Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lots of Questions

Today's Harvest minus the whole bag of broccoli
Where to begin?  It seems I've been gone from here forever yet not much has changed other than the work intensity.  The weather has played a remarkable role in it all.  That's what I keep telling myself anyway. 

I've got another question for you guys.  See the difference in color of some of the s
quash.  Some of it looks almost orange. They are hard to cut and don't seem to cook well at all. Why do you think that is?  

Everything in the garden seems to be behind  by at least a couple of weeks,  maybe even more with some things.  I haven't canned my first jar of beans or peas yet.  Not a single one. That in itself is pretty unbelievable for this time of year.  I know it won't be long though.  There are all sorts of blooms on everything.

My dill, cilantro, basil and other herbs either didn't come up at all and that that did make an effort went to seed before it ever even got big.  Some of these are required to be partners in different recipes.  *sigh* I'll figure something out though.

I need to find a decent dill pickle recipe this year.  Even with the squash bugs on full throttle the cucumber plants are really doing well.  Now the question is what the heck will I do with all these cucumbers.  There are only so many things I can do with it.  I've got several different things I can do with the fresh cucumbers and we are having cucumbers at most every meal. 

The broccoli has done well.  We are eating it at least once a day and adding it to salads. We just love broccoli! It's starting to bolt however.  Do I replant it for a fall garden or if I just leave them alone will they make goodies on their own?

Why is it that the tomatoes never get ready to eat until after the lettuce and other stuff has bolted?  lol just one of those things that make you go hmmmm.....
I need to be replanting some lettuce but I'm wondering if it would do better to start in a few weeks, after the heat of summer is backing off. 

I had finally got used to having a food processor in the house.  It was a garage sale find and  I really got my moneys worth for $4  One of those little things that you don't miss until you have had one and then when it dies you realize just how much work it did.  *sigh* Just in time for summer too!

I'm still fighting the #$*% squash bug war.  It seems to be working though as long as I'm participating in it's destruction.

Speaking of destruction I've been weeding like crazy.  In fact I've done so much that I seem to have pulled a muscle or something in my neck. I can hardly move it and if my buddies in the preppe'rs chat room could see it I'm sure they would have a super fun time giving me grief!

Well, like I said to begin with things are

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

DIY Vegetable Powder.

Dried veggies (Left)Veggie powder (Rigjt)
 I was in the kitchen last night and trimming off some of the broccoli when it hit me.  I think I've only mentioned this once before some time back.  This time of year many of us have an abundance of vegetables.  Have you ever thought of making your own vegetable powder? It is so easy to do.   Did you know that Parmesan cheese lids will fit your small mouth jars? 

  You know those celery ends that get tossed to the chickens? (unless you saw the pinterest picture about growing the bottoms)  stuff given to the chickens, rabbits or the compost pile?  The wilted lettuce or the  cores.  Bell pepper tops, onions, squash ends, carrot skins, cucumber ends and skins, tomatoes or whatever gets cut away from your vegetables?   Well I save mine in a gallon baggie kept in the freezer till the baggie is full.  I pull it out of the freezer every time I'm making a salad or messing with fresh veggies  and just toss whatever ends and pieces I'm not going to use and stick it back in the freezer.

 Once that baggie is full I fire up my trusty dehydrator and lay it all out on trays and leave them there to dry.  You don't even have to thaw them out first.  Once they are dry I put them into something like a canning jar and vacuum seal it shut.   You are just trying to keep moisture away from it. What I've done is to store mine in canning jars and keep one jar  that I've ground up in  a coffee grinder. If you don't have a coffee grinder(they run between $10-$15)  You could also use your blender but it might be a little more coarse.

Think of it!  You can make your own Mrs Dash or try experimenting new combinations of seasonings.  I've been using some veggie powder that I mixed up a few days ago that has kosher salt, cracked pepper, onion powder, cayenne peppers and  garlic powder as a base.

 Then comes the taste test .  If it needs more of whatever I'll add it then. Use it on beef, chicken, pork, or use it as a dry rub for BBQ and its even good on fish . It's good on veggies too. Use some dried hot pepper for a bit more  heat if you like.

Some of the other things you can do with vegetable powder is to add it to soups and stews, even meatloaf, dry rubs, use it to season your salad.  It's good as a soup thickener instead of using corn starch. And probably more healthy too.

 If you have picky kids you can sprinkle the powder in things and its a good way to sneak more vegetables in their diet!

And while we are talking  about powders don't forget that you can also make tomato powder easily too.  In case you didn't know you can even save your tomato skins when canning up your summer tomatoes.  The chickens are pretty ticked off when  I do this but I do it anyway. They are used to getting some!   Anyway... I just dehydrate the skins and make tomato powder from them too.

 Another neat trick I learned was making my own tomato paste and tomato sauce and even tomato juice with the powdered tomatoes.  Just stir in a bit of water with your tomato powder until you get the thickness or thinness  you want. 

There are several ways you can make your vegetable powders.  Just use your imagination whatever will  work for you.  If you want a green vegetable powder just use green vegetables. Kale, swiss chard, spinach or anything else you want to use.   You can add it to smoothies or whatever you would want green veggie powder.

The thing I like most (other than using it)  is that it didn't cost anything other than running the dehydrator.  It's all made from vegetables and tomato skins that you aren't going to eat anyway. 

 I find myself using the Sci's Mrs Dash on tons of the stuff around here.  Mark another (or several) thing I don't have to pay to the beast.

"I am John Gault"       :-)   

Sorry I couldn't help myself!  LOL

I hope the rest of your week goes well, Come back next time and we'll talk about........... well heck who knows but I'll have cookies and coffee ready when you get here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Done

 First let me say right away that this was Mars' project 100%.  What you are looking at is something he's been wanting to do for a long time.  We have water, water everywhere. I'm so proud of his stamina and know how to get this project done.
This part runs from the top of the main garden to the lower garden.  In the middle where the pole bean row is we've got a faucet. Now I can water the two new red buds without having to drag two hoses to get it done.

Then he dug trenches to reach out to those trees in the front of the property.
There's now a faucet down there.  The next project will be moving the rabbits down under those trees with a permanent home complete with a self watering line for them. Woot!!! no more hauling gallon jugs to their hutches!!! We have enough old tin from the barn he'll use.  The plan is to have a removable back on it to block the winter winds.  More on that later.

See that trench dug to the right?  Later on he wants to plant fruit trees up on the top of the hill.  There is also a big garden spot over there.  Yet another project on the list.

The trenches are dug at about 17" and well below the freeze line.  Here's the water line he used. It's one inch poly tubing.  It's also the kind he hooked up to the RV and the barn.

 The line now runs down to the lower garden  across the driveway and ends with a faucet!!!!  (I took some pictures of the finished project but you had to look hard to see it once the pipe was installed and the dirt all tamped down.

We've been dragging hoses down there to get water to the irrigation system.It's also close to the future goat's home.Like I really want goats!!??!! I'm not so sure after reading about the antics.  Ahem     I'm SO HAPPY!! Water Water Everywhere and not a hose to drag.  I know some folks will say "So what" but this is big news  and a labor intensive too.
Mars did a great job!  That's a whole lot of digging.

And there you have it!   The Newest Project!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Week in Review sorta....

This weeks progress
It seems another week has gone by since the last time I sat down and tried to "put pen to paper" as it were. It started out with yet another back procedure (yeah, that means needles) and a bit of recovery time. I think we are coming to an end to it for awhile though.  One more to go for now.

I suppose it worked out though. I laid up for a bit while it rained the first of the week.  We've been rain free for about 3 days now (unless you count the light overnight bit we got on Wednesday)  I was looking at some pictures I took of some of the rain we got last week and realized just how much everything (including the weeds) has grown.  This is a picture from last week.

I spent half a day sitting on my bucket and pulling weeds for the past couple of days.  I am in no way caught up but at least I was able to put a healthy start on it. 

I'm working on re-dusting the squash and the melons.  I've seen a few of those &^%^ squash bugs and killed every one I could see. There aren't many though.  Not like the past couple of years. I've checked out most all the leaves for the eggs they lay and there are tons of them.  It's a struggle to try and keep up with them but I'm giving it a heck of a shot.   If I can keep ahead of the suckers we just might be able to put some up this year.  It's a slow process, checking every single leaf but it's necessary.  If I don't those suckers WILL take over.  Good news is I've been able to harvest a good dozen nice squash.  Can you say fried squash?

The lower garden has gone wild.  The corn looks good so far and I'm trying to keep the weeds under control. It's got no tassels yet but I'm sure it won't be long at this rate.  There are some sort of melons (including some Canary melon)and maybe some squash down there. All of it was volunteer plants from the main garden.  We just dug it up and transplanted it down there.  Everything looks great so far though don't you think?

Here's some proof positive that we've had a LOT of rain. The only time we see any of these guys is when it's been really really wet. Just don't tell my sister-in-law or she'll never ever come back here to visit!

Mars has been working on the newest project here and has put in some tremendous labor making it all happen. I'll have pictures soon so I can share it with you.  It's amazing just what will make some of us happy! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Storms Brewing

 OK I give up.  It seems every time I've sat down to write this week I go off on a raging rant.  Every stinking time. I've decided that at this point in the game if you don't know what's going on, there isn't much I can do about it. 

See I almost started again!!  I just had to delete half a page of rant!  Ok... deep breath....

Let's see.  The garden is growing like gangbusters.  Apparently it doesn't need my help either since every time it dries out enough to get in it... here comes the rain. I really thought yesterday's high winds  would dry out everything so I could get out there and do battle with the weeds.  Only a 30% chance of rain in the forecast when I went to bed last night.  I woke up to dark clouds and the promise of more rain.  And rain it did.  Of course it was just enough to get everything wet again. 

 We have all sorts of volunteer plants popping up.  Last year I had about 6 potted moss roses sitting up on the porch.  They dropped seed down in my tiny herb bed and pretty much took over.  I'm finding other places for them so I can take back my herb bed. Notice the lemon basil growing in it.  Yup more volunteers!
 I can still get in "around the edges" though so I'll just do what I can to things.  I still can't get to the yellow squash and the other squash out there.  It looks like I've got one plant that's being destroyed by the squash vine borer. I'll pull it up when it dries some. 

 and I'm sure the #$*^# squash bugs are having a huge party out there.  I had finally dusted the whole garden on Sunday and it rained like crazy Monday night.  Go figure.  

UPDATE:  I was able to get out to some of the
squash and was surprised to find only a handful of those spawns of Satan. It seems the new dust is working pretty well.  I can still see residue from it even after all the rain.

We've used The Three Sisters method of planting out in the lower garden. 

My dad sent some of his sweet corn and it's doing great.  The beans are finally starting to come up and the squash and melons over there look all right.  I tested out the ground when I went to feed the rabbits this morning and I'm planning on trying to get the lower garden weeded this afternoon.  
Notice the plants under the corn?  Those are volunteer lemon basil.  It seems we have several plants that decided to come back up this year. They are everywhere.
 This is a stray moss rose that decided to come up in the beans.  I don't know how it got so far away from the vast majority of the other volunteer moss roses. 

Things are starting to bloom!  
The black-eyed peas have a few flowers on them, some of the tomatoes are starting to flower and we are starting to pick broccoli.  Man, that stuff is soooo good!!  I could eat broccoli every day.  We didn't have much luck with it last year so I'm really excited.  So far there's not enough to put up, and if we keep eating it like we are there won't be either! 

Check out the marigolds all in a straight line under the peas.  You would think by looking at them, they were planted there.  You would be wrong!  That's where they were planted with tomatoes last year.  I'm keeping them!

There are always  things to be done around here. We need to get the tomatoes staked up when it dries out a little. Right now I'm trying to get some beds weeded and waiting for the rain to stop.   Mars has a cool project he's working on.  I'll get some pictures as it progresses. It's a lot of labor but it will make a huge difference in the way things have to be done now.

Heads up out there people... it seems we are living in troubled waters, and all I can say is Wow! What an interesting time in history we are living.