Friday, February 06, 2009

Garden Plans for 09 so far

Plans for 2009

Garden Layout – I have decided to cut our garden size in half this year. Instead of planting in wide rectangular beds, I am planting in circular beds inspired by the system set up by Linda Woodrow in her book called The Permaculture Home Garden.

Chicken Tractor – Building a dome PVC Chicken tractor to move around the garden for soil cultivation and fertilization

Water Conservation: - Re Routing grey water from our washer into the garden, very heavy layers of rice straw mulch ala Ruth Stouts “No Work Method”, cutting back on the amount of veggies grown. No more sprinkler irrigation (drip only), Rain Barrels. Composting In Place

Moving??- We may be buying a new home this year. We’ve been doing a lot of looking, but have not found the right place yet.

It’s time to start posting again….Took a nice long break, but it’s time to get the garden going again. Stay tuned

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

1st Home Grown Apple Harvest

This is our first year for home grown apples. The bare root trees that we planted 2 years ago produced enough apples for 7 pints of apple butter. I know we are going to savor every last bite. How exciting also, to know that we will probably get twice as many next year. Mmmmm maybe enough for apple pie too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pickled Beets

I made some spicy pickled beets from beets I harvested out of my backyard this weekend. They look so pretty (I love anything pink). I’ll be adding them to my green salads this winter.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Salsa and tomato sauce are always really popular around our house. This year we grew 30 different tomato plants and had tons of tomatoes (still do) to use for canning. We made sauce and salsa with our first big batch and will be harvesting everything left on the vines this next weekend to freeze, can whole or wrap in newspaper to ripen indoors. I picked another small wagon load yesterday. My absolute favorite this year has been the Big Pink White Stripe. It has the most amazing flavor. I'll be growing twice as many next year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pickled Okra

My own homegrown okra was an abject failure this year. I got nada but a bunch of well fed bugs. On the way back from picking up our beef, Mark and I stopped at a road side farm stand where I hit the okra mother load. I bought the whole box (6 lbs) and found a great spicy pickled okra recipe. I haven’t opened one up to try yet, but they sure do look pretty in the jars with my home grown dill and red peppers. Let’s hope they taste as nice as they look.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ripen Peppers Indoors

The bugs keep getting to my ripe peppers before I can. It is really irritating and I decided to do something about it. I read someplace that you can ripen peppers indoors like you can do with green tomatoes. Mark and I went out on Sunday and picked boxes of green peppers on the verge of turning yellow and orange. We brought them in and cleaned the really well, careful to get all of the bug ridden ones separated out. We then dried them and laid them in clean cardboard boxes covered in newspaper. I will be checking on them every other day or so to see if they are getting ripe. I hope this works!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bread and Butter Pickles

I’ve been in a crazy pickling frenzy lately. I made enough jars of bread and Butter pickles to eat one quart a week for 17 weeks. We never get tired of them :)

Fall Flowers

The last month has been a busy time around here. I haven't found time for posting, so I have a lot to get caught up on. I've been busy harvesting and canning and putting in the winter garden. I was out enjoying the flowers still blooming in the garden and saw a monarch enjoying one of our zinnias. The zinnia flowers just popped up this year. I think they may have been part of a mix that I sprinkled out in the early spring. I will be saving some of the seeds to plant again next year. The Cosmos have been especially pretty this fall. I love plants and will be saving as many seeds as possible. I'm also going to be dividing huge clumps of irises, society garlic, shasta daisys, agapanthas, lambs ears, forth of july's, and cannas. There is so much to do in the garden, I could spend all day outside and never get everything done. Not to mention, I do have a full time job and amateur Roller Derby Career going on too. Please forgive my posting lapse, I'm back on track now :)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Harvesting the Pumpkin Patch

We had hoped to leave our pumpkin patch in place until a little later this month, but nature had different plans. Rain over the last week encouraged us to harvest our pumpkins and winter squash. The photo above is what we collected. A few of the smaller squash were moldy and got thrown in the compost bin. I will be trading some squash for figs and making a lot of pumpkin curry this winter. I absolutely love pumpkin! One of my favorite recipe’s in the world is Squash Lasagna, but instead of Butternut Squash, I like to use Pumpkin. I know it sounds a little strange, but I promise that it tastes fantastic!

This is a Wonderful Recipe from Weight Watchers that I make every winter.
4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
10 oz dry lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (about 12 noodles)
10 oz cooked winter squash, thawed if frozen
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup golden seedless raisins
2 Tbsp pine nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place flour in a small saucepan and very gradually whisk in milk and garlic. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce simmers and is thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Spread 1/4 cup of cheese sauce over bottom of a 9 X 13-inch glass or metal pan and cover with 3 lasagna noodles; top with 1/3 of squash and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of raisins. Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles and spread with 1/3 of remaining squash and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of raisins. Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles and top with remaining squash and raisins; cover with last 3 lasagna noodles, pressing sheets firmly down. Top with remaining cheese sauce; sprinkle with pine nuts and remaining mozzarella cheeseBake until lasagna bubbles around edges and is browned on top, about 30 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces and serve

This is soooo yummy!!!! My mouth is watering just typing it :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Eating Local Beef

Mark and I went on a little adventure a few weeks ago that I am just now having time to write about. We drove up to Lake County to pick our ¼ of an all natural pasture raised/ grass feed steer for our freezer.
After reading Omnivore’s Dilemma this summer, I’ve been unable and unwilling to eat any beef without knowing exactly where it came from. I hate the idea of supporting feed lot practices in any way. This has seriously reduced the amount of beef that I’ve been eating to just about none. While perusing Craigslist, I came upon an ad for all natural grass fed beef and since Mark and I already own a chest freezer to store it in we thought it might be worth exploring further.
I called up the Rancher Eric and he told me that he would have a Steer ready to process in about 2-3 weeks. The grass fed steers are really lean and a lot smaller than grain fed. The cost was $3 per pound on the hoof and ¼ steer would be around 125 lbs. Mark and I decided we would give it a try, and a few weeks later Eric called back to see what cuts of meat we wanted. Since I have never ordered meat this way, I was not quite sure what to ask for. He kindly went over all of the different cuts with me and told me that it would dry age for 18 days and then he would be individually wrapping it and freezing it.

About 2 months after ordering it (slow food) we got a call that it was ready to pick up. The directions to Eric’s house involved miles of dirt road and I was excited to see where our steer had grown up. It was a beautiful drive about an hour from home. The area was once volcanic and there is obsidian rock scattered all over the road. We met Eric, his wife Nora and 4 of their 6 kids. They had quite the menagerie of animals, cats, dogs, chickens, running around their yard. I felt instantly at ease since it reminded me of my house. Eric told us a little about his history, he used to be a Sherriff, but had to retire after an injury. He had worked as a butcher as a teenager and decided to go into ranching. He took us down to the pasture where his grazing cattle live. The grass was starting to dry out, but I was surprised at how tall it was and how green some still was despite the hot weather. I asked where they get their water from and he explained that there is a stream running thru the pasture area. They actually have 1100 acres they can roam around on. We stopped by a farm stand on the way home and I bought a box of the most gorgeous Okra EVER to pickle (see Okra Pickles post). It was a great trip and Mark and I have enough meat to last all winter and spring. I’ve made some steaks and used some hamburger in meat sauce (we have over 20 lbs bags of it). So far so good. The meat is so lean that there is almost no fat in the pan when cooking. I am looking forward to coming up with some fun and creative recipes for all of it.