Monday, July 18, 2016

Good Garden Eats and Brewing Pest Control

Good news!  This week we harvested our first 3 pickling cucumbers, each 4 inches long, which we gifted to our neighbors since we were leaving on vacation.  We also harvested two 7 inch zucchinis and some immature garlic heads, which we cooked together in olive oil with salt and pepper then sprinkled fresh chopped basil over the entire dish and served it alongside our hamburgers last night.  It was so yummy and this is all we had leftover.

It makes me so happy when we eat something that was made from homegrown produce.  It lifts me like a warm greeting from the sunshine at the beginning of a summer day.  Speaking of sunshine, I also made sun-dried apricot-lime fruit leather!

We were blessed to have been given several pounds of apricots from other people's trees, so in addition to eating them, I've made an easy batch of fruit leather.
Using 5 pounds, I halved and seeded the apricots, then into the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees before being pureed with 1/2 cup honey and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and spread thinly onto parchment lined cookie sheets and placed in the hot sun for a day or two.

3 cookie sheets of leather drying away in the sun.  I put a window screen over the top to keep the bugs off and it worked marvelously.  I felt like MacGuyvor for coming up with that screen solution.

We cut the leather into strips with the parchement still in place and just rolled them up and put them in a food storage baggie.  Some of the paper sticks to the leather, yet some doesn't, and I'm not sure why.  Oh well, it just means you have to earn your treat by working to get all the paper off.
I may try sun-drying some apricot halves- but I'll have to research that a bit more because I have no idea how to do it properly.

Tonight for our family home evening dessert, we had warm chocolate-chip-pumpkin cake (made with frozen roasted sweet meat squash from last season that our friends gave to us),
served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course.  The chocolate chips sunk to the bottom.  I wonder if I dusted them with flour first if they'd stay better in the batter?  Or maybe next time I would just use mini chocolate chips.  Here's the recipe for the cake:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

  • 2 c. pureed pumpkin or sweet meat squash
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
Mix ingredients, pour into a greased 9x13 pan, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Easy!

In other garden news...

We have pests in our garden this year eating our cabbage, pole beans, tomatoes, and squash plants.  My husband, Steve, got some pictures that will make you itch with the creeps.
Cabbage leaf being devoured.  There is also an egg for the cabbage moth on the very left of the photo.

Main culprit: cabbage moth.

Squash bugs are everywhere.  Steve has been good to go out and hand pick them and their eggs off the plants.  Such nasty work, and he's my hero for doing it!
So, what are we to do?

Tonight I made a homemade garlic-mint garden insect spray, and it's outside steeping until morning when I'll strain it and spray my infested plants with it.

I found the recipe here, and I'm hoping it works wonders.

It definitely looks like a witch's brew, and since some reviewers complained that it stunk their homes up, I just boiled mine outside on my grill, and left the smell to be enjoyed by the mosquitos and other creepy crawlies.

And that's it for now.  We've got some weeding to do and some pests to fight, so it's off to bed for a good night's rest, for tomorrow we work!

Our Happy Acres

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Some Photos from our Early July Garden

Cabbage is already starting to getting eaten alive by those white moth larvae.

Corn and beans have broken ground, and everything is beginning to grow.

Our potatoes are tall enough to hill up.  

Pretty corn.  The variety that gernminated best was the Golden Bantam 80.  Early Golden Bantam is out there too, and Strawberry Popcorn!

Our curbits are all spreading out as they should.

We had a little extra room, so I planted lima beans, another one of Tame Dame #2's requests.

I'm excited to see those pole beans start to climb those poles!

Carrot bed is looking good!

Tomatoes are taking off!

I've gifted some walking onion heads to my brother, and I'm going to use some as shallots in tonights dinner.

A glance to the back

The beets and chard are coming up

Can you see the sweet meat squash hiding in there?  Today I checked on it and it's the size of a volleyball!

Garden Renovation- BIGGER and BETTER than EVER!

HEY!  We've expanded the garden this year- and with all the vacations we've been on, we've hardly had a moment to post about all the fantastic things happening in our garden this year.  These photos were taken in June.  I had Jack Rasmussen (our landscaper) come and till up ground on either side of my garden so we could expand it for things that need a lot of room to grow- like corn and squash and other things.  I have a dream to one day preserve enough garden produce to feed our family an entire year until it's time for the next garden harvest.  With big dreams, we needed more growing space.

It took a lot of sweat and money to form the dirt into mounds and rows the way we wanted them, and to bring the sprinkler drip lines to everything, but we did it, and we got the garden fully planted before mid-June, so hopefully that's still enough time for everything to mature.

We decided to plant an entire bed of carrots this year, since they keep so well and for so long, and we use them a lot in soups, stews, etc.  The sprouts were on their way up in June.

The walking onions Brother Taylor gave to us last year have already begun to walk!  These are so fun, and they remind me of my pioneer ancestors, just because you can see one generation grow up and raise the next generation which plants itself and starts another generation.  Love it!

Our spinach and peas did beautifully in June.

Our spring garden bed has been feeding us for a few months already, as we planted radishes, and got to harvest chives and chive flowers and garlic scapes.  Our lettuce was good too.  I pulled it before June, when the heads were still little, soaked the baby leaves in cold water in the fridge for a day, and any bitterness they had was gone.  Just yummy lettuce!  That opened up space for me to plant the beets for our fall harvest.

We have 14 tomato plants this year we raised from seed- 7 different varieties as follows: Brandywine Heirloom, Rutger, Romas, Baby Romas, Italian Determinate, Yellow Pear, and Purple Grape Heirloom.  I see salsa, cans of tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce in our future.

We planted twice the amount of cabbage this year, since that is one veggie Tame Dame #2 really wanted plenty of.  We raised 2 varieties- Golden Acre and Flat Dutch.

Our strawberry bed was neglected and is really over crowded and weedy.  We only got a few strawberries from it.

The squash we raised got put into the new squash section of our garden which boasts 8 hills devoted to the curbit family.  We have sweet meat squash, zucchini, snake or swan gourds, butternut, watermelon, and 3 types of cucumbers.

 Here's what it all looked like in June.