Garden Bonus

Since I put so much effort into making the garden as maintenance free as I could this year, my intention is to try not to have idle beds. This morning after animal chores, I harvested what I thought was the end of the peas, about a pint that I intended for dinner tonight.

After lunch, I decided that since they were no longer producing that the vines should be pulled, chopped, and used to create a new compost pile. The old pile was spread and a new garden box placed where it had been. The best spot was in the corner of the garden nearest the chicken run where I took down the inner fence and a wide spot exists. It is a convenient place since the soiled straw from the coop can be put over the fence easily in that corner. As the vines were reduced to a smaller more compact pile, I added a layer of spoiled straw from the coop, and a shovel full of compost to boost it along and repeated the layers until the new pile was created. The empty beds were supplemented with a good layer of the compost from the other side of the chicken run and replanted. The bed nearest the fence was planted with 4 more rows of bush green beans, and two rows of a non cold hardy Chinese Cabbage. The second bed is an experiment. It was planted with Ancho pepper seeded directly into the ground. Hopefully, they will germinate and provide a variety of hot peppers that I didn’t plant from starts this year. The other part of that bed is going to be basil, dill, and parsley to dry and save for winter. So my plan so far to not have idle beds is working.

As the vines were pulled, I realized that there were many hidden peas left, placed in a basket, and they were shelled to another quart of peas to be blanched and frozen for winter. I have a friend from the northern part of the UK and she says finding food after the harvest is called scrumping. If so, this was successful scrumping.

Putting By

This is an archaic term that I use each year as the garden, orchard, and in years past, the Farmers Market begin to provide fresh food in quantity that is greater than daily use demands. It is a time when foods are prepared by blanching and freezing, or canning to put away for the times of the year where the only fresh foods are imported. The peas were the first produce in enough quantity to put some away as I shelled, blanched, and froze a gallon of fresh peas. That isn’t enough to get us through the winter, but it will be about 16 meals for the two of us.

About a week ago, I used the last pint of last summer’s herbed tomato sauce that was a base for pasta sauce. The freezer had two 2 gallon bags of whole frozen tomatoes, so today, they were peeled, chopped, and cooked down with about a quart or so of chopped and sauteed peppers, onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and large handfuls of herbs. I am not ready to pull down the pressure canner that lives in the kitchen from late summer through fall, and the sauce had too many additives to be safe to water bath can, so 13 pints were packed in wide mouth glass jars and will be frozen once they cool down to refrigerator temperature. Another pint was served with angel hair pasta and a salad for our dinner. We have a chest freezer and the refrigerator freezer, so most of the vegetables are frozen, but sauces and salsas are usually canned. With that many jars of pasta sauce prepared, the tomatoes that come from the garden this summer will be canned as plain tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, pizza sauce, and salsa. Tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes can be amended to make pasta sauce as needed and with some of the diced frozen jalapenos can be used to make chili tomatoes.

Soon the green beans will begin and as I don’t like mushy canned green beans, they will be blanched and frozen. As the pea plants are pulled, a second planting of bush beans will be planted.

Cucumbers are pickled, potatoes, onions, and garlic will be stored in the part of the basement that is not climate controlled. The tomatillos are used to make sauces and tomatillo jalapeno jam and if they are prolific, they can be frozen. I am enjoying a handful of cultivated berries every few days, but there may not be any berry jams if I can’t get to the wild berry patches around the fields.

We will enjoy fresh corn until we can’t stand another ear then it will become frozen cut corn and corn relish. The apples become applesauce, the Asian pears become pear sauce and Pear Marmalade. Hot peppers are canned and made into vinegars and hot sauces and bell peppers chopped and frozen to use in cooking during the winter. I am hopeful that a fall garden will produce carrots, spinach, kale, lettuce, and maybe fall peas. A couple of pumpkins vines produce many more pumpkins than are needed for pies and stuffed pumpkin, but the smaller Seminoles make good winter treats for the hens.

The summer season is busy and often heats up the kitchen, but the results are enjoyed through out the winter.

I am wondering if I can build an A frame that can be covered with heavy plastic to give the fall garden a few extra weeks of growing season. I think there is some left over PVC pipe in the barn that I could use if I get the correct fittings.

When not in the garden or putting by, I am spinning and knitting. The shawl that I finished and showed blocked a couple of days ago is here.

And it perfectly matches my felt hat I got last winter.

My fiber and two of my spindles ready to the Jenkins Team Tour de Fleece that begins tomorrow. I should finish the last little bit of Shetland tonight on the wheel. Once it is washed, I will measure out the yarn for my sweater and hope that I have enough or can figure another yarn to add to make it enough.

The Garden Starts Paying Back . . .

from all of the hard work that went into getting it ready this year with fence moving, cardboard placing, hay spreading, digging of mint, planting and then replanting. This morning as I do every dry morning, I took my pointed hoe over when I gave the hens their morning treat and let them into the run. Half an hour of hoeing and pulling and the garden stays neat. I am very pleased with the results of the efforts.

Bush Green Beans blooming with Tomatillos in the back, also blooming and starting to fruit.
Potatoes with purple flowers the bees love.
Four of the 6 tomatoes, reaching up the 7 foot poles.
One of the many Comfrey for fertilizer and salve making.

After the garden maintenance, most of the peas were harvested. The plants are no longer blooming, most of the pods filled. There are still 2 or 3 meals of peas left to mature further, but two baskets picked.

It took a couple of hours to shell the gallon of peas, blanched, iced, and packed in pint jars for the freezer. I still have a package of seed, so I may try to plant fall peas this year to add to the vegetables for the winter freezer.

The corn is sprouting and the pumpkins have primary leaves. It took three tries, but if we get corn it will be terrific.

The big orange one in the last picture is the cultivar from my late Daddy’s garden. He loved the orange Daylilies and Zinneas.

I do love my gardens, both vegetable and flowers. They keep me busy from early spring to late fall with planting, maintenance, and harvesting, and provide many meals during the off season. I have never done much with fall gardening, but I am going to try to do a better job this year, putting in some cool season crops, mostly greens, and see if I can extend our harvest up to or even after the first frost.

A neighbor saw the big bear this morning up near our mailbox and the outdoor dogs in the area have been barking all morning, so it is either still near or at least it’s scent is. I didn’t see it this time.