat?

Slicing cucumbers

Baby eggplant

Monday, July 4, 2011

Donations for greens

Gallon bags of fresh greens away those who enter.
July 5th update - 

For future reference, people who are headed to the fair for the day do not want to purchase yummy lettuce, even for a meager donation. People seem to wish yummy greens when they are milling about on a nice weekend and will head home soon.

We did have one person stop in the late afternoon. They took 1 bag and left $5.00. That's way too much, sir and madam. If you come back, we'll give you at least one more for your donation. I do trust that you found it very tasty. I've had three big salads out of that same picking and it is sweet and refreshing, no need for dressing.

The cooler did work very well, though the top portion did get a tad warm. I think it would stay thoroughly cool if it were shaded at all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nursery bed update

The nursery bed of fall brassicas is coming along. The seedlings are seemingly healthy - good color, plump leaves. They still lack their first true leaves, but i don't foresee that being a problem. It seems that it is only spring brassica that give me fits. I still chock it up to the temperature swings in the greenhouse.

Update: 7/4 - Signs of real leaf growth are everywhere. While some of the rows are a bit spotty in germination, there are more than enough to fill our space. That won't stop me from starting broccoli in the last three rows in this bed soon.

    A squirrel's eye view, looking north.

    True leaves being deployed
    Nursery bed, by the row (south -> north):

    • Broccoli - Pacman
    • DiCicco - broccoli
    • Cabbage -mystery x (package discarded)
    • Cabbage - derby day
    • Cabbage - Famosa Hybrid
    • Cabbage - Danish Ballhead
    • Cabbage - Jan king
    • Cauliflower - snow crown
    • Brussels - Franklin
    • Brussels - Roodnerf
    • Broccoli - purple sprouting
    • Broccoli - purple sprouting
    • 3 rows blank and awaiting another planting
    • Leeks are at the end. They are several inches tall now and will be planted out by the end of July.