Friday, July 31, 2009

Green Beans

Yeah I am finally seeing a return on my efforts. I did try to post yesterday. It keep messing up. However today after fixing the trellises that broke in the storm. I was able to pick these green beans. This is one of the large ice cream containers. The fried green tomatoes were from Monday. This was the first time I ever tried them. So I made them and tried them. I now love fried green tomatoes. So do my children!

Monday, July 13, 2009

62 Green Tomatoes & 1 Almost Red

Last night we had thunderstorms. It knocked down one of my trellises but not the one I thought would fall. Luckily no damage.

I picked enough green beans for dinner over the last two days. I picked one red strawberry. Last week I added 9 month fertilizer to the garden. I decided to pull my marigolds out of my long box. They were growing over the peppers and crowding the tomatoes and eggplants. At least I know I can grow marigolds. I did replant them in the containers in front of the bed. I am hoping that the remaining vegetable plants will be happy with the extra room.

The watermelon is growing. I have two more in the beginning stages two fell off-which I think is good for the remaining fruits. I will be planting more watermelon, pumpkins, cucumbers and cantaloupe.

The green beans have lots of flowers and pods. I do believe I over planted one of the front boxes. A box of all green beans with a few tomato plants is alot. Square foot garden author just came out with a change that a tomato plant needs 2 square ft not one, or I just found out about the change from the square ft site. I planted 17 tomato plants in one square foot. I am going to try to make transplants from the existing plants I may try the 2 square ft. I read where you cut off sprout or top of tomato plant 5-6 inches put in water when roots appear transplant to dirt.

My biggest problems is that we either like vegetables that need to be trellised or need lots of room. For example the zucchini need 3 square feet, the tomatoes 2 and need trellis if vine which I am having better luck with. Cucumbers, pea, limas, pole beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkins all need trellises and room. And they all need the sun of the front area. Our back bed do not get enough sun for the plants that fruit. I will be trying broccoli, and lettuces back there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bees used in War! No, not by me :)

I found this interesting. Of course I am excited about honey bees.

The following is from Farmers Almanac archive online.

The BEES of WarBees have been used as weapons for defense for thousands of years. One of the earliest historical accounts (first century B.C.) that mentions bees being used against enemies involves the Heptakomotes of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and Pompey the Great. With the aid of their bees, the Heptakometes knew that when bees gather pollen from such plants as rhododendron the honey produced is loaded with alkaloids which are harmless to bees but toxic to humans. They were able to obtain and leave a cache of poisoned honey in the path of 1000 advancing Roman soldiers.During that time, gains from raiding and looting were part of a soldier's pay, so the Romans naturally seized the honey and consumed it. They were soon deathly ill, and in no shape to resist the attack that followed.The Romans also used bees, but in a more direct manner. They would catapult beehives at enemy positions. In medieval times, castles were often designed and built with bee hives within the walls.Years later, bees also played a part in the Civil War. During the Battle of Antietam, attacking Federal troops advancing through a farmyard were routed, not by the heavy gunfire they faced, but by enraged bees from hives shattered by Confederate artillery fire. There's also a well-known case of British troops, in action in German East Africa
during WWI, encountering maddened bees, but as at Antietam, the bee attacks seem to be accidental.During the Vietnam War
, Viet Cong guerillas were masters of improvised weaponry, and before attacking, were known to lob 30 or more nests of hornets and wasps into military outposts.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Canning Peaches

Thanks to my children the peaches are canned. We had purchased three cases of peaches with the intent to can them.

Somehow a plastic bag got into the bottom case and rotted half of one case. When I asked my family everyone was surprised and I guess the ghost of "Not Me" put it there. There were at least a half of another case that were eaten.

Ben took over the preparing of the peaches. He had a system for blanching, cooling, peeling, pitting and cutting the peaches. We found the camera in with the xbox games and I took pictures of Ben with his system. While I was taking the pictures Ben commented, "I could use some help here." He got through a case and half before calling it quits. Luckily Jenna came in about that time ready to help.

So it took most of the afternoon and evening but we got 21 quarts of peaches PACKED and canned. One of the quarts broke in the boiling water or it would have been 22. I did use a lighter sugar base this time I don't think the family will like this batch as much as the last.
It would not have taken as long if I had started the process of canning while still cutting up more peaches. I did each step seperate not sure if there would have been enough room on the stove for all three large pots at one time. I also would have probably made more mistakes that way. One of my mistakes was not adding lemon to the peaches as cutting to keep from browning. Also had to dump the boiling water after the jar broke and heat fresh water. I could also only fit 5 jars at a time into the canner next time I hope to have another canner and be able to process 10 at time. I doubt that we will can smaller than quart size unless it is jam or jelly.

I will have to post pictures later just wanted to get this down before it was forgotten. Here is the link I used to can the peaches .
I also found a recipe I tried for breakfast here it was posted June 8th. You take a washed peach cut in half and pitted. Sprinkle brown sugar over both halves and broil. Serve with yogurt or sour cream. I ate mine with sour cream. It was so good! Luckily I saved a few peaches from the canning frenzy.

That is all I remember from our day of canning peaches. If you have any good peach recipes I would love to give them a try. I will buy peaches if they still have them at the farmers market but I don't believe it will be three cases again. Have a great day.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dinner from the Garden

We had green beans and wax beans from the garden for dinner. I made a mint vinaigrette for the beans which was good. We ate some with the vinaigrette and some without. We should have had eggplant Parmesan but since we spent the day slicing and frying we did not want to eat it. Dan did the frying. I did the slicing with an electric slicer. We sliced but 4 of the eggplants which Dan wants to grill. So we have 9 dinners in the freezer and one in the refrigerator. Not bad for 10.00 spent on a case of 28 eggplants of which a few were given away.

Checked the garden today. I will have more beans to pick tomorrow. One of the tomatoes is starting to turn. I read that I can cut off part of the tomato plants to start new plants for fall tomatoes we are going to try that next weekend. I have a tiny eggplant where we can see the purple. The watermelon doubled in size overnight.

We had rain this morning. I do need to fertilize.

My son saved some fireworks for tonight so we are going to shoot them off. Have a great day or evening!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth Of July!!

I am so happy we have dragonflies! I have always loved the look of dragonflies. I had four in my garden yesterday. Really bummed we have not found the camera (Ben confessed he got it off my desk to show someone a picture it is not where he thought he put it). Then today when looking up if they were good or bad for a garden I found out they eat mesquitos. We are overrun with mesquitos I try not to go out after 6:30 I get bit really bad and I react to bug spray. Any way I love dragonflies and I read to build the water pond with plants to attract them. We have a water source for the bees that I think is also the source for the mesquitos so I am going to add some water plants if I can find some for free or very cheap.

I pulled the potatoes today. I shouldn't have they had a lot of new growth. We had not built the boxes to increase the height and the blooms had come and gone and the plants did not look like they were doing good. We will be replanting. Which leads me to the fact I read today that mid July was the time to plant broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, beets, carrots, and other fall crops. Luckily Dan is building more boxes and planning to get some mulch and dirt for me this week.

I did plant cilantro in the square next to the tomato ( need to check that is okay) I planted a box next to the pepper in the front box where the watermelon is growing. I am writing this because I could not find my marking materials. It is tough when you have older children and a husband who love to "borrow" your supplies.

Watermelon: We have a Barbie size watermelon!! We bought 2 at the farmer's market they were so GOOD from the sample we had to buy some. I bought a case of eggplant to put up in the freezer-just in case ours do not come thru. I bought 3 cases of peaches we will be canning this week. I finally did a price check on my savings at the farmer's market. When compared to the sales flyer for the week I saved 62% on the fresh fruit and vegetables I bought. That is very encouraging and convinces me I need to start a coop for others to get the same savings. It is nice to have the proof of what I will be able to save them even if I charge to cover gas and time. I think everyone will save at least 50%-60% and the items I purchased looked so much fresher than what I saw at two stores today.

My chickens are enjoying the cooler weather today. I am worried if all the fireworks are going to effect their laying. The heat is already taking a toll. As I am typing this my son is begging to set off the fireworks he got today. When we bought them it was going to be tomorrow when his dad was home to help. He has been trying to get his older siblings to watch him but they are not agreeable today. So I am going to watch him before he explodes. Have a great Fourth!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Giving up on Pictures

If I find the camera I can't find the batteries that are charged. If I get pictures taken the cord to the computer is MIA. I have been looking for the camera on and off for a week. It is possible I set it down in the garden, shed or garage. I need to get a clapper thing for the camera.

The garden is doing fine. I think. The tomatoes are not turning red I have alot of green tomatoes each plant varies with production some have one while others have 6 or more. They do increase almost daily. I have red that in temps over 85 they shut down producing. The information is as follows: Another factor in how long it takes for a tomato to turn red is the outside temperature. Tomatoes will only produce lycopene and carotene, two substances that help a tomato turn red, between the temperatures of 50F and 85F. If it is any cooler that 50F, those tomatoes will stay a stubborn green. Any warmer than 85F and the process that produces lycopene and carotene comes to a screeching halt. We have been over 85 since May. A few days were lower but not many.

I have gathered a few handfuls of wax beans and a few handful of green beans. I found a recipe for wax beans with mint. Dan said we had mint growing in the yard but I can not find it. I will be planting some herbs this weekend. I have found I want mint and cilantro. I will also be planting pumpkins and maybe more beans. I have waited to long to plant squash and more watermelon. Although I may try any way. I have a baby cucumber, and the beginnings of two watermelon. I do see buds on the eggplant and peppers.

Hubby and I spent the weekend arguing over how much to water the garden. I have been giving it a good soak once a week. He convinced me I need to water more til I researched. A more experienced gardener told me to wait til plants looked droopy to water if needed they haven't until today. I read that watering more will make good looking plants but the roots are shallow. So I will stick to watering if droopy so I will be out there tonight. Which the last time I watered was Sunday my regular day to water. It is hard to gauge the days are so hot over 95 and when the area gets rain it seems to go around us.

I waited too long to root hydrangeas. I do not have the containers to place them in or extra potting soil. I may try some in the fall as some sites have said you can in the fall.

MULCH! Such a lovely thing. My neighbor gave me enough mulch to fill in my front sidewalk area, my mailbox area, the raspberry area, the grapes and my boxes. He even let us use his riding mower and cart to get it. Then the kids hanging out at my house thought it was neat and collected and spread the mulch for me. That will make hubby's day as he figured our son would only pile it in our yard for us. Many hands make light work.

HONEYBEES: We are not getting much honey at all this year. We did better last year with the drought. I would not mind less honey if the the broods were building so we could split the hives but they are not strong hives. Hopefully we will get good stock from a different source next year. I did get a few quarts for us. I guess it will be for tea only and not baking.

Chickens: The babies are growing fast they are white fluff balls right now. We had Alice escape again. It took us almost three days to catch her. I was worried the whole time. I had to leave and saw the neighbors cat slinking into the backyard. I could run her off but she would be back before I could say boo. I figured the chicken would know to fly away from her as she had from us. It was funny watching a group of teenage boys chase the chicken the first day. Even funnier to hear "I didn't know chickens could fly" repeated several times. The other chickens were not laying thanks to all the excitement. I tried putting our broody hens in a separate cage. My son kept putting them back in when I said make sure they get food and water. He I think I will let them be broody because I do not want to be chasing Alice again. She gets out when we grab the broody hens. She is a smart bird. A second bird escaped when my hubby left the door ajar while chasing Alice we got her in a few minutes. It was the teens who got her on the third day.

We will be going to farmers market I hope the peach vendor I bought from last time will be there. I will purchase a couple of bushels to can, Jenna said she would help. I will get a bushel to eat right away. I hope to get some local blueberries and squash. The hardest part is getting every thing put away after going. It is a two day process but so worth the savings and getting fresher food.


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