Category Archives: garden

Olio 6/18/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Summer is nearly here, the hay stands tall, the ground wet, rain forecast nearly every day preventing the cutting, raking, and baling.  A few fields near us were done several weeks ago, others that will be done before they get to us are still standing too.  Since our brush hog mower fell apart last fall, areas that the riding mower can’t handle and that won’t be hayed due to trees they don’t want to work around, we can’t even mow those areas.  I can’t get to the berry patches as they are scattered along the edge of the woods by the hayfields.

Last week was spent helping daughter out with two of our grands.  With school out, babysitting help, camps, and trips keep the kids busy are needed for a working Mom.  Half of two of those days, there were activities that had been scheduled using my spinning and fiber history skills, and granddad had the kiddos.  The first morning was not in costume, about 25 camp kids rotated to try candle dipping, see spinning on a wheel and spindles and get a length of handspun yarn to take, watch the blacksmith, and see mini balls made on an open fire and then an old flintlock rifle fired without a ball.  Friday was Flag Day at Wilderness Road Regional Museum.  We had the same activities, minus the blacksmith, but with a Bobbin Lace maker in attendance and all in costumes.

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At events, I have been spinning some of the Jacob from one of the fleeces that I washed.  It has to be combed to spin which fascinates observers.
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With three fleeces, there will be plenty to knit a sweater when it is all done, but since it mostly gets done at events, that might be a while.

Because of the rain and not being at home, the garden hasn’t been getting the attention it needs.  About 10 days ago, I took the weed eater to the paths so I could get in to see what else was going on.  The asparagus are tall ferns now, and too many weeds in there, but too hard to get to.  Once the ferns are cut in the fall, it will be weeded and mulched with straw for the winter.  The tomatillos were planted through a thick straw mulch and are doing well.  The tomatoes and peppers were weeded and staked after the paths were done and need weeding again.  They need straw put down around them, but it doesn’t seem to be available in the area right now.  I can’t go rake leaves from the woods to use because I can’t get to the woods for the standing hay.  This afternoon, I went out to pick peas for dinner and realized that for the first time ever, the blueberries were heavy with fruit.  The bushes are still fairly small.  Though they are about 4 or 5 years old, they were not being kept weeded and last year, they were moved to a 4 x 8′ box on the edge of the garden, given a good layer of new soil, a sprinkle of bone meal, a layer of newspaper covered with several inches of wood chip mulch.  Though they have required some weeding, the weeds are mostly just in the mulch and the berries are thriving.

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After sorting the basket and shelling the peas, it looks like berries for cereal, muffins or quick bread, and a couple meals of peas.  There are many more peas to pick over the next few weeks.  The bush beans are blooming, and that bed got weeded as well this afternnon.  A second planting of them should be done soon.  I would have stayed out longer and worked, but the thunder storms started again.  The cucumbers are climbing the fence, the sunflowers are more than knee high, there are green Roma tomatoes, pumpkins vines developing.  The garden is small this year, some produce will come from the Farmers’ Market, but that has been the routine for several years now.  I hope the peppers begin to grow soon.  One that was planted is gone, none of them much larger than the transplants that I put in the ground.  I’ll have to check what is available for transplanting when I go to the Farmers’ Market next.

Three Generations of Women Gardening Day- 6/2/2019

A few days ago, daughter, generation 2 of this group, asked me, generation 1 of this group if I could help her do a vegetable garden for her daughter, generation 3 of this group.  We span from 7 years old to 71 years old.  Daughter was not afraid of the work by any means, but was a bit intimidated by the process to get going.  Wanting this to be a good project and enjoyable for the 7 year old, my suggestion was raised bed boxes.  Today was the day.  I went over around 9:30 and we loaded in her larger SUV and headed to Home Depot.  I had bought cedar raised bed boxes there a couple of years ago.  We headed back to where they were and they had the cedar ones, but some much nicer composite material ones with good corner joins for only $5 each more.  We talked about what the young one wanted to grow and decided to get two instead of just one.

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We unloaded the car three sacks at a time on the kids’ wagon and hauled it up the hill to the chosen site.

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Daughter sod busting, so we could level the hill a little. I dug out the busted sod and moved it to the lower end of the area.

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Boxes built on a thick bed of cardboard to help with weeds, filled with the richest bagged raised bed soil I have seen.

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Learning to plant young plants and seeds.

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Watering her new garden.

Then daughter and I hauled 4 of the bags back to Home Depot for a refund, bought three bags of shredded black mulch and spread it around the raised beds to cover the cardboard and make mowing easier.

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Granddaughter’s finished garden for her to learn.

We also bought a half barrel and some herbs that were installed on the back patio off the kitchen, but no pictures of it.  Several hours of girl time, a new gardener blooming and some veggies to enjoy later.  She picked tomatoes, peppers, radishes, sunflowers, cucumbers, and green beans.  Some carrot and spinach seed to plant for fall after she harvests her radishes and beans.

I brought home the extra cardboard and a few mornings are needed on the home garden this week.

Slow down and enjoy time – 5/23/2019

With the two back to back events done, having completed spinning 15 breeds for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em for the Livestock Conservancy challenge, used 7 or maybe 8 of those breeds to knit the giant half Hap shawl.  With the B&B soap contract made and packaged, the 6 hanks of yarn spun, selected, banded, and packaged for the yarn shop. With the garden fully planted, staying more or less on top of the weeds and the mowing, it is time to slow down and enjoy some slower moving times.

Not idle, but not so frenetic.  Last fall, I purchased a felter’s pack of 5 pure  1 ounce each Alpaca bumps or roving in natural colors from white to black.  I think they were designated as felter’s  pack because there is a fair amount of vegetable matter in the roving, but easy enough to pick out.  I am spinning it very fine with the idea of making 5 lace weight mini skeins that can be knit into a gradient shawl.  I have lots of the fawn color and the black color separately, so it could be a very large gradient shawl with narrower bands of the white and two grays.  There is no rush on this, I can take as long as I want.   The mini skeins of Alpaca will probably be listed in my shop or sold at a retreat or festival.  The extra 4 ounces of light gray Shetland that I ordered, fearing I was playing chicken on the Hap arrived and though I really like spinning it fine, I think I am going to force myself to spin it a heavier weight and use some of the remaining Black Welsh Mountain yarn to make several pair of mittens for the winter markets.

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Some time ago, I designed a hat pattern with a lacy band while knitting a hat for the shop.

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Hats, fingerless mitts, mittens, and cowls are easy to carry in my bag to have handy when there is down time, being a passenger in a vehicle, or just want to do a few rows at a time.  They can be made with no more than a single skein of yarn, often with just left over scraps or mini skeins.  My pattern designs are printed out and available for sale at events or free with the purchase of a skein of yarn.  I even have a hat kit that comes with a skein of choice, a 16″ circular  knitting needle, a darning needle, and the pattern.  I really liked the lace look of the hat and decided to design a companion cowl to go with it.  It is one of my current go-along knits.  That pattern will be added to my collection at some future time.

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The other go-along knit is a pair of fingerless mitts made with the leftover skein from knitting one of our granddaughter’s a sweater for her first birthday.

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They are fairly thin and will only fit a smaller hand, I can barely put them on, but the colors are pretty and will make a nice fall or spring pair.

There are no large projects in the works, but yarn has been selected for another 5 foot tri loom shawl soon.  It is too hot to have large heavy knits in my lap.

And in the coop, there is still a 6 month old hen who thinks she is going to sit on eggs that are infertile with no rooster in their midst.  I run her off the nest several times a day, taking any eggs that have been laid in the interim and block off the nesting boxes at night.  With only 9 hens, having one not laying is putting a dent in my supply.

No Rest for the Retired – 5/20/2019

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  There have been two Saturdays occupied by events, the first an Artisan Fair to benefit the scholarship program at Creative Therapy Care.  It was a hot, rainy day, but well attended, good music, lots of beautiful art.  This  past Saturday, in Rev War costume, I was spinning, relating spinning and fiber art information, representing Wilderness Road Regional Museum and the local militia group that I sometimes set up with.  Again it was hot, but not rainy for this Riner Heritage Day event.  I did set up a small table vending soap and yarn for this as well.  This event was fun, as a History teacher offered extra credit to students who would approach one of the re-enactors, ask a pertinent question or listen to our spiel and then have their picture taken with us.  I had at least a dozen young adults approach me, listen to my talk, have their photo taken, and thank me.  One young man brought at least 4 of them over to me.

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Between those events, work has been directed toward the garden, especially in the early morning before it gets hot.  Everything planted is up except for the pumpkins.  I guess I will have to try again on them before it is too late.  There is a nice row of cucumbers sprouted, two rows of sunflowers and Hopi Dyeseed sunflowers, the tomatoes and peppers need mulch and it is a daily battle against the lambs quarters in the onions, asparagus, and peas.  The only harvest is still asparagus, but I am getting my fill and passing some on to others.

Also, two skeins of yarn have been finished that will go to The Yarn Asylum in Jonesborough, TN along with several others soon.  And the 97 little guest bars of soap were made, and wrapped for Franklin House Bed and Breakfast also in Jonesborough, TN.  These goodies will be delivered back by friends coming here for a day of spinning, camaraderie, and food at an annual event hosted by mutual friends.

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At night and during a couple of cooler days, I finished knitting the half Hap shawl that I was making with 7 of the breeds of wool I spun for the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em challenge.  It ended up almost 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep.  Every one of the 87 lace points had to be pulled and pinned during the blocking.  It is lovely, and heavy.  I will probably enter it in the Fair this year and then enjoy it’s warmth when the weather cools next fall and winter.

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My pullets are all laying consistently sized eggs finally after getting a double yolked “ostrich” egg from one of the other each day.  One Oliver egger has decided to be broody.  I have never had a first year hen go broody on me, but that means one less egg each day and I am having to remove her from the nest several times a day and every evening.

A few weeks ago, I planted Calendula plants for the flowers for soaps and salves.  The plants are blooming and I am gathering the blooms and drying them for later use.  I need to find a patch of Broadleaf Plantain that isn’t in the animal’s footpath or our footpath as that is another herb that needs to be gathered and infused for a fresh batch of salves.  My lavender plant didn’t get pruned two years ago and last year’s pruning didn’t improve it.  I guess it will be dug up and a new one or two purchased so that it too can be dried and infused.

Each day we are taking a 2 plus mile walk together.  We have several places we visit and get our exercise.  Some days it is very pleasant, others it is hot and difficult.

Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler, maybe the yard will get mowed.  The hay stand is tall and awaiting the annual mowing and baling.

Olio – 5/10/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Spring is definitely here and with it a weekly yard mowing as we have had rain 9 of the past 11 weekends and due again this weekend.  The hay is getting high and thick as you can see behind this chicken run.  This is the pen we used when all the hens were Buff Orpingtons and we had a rooster.  The broody Mamas would be put in the raised A frame coop and the fencing around the pen is rabbit fence, so the little newly hatched chicks couldn’t get out.  The frame under this coop is rotting away, there is no rooster, so no chicks.  The grass in this run was high like the hay and this morning, it came down to the string line trimmer.  A temporary fence was secured between the existing fence and the coop, and the hens were given the opportunity to enjoy some fresh grass.

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They needed some grass besides the weeds that I have pulled from the garden each morning as I worked to get it in a condition that could be planted.  The hens have made a barren wasteland of their run.

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After several early morning sessions in the garden weeding aisles and beds that had been fallow for the winter, it is mostly planted now.  There is a bed of tomatillos, one of Jalapeño and Ancho peppers, one of Roma and Rutgers tomatoes, one of Sunflowers and Hopi Dye Flowers on one edge and cucumbers on the other.  A permanent box of asparagus that are producing nicely. A long bed that has 100 red and yellow onions and spring peas at the other end.  The blueberry bed was weeded, and today half of a long bed was seeded with green beans.  The other half will be seeded with more green beans in a few weeks to extend the harvest of them.  The raspberry barrels were weeded and two hills of Seminole Pumpkins planted.  One edge of the garden was covered all fall, winter, and early spring with tarps and cardboard to try to kill off the creeping charlie.  When two of the tarps were removed, I was amazed to see a thin stand of grass under them.  The garden is still too large for me to manage alone and there is still a 4 by 4 foot box that is overwhelmed with mint.  After the next rain, the box is going to be lifted away and the mint is going to be seriously thinned with a spade and garden fork.  Heavy cardboard put down to try to slow or stop it’s spread.  Some of each variety will be repotted in clay pots in an attempt to control it.

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With the months of post concussion symptoms, facing the garden was intimidating.  This week there has been very little dizziness and I have worked the garden with long handled hoes, or sitting on my backside and scooting along to weed.

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The mild winter and wet spring have allowed the comfrey in all three patches to send out many volunteers.  Quite of few of them are going to make their way to Wilderness Road Regional Museum to their new garden in the works.

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Spring has also brought bouquets of Bearded Iris and Lupine.  The grape iris have bloomed out, the yellow are still blooming, and the Dutch Iris are going to be opening in the next day or so.  This week more wild flower seeds were planted and 8 Calendula plants dug in for next fall and winter’s salves.

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The past couple of days have been busy making guest soaps for The Franklin House Bed and Breakfast in Jonesborough, TN.  A batch of 32 bars were made yesterday and unmolded to finish hardening today, a batch of 33 bards made today.  One more batch will be made in the next couple of days, but tomorrow I am off to vend at The Creative Therapy, Llama Jam Artisan Fair.  The car was packed this evening as tomorrow is to be wet and I will have to leave home around 7 to get there to set up.

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Next weekend, I will be spinning in costume at Auburn High School’s Heritage Day event.  If the weather is decent, I may take soap and yarn to that event also.

Ah retirement.  “Tired again,” it’s true meaning.

It is gone – 10/23/2018

The garden is done.  We didn’t get the frost expected, nor the next night, but Sunday night, oh boy, it got cold.  We awoke yesterday to ground that looked like light snow and though it warmed into the upper 50’s later, it was cold in the early hours.  Sunday had been cold all day and very windy.  Today is the last warmer day expected for a bit, so it was a good day to pull the burned plants and toss them in the chicken pen or the compost pile.  Finish cutting down the asparagus ferns that never got finished before.  Dig the raspberries out and replant half a dozen of them in a controlled area.

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the asparagus bed cut down and weeded, still needs straw.

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This was the raspberry bed, only about 1/3 got covered with cardboard and brown paper feed bags before I ran out.  A tarp might be easier, I will measure and purchased one tomorrow.  The pretty green you see is the creeping charlie taking over.

The fencing job never got done either.  It is very difficult to do alone, but the garden needs some fence work, the chicken pens need to be reconfigured so that I can mow inside of them, when they are not housing birds, instead of just using the monster Stihl line trimmer to beat the tall weeds down.  The laying hen’s fence did get reconfigured  today and the piecemeal fence at the top of the garden that was deteriorating was pulled down.  Using a line to get my poles straight this time, several new T-posts were set.   One of them was necessary to change up the hen’s pen.  Though they usually free range, there are times when they need to be penned up.

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Their pen is now a big square abutted to the chick pen that currently has a broken coop and no chicks.  The cull coop stands alone and will have it’s own separate pen, but T posts must be set and a wooden post to hang a gate must be dug in.  Two gates will be purchased, one for the garden that currently has a piece of wire fencing staked over the gateway opening, and one for the cull pen when it gets remade.  The plan was to raise chicks over the winter so they would be laying by spring, but to get chicks from Rural King this time of year, you have to order 25 and that is more than twice the number needed.

Tonight, there is no fence at the top of the garden, but there is nothing in the garden but a few cabbages and lettuce plants as well as the raspberries and blueberry bushes.  Tomorrow is still sunny and more fence removal/moving needs to be done.  There are several sections of welded wire fence that are long enough to close in the top edge of the garden again without piecing it together and they need to be removed from chicken runs.  Another long section of the cheap garden fencing needs to come out from the between where the two old chicken runs were.  That  type will never be purchased again.  I am still torn about whether to shorten the garden or cover it with another tarp to kill the weeds and use it as a potato patch next year.  Even after killing it off, it may need to be a layered garden with lots of mulch or tilled.

The last garden task to put it to bed for winter is sowing some oats in some beds, planting next year’s garlic in one bed, and putting down some straw over the asparagus and garlic.  The weather is supposed to hold til Friday, perhaps it will all get done, except the gates.

Summer is Gone – 10/17/2018

The thermometer on the front porch is sheltered under roof and protected from the wind.  The sensor indoors indicates it is 47ºf outside this morning, but tonight’s forecast is for our first frost.  A frost tonight would be right in the average.

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Yesterday’s high on the porch was 62, today’s is predicted to be about the same, but the nights are getting progressively colder until Monday night when they will warm slightly.  It is the season.  We will have some warmer days, some milder nights before true cold weather sets in, but it is time to pull out the heavier quilt and replace the summer quilt on the bed.  Last night my feet were cold.

A frost will mean the end of the garden.  This is always a time of mixed emotions, glad to be done with it for the year, sad that there won’t be more goodness from it.  It could be extended if I covered the peppers and lettuce tonight, but the tunnel that was purchased this summer to cover the fall veggies deteriorated very quickly.  The cabbages will be okay tonight.  The lettuce will be picked once my hands rewarm.  After feeding the chickens and setting them to roam for the day, two baskets were filled with jalapeños, seranos, and Anaheims.  The baskets would hold no more, though there are many peppers still on the plants, and my fingers were numb.

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All of the Anaheims were harvested, all of the red seranos and red jalapeños as a batch of homemade Sriracha sauce has been planned since they were planted last spring.  The large fat green jalapeños were picked to pickle another jar or two, maybe try Cowboy Candy with a jar or two.  Hubby would hate it and likely it wouldn’t appeal to me, but son the elder loves hot peppers and pickles and would probably like it.  It was cold harvesting them, colder than the thermometer registered, windy and damp.    Later more will be harvested, the rest still on the plants will go into the chicken run for them to peck, along with the tomato plants and the last of the bean plants after mature beans are picked to dry for next year’s seed.  The barriers will be relocated around the cabbages and the chickens will have the run of the garden for the winter, scratching for bugs, weed seed, and turning the soil as they dig.

This fall’s hay never got cut due to the rain.  The hay man said he would brush hog it with his 10′ mower and larger tractor.  Though he can’t go everywhere that our smaller tractor and 5′ mower can go, it will save a couple dozen hours of mowing for us.  The driveway needs to be regraded, again after all the rain, then the brush hog put back on the tractor so that the parts he can’t get, can be mowed before winter.  The brush hog will then be stored, the blade reattached to the tractor to plow us out if we have deep snow.

The neighbor’s cows have serenaded us for the past couple of days.  She may have separated out the young ones to wean before market time, but they are calling back and forth.  That is one of the pleasures of living out away from towns, hearing the cows, turkeys, screech owls, watching the deer and the occasional bear or fox.  The coywolf/coydog howls are interesting, but unwanted.  There are too many with no real predators and they are predators of chickens, calves, fawns, barn cats.

The days are shortening, the nights are chilling.  Soon it will be time for fires in the fireplace and woodstove to take the chill off and for the ambiance of sitting mesmerized by the flickering flames and close enough for the warmth.  Sitting with a good book or knitting, a cup of hot tea, and a warm sweater.  The season of more leisure.

Peace and calm until next time.

Changes noted – 10/7/2018

As we were doing our weekly grocery run for those items that can’t be purchased at the Farmers’ Market or grown at home a trend was noticed, not for the first time.  After picking up a couple of items that were lighter than they used to be, I noticed this.  Rather than keeping food products the size they used to be and raising the price as needed to keep the business afloat, they decrease the package size and keep the price at the old level, or only slightly more expensive.

You used to buy a pound of coffee but now the packages are 8 or 12 ounces, sugar for making jams used to come in 5 pound sacks, now they are 3 or 4.  We buy an inexpensive cat food to supplement the diet of our barn cat and you could buy it in a 4 pound jug that could be refilled with bags until the jug dried out to the point of having to be recycled.  Then I noticed that the bags no longer filled the jug and when I needed to replace the jug, they were no longer available.  The kibble is now in a 3 pound bag for the price the 4 pounder used to cost.  These are just a few of the items, look at jars of nut spreads and mayo, most are fewer ounces than just a few years ago.  Some of these items are available in bulk at the natural food store, so the price is reflected by the ounce and you buy what you need, but it has made me notice when the foods are prepackaged, even items we don’t purchase.

Our grocery budget reflects this as the items must be replenished more often, so there isn’t a saving and the illusion that prices haven’t gone up is purely that, an illusion.

Time was spent in the garden a couple days ago, the corn is down and tossed to the chickens to peck for bugs and ears too small to harvest.  Much weeding was done, but the Creeping Charlie is taking over and must be eradicated somehow.  The asparagus ferns were attacked with hedge clippers that didn’t begin to cut through them, so a stalk at a time being cut with a small cross blade clipper.  They are only about 1/3 down and the pile of dried ferns is huge.  They have to be dragged over to the burn pile and not composted because of the threat of asparagus beetles.  Some people burn them in place, but my asparagus are in a wooden box, so no fires in my garden, plus it is only feet from my main chicken coop.

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More walks this week, one along an old now paved rail grade.  I love the cut through the hillside, it is always cool and damp no matter how hot the afternoon temperatures.

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Sumac and wild asters lining the trail.

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And another evening harvest and canning session.

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The beans harvested that night for dinner were tough and tasteless, that season is done.  The tomatoes are ending, but the peppers continue to overwhelm.  The rest will be left on the plants to ripen to red for drying and fermented hot sauces.

The chicken molt has taken its toll on the egg business, In 3 days there have only been 5 eggs from 15 hens.  There are no pullets ready to replace them as the schedule didn’t allow for raising day old chicks for 5 weeks this summer.  The old girls will be replaced before next summer and will be culled  before next molt season.  Usually at least part of the flock is replaced each year so some hens continue to lay, but the entire flock were raised at the same time and are 2 1/2 years old.  Laying will probably be scarce after the molt due to age and cold weather coming on.  This may be a winter with no hens.  Rural King can order me chicks now and they could be ready to lay by spring.  Something to consider.

Back to the Harvest – 8/30/2018

With the trip behind us, it was time to return to the putting by for winter, a routine that generally is done a bit at a time all summer.  The berries were early and dozens of jars of jam were made and stored.  The tomatoes are not as prolific as in years past and with the blister beetle damage and something that takes a bite out of every one that turns red on the vine, I started picking them pink, ripening them in a window sill, and popping them in a huge bag in the freezer when they were ripe.  Once home, the apples and Asian Pears were ripe and beginning to drop, so they were harvested.  Also before leaving, a bag of Muscadine grapes were harvested and popped into the freezer for later.

The young apple trees that we bought about 5 or 6 years ago do not produce good fruit.  The fruits are small and gnarly, but have good flavor.  Some years I make applesauce from them, but it looked to be too much effort this year with the misshapen damaged little fruits and I wasn’t sure what would become of them, when Wilderness Road Regional Museum posted that their press was up and running and cider was being made for their Harvest Festival.  There weren’t enough apples to get much cider, but the Asian Pears were better formed in spite of some stink bug damage and they also were picked.  There were about 8 gallons of fruit in two buckets and Tuesday afternoon, off we went to press most of it.

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The two buckets produced a bucket full of dry pulp for the chickens and a gallon of rich cider for us.  A quart was stored in the refrigerator to enjoy now and the remaining 3 quarts were put into wide mouth pint jars and frozen for later.

Yesterday, the remaining Asian Pears were sitting on the counter and half were peeled and cooked down with a chopped orange and some sugar to make a few half pints of Pear Marmalade.

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Last night, the grapes were removed from the freezer and pulled from their stems to sit over night in a covered pot.  First thing this morning, a cup or so of water was added and they were simmered soft and run through the food mill to remove skins and seeds, then through a tight mesh bag to remove the pulp that remained.  There wasn’t enough juice to make a batch of jelly, so a couple of cups of unsweetened Concord grape/cranberry juice was added and a few half pints of very grapey jelly were made and canned.

Following that, the last few Asian Pears were peeled, cored, and chopped along with the pulp of a fresh lemon, some sugar, and pectin and a few pints of Asian Pear jam added as well.

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That left the tomatoes.  The bags of frozen tomatoes were dumped in the sink to begin to thaw so that the core could be removed and the skins slipped off.

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A pot full of basic tomato sauce was simmering on the stove to be turned into a  sauce that can be seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices for pasta or spiked with hot peppers for chili when the weather chills.  Once it  thickened enough, it was ladled into jars and canned for the panty shelves.

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The first six pints of 11 jarred.

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Though only 10 will make it to the pantry.  A blow out.  That hasn’t happened in a long while, but is a hazard of canning.

 

The tomato plants are recovering from the blister beetle damage and hopefully, we will get enough additional tomatoes for at least one more batch of the sauce.  We go through many jars of pasta sauce and chili tomatoes each winter and purchasing them at the grocer does not appeal to me.  I prefer knowing what goes into my food without the unidentified “spices” and preservatives that the labels always describe.

Now we await the onslaught of hot peppers for pickling and fermented sauces, the cabbages to mature for cold storage and another batch of sauerkraut, and hopefully more tomatoes as 11 pints will not get us through the winter.  There is still one pumpkins maturing in the garden and a few tiny ones that may never reach a usable size, but if not, they will be split and tossed to the chickens.

I am beginning to see more feathers in the coop and run, molting season is arriving and that means fewer or no eggs for a month or so.  Perhaps I should freeze more so there are some for baking during the non productive period.