Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Making sense of the totals

Well, some more booty out of the Boone garden.
Black Krim tomato: 211g
Stupice tomato: 162 g
Green Zebra: 656 g
Amish Paste: 529 g
Hybrid: 244g
Moonglow: 317g
Eggplant: 191 g
Yellow squash: 477 g
Zucchini: 1.46 kg (This thing was literally the size of my arm, wrist to elbow)
cabbage: 296 g
Purple Green Beans: 41 g
Green Beans: 122 g

The squash and zucchini got grated up and the first 3 cups went into two loaves of tasty homemade zucchini bread. The rest of it got divided up into 3 cup servings and frozen for zucchini bread this winter.
I also tried my hand at a stew this weekend. I bought 1lb of beef and a handful of potatoes from the farmers market. Tossed in garden bounty: onion, green beans, garlic, herbs, carrots. It was VERY tasty.
I had a canning party Saturday. I sent out an open invitation to my friends, telling them what I was planning on canning and when I was planning on doing it. Two took me up on the offer. Brian and Mel got 7 pints of delicious salsa canned out of their garden. I got another 2 pints of my roasted tomato sauce canned.
I'm going to try and make a variety of the sauce tonight using my eggplants. Not sure if I'll go to the trouble of canning it. I might just eat on it for the rest of the week. :-)

So, making sense of totals. The idea with this blog and my garden journal was that when it came time to plan next years garden and order seeds, I could look at what performed well and choose appropriately.

So, starting from spring, and working towards fall, lets see if we can make sense of some of the jumble.
I planted Tango lettuce and Monoppa spinach in my cold frame in late March. They both did really well. I can definitely plant the cold frame thicker next year though, there was a lot of space wasted in it this year. Maybe instead of rows of seed, I can just evenly cover the frame in seed.
Outside the frame went the Forellenshuss (romaine) lettuce and 5 color swiss chard in early May. The Forell. did really well, but I'd like to see how it does with an earlier start in the cold frame. It did take a while to head up really well. The Swiss chard got eaten by birds I think. Maybe a scrap of row cover or something next year to protect the baby plants.

No more onion seed for me. That experiment failed. I got spindly looking sprouts that never got big enough to plant. The sets I bought from Earl May were healthy and vigorous and tasty. No contest there.

Carrots came up in early May. I planted Scarlet Nantes and was very happy with them. They are tasty, grew well and are keeping nicely in the fridge. I was told if I want something that will rootcellar over the winter I should look into a carrot that isn't harvested until fall. We'll see.

So far a rousing success. I harvested lots of seed pods. I'm still processing them though, it's rather tedious. Might plant some more next year. Might not. We'll see.

I started from seed a variety called Romanesco, it has been healthy and strong all year, but stubbornly refuses to head. Could be too wet and cold this year. I might give it one more year, but I think I will add another variety more suited for Northern planting. The varieties I planted from Earl May did alright. About half of them headed. Taste was so/so.

Did alright. They seemed to enjoy the cold wet weather at least. :-) I should have seed leftover so I will probably try them again. Every plant headed, but I think to do anything useful with them I"ll need more than the 2 or 3 I planted this year. Not sure if I"ll find the room for the 6-10 heads that would be more useful, but we'll see. I need to figure out ways to eat it besides coleslaw too. Some sort of kimchee maybe.

Well, I planted two types, and I planted them WAY too close together for starters. I thought it would be easier to tell them apart. Course, I saved seed, but I'm not even 100% sure I got the different types sorted totally correct. lol. But, I gave it a good try. The yeilds were wonderful on both. Both tasted delicious. No change probably, just replant the seed I saved and focus on seperating the different varities so I can harvest them better. I think I ate a lot of the pod peas as snow peas.

The Golden Zucchini has so far outperformed the Black Beauty. But, both were tasty and fairly prolific once they got started. I should still have seed leftover so I can see planting both again. They didn't ramble too badly, which was nice.

Crop failure on the Cucumber. Not sure if it was the flooding or what, but the little sprouts never got past the first few leaves. I think this is the second variety I've tried, and the second to fail. I might just be destined to not grow cucumbers. Possibly not going to bother planting any next year.

Crop failure. The vine stayed at 2 or 3 leaves for months and only now has a decent size to it. No flowers no fruit. Might not bother to replant next year.

Flooding took out all the corn. No verdicts on which of the 5 types is better. :-P I never got the Bloody Butcher corn to sprout at all. So that one might be a bad batch of seed. I can see myself trying one more year on corn, but this is the second year I have totally failed.

FLooding again to blame for this failure. Brian and Mel mentioned a squirrel cleaned them out of sunflower seeds before they got any. So if I do try again I will try to come up with a bag or somethign to keep the squirrels out of my seed.

I picked 3 of the 6 varieties to try again next year. Based on growth habits and harvest.
German Extra Hardy, Russian Giant and Chesnook Red. The other 3 were either generally malformed and/or small upon harvest.

Pathetic most adaquately describes my peppers. I think I just don't have the touch. I got maybe one or two scraggly peppers from 3 or 4 plants. Perhaps I'll just leave the peppers to the pros and Brian. :-)

I'll replant the Empress Green bean and the Royalty Purple Podded bean, but the Cherokee Black and the Red Runner Beans were not to my taste. The red Runner Beans are really pretty and fun to grow, so maybe just for fun they will get another try.

Clear winners seem to be Green Zebra, Stupice and Amish Paste with Moonglow following closely. Purple Cherokee and Striped Roman did as well as can be expected. They are always finicky, but tasty enough I might plant them again. Yellow Beams totally failed. Black Tula I haven't decided on. I only got 2 or 3 tomatoes off the 2 vines I had planted. Tasty enough, but hardly worth the space. With all the wet and cold, I'm loathe to judge too harshly, but space will be limited next year, so choices must be made. I can see taking garden space for 2 each of the first 4, but the PC and the SR will need to find homes in my container garden or something I think.

Well, there's the year in recap. The seasons almost over and I probably wont plant a fall garden, just cause I"ll be cover cropping and weeding heavily. Lots of tear down and setup too, getting the Boone garden reverted to sod and the Des Moines community plot under some sort of control in regards to the grass. Plus putting in veggie space around our rental house. So, no time for fall plantings.

Lets hope next year isn't quite so cold and wet. :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Canning and planning

Processing the tomatoes was a great success. Dave and I canned 6 pints of salsa and 2 pints of delicious roasted tomato pasta sauce. Our counters are now clear of the layer of tomatoes. Hopefully we'll get some more off the vines this month, but if not I might invest in a flat of tomatoes from the farmers market, just so I can make more sauce. Oh, the sauce was SOOO good. We oven roasted 3 pounds of beefy oxheart tomatoes. I can't remember the name of the variety but it's been producing fairly well. So, we oven roasted 3 pounds, cut in half with garlic and basil and thyme (all out of my gardens) on top. Then I tossed those into a skillet with an onion and a little bell pepper, more garlic and more basil, salt and pepper. An hour later the sauce was done and soooo tasty. 3 pounds of tomatoes and an onion condensed into 2 tasty pints of garden goodness. Completely free except for the water used in the canner and the olive oil.

I'm a little worried about the salsa, it was really really watery, and I think I used too many onions. It was definitely a rainbow, I used orange and green and purple tomatoes. We had a cup full at the bottom of the pan that didn't make it into the jars, so we put it in the fridge and hopefully we'll give it a taste test tonight. *crosses fingers* It was our first attempt at salsa, so we'll see.

Now, I have probably 9 pounds of summer squash and zucchini that I have to figure out something to do with them. I'll probably try to pan fry one yellow squash tonight, but that still leaves 6 or 7. Must do research. Dave has put in a vote for some zucchini bread. :-D We'll see I guess.

Have I mentioned it's nice to be home again? With both of us pitching in, the house is slowly coming back together. The kitchen almost has all the countertops back to usable. :-) Now if I can just figure out where to store my giant canning pots I'll be set.
Next on the house list is finally getting the bedroom put together. We need to get all the clothes figured out and into a place in the closet so that we can rearrange the bed placement to facilitate a crib. :-D :-D And then we need to repair computers and put the desk area into a state of organization.
Also on the todo list before first frost is to round up window treatments for all the windows. I'm looking into plastic wrapping most of them, with some having a second buffer of a wall hanging to stop any hint of drafts. Course that demands I find a way to keep Rienne from climbing said wall hangings. :-D (Something tells me razor wire isn't baby safe.) We did really good with only running the A/C a handful of days this summer. I'm hoping we can continue the trend this winter and keep things pretty cool to save on natural gas costs. Sealing up the windows and hanging wall hangings will help, as will some nice thick wool socks. :-) We'll pile on the blankets in bed, and me and baby heater will keep Dave toasty warm.
I also need to get my cold frame moved from Boone down to the new house so I can plant some fall greens ASAP. I'm hoping this one happens this weekend. I'll plant some spinach and some lettuce and maybe kale and swiss chard. We'll see what I have in the seed trays. With any luck I'll be able to pull some tasty salad greens out in October. But, realistically they should have been planted a week or two ago, so we'll see. I might not get anything more than baby greens. :-D

Seed saving is about to go into full swing. I've got piles of mustard seed and basil seeds staring me in the face. Thanks to my love of basil I have like 3 or 4 different varieties I need to keep separate during cleaning and drying and bagging. :-P Lettuce seeds are probably ready to harvest from this spring, and green beans are getting close. Gotta save green bean seeds, I can make baby food from green beans. ;-D

Anyway. Lots to do. More pictures will be up soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yay for savings. (And August recap)

Well, I've given 2 weeks notice at work.

That sentence looks so calm on my screen, but there was nothing calm about this past week. The short of the story is I didn't appreciate how my team was treating me. Whether or not the behavior was based on my pregnancy or my gender or just plain dislike, I can't say. I don't particularly care. I don't think it's too much to ask for courtesy and respect, and I'm not so hard up that I have to stay in a position that doesn't give me those basics.

So. Now I'm a 2 month pregnant engineer looking for work. In Iowa. :-D Fun.

The good news is even after a move and a wedding we still have a months worth of bills in savings. I'll have 3 more work checks on top of that. Plus, a whole week of vacation next week. :-D My parents, being the wonderful people they are, have already offered us the basement should "It all hit the fan." I figure even if I end up working at a grocery store we can manage to keep the roof over our heads. But, it's nice to know we have someplace to land if we fall.

My darling husband did a fabulous job of keeping up with the harvest out of the gardens while I was gone. So we have an additional buffer of an overflowing freezer and cabinets covered in a layer of tomatoes and squash. My stress relief for the next few days will be processing lots of tomatoes. Currently I'm planning a batch of salsa, (a healthy snack choice for me and tadpole this winter) a big batch of tomato/veggie sauce, and probably a small batch of stewed tomatoes.
Last night I froze up the last batch of peaches. Colorado peaches... Mmmm... in my honey and water solution. (1 cup water to 1/3 cup honey)

Without further ado, here are the garden totals for the month of August.
Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: 175g
Stupice Tomatoes: 76g
Moonglow Tomatoes: 551g
Green Zebra: 828g
Striped Roma Tomatoes: 182 g
Random Tomatoes Dave couldn't identify: 2957g
Green Beans:507 g
Purple Beans: 119 g
Basil (dried): 9 g
Green Zuchinni: 853g
Yellow Squash: 607g
Mint (dried): 40g (talk about prescience, I didn't know I was prenant yet, but I harvested armfuls of wild mint out of the garden and dried it to make a tummy soothing tea)

Total harvest for August out of both gardens: 6.9kg
15.2 pounds for those of you who prefer non-metric weights.
Not up to the poundage from July, but it's hard to win weighing tomatoes versus onions. :-D Density and what not..

So, let the processing begin. Anything not fit for storage will be eaten over rice or pasta in the coming weeks, ad nauseum I'm sure. :-D