Its freezing time!!

Preserving season is in full swing for me now. I’ve been strawberry picking three times and have a total of 16+ bags of cut strawberries in my freezer. I might go pick again tomorrow depending on how much time I have, and then again on Friday so I can make a fresh strawberry pie for Dad’s birthday.ย  I also have 1 bag each of sugar snap & snow peas, and a bag of broccoli already frozen, with probably another bag or so of sugar snap in the freezer on a cookie sheet, plus more snow peas and broccoli to be picked/frozen tomorrow.

The black raspberries are just starting to turn red now, so in a few more days we should be having black raspberries, and then in another week or so the blackberries should come in too – and then I’ll really be picking and freezing like mad!!

The gardens are all looking good though – I tied up my tomatoes yesterday, and they’re all 2.5-3.5′ tall already, some with flowers and one actually had a couple ity bity little green tomatoes even! Unfortuantly though, it looks like the chickens have ‘discoverd’ them, and as such I’m pretty sure are eating most of the buds off… I hope the fencing we orderd comes soon (suppoesdly back orderd till the 30th – AAHH!) and we can get them all fenced in and protected… I was happy to find that I can just barely get all of my other stuff fenced in (so my pumpkins & butternut squash, which were formerly just outside are now inside and thus safe from chickens…).

We also just orderd and planted 3 new Reliance grape plants last week, and Kevin now has rather grand plans for a trellis/abor setup for them. And we also now need to order a replacement male “hardy northern kiwi” as ours is very obviously dead – last year we thought it *might* make it, but its definetly, absolutely, 100% dead this year…

The ducks are getting big – they must be at least 10-12″ tall already, and are getting feathers. The light actually busted a couple nights ago, but its been so nice & warm, we haven’t botherd to replace it. They seem to be doing just peachy fine without it – hopefully our neighbor will come and get his here in the next couple days. Once he gets his, I think we’ll try letting them out of the little fence and see how they do – hopefully they stick around and go back in their house at night.

Its strawberry season!!

So, yesterday I went and picked strawberries for the first time. I spent an hour and a half or so picking… and only got 5 quarts ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I cut them up and got them on cookie sheets today (well, four of them…), but I’d really like to do a LOT more.ย  Unfortuantly the place I usually go to for Pick Your Own strawberries, obviously didn’t have a good crop this year. So, I think I’m going to have to do some calling tommorrow and see if I can’t find somewhere else to go pick at, though it’ll be a much bigger drive… and thus I’m going to want a LOT more in one go!! Either that or I’m going to end up buying them this year… :sniffle:

I also finally got around to putting more peat moss around my plants today. I used nearly 2 full bales of peat moss on 4 beds, but I did do them very heavy. Hopefully it helps to hold in some moisture here so that my plants don’t look so wilty by 4pm every day!! And then I went around and fertilized all my peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts & beans. Tommorrow I’ll do the squash, tomatoes, tomatillos & potatoes, as they got sprayed today and I didn’t want to wash it all off!

And the preserving begins!

Today I did my first batch of freezing – broccoli! Considering I have 45 odd broccoli plants, there was surprisingly little from them – but the heads weren’t getting any bigger and were in fact starting to flower, so I cut them all off and blanched and froze most of them (reserving a small bit for tonights dinner – I’m planning on doing a roast chicken:), probably amounting to 1-2 bags once they’re bagged (I freeze everything on a cookie sheet first so I can pull out only how much I need).

I also noticed that the local You Pick strawberry field is opening up (they were open on thursday, apparently closed today, but open tommorrow…), so I’m planning on going and picking strawberries tommorrow for the first time. Not sure how many bags of strawberries I’ll want for this year – I know I started out with 12 last year, but I also had some from my co-op, and they’re all gone… and Andros is getting bigger and eating more, so I might shoot for 15 or so.

Everything else in the garden is looking good – my peas are starting to flower, and so are a few of the bigger tomatoes, so with luck we’ll be eating fresh peas & tomatoes here shortly. I finished planting everything on Tuesday when my mom came down – she brought me another 8 basil plants, which went beside my tomatillos and then the rest of the bed and end of the cucumbers were planted in beans. My first bed of beans has started to sprout up and are looking pretty good. Though I should probably plant another little row of carrots & radishes!!

Also on Tuesday, we moved our chickens’ fence around the garden, and just let them go free. They seem to be doing pretty good, though they are scratching an awful lot around our blueberries, so we’re not sure they’ll be free for much longer… Of course, the other option is to put chicken wire around the blueberries and go from there.ย  We also just orderd 3 new grape vines – Reliance seedless, which are supposed to be pretty hardy and disease resistant. Hopefully they come soon and do well and next year we start having seedless grapes!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Garden Pictures!

Also, I finally got around to taking pictures of my garden this evening after we got done watering. You can also see our chicken’s coop in a few of them… So, here they are!

The chicken’s coop and a caddy corner view of most of the garden – you can just see the tomatoes way up on the end.

My peas (sugar snap on the left, oregon giant snow peas on the left), calabrase broccoli, then de cicco broccoli, brussel sprouts and a bed with beans (planted ~ 3/27/09 give or take a day) –

4 beds of various kinds of peppers – with a watermelon and cucumbers on the far, far left.

I have pumpkins & butternut squash planted in the bed on the far left (butternut on the end farthest away, then my watermelon plant in the next bed (not sure what else is going in there, probably an acorn squash), then tow zucchini & cucumber plants, then other cucumbers I planted, and tomatillos in the bed on the farthest right.

Two views of my tomato patch (66 tomato plants, two watermelon – one in the middle, one on the far left corner, and marigolds planted around).

And one final view of the main garden, from the other end (chicken coop in the background once more – the bed right before it has potatoes):

Another year, another garden!

Well, its been nearly a year since I posted on here, but I think I’m going to give this another try. We’ll see how it goes and if I’m able to keep it up or not.

Quite a lot has gone on since my last post, mostly involving lots of canning (I ended up doing 98 quarts & 18 pints of diced tomatoes; 3 quarts & 8 pints of green beans; 26 pints of pickled jalapenos, 4 half-pints of jalapeno jelly & 31 pints of pickled banana peppers; 34 quarts & 17 pints of apple sauce, 17 pints of apple butter, & 22 half gallons ofย  apple cider, 14 quarts of grape juice) freezing (12 bags of green beans, 3 bags of red & 4 bags of green bell peppers, 12 bags of blackberries, 20 bags of blueberries, 3 bags of peaches & 12 bags of strawberries – all in quart size ziplock bags). Over the winter I made some of the berries into jam & used some of the juice for jelly, both for us and to give away at christmas (cause’ like, who doesn’t like homemade jam/jelly/applebutter/blueberry butter?!?!).

Oh, and I got pregnant again ๐Ÿ˜€ So, I’m due on August 11, 2009 with another baby boy. Andros has gotten very big and active and is just a little ball of energy from the moment he wakes up in the morning till he goes to sleep at night (though he thankfully does still take a 1-2 hour nap around 2ish!!). As a result of the new baby, we’ve transitioned him into his own ‘big boy bed’ in my old room (and we got a nice new queen size bed for us:).

And then, of course theres this years garden. We started a whole bunch of tomatoes, peppers & broccoli this year, and they’ve (mostly) all done really well. My broccoli has been in the ground for probably ~1.5 months now, and its just starting to have little broccoli heads – here in another week or two I expect to have broccoli coming out of my ears – we started 48 broccoli plants, had 46 come up, and all but 3 or 4 have survived being put out. I think the ones that died once they were outside did so because of either a lack of water (its been VERY dry here lately), or due to critters digging tunnels/holes underneath them and through their roots. Around the same time I put the broccoli in I also put in a bed of snow & sugar snap peas, both of which are now 2-3′ tall and looking very good. And about a week later we put potatoes in too – which got frosted a bit but look like they’ll survive thanks to mostly having been under the straw still ๐Ÿ˜€

On a seperate note, our grapes got frosted last weekend, along with some other stuff that has *never* been frosted before – my yuccas, bleeding heart & trumpeter vine, along with the potatoes. Thankfully, I didn’t have anything else in, but its just pretty surprising. We were away, but the neighbor who owns the greenhouse I go to said it got down to 28!! On the 16/17th of MAY! How crazy is that?!? Thankfully though, I think everything will survive, though how many grapes we’re going to get this year I don’t know ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Just over the past couple days I’ve gotten most everything else in. Namely all my peppers (76 total – 6 Purria Chili, 6 Ancho/Pablano Chilis, 6 Corno di Toro Sweet Peppers, 6 Rio Grand Hot, 6 Ring O’ Fire Cayannes, 5 Pimientos, 12 Hungarian Hot Wax, 12 Jalapenos, 3 Habaneros, 8 California Bell Peppers & 6 Sweet Red Beautys…), tomatoes (66 total – 6 Amis Paste, 6 Peacevine, 8 Stupice, 8 Santiam, 7 Bavacchi, 8 Dr Wyech’s, 4 Arkansas Travellers, 4 Poland, 8 Peron Sprayless & 7 other heirloom types from a friend…). I do have space for another 4+ tomatoes and a few more that I could plant but just never got transplanted into peat pots. Oh, and I did 7 tomatillos down by my peppers. I also put in 3 Sugar Baby Watermelon’s, 2 zucchini & 6 Straight 8 Cucumbers today – I want to get another dozen or so cucumbers to fill in the rest of that bed with and hopefully have a bumper crop to pickle a bunch ๐Ÿ˜€

So… basicly my garden is in for the year! I do want/need to plant a couple beds of beans, some more squash (pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash & spaghetti squash), cucumbers & possibly another melon or two of some sort, but BASICLY, the bulk of my garden is in – now its just keep it up!! ๐Ÿ˜€ And this year, we’re prepared to combat the powdery mildew & other blights we had last year, we hope. I plan on spraying my tomatoes for the first time here in a little bit or tommorrow at the absolute latest!! I’ll try and post pictures of everything in the next few days:D

Powdery Mildew

So, as of Friday, I was convinced that I was losing ALL of my squash – my cucumbers had already all but died, and my zucchini were on there way out with all my winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti), not far behind them. Then I googled around and figured out it must be powdery mildew. Sounds right – my cucumbers fruited, then got it. The same pattern was developing with my zucchini, and winter squashes. So googled some more for treatments. Lots of stuff about pesticides, fungicides, herbacides, etc… But I just really don’t want to use that stuff. I love that my whole garden is 100% organic, and I would really, really like to keep it that way. But I want to eat some of the stuff in it! You know?

And then, I found a post about using a milk & water solution (1:9 ration of milk:water, minimum). And it just sounded too good. I had to try it. So I did…. and I swear to you, 2 days later, my plants are looking WAY better! Almost all the mildewy stuff on the tops of there leaves is gone, and they just look more “perky” for lack of a better word. I’m SO excited! Even the last 2 or 3 cucumbers which were on there death beds are looking better. Which is absolutely incredible. I just might get some more zucchini and squashes afterall!ย Hurray!!

What a beautiful day!!

Well, today was defeintly the most beautiful day of the year so far. It was sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and warm, so warm. Must have been at least 70+ degrees all day long. We opened all the windows and let the wind blow through the windows bringing so much nice, wonderful fresh air into the house. It was wonderful!

Andros played outside basicly all day long, and I read Axis… I didn’t mean to read the whole book today, but it just kind of worked out that way. I started it around 9am or so when I got up and just kept going till I finished it around 4pm, with only a few minor breaks for lunch, and to take care of. It was a very good book, obviously.

Mostly I sat on the swing and watched him play in the grass with his ball, truck, the dogs and all the random things he found to play with in the yard. He’d find a stick and one of the dogs would pull on it and go off and chew on it… then realize he’d found a new one and come back for that one too. Or he’d find a puddle or spot in the yard which was slightly more moist than most and play in that, or dig in the garden, or play with rocks on the patio, or… well you get the point. He was just a very busy, very happy little guy all day long. Which made it highly unsurprising when he fell asleep soon after dinner – he’d had a long, hard day of playing!!

Kevin on the other hand was extremely productive! He tilled up the garden, planted more lettuce and greens, and built a trellice for the kiwi plants (which I helped with after I finished my book;). In the process he got his first sunburn of the year. I’m happy to report that neither I nor Andros (despite having been outside for basicly the same amount of time), have one to match is though. Really hoping Andros hasn’t/doesn’t inherite his tendency to burn. Though, I suppose only time will tell.

Gardening & cooking

So, tonight I made Spicy Red Beans Indian Style, with basmati rice and a salad. It turned out pretty good, with lots left over to take up to my grandparents tomorrow. Last night I made spaghetti, so we’ll be taking some spaghetti sauce up too. I think dad should be capable of cooking rice and noodles to go with them. I’m still amazed at how much I like cooking and eating vegetarian meals to be honest. I never thought I’d be able to even consider being a vegetarian, but I really think I could do it these days. Mostly, anyways.

It’s been pretty nice outside the past few days, which has been awesome. We got tomatoes & peppers started upstairs and green onions (yellow & red), planted outside on Tuesday. Then today we planted 22 rows of lettuce, spinach, mustard and arugula outside. I really hope everything comes up and does well. Its the first time I’ve planted anything in a really long time. I think the last time I did any actual gardening myself was when I grew a giant pumpkin in like 1997 or 98. A long time ago, basically.