Olio 7/25/2020

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This morning as I was taking the feeder out to the wild finches, I realized that the 3 days of thunderstorms encouraged these pretty fringed silver mushrooms in the compost put down in the walled garden. There are dozens of them in clusters. I’m sure as soon as the day heats up, they will all wilt back.

After doing the morning chores, I stood in the dining room to do my 15 minute daily challenge spinning on one of my Jenkins spindles. From there I could watch the House Finches ravage that feeder and the Hummingbirds dancing around their feeder on the opposite side of the house.

The fiber I was spinning was the last of a braid of fiber from Inglenook, it was a beautiful braid of blue, purple, teal, and some white Merino and Silk. It spun like a dream and was one of the fibers I was spinning during the Tour de Fleece and this week during the 15 minute challenge. It took me about 35 minutes to finish the braid.

After spinning it, we decided to go in to the outdoor Farmer’s Market which we have not visited since the pandemic caused all the lock downs. They have it set up with moveable fences to control how many people can enter at a time, directional signage in chalk on the walkways, no touch payment, and if you plan ahead and know exactly what you want, you can order ahead. I was hoping for some sausage, cultured butter, cheese, and veggies I don’t grow. When we got there, the line wrapped around two side on the outer sidewalk and people though masked were standing close enough to put their hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them in line. Many kids running around in the grass in the middle not masked though there is a mandate to wear a mask within the fenced area. I was unwilling to stand in the line, so we left and went to take a walk on the old rail grade. After our walk, we drove back over toward the market and the crowd had thinned down to no line and fewer people within the fence. It was good to see the vendors I have missed. The vendor with the butter and cheese wasn’t there and the only vegetables not sold out that I don’t grow were a couple of cabbages. There was squash, but that isn’t a favorite here, and salad mix which I had just gotten from the same vendor’s supply at the local Natural Foods Store a few days before. I did talk to those vendors and got on their preorder list/info with the suggestion to come during the first hour when they more strictly limit the number of people for the seniors and when supply of items is greater. I will start doing that. I miss that weekly trip.

The hay in the lower field still stands. We are still parking three tractors and four pieces of equipment besides our own tractor. Last evening, after dinner, we went to the village market to get ice cream and saw the farmer that does the hay. He relies on two younger men to help him and last weekend they decided to move all the hay already mowed instead of finishing the mowing, then there was a forecast of 50% chance of rain so they didn’t mow and it didn’t rain. This weekend, one of the younger men is away, but Randy said he might come mow after his shift at the stockyard today. We will see.

I ended up with 342 yards of 21 WPI lace weight yarn weighing in at 69.6 grams (2.45 ounces). I guess it will go in the shop after it is soaked and dried. Lovely soft Merino and Silk.

More Variety

Each day that goes by brings change to the garden. The potatoes are dug, the first planting of bush beans is spent and the plants pulled and put in the compost pile. It will be another couple of weeks before the second planting begins to produce beans. There is a little corn on the larger stalks. There are dozens of developing Tomatillos that will be made into simmer sauce and Tomatillo Jalapeno jam. The sunflowers are blooming.

The first few were the bronze colors, but now there is a tall lemon yellow one. I plant a variety mix of seed.

The grapes are plentiful and are beginning to turn purple. Soon some grape jelly will be made.

And this year they are up and off the ground.

The daily harvest looks different than a week ago, today there was the first red tomato and even though it was a plum tomato, it went in our dinner salad. I had gone out to pick a cucumber for the salad and came in with many, a few larger ones and a quart jar of of small ones that I put in to ferment to whole dills.

There are now three jars fermenting, one of sauerkraut, one of dill slices, and one of whole small dills. There are two already fermented of dilly beans in the refrigerator. The Jalapenos are getting of a size to start the pickled peppers that hubby loves with most dinners and some sandwiches. Two pints were done this afternoon as well.

Today has been dry and the evening ended with a beautiful pink sky.

Stay safe. Wear your mask. See you on the other side of this pandemic.

Almost free food

The savings from planting a garden is significant, especially if you prefer organic or using organic methods even if not certified, and if you prefer local so you know it is fresh and hasn’t been shipped across the country or from another country. There are some things you can’t grow in your climate, I understand that. I can’t grow avocados and bananas for example, but we like them both. My garden isn’t large enough to provide all of the potatoes, onions, greens, beans, and peas we eat in one year, but large enough to enjoy fresh and put some by through freezing, canning, or fermenting.

Toward the end of winter, maybe early spring, I bought a 5 pound bag of basic organic white potatoes from the grocer. Organic produce is usually not sprayed to suppress sprouting or over ripening, and this particular sack of potatoes began sprouting almost in the car on the way home. We don’t eat a lot of potatoes, so the bag was tucked under the sink where it would be out of the light and each time I took a couple of from the sack, I had to untangle the sprouts and pare the sprouted eyes from the potatoes. I finally gave up when there were 4 or 5 left in the bag, and as soon as the soil was warm enough this spring, I cut those potatoes so that each section had two sprouting eyes and set them on a tray to dry for a day, then planted them in a 4 by 8 foot bed in the garden. I didn’t expect much, they weren’t seed potatoes, just grocery store ones. Every piece I planted came up and the bed was a thick mass of greenery and pretty purple flowers, then the heat came, their season ending and they died back. I had read you should leave them in the ground for a week or so after they die back, but for the past three days we have had some intense thunder storms and a fair amount of rain. I didn’t want them to grow and then rot in the ground, so in a light sprinkle yesterday afternoon, I took the same blue plastic compost bucket over and dug potatoes with a garden fork and my hands. Those 4 or 5 potatoes left to sprout in the sack, produced about 12-14 pounds of potatoes. I don’t know what a good return on potatoes is, but these are basically free food, potatoes that were beyond my use for cooking, providing many weeks of food for our shelves.

I never have to buy pickles. One package of cucumber seed for a couple of dollars will provide plants for 3 or 4 seasons, giving us fresh cucumbers and plenty to make into the Spicy Bread and Butter, Dill quarters, and fermented dill slices.

Generally the 6 to 9 tomato plants I plant will provide tomato sauce for pasta, chili, or other cooked tomato needs, as well as pizza sauce to last the year or nearly so.

Hubby loves a pickled jalapeno with most dinner meals and on some sandwiches, and the plants provide enough for me to can a year’s worth. I never buy hot sauce, instead, hot peppers are ground and fermented to make enough for my cooking and condiments and usually enough to share a bottle or two with Son 1 and his family.

The garlic I grow will usually last the year or close to it. Onions will last for months before I have to start buying them. Peas and beans are eaten fresh and extras frozen for when the fresh foods aren’t available. So the $25-30 I spend on seed and plants provide many meals throughout the year.

The hens still aren’t producing like they did last year, but the three Oliver eggers all started laying again. I have gotten a pink egg and a blue egg this week along with a couple green eggs.

One very dirty hand from digging potatoes.

I hope that by planting a fall garden this year, that we will save even more with carrots, spinach, fall peas, and whatever other short season plants I can put in and protect from fall insects and first frosts.