Monday, August 2, 2010

Busy week

Bear with me here, just trying to keep tabs on things for my own records. :-)

Pints of corn: 21
Pints of whole plums: 4
Pints of plum preserves: 4
Pints of spiced plums: ~4 (not done yet)
Quarts of green beans: ~4 (one was not very full)
Produce from the garden:
1/2 pound of green beans
3 potatoes
~12 cherry tomatoes (the volunteer plants that I transplanted into the garden)
2 roma-type tomatoes, couldn't find the plant marker, I'll need to check my notes.
Swiss Chard~24 onions (not very big this year sadly)

The garden is doing great! I have tomato plants taller than I am! The cherry tomatoes and one of the little roma types are ripening. I had a couple of Moonglow tomatoes ripen last week, but both had what looked like blossom end rot. This bothers me, because I planted every tomato plant with a couple of crushed eggshells and a couple ounces of worm castings. I'm doing a bit of research and watching that plant closely. I think I'm going to try and epsom salt application to correct the situation.
The garlic and onions are about done with their curing on the front porch. I've eaten a couple of the garlic bulbs and they are pretty tasty. My plan this week is to sort them and clean them (brush off dirt and cut off roots/leaves, cull damaged bulbs) and separate the eating garlic from the seed garlic for next year. Onions need the same thing, sorting and storing. I hope to get storage for them worked out in the basement. Right now the only place I have for them is in the potato bin in the pantry, and that's not ideal. I'd like that potato bin to be totally potatoes/sweet potatoes and maybe squashes over the fall/winter. I'd like garlic and onions to have a safe cool place down in the basement, maybe with some apples and a good % of my canned goods. That means I need some crates of some kind, and ideally some shelves too.
Herbs are going gangbusters. I've been nibbling on the basil, tossing it into pasta dishes, and it's about time to do a big harvest and dehydrate. Hopefully that can get done this week. Probably could do mint and thyme too.

For those of you interested in such things, here are the details for the plums that I processed this weekend. They were "wild" plums, meaning it's not a variety grown for market, it's just a tree in someone's front yard that puts out small tart fruits. Our neighbors know the old lady that lives there and they were rounding up anyone who wanted plums to go pick this weekend because the lady couldn't keep up with the harvest. So Rowen and I grabbed a bucket and went to collect some of the bounty. Rowen wasn't much help, but he did seem to enjoy the outing. :-) I picked around 3 or 4 gallons of the little plums. The next day I washed them and pitted roughly half of them, focusing on bruised/marred/split fruits. The unbruised nice looking fruits went into a separate bowl for the spice plum and whole plum recipes. 4 or 5 cups of the pitted fruit went into my dehydrator for homemade prunes. :-) Mmmm prunes. They turned out pretty good I think, the skins are a little tough, but the meat is tart and tasty and will be awesome this winter. The rest of the pitted fruit was combined with sugar and a cup of water and boiled for 15-20 minutes with the hopes of it setting up a bit into a nice jam/preserves. Sadly, as with all my tries this year, it didn't set up AT ALL! It is tasty though. :-) The whole plums were divided into 2 portions. They all were pricked, to prevent bursting, and one half went into a crock and was covered with a vinegar/sugar/spice mix to make some spiced plums. This is my first time making such a thing, I don't know if I've ever eaten spiced plums either. It will take 3 days to finish the process, which is unique. Every 24 hours I have to drain off the vinegar/sugar/spice mix, reheat it and recover the plums with it. After the 3rd day I drain off the syrup one last time, pack the plums into jars, cover with the hot syrup and then can like normal. Needless to say, I've very excited to see how they turn out and I will post an update after the results are in. :-)

I didn't plant enough green beans to can this year, so I bought 2 pounds from the farmers market on Saturday. I was chatting with the lady I bought them from and she said she planted tons of green beans this year because everybody raved about them last year, but now she can't sell enough of them and she's losing money. The 2 pounds I bought from her looked beautiful after canning, so I will probably do some more from her next weekend. I know one person can't make up for all the lost sales, but hopefully my support will offset a bit of it. We have a small stash of store bought cans of green beans, but I'd like to have a dozen or more quarts of my homemade ones before the end of the bean season.

The potato plants are about done! This is only my second year growing potatoes, but I'm once again ecstatic at how they are doing. I imagine I'll harvest them this week as the last of the bushes die back. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to try to save tubers to plant next spring or whether I'll plan to buy more seed tubers. I'll decide after I see the harvest I think.
The last of my news from my super busy week is the acquisition of a rain barrel! Woot! Three cheers for Craigslist! I scored a never-been-used barrel with all the parts and manual for 40$. I had to drive a ways to pick it up from the middle-of-nowhere, and drive back with it sitting in the passenger seat of my little Honda Civic, (it wouldn't fit in my trunk) but it was totally worth it! The picture above is the actual model I acquired, isn't it handsome? :-) I can't wait to get it hooked up and full of water. I want to find a good breed of goldfish to eat the mosquitoes, unless I can find some other non-chemical way to insure no mosquitoes are breeding in it. (yea, I have the screen, but it wouldn't take a very big hole to let mosquitoes in.)


Anonymous said...

The spiced plumbs sound yummy.

Home canned green beans and peaches are my favorites.

Donna said...

Hell yeah! High five on the Rain Barrel Score! I've had lots of failures this season too I think. Scarlet Runners for one. Are you into fermentation? Have you made dill green beans?

Jennie said...

I want to be into fermentation! It was never something my mother/father did much. So, I'll be starting from scratch. So far I can't even get past step 1, locating a crock or large enough jars is proving difficult.
I have never made dill green beans, not even sure if I've eaten such a thing, but people do rave about them. If you try a batch let me know how it goes. :-D