Monday, September 29, 2008

Garden Clean-up

The maple tree in the backyard is shedding it's orange leaves in the heavy rain, reminding me that Autumn is here...my favorite time of year.

It's a little bittersweet this year. I feel a lot of garden frustrations...particularly with my tomatoes...and cucumbers...and squash..and everything. The summer went so quickly working and worrying over L. (my 3 year old with epilepsy who started the Ketogenic Diet in June) that I feel like the time was stolen from me. I got to work some of those frustrations out this weekend.

I got to dig out several square yards of compost (yeah!) and reconfigure the compost in preparation for our raking extravaganza.
I pulled out all the dying plants. I felt much better.
I watched the beans grow two more sets of leaves.
I made yellow spaghetti sauce (although I still need to use it..its not enough for the whole family).
I picked up two enormous boxes of apples from a woman outside of town. Applesauce...yum!
We picked up our local, organic pork and chickens. The beef will come in November. It was fun to tour the farm with our boys.
My mother came up and we went to the Warrens Cranberry Festival. Miles of walking through craft booths without any responsibilities. Dean stayed home with the little boys so I could have a break.
Cousins dropped by from South Dakota to share their baby with us and hang out.
We took the boy's to the pumpkin farm to chase kittens and wander in the woods a little.

After cuddling up with Dean last night watching a movie I realized that this was a great weekend, a needed weekend in terms of stress release. I'm (almost) ready to face another week.

Mixing Colors

After all my complaining last week of my lack of produce my husband and I made multi-colored salsa. We cut up our mix of tomato colors (a tomato or two per color), added onion, a little pepper, and cilantro and he's been eating it by the pint all week.

I made him another one while he was away and threw it in the freezer. A nice veggie pick-me-up for a winter's day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What We've been up to...

Dean's trying to teach me a new Posting Procedure (thus the test below) and he found the camera cord so maybe things will become more regular around here. I apologize for my virtual neglect of the blog lately. I have a lot to write about but the lack of pictures and constant interruptions have lowered the quality considerably so I just don't post.

Here we have my original 4 tomatoes for the tomato tests. From top to bottom: Aunt Ruby's German Green, Opalka, Power's Yellow Heirloom, and Black Krim. Pretty, huh? Right now my kitchen window is full of them and I'm hoping to make a yellow sauce tonight, my first sauce of the season.

We're just laying around enjoying the sun.

J. and I. swinging wildly with tomato patch behind.

Lazying around instead of working in the garden.

Boys got a pirate ship game from a friend and are wearing it out right now. ('I shoot out your mast..what's your projected range?')

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Microwave popcorn

My mom and dad came to visit us...oh..a month ago. They'd been to the famous Madison farmer's market right on the square. What she brought us was...popcorn...on the cob...with a paper bag.

"I just thought you and the boys would enjoy," she said.

I contemplated how cutting the kernels off the cob would be once they'd hardened. My husband already wonders about my knife skills, although I continue to point out that I have all my original fingers.

"You just put the cob in the paper bag and mic it for a few minutes," she said reading my mind. "According to the lady it works just fine."

I had to ponder that awhile. Being a child of the microwave generation I assumed that microwave popcorn was the reinvention of sliced bread. Not that it was as good as Gramma made on the stove but neither is sliced bread.

So I just had to try this and it works! No oil needed. Granted you have to melt butter in a little bowl afterward but Orville has nothing on this.

Why do people buy microwave popcorn again? To save the 30 seconds it takes to microwave real butter?

Today we microwaved the last cob my mother brought us. My youngest son is allowed to eat a little popcorn (with a lot of butter) on his Ketogenic Diet so he walked around with 'a porcupine popcorn' as he called it and ate it right off the cob.

I wish I had a picture of that.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harvest Disappointment

This is the time of year I've been preparing for since last March.

I was so excited. I could hardly wait to plant out. Hardly watch them grow without thinking and planning for harvesting and processing.

I guess the summer got the best of me. I can hardly believe it's over. I didn't really water (until my first tomatoes developed BER) or feed the plants. Maybe that's something I should look into next year.

Last week I finally decided to pull up all the squash, cucumber, and pumpkins vines I had growing. Some of them were getting quite long and after dozens and dozens of male blossoms I saw a few that looked like they could develop into something. Unfortunately they all had Blight. Pretty bad blight too. I left 2 affected vines which had small fruit on them (hoping I could get something we could eat before they yellowed and died) and 1-2 small vines that weren't affected (but not really growing either).

The bed is a raised one down by the bed of dark, dank plant death (otherwise known as the bean bed this year) so it's watering comes from an arc of water from the hose usually. I must have splashed up some spores or something. I should look into drip hoses.

Between this and the slow tomato ripening I've had some plant depression last week and this week. Gardening seems pointless. This yard seems too dark for good growth on anything. Or maybe it's just me. Or the weather. Man, it would be nice to have someone or something else to blame this on.

Trying hard to counteract this, the broccoli I've had going all summer have finally started growing again (nice cool weather) and the late planting of beans looks hopeful. All in all it's been a growing year. Maybe I'm not making a great harvest of knowledge but I am learning bit by bit.

Next year will be better.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It seems I'm learning something new all the time

Heard about these today.

They wash clothes. They're dried fruit that washes clothing!

To paraphrase Shakespeare, there are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of in my philosophy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fall Update

We're getting a few tomatoes now. I've tried all the colors except the German Pink and one of those is ripening on the shelf over the sink. I'm sorry there are no pictures. I can't find the cable and I've put this post off for too long.

The tomato tasting came out this way.

Opalka~the closest to the classic red tomato we're used to...so it's nothing special. Very tomatoey. We've also had terrible BER with it so I have yet to get one without a withered tip. The earliest tomato (by 2 or 3) and therefore the most prolific so far.

Powers Yellow Heirloom~a pretty paste tomato with an nice light taste. You have to let it ripen all the way though. Slightly green is slightly sour. A ripe one is full yellow with a slight rose blush. Takes much longer to ripen fruit then the Opalka. Nice mild flavor with a hint of fruitiness. I'm really looking forward to getting a sauce from this one (if only enough will ripen). One of my favorites.

Black Krim~dark with green shoulders. This one has a nice, deep complex flavor. Sweeter then I expected. I go from loving this to only finding it okay. I think I have to be in the mood for this flavor. Another one of my favorites.

Aunt Ruby's German Green~first one was a little tart. Second one was sweet and fruity. Dean's favorite. Bottom of tomato takes on a green-yellow appearance when it's ripe. It also feels ripe (gives slightly).

So far I think we'll be planting everything but the German Pinks again. The GPs only ripen one large slicing tomato at a time (a few have 2) and are late tomatoes. I'm not sure they're worth it this far north. I'll report back when the beautiful one in the window gets to peak pinkness.

I think I'm going to research some earlier varieties or plant out earlier because it's the second week of September and I'm still not inundated with tomatoes! I picked 1 last week and 3 this week. With the number of plants I have out there I really expected a lot more this year.

We've also had a freeze scare for the week. The Northwoods had a freeze but we were in the '40s last night. It should go up the rest of this week but I'm nervous!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A few moments waiting for picture to upload

I do have other things to talk about but I never seem to upload the pictures so I'll just do a quick chat today.

I was reminded of this website today. It's one of my favorites. It's called freerice and what you do is play a little vocabulary game and each correct answer earns 20 grams of rice for hungry people through the UN World Food Program. It works on advertising. The sponsors provide the money for food even if no one clicks on their links.

Go try it today! My best score today is 47.

I also picked this up while reading this morning. Does anyone remember Mohammed Yunus who won the Nobel Peace Prize back in 2006 for starting a special bank which made microloans to the poor? This is a similar concept, except that individual people provide the money for the loans. It's an interesting link and worth checking out.

That's it for me today. Hopefully I'll have photos of my 4 tomato comparison (I finally have tomatoes!) and the blight the squash have picked up.