Olio – 8/15/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Woven trapezoid is off the loom, by daylight I saw a flaw that I will need to address. It needed an over weave to fix it and blocking but I think turned into an interesting piece. The third photo is by natural daylight and the colors show better.

The first harvest of grapes were juiced, and jelled. The second harvest is underway over the next few days. The results were so delicious that more is going to be made, then the remaining grapes left for the local wildlife that also enjoy the spoils of the garden and orchard.

Some years the garden overwhelms with tomatoes and there are no cucumbers except those purchased at the Farmers’ Market. Some years the tomatillos don’t grow or seedlings can’t be found. This year, the tomatoes are the scarce commodity in our garden, the plants never looked very healthy, the fruit output poor. Tomatoes can be purchased by the box at a local organic practices farm for $1/pound, but I’m not sure that economically it is worth the purchase. There are 21 pints of tomatoes canned, 9 half pints of pizza sauce, and I am still gathering a few tomatoes each day or two and freezing them to make another batch of some sort of tomato product; pizza sauce, tomatoes with hot peppers, or spaghetti sauce.

The fruit trees weren’t hit this year with a bloom frost and the fruit is too plentiful. The peach trees had fruit for the first time and every peach had worm damage and didn’t ripen. The Asian Pears are so heavy with fruit that several branches broke, I should have thinned the fruit. Lesson learned. Today I cut out the broken branches and picked some of the pears to hopefully prevent further damage. The apple trees look like they have a fair amount of fruit too, but the deer have eaten all that they can reach. It is going to take a ladder to get what is left unless I can reach it from the tractor seat.

We started our orchard with 3 peach trees. When I started raising chickens, I deliberately put the run around one of the trees for shade and put rocks around the trunk so they wouldn’t damage the roots. That tree did not survive the chickens scratching and possibly the hot fertilizer they produce. The largest tree got out of control and I cut it back severely a couple of years ago and have tried to keep it properly pruned since. It had the most, largest but most damaged fruit this year. The third tree near it produced some small hard peaches, but looks like it isn’t going to survive.

Winter before last I took a pruning class, but maybe I need a class on how to raise fruit organically so that the fruit is usable, or accept that I will have pears and apples only. My little fig is growing, but there won’t be fruit from it this year and the 3 year old plum keeps getting the new growth nipped by the deer, so I guess it needs a fence.

Another round of garden harvest will happen this evening and if I get enough additional Tomatillos, another batch of Tomatillo simmer sauce with jalapenos will be made in the morning.

Newport Ag Fair – 8/10/19

This is the oldest agricultural fair in the Commonwealth and it happens in our little village today and last night. We have been attending this fair every year we are in town since we moved to our farm about 13 years ago. Each year, walking through the exhibits, watching the horse competitions, the jousting, the animal exhibits, enjoying some fair food and ice cream and when it doesn’t rain, staying to the end to listen to the music and watch the fireworks.

Last year for the first time, I finally submitted two shawls for exhibition and won two blue ribbons, totally shocking me. It emboldened to me exhibit again, expanding to several home canned goods, a skein of hand spun yarn, the shawl I spun and knit for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em, and a scarf from a skein of yarn from a local indy dyer and friend who passed away early this spring.

My submissions to the Fair.

When the items were delivered, they could not figure out a category for the hand spun yarn, so it came home again. The Tomatillo Simmer Sauce also caused some consternation at the check in. They didn’t know what a Tomatillo was, thus they didn’t know how to categorize it. It ended up in miscellaneous vegetable category. The judging was done at 8 p.m. last night, and the header shot is my results, a red on the hand spun hand knit shawl, a blue on the commercial yarn scarf, a red and two whites on canned items. A total of 5 ribbons. I’m pleased.

The weather has turned hot and dry, the garden is not thriving, watering had to be done, prompting thunderstorm warnings, but only sprinkles happened. The pumpkins are finally blooming. It may be too late for them to set fruit and grow pumpkins to maturity before the frost, usually mid October, but sometimes not until early November. I am hopeful for at least a couple for holiday pies and a stuffed pumpkin meal. My tomatoes are at their end, way too early, the tomatoes are just coming in to their own at the Farmers’ Market, so though I won’t have many more to can, I will be able to purchase some to enjoy sliced or in a salad.

More and More Jars -8/7/2019

It is that time of year when part of every day is spent harvesting, prepping for the freezer, or canning. I don’t like to use plastic, so even most frozen stuff goes in jars, then neatly stacked in wire baskets or canvas bags in the chest freezer. Mostly now is canning. The morning harvest wasn’t huge, but since there was 1/3 of yesterday’s tomato purchase plus a couple pounds from the garden, I’m ok with that. The tomatillos are prolific, the cucumbers that I thought were done just provided half a dozen more and more growing.

The product that takes the longest prep are the spicy Bread and Butter pickles, so the cucumbers, peppers, and onions were sliced and salted and stowed away in the refrigerator until time to heat them in the sugar brine and can them. One daughter in law loves them and I usually only make a single batch of 4 or 5 pints as the past few years the cucumbers haven’t produced much. This year there will be 3 batches done by the end of today, a total of 14 pints. One pint was delivered to her when grandson was returned home last weekend.

Once they were salted, the tomatoes that were harvested this morning were blanched and peeled, the frozen ones dumped in a sink of water to thaw enough to peel and chop, dumped in the big pot with herbs, salt, and citric acid and cooked down for canning.

Also from this morning was the start of the pepper harvest and some of them were cut and seeded to dehydrate, 2 were added to the pickles, and 3 were used with the tomatillos to make another batch of Tomatillo Jalapeno jam.

There are still several quarts of pickled Jalapenos from last year, so some of this year’s will be dehydrated and some sliced and frozen to use in chili and casseroles this winter.

The final result today from the remaining tomatoes, and the bucket of produce from this morning’s harvest was 8.5 pints of tomato sauce, 5 half pints of Tomatillo Jalapeno Jam, and 4 pints of spicy Bread and Butter pickles.

I started at 8:30 this morning, took a lunch break and trip to the local village store for more lids, and I ended at 2:50 p.m. with jars and more jars cooling on the counter to be added to the shelves tomorrow. Now time to rest.

The garden had me intimidated earlier this summer, but now that it is producing, the putting by being done, I look forward to enjoying and sharing the labors when the cold winds blow and the snow flurries this winter.