Tag Archives: vegetables

Garden Therapy – 5/4/2018

It has been a rough week with a lost and finally found cell phone resulting in an extra 3 hours on the road on Sunday morning.  A sprained wrist by hubby playing basketball with eldest grandson, that seems to be healing.  One of our dogs taking off on Sunday night while she was visiting our town family and not being found.  All of this softened some by having our eldest grandson here with us for the past 4 days.  This morning early, we put him on a bus for home to play in his basketball tournament this weekend.  He very responsibly checked in at every stop on his route and is safely back with his parents.

All this required some garden therapy.  I have been slow to get the garden up and running this year with the fickle early to mid April weather and foot of snow.  I did get the onions and garlic in the ground when appropriate and they are up and looking good.  The asparagus finally broke ground just before we left last weekend and have been enjoyed a couple of times with another harvest done this morning that will probably find it’s way to our daughter’s kitchen for her to enjoy as well.

After the bus departure and the Friday morning egg delivery, we went and bought starter plants, 4 each slicing tomatoes, Amish paste tomatoes, Serano peppers, Jalapeno peppers, and spinach plants.  Once home and awaiting the arrival of the delivery and installation of our over the range vented microwave to replace the one that failed a few weeks ago, I attacked the garden.  It is still early, so most of the weeds are easy to manage, plus I put a thick layer of spoiled hay over everything in the fall.  A long bed was weeded and the tomatoes planted, the end of the long bed containing the garlic was planted with the hot peppers, another long bed cleared and two kinds of peas planted, and the spinach that I started as well as the heartier ones we bought were tucked into the end of a 4 X 4 block bed.  In a couple more weeks, the corn, beans, cucumbers, and pumpkins will go in and if I can find some Poblano peppers, they will be planted also.  The nursery said their Poblano seed was bad with very poor germination and they only have a few plants too small to sell yet.  The half barrels that used to grace the deck with herbs had to be moved off the deck in the fall when it started to fail and is in the process of rebuilding, so two of them were moved to the side of the house where I exit to the garden and coop and planted this morning with new rosemary plants, wild flower seed in one, and edible flower seed in the other and fencing around them to keep the chicken from hopping up and digging around in them.

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The tree nursery bed needs the trees removed and transplanted and one more long bed to weed.

I guess I should dedicate a short time each morning when I go to let the chickens out and each evening when I go to lock them up to weed one bed or one aisle and maybe the garden won’t get ahead of me this year.

The microwave installers kindly left me the box it came in as well as a washer and dryer box they had in their truck so perhaps I can mulch down some aisles to also make the task easier.

We continue to be saddened and worried about our country pup lost and hungry in town, but have done about all we can but keep hoping that she finally comes to someone and they can get her back to us.

The Garden

The week has been cooler and mostly drier at least during the daytime, but it really hasn’t dried out enough to mow, at least not with the tractor. A few evenings have provided pleasant weeding weather with armloads of greens for the chickens and chicks and an endless supply of flea beetles on the amaranth being pulled for them.  The weeds are still winning this year, but I am striving to keep them out of the beds of beans, tomatoes, peppers and asparagus. The squash have spread out so much they are shading out most of the weeds in their bed and the pumpkins are beginning to do the same in the three sisters bed. The paths are a mess and the harvested beds also. They must soon be cleared for fall veggies. The paths are a dilemma, most have weed cloth down but enough soil has accumulated on top that the weeds are prolific.  Prior years of piling pulled weeds as mulch and laying down spoiled hay as mulch have created several inches of soil. Some weeds pull easily from this, but the weed cloth is deteriorating and some weeds go through it. There are also the rocks that have been tossed out of beds as they were worked, before I started collecting them to put on the rock piles. I would love to remove the weed cloth and everything on top of it, but it is so heavy when you pull it up and then what do you do with it.  Occasionally I just weed wack the growth down.

The garlic has cured on the screens in the garage and was trimmed of stalk and roots to take to the wire shelves of the root cellar. The onions didn’t do well. There was only one spoiled garlic, but few sound onions. I wish I had brought them straight into the house to chop and freeze. We have enjoyed a few of them, but I guess I will be buying onions this winter. The squash plants are over whelming. We are eating them fried, roasted with other vegetables, baked with cheese, added to stir fries and curry and quart bags frozen for winter use.

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The year’s harvest of garlic and a day’s crop of squash.

The cucumbers are full of blooms and tiny little cukes are showing, so soon there will be pickles. Bush beans are blooming but not the pole beans. Hopefully we will add beans to our meals as well. The pole beans are climbing the popcorn stalks and tiny ears are forming on the stalks. The peppers are loving the cooler wet weather, the tomatoes not so much. It may not be a good tomato year unless it dries out a bit.

Each evening as I go out to secure the chickens for the night, I enjoy a small handful of raspberries. Because of destroying their bed and transplanting a half dozen plants, there won’t be enough this year to make jam or to freeze, but they will volunteer themselves and the bed will be more prolific next year.

We may have chicks today or tomorrow, though I am doubtful. Momma let herself be driven off the nest by a broody hen who has taken over the clutch. I didn’t see any activity when she left to feed this morning.

Loving life on our mountain farm.

Let the Outings Begin

One week ago, right about now, we left Vienna, VA, grandson, son, daughter in law, and me.  We have had grandson solo since Sunday afternoon.  His daily routine here requires guitar practice, Kung Fu practice as he is missing those lessons this summer, a writing assignment and a math assignment as practice for weak skills and reinforcement for those skills that he does well.  I supervise those practices first thing each morning right after breakfast unless the writing requires a library visit.

We told him that he would have some basic chores to do here at the house each day and for that, we would give him an allowance so that he has some spending money.  He can earn extra money by going above and beyond his required chores.  He is only 9, so nothing is too onerous or too difficult.  We also told him that while he was here, we would do a series of outings and that with cooperation with his practices and chores, he could earn extra outings.  Some of the outings planned can be repeated such as the county pool, batting cage, movie date with granddad.  Others are ones that will only be done once, such as the one we did today.  We drove to Roanoke, the nearest city, about an hour from home, leaving to be there at lunch time.  The market square hosts a farmers market many days each week and we caught quite a number of farmers there today.  On the market square, there is a hot dog counter and we though it doesn’t stand up to our favorite one from Virginia Beach, it was a delicious unhealthy lunch, followed with healthy purchases of fresh corn, tomatoes, potatoes and a watermelon.  One stand had baked goods and we purchased a whole grain breakfast bread full of fruit, nuts, seeds and not too much real cane sugar.

After our lunch and the market we drove a few short blocks to the Virginia Transportation Museum.  This was a fun adventure, bringing back many memories for me as I used to ride a Norfolk and Western train from Norfolk to Farmville to and from college.  On display are locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, old wagons, handpump firetrucks, and a trolley car.  Inside the museum is a huge O gauge train set up, displays on bus transportation, train history, and air travel.  It was a fun couple of hours spent with our grandson.

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Back home, the last of the peas were harvested and the vines pulled for the chooks.  The peas were shelled and cooked with the corn and some left over kabob beef and pork tenderloin for dinner.  Once the clean up was done, some garden weeding and harvest of 76 heads of garlic, now drying for a day or two outside before the stems are clipped and they are moved to the wire shelves of the root cellar to finish drying.

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That part of the bed will be cleaned up and planted with a second planting of bush beans within a day or two.

I love when the garden is producing and the local markets have produce that either we don’t grow or don’t have in ready in our garden yet.

I’m loving life on our mountain farm.

Another Comfort Day

When we went to bed last night it was snowing and the ground was lightly covered.  It was around freezing outside and we had hope of rising this morning to our first real snowfall of the winter.  Instead, we woke to bright sun, 17f (-8c) temperatures and 35 mph wind.  The snow from last night was piled in neat dunes along the edges of each pass of the brush hog from the last mowing.  It is now mid afternoon and the temperature has only edged up to 22f (-5.5c) and not expected to rise further today and the wind is still howling.

When I was a child, on especially cold winter days (I’m from Virginia Beach, so it was rarely this cold), my Mom would make Vegetable Soup.  Her veggie soup had a soup bone in it and was made with canned veggies, but it was comfort food.  I cook much differently than my mother did, using fresh or fresh frozen veggies and only grass finished, pasture raised meat.  Hubby would rather have stew than soup, I prefer the soup.  On this cold winter day, I decided that we could have the best of both with a pound of stew meat in the freezer, plenty of our homegrown peas, green beans and tomatoes in the freezer, potatoes, carrots,celery, onions and garlic in the root cellar or refrigerator and dried herbs in the spice drawer in the kitchen.  The base for the soup as I make it and the stew are the same and from there I will diverge.

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Vegetable Beef Soup

1 lb stew beef (or venison) lightly browned in a heavy stock pot with olive oil

1 large onion coarsely chopped

4 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped

3 stalks celery with leaves, sliced about 1/4″ thick

1 Tbs dried basil

2 bay leaves

1 quart broth or water plus 2 cups water

1 c peas

2 c green beans cut in 1″ pieces

3 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced

2 carrots sliced

2 c crushed tomatoes

Saute the beef in olive oil til no outer surfaces are pink.  Add onion and continue to saute until onion is translucent, add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, add celery, basil and bay leaves and stir to coat.  Add broth and water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer for at least 2 hours.  Add tomatoes, potatoes and carrots and cook until potatoes and carrots are nearly tender, add peas and beans until thawed and hot through.  Serve with bread for a complete comfort dinner.

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Before I met my husband (a long, long time ago), I was a non meat eater and owned several nutrition and cook books that have long since passed from my library.  One of those cook books, The Vegetarian Epicure, I think, had a recipe for Herb and Onion Bread which became a favorite with my family.  It is a quick bread that can be made easily in an afternoon.  It doesn’t require kneading, though, I often stiffen it a bit and knead it anyway.  It makes a lovely accompaniment to a soup or stew.

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Herb and Onion Bread

1/2 c scalded milk cooled to warm

1 1/2 Tbs raw sugar

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs soft butter

1/2 c warm water

1 Tbs dry yeast

2 1/4 c flour

1/2 small onion minced

1 tsp crushed rosemary

1/2 tsp dill weed dry

Dissolve sugar, salt and butter in cooled milk.  Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add milk mixture, flour, onion and herbs and stir vigorously with a heavy spoon until smooth.  Cover bowl and allow to rise to triple bulk, about 45 minutes.  Stir down and beat vigorously.  Turn into a greased loaf pan and let stand 10 minutes in a warm draft free location.  Bake @ 350f until done. (the recipe said 1 hour, however, I have never with any oven in any location I have lived been able to bake it more than about 45 minutes without it getting too brown and dry, just check it after about 45 minutes and decide).

Tonight we will both enjoy our own version of comfort food, as I will remove the meat and portion of the broth and add about half of the potatoes and carrots to it to cook then thicken for stew and add the other half of the potatoes and carrots along with the other vegetables to make my soup and we will both enjoy the bread.  What better way to spend a cold windy afternoon than filling the house with the aromas of homemade soup and bread.

Life is indeed good on our mountain farm.