Monday, September 28, 2009

an apple sauce day

Yesterday Brian and I put up some apple sauce.
Around noon, we bought a bushel of nice Paula Red apples from a local orchard, 'Love Apple Farm' (gotta love the name). Brian used our old fashioned hand-crank countertop apple peeling-coring machine to peel and core the apples, and he made the apple sauce in a big spaghetti pot, one pot at a time. Brian makes great apple sauce.
Meanwhile, I sterilized the canning jars, packed them with apple sauce and processed them in boiling water in another spaghetti pot, four pints at a time for 20 minutes.
We had a regular little assembly line going.
By evening we had 35 lovely pints of fresh chunky apple sauce. The Paula Reds were so perfect we didn't even need to add any sugar at all...just a touch of cinnamon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a pickling day

A generous friend let me pick a whole slew of pickling cucumbers from her garden. I gave her some of my lettuce and scallions. I also had a bag of beautiful striped pink Chioggia beets we had gotten from the local organic farmer's market as a thank-you for us playing music there. So I decided to pickle them all today.

I made 16 pints of sweet bread and butter pickle slices. I had enough beets for four pints of pickled beets. The Chioggia beets are pink and white striped on the inside, not the usual dark inky red. They look so pretty in the jars, with a soft golden pink glow.
After canning and processing the 20 pints of pickles and pickled beets, I had about 3 cups of pickling brine leftover. I hard boiled 12 small fresh eggs and packed them six to a jar into two clean pint jars, then filled with pickling brine. Those I won't bother to process, I'll just put them in the fridge to mellow and eat pickled eggs over the next few weeks. :) A good way to use up the leftover brine!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lots of lettuce...

Well it's been such a rainy cloudy summer mostly this year here in the Northeast- a poor year for tomatoes, but a great year for lettuce!
Here is the new garden (about two months old now, formerly just backyard lawn) and you can see all the wonderful lettuces we are now harvesting. I had planted most of the lettuces in the back bed that runs along near the trees, since lettuce dislikes intense mid-summer sun. I love the various shades of green and maroon, and the interesting ruffly leaf and head shapes. Getting some great scallions, and I am almost ready to harvest some nice big turnips- my first turnips ever. You can also see some fluffy carrot tops, and the small scallion and leek patches.
The key is to keep planting seeds in succession, in short rows, so that nothing matures all at once.

Yesterday we were given a big bowlful of organic tomatoes (in exchange for our playing music at our local farmer's market), and from our own garden I picked cilantro, scallions, and parsley. To all this I added chopped onion and spices and made a nice big batch of fresh salsa. One valuable thing I learned this summer is that for my needs I should wait to plant my cilantro seed in July, because then it matures at just the right time for me to use during tomato season to make salsa, and in the early Fall to put in my black bean soup. Those are my favorite uses for cilantro, so it doesn't make sense for me to plant it in the Spring. Best to raise a crop of Spring lettuce on that spot and then when I pull the lettuce, hoe some compost in and plant with cilantro seed. That way I can use the same spot to get two crops, one after the other.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Still planting seeds....

This morning I planted a few more rows of seed in my vegetable garden....ever hopeful to harvest more before the frosts! Lettuce and spinach is good for that since they don't have to be totally mature to get good leaves from them for salads.
I planted a little three foot row each of about 5 different kinds of lettuces, the last of my spinach seeds, and several kinds of radish. I was also able to hoe a couple gallons of my kitchen earthworm casting harvest into the ground as I prepared the seed rows. Later today I will turn the 'regular' compost bin for the first time with a large garden fork.
By October 1st the first frost should be threatening, and I plan to set up a clear plastic tarp over the long bed in the garden where most of the lettuce is planted, to try to keep them going as long as I can into the cold weather. My goal is to keep harvesting greens until Christmas day.
Right now in my new garden (which was put in and planted during mid-summer) I am getting lots of lettuce of various kinds, scallions, a few string beans, and odds and ends radishes. I see little turnip and beet bulbs forming here and there, and I'm hoping the carrots will hurry up and form soon. Of course at this same time next year I will have more to harvest because I will have been able to start things earlier, in the Spring.