Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Compost and More Compost

Yesterday was compost turning day which is a weekly task around these parts. As you can see from the picture I took yesterday at the completion of my efforts, I now have two full bins of black gold. Each of those bins is a little over 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft. so that means 64 cubic feet of compost. I'm excited and I know you are too. It is almost ready to go back in the garden. The bin in the foreground still has some bits of un-composted corn stalk but that will be gone in a week or so. The center bin is now empty but there are several beds that need cleaning out as the butternut and acorn squash are finished as are the second crop of cukes and zukes. There are also some tomatoes that can be removed. Getting ready for the fall garden.

Only supposed to see a high of 88F today and 0% chance of rain so we should get caught up with most of the garden chores without dying from the heat. It's already almost 0830 and I need to get cracking.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Proper English Breakfast

Saw this picture on The Chive today and it dawned on me that it has been ages since I had a proper fry up. Unfortunately, the only place I know to get English bacon and blood pudding is the British Shop in Norcross and I am going to have to think hard about a drive over there just for bacon. Though a good English breakfast on Sunday morning would be brilliant. And yes, all my English friends, I know that the tomatoes are missing as are the mushrooms but rest assured they won't be from my plate. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fall Garden

Time to start getting ready for the next phase of the gardening year. The yellow squash and zucchini plants are finished and in the compost as are some of the early tomatoes and the first batch of beans. In the two newly bared beds I planted my fall beans for drying(dry on the bush). I always plant heirloom varieties for drying and I almost exclusively get the seed from  This year there are four varieties, Ireland Creek Annie, Calypso, Painted Pony and Hutterite Soup. All great cooking beans and very reliable to grow. If nothing untoward happens then I should be harvesting nicely dried beans by the time of the first frost the end of October. In a week or so I will be starting cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the green house for the fall and winter garden. I'll sow beets, spinach, carrots and kale directly in the garden in September. We had a hard than normal early freeze last year that cost me most of the broccoli and cabbage so better luck this year.
Speaking of harvest, I pulled all of the shallots the other day and got a pretty good harvest from a dollar's worth of seed as you can see. The other half of the bed is leeks which will stay over winter and just dug as needed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cherry Tomato Jam

The cherry tomato glut has arrived. If you are a gardener and plant cherry tomatoes you know what I mean. The vines are producing more tomatoes, by a lot, than I can ever eat fresh. It is therefore Tomato Jam time. This is a savory jam that is great as a condiment. Try globbing it over cream cheese as an appetizer or using it instead of ketchup. Mixed with mayo it makes a pretty good Russian dressing.  BTW I planted a hybrid cherry tomato called Jasper instead of my usual Sweet Million and it is very vigorous and highly productive. The fruit is small but very sweet and tomatoey. I planted it too close to the cucumbers and it has taken over everything in its vicinity...lesson learned. That's a double recipe in the pan btw.

Cherry Tomato Jam

2 pounds of cherry tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar (you can use other vinegar if you like)
1 whole large shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup sugar
zest and juice from one lemon
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt

Out everything in a large, heavy saucepan and cook  over low heat, stirring frequently.
The mixture will rapidly begin to liquefy as the tomatoes break down and then start to
thicken as it evaporates.
Keep stirring and often as this jam is  prone to scorching as it thickens. After about an
hour of low-heat reduction, most of the water will be gone. Let cool (or use a chilled
spoon) and check the consistency. It should resemble a traditional jelly or jam when cool.
I had to cook mine for an hour and a half before it was suitably thick.

It's completely OK to add a bit of crushed red pepper or herbs to this just be careful as it gets quite concentrated.

Ladle into 4-ounce jelly jars. Process in boiling water for 15 minutes. If mine is any guide I made a double recipe and got exactly 7 4oz. jars out of 4 pounds of tomatoes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mushy Pickled Peppers

I just opened a jar of the jalapenos I pickled last week and as I suspected I failed to preserve any crunch. The 10 minute water bath necessary to seal the jars just cooks the peppers too much. There is an old Southern recipe for limed sweet pickles that produces a very crunch cucumber pickle and it involves soaking the sliced cucumbers in a lime solution overnight.  You have to do the water bath to have any hope of long term storage and safety but maybe I can cheat with the lime. I have another pile of peppers to preserve and I am going to try the lime routine. I let you know how it turns out. Unfortunately, I am just going to toss the pickles I did last week...while they taste fine the texture really suck. Shame but just a waste of some vinegar and a few hours time.

P.S. I also pickled a pint of my precious pepperoncini and while I haven't opened them I'll bet they are mushy as well. We'll do them with lime as well and see if it makes something edible.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

No Corn For You

The squirrels have won the battle of the corn. Earlier in the month they finished off the miniature pop corn eating every ear. Now as the yellow corn is maturing they have gone after that. There are one or two ears that aren't yet eaten but they'll have those in a day or two. More than likely I won't get a single ear. They start in on it before it is ready to pick which pretty much guarantees they get it all. Squirrels are not a gardeners best friend.

Let There Be Light

Just had some major clearing done to the East. In total 4 very large pines and a number of smaller ones. This picture is just East of the garden and the giant pine that is now missing was shading way too much space. I wasn't getting any sun on the East end of the garden until about eleven in the morning. Not acceptable. Otherwise is was a nice enough tree that just happened to be in the wrong place.

We Have Pumpkins

I have never had much success with pumpkins....usually it is either fungus or critters but so far this year things seem to be going in the right direction. There are about 10 of this size and more on the way. Keep your fingers crossed. Oh, they are Amish pie pumpkins and stay pretty small and not the jack o'lantern type

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Friend Is Gone

I am so sad to report that a good friend has passed. Trace Browne died yesterday. Known to to the others that sometimes visit here as the "T" part of "MandT" or as part of "Adjitadiaries" Trace is survived by his partner Michael. This is doubly sad as Trace and Michael were just "officially" married on June 16th after twenty years together. Our heart is with Michael.

Trace Browne  b. June 7, 1951    d. July 10, 2014

May the Goddess Guard Him. May Trace Find His Way to the Summerlands. May His Friends and Family Know Peace.