Wednesday, December 28, 2011


(this originally posted on the wrong blog - so lets try this again)

Ok, so our local Rainbow/Roundy's has been having carrots on a "price cap" of 48¢/lb and this is the last week of it ....

So I have been putting up carrots today

Last week before the holiday I bought 6 bags .... One pound each

Of those bags 1 pound total were peelings and ends that I trimmed off - and I trimmed off as little end as possible

I then heated up my 7 pint jars that I had on hand thinking I would probably have too many -- after all everything I saw said that one pound was supposed to fill a pint jar ...

Boy was their math off!!

I cut the carrots into disks and packed them into the jars well leaving as little air space as possible up to the 1" headspace mark .... Filled it with boiling water .... Got the air out and added my 1/2 tsp of canning salt - and refilling if he water level went down ... And pushing the carrots back in place if bubbling them caused them to pop up above that 1" headspace

Anyhow - processed them for 25 minutes at 10# pressure ... And BAM

Canned carrots ...

Only thing is ... Even after doing up these seven jars and peelings - I've still got 2 pounds of carrot slices left ... It will be ginger carrots for supper tonight - but that's still not the correct poundage per jar.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas is early

Well the snow - that damned snow - is being elusive ... But hubby encouraged me to get into one of my gifts early ...

My All-American Pressure canner ...

Decided to experiment with chicken leg quarters today ... Did them 4 different ways ... But all bone-in, raw packed ...

• packed in water, with skin on
• packed in water, with skin off
• packed no water, with skin on
• packed no water, with skin off

All were topped with 1 tsp chicken base ... I couldn't find my bouillon cubes And couldn't see just adding a teaspoon of salt ... It melts well into liquids and should lend it a wonderful flavor ...

I did pretty well at keeping the pressure at the 10# pressure needed for my area ... For the full 75 minutes ... But I did it.

Only next time I must go to the bathroom before I turn on the heat - I darn near floated away trying to ignore natures call since you never want to leave a pressure canner or cooker unattended ...

Here's some photos I took ...

Instructions said it would hold 7 qt. and 19 pints ... But while I could fit the 7 qt. without an issue ... As you can see in the photo - there was no way to dry fit 10 pints on the first layer in order to fit 9 pints on the second layer as it would be used ~ even fitting 9 would put the jars too close together I think since they aren't supposed to touch ...

But this time since it was just four jars it wasn't a problem for me ... The jars need to sit for 24 hours to see if the keep their seal - although I've heard to not get too confident for 48 hours incase the seals "pop" due to fat "climbing" the sides during the canning process and getting under the seal.

We will see - they are sitting in my kitchen now ... I will probably use them over the next few weeks checking not only to check the seal but to also check on the flavor and make sure it's not too salty.

They do recommend boiling the foods canned for 20 minutes before consuming it to be sure that any bacteria in it is killed off.

Here's my photos:
1)the dry fit of pints ...
2)an imperfection in the casting made it nearly impossible to see the second arrow on the side of the base - Lehmans were just wonderful at helping me out when I learn All-American isn't opened on the weekends (my in-laws call this "the Wisconsin work week" ... My MIL grew up there and she says they just kind of take their time to do things just so long as it gets done.
3)shot of the canner staying at 10# pressure
4)pardon the messy dial - they are plastic and very difficult to keep clean... But this is the setting I used to hold temp. Med to just shy of it (on the low side) ... It did very well for me

I'll let you know how the experiment goes :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's here!

I got my Lehman's order today - I haven't gotten into the pressure canner yet but I dove right into the box of stuff ...
This blue pan is one I purchased about 4 years ago from Lehman's - I use it for everything!

In the summer I use it for washing my produce - during the year I use it to thaw my meat out - I use it for a making my large batches of bread - I use it most often to teach my children a life lesson, when they "forget" to clean off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher I make them wash the dishes by hand because they are going to need to be treasure again anyways ... It is the rinse pail and fits in the sink pretty good, he handles hold it up off the bottom so things can go down the disposal and it's easy to tip to empty it out several times while washing so that the water stays clean and hot ...

I love this pan ...

Loved it so much that I have a little rust spot on the inside where it got chipped somehow ... Not a big deal to me for doing dishes or thawing out meat which is packaged up (well repackaged when I get it home so I know it's freezer safe)

So I wanted another one for making dough in since it has direct surface contact for a long period of time ... Plus I wanted something I could use for rinsing out my dyed yarn in since the other pails I ordered for that turned out to be too small for the job (ordered from the now defunct Tender Heart Treasures) ...

So I ordered the WHITE one instead ...

Now Lehman's made it look as if they were the same size - well that is that when you go to the page it gives you the two choices but they only list color as a difference ... I learned differently

As you can see in the photo of the blue pan (pardon the bit of a mess behind it, the kids did dishes) the pan fits nice in the sink - the handles are nice and thick to hold the weight of the water plus the dishes ...

But the white dishpan ...
Well it is too big ... Way too big

It won't fit, even tilted it won't fit - not even on the diagonal ... The black bits you see in the bottom of the pan is the label that I was having issues getting off ... I'm not sure how I'm gonna get that off, but it and the residue needs to be off before I can use it for food prep

So how much bigger is it?

Here's a photo of the blue pan in the white pan - the only thing that is keeping the blue pan from sitting in there flat/completely are the handles on the blue dishpan ...

On the plus side - when it comes to food prep for the canning (HWB or PC) it is going to be nice ... Or when we make corn when the crop comes in - oh my, I can imagine how much I can get in there!

Then there will be tubs of popcorn that will go in ...
Follow up
Ok there's a real problem now ...

The pan is too large to fit in my oven ... I like to put the pan of dough in there to rise ... But more importantly, I like to put my metalware in the oven to dry thoroughly especially if they might rust ... Usually it's still warm from the night's supper

But this isn't going to fit! I'm going to have to tilt it in there I guess ... And I suppose a heating pad under the pan might be enough to maintain the necessary temp for optimal rise ... But it could be drafty which isn't good for rising bread either

Oh well -

Also on the box was gaskets for our Villa food mill, but looking at them I think they will be too large but I think they mint fit our blender which also needs a new gasket ...

And a new screen for our villa ... Although it's not the pumpkin/grape/cherry screens I was expecting ... It is just a replacement basic screen - but it could probably use a new on of those too since it's like 10 years old or something like that (we bought it shortly after moving in for doing applesauce) ...

And my new canning books!

With the new regulations/recommendations from the FDA on canning - I don't want to use the old ones I was finding until I learned a bit more ...

I ordered the two books I see most often referred to on YouTube and seems to be the ones recommended the most on amazon and Barnes&Noble

"The Blue Book" from the ball Canning company - considers to be the Canning Bible - first published in 1909, the recipes are updated and retested before each printing I've been told ... This one was reprinted in 2010

More than just jams & jellies - it also has information/recipes for hot-water-bath canning, pressure canning, freezing, dehydrating, it has a guide for planning your crops for what you want to put up, and even a special section on solving common issues ...

That's a lot of information for just pp122 - that's not including the glossary or the index because to me that isn't really part of the book.

The other book is thicker but a tad smaller ... It's "The Complete Book of Home Preserving" also by the Ball Company ... It has 429 pages not including the index or glossary.

It is supposed to have about 400 recipes in there that cover equipment, jams, salsa/relish, condiments, pickles, a whole chapter just to tomatoes, pressure canning, the science of food preservation, plus a few other cool features.

I will have fun reading though these as much as I'm enjoying checking out the videos on YouTube!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Canning Bug

My pressure canner should arrive tomorrow - I will post photos then as I unpack things ...

I have been making jam all weekend long ...

My first batch was Jumbleberry jam - 15 4oz jars ... 5 of which did not seal so they were redone this morning (I'll describe later)

My second batch and the one I wish I had made more of but only had so much fruit was Apple Pie Jam ... It takes just like the filling for apple pie! I got 10 1/2 - 4oz jars from the amount I used.

Recipes to follow in separate posts so people can hunt them easier

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Time is Coming

Well it is time to kick back and relax ...

Kind of ...

After seeing the bottom of the news today (see Economics Education on my other blog)

Originally purchased with the thought of lessening the stress on our three deep freezers .. Yes we have 3 - one for beef, one for pork, and one for chicken/veggies/other stuff ...

I was going to do up the fruits I get on sale during the summer -- I was going to make jams jellies preserves ...

Then I got excited about making home grown spaghetti sauce ... Chili fixings ... Pie filling ... Soups ... Actually it sounds like just about any left over could be done up ...

But if the corn crop takes a sudden down turn - since the forecast is as low as it already is - I'm guessing meat prices are going to get nasty.

I can see I will have to get meat by the case at Sams club ... Chicken at rainbow while it's still 88¢/lb ...

Then yes I can still do greens in the spring, beans & peas in the summer, corn in he fall, and squash chunks in the beginning of the winter ...

But first ... I need to get the protein in place ...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

What a nice day - except for the sore feet and locking back - we made 3 turkeys

Two in hubby's new smoker and one in my new-ish roaster - I had used it for ham before but this is the first time I've used it for turkey

We named the trio Kookla (koukala), Fran, & Ollie .... From an old tv show - maybe not so old if we can remember it ...

Here's a treat for those who want a walk down memory lane

I also have a photo of the 16 acorn squash I halved, hollowed and then roasted - ok hubby roasted - in the barbecue ...

We wound up about 6 mouths short so we had WAY too many left-overs ... Between the 8 lbs of sweet potatoes and those squash I should be able to make quite a few Sweet Potato pies for Christmas ... And save the rest for over the summer when hubby doesn't want to get yams and before next years crop of squash are in.

Now what to do wig the rest of the acorn squash and the four remaining hubbards and the butternuts ... And me with the "bottomless pit" who refuses to eat squash ... Even though he LOVES pumpkin pie

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Honest threes such a thing!

My youngest daughter had to do a poem for her writing class - creative farm girl that she is, and being harvest season when she wrote it ...

Not only did she write about TOMATOES but she also worked it to form the SHAPE of a tomato and she used an ORANGE pencil to do it in ...

Her teacher did not give her credit for the work ... Why?

Because when my daughter protested that it wasn't counted and the teacher looked for a tomato poem written in color she looked for RED pencil - and not finding it, figured my daughter had not turned one in.

My daughter came home so miffed! She could not believe that her teacher considered not counting the poem because she decided to use an orange tomato instead of a red one ...

She is keeping an eye on the grade now to make sure that she isn't penalized for using a different color than red.

I told her if need be she should direct her teacher to this website ... Where I'm sure her teacher will post the "real story" about the paper - since we all know that when people tell a story, they only tell it from the side they perceive.

I know there are those who think an orange tomato is an unripened red tomato ... And I had forgotten that had even planted them this year and even was expecting them to ripen for a couple of days.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Green Tomato Experiments


Okay - got out into the green house today before the thunderstorms hit (although according to one of our local tv stations weather app we had snow at one point - we didn't) and took some up dated photos.

We harvested Friday 7 Oct 2011 ... so these experiments are about 5 days old ...

Green Tomato Experiment #1
yes the tomatoes are ripening - well they are turning from green to orange

Green Tomato Experiment #2
I had several that needed pitching and one that was rotted so bad that I couldn't even use a trowel to lift it from the tray ... I washed off the tray and any tomatoes that had gotten the juice from the rotted tomato on them so hopefully they won't rot as well.

Green Tomato Experiment #3
while these do not seem to be ripening quite as quickly as those on the black tray, I think they may contain more of the orange-type tomatoes which will never ripen to red ...

Green Tomato Experiment #4
Look at all the beautiful coloring! not too many red ones in there, but then not to many bad ones either. 

most of the ripened ones I gathered today were the Roma type tomatoes, about a 1/2 pecks worth.

All in all about 1/2 a grocery bags worth of tomatoes had gone bad ... most because they had gone soft or cracked from the heat in the green house I think, but with these storms coming in will cool it down greatly.

Of course if I can't keep the dorrways open on the green house during the daytime it will still get up to almost 100*F just from the sunshine ... but if I can get that breeze coming thru the temp will stay around 55*F - 85*F depending on the outdoor temp and the amount of wind blowing thru.

well - I will have to check in on the tomatoes again tomorrow... but don't expect an update for a few more days.

After all, Rome wasn't built in a day ... and tomatoes don't even ripen that quickly

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Green Tomato Experiments

Well we harvested the garden as I wrote before ... We harvested very bit of veg that was down there (save some of the plants which still lived)

We did leave the bigger corn field standing for the critters to munch on over the winter if it is as hard as last years was ... Kind of ironic when you think about how much we DON'T want the deer and crow to eat the corn when it's growing ... Different post for that one - honest

What did wind up with was a wide array of ripeness to my tomatoes ... From deep green to deep red to black (this got pitched - they weren't supposed to be black)

So the issue became what the heck to do with all those tomatoes? I have a lot of windows in the house but not THAT many windows.

So time for an experiment ... Or four

First is ine my mother-in-law recommended ...
From Gargoyle Gardens
Pull the entire plant and hang upside down. The theory is that the energy from the plant will flow to the tomatoes and they will continue to ripen ... Not sure if I was supposed to pull it roots and all and put it in some sort of lanter, but we will give this a try.

Next was an old standby ... Window sill ripening with a twist
From Gargoyle Gardens
I put them on the black tray used for starting plants ... The theory being that the darker color will warm the tomatoes up and help them ripen quicker ... Or cook them where they sit.

A variant on this theme is also being put to the test
From Gargoyle Gardens
Here the tomatoes were placed on the clear lids for the seed starter trays - theory being that it will allow for more light to reach the tomato and lend to a more even coloring all around.

Finally - and the last one hubby would allow (he killed two others ... More at the bottom)
From Gargoyle Gardens
We put several trays into the portable greenhouse inside of the permanent greenhouse ... I know it's redundant ... The theory here is that the excessive amount of heat will help to ripen the very green ones before they spoil as well as protect the fruit/veg frm the chipmunks which seem to have taken to popping in for the shelter at night.

Just so long as the deer don't make theirselves at home - I won't fret too mch ... Well unless they get into my late-autumn experiments of .. Well later on that too.

It has been a f4 days since I set things up and my youngest daughter has already brought in a load of ripened ones ... Bt she didn't pay attention to which trays or experiments she took them from. It is supposed to rain later today, so I will probably take a gander out there so I can have some more tomatoes for canning.

So more photos to come!

Stay tuned

Harvesting Time

Well the crows have said the end of the growing season is here - they are ravaging the dried corn field and daily cover the ground and the powerlines near our home.
From the powerlines they see us head towards the fields where they squawk their warnings - not just to their own but to the racoons & deer which have come to join them on their feast.

The deer are really getting on my short list though ... we had one wonderful pumpkin grow - it was going to be HUGE, maybe 10 lbs ... actually I can exaggerate all I want since the deer have taken their toll on it
the kids aren't too pleased with it right now either
they were looking forward to not only decorating it for halloween but putting it up afterwards to make the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

actually it would never have made it for pie - it was soft on one side for some reason, like the skin hadnt hardened off yet.

but I have decided to leave a few plants up yet instead of pulling it all out -

some of the summer squash plants were still alive and kicking even through the cold spells we were experiencing ... so I thought I'd give them a little more time to grow - after all it wasn't going to hurt the garden any really.

my daughter found a hitchhiker on one of the harvest sacks ... but we don't quite know what it means:
I know they say you can tell the winter by the thickness of the band on the back of the teddy-bear catapillar ... but what the heck does it mean when it doesn't have a stripe????

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stand Signs

So a couple weekends ago I was given the task of putting my artistic skills into action.

Hubby took the old plywood signs which he had made up using a can of spray paint to do the lettering ... Nothing fancy - and to tell the truth it looked like something any kid could do ...

He took his old signs and painted them all on one side with white latex paint ... and then said "tomorrow paint the signs" ... Huh?

Luckily I had enough of what I needed to do the job - the paint, the outdoor flow medium, the brushes, the talent, and the time ... Oh and a couple of new podcasts that I was looking for an excuse to listen to.

So here is a fairly step-by-step tutorial of how to paint a set of signs ...

STEP 1: after the primer is dried, paint on a basic cob shape (make sure it's big enough to see from several car-lengths away so people have time to move over safely)
From Gargoyle Gardens

STEP 2: Paint on the leaves - this is trickier than you think ... If you try to make it look "realistic" it will look more like an artichoke, so just stylize it)
From Gargoyle Gardens

STEP 3: Do the lettering ... Make them fairly large, at least 4" tall but 6" is better.
From Gargoyle Gardens

STEP 4: Allow the signs to dry completely ...
here are my painted signs ...
From Gargoyle Gardens
From Gargoyle Gardens
NOTICE THE HOLES - hubby put them in before painting and it made working with things much easier. We attached the two sides of the placard together with three zip-tis per hole but not pulled too tightly or else you won't be able to open the sign to stand up.

From Gargoyle Gardens
This just leans up against a sign post or side of the corn cart where cross traffic can see it - you'd be surprised how much traffic you'd get ... It was rather windy so my daunted and her boyfriend used a bungy cord to keep it from flopping down.

They thought they were in trouble at one point when an officer pulled up and got out ... With the way they've been closing lemonade stands & girl scout cookie booths lately, it was a legitimate concern ... Luckily the officer just wanted a dozen ears (and I suppose check out the situation)

I was actually shocked at how few of our actual neighbors came by for corn ... I mean if you had a farmers market just down the street from you, wouldn't you go there instead of hauling yourself all the way across town to get fresh food? I know I would. But then that's just me ... Oh well.

Bountiful Harvest

Oh my what a season!

I haven't been posting much as the fields have been keeping me quite busy ... We have had a very bountiful corn crop this year!

What a treat after almost 5yrs of near-nothing production.

I think it was e combination of:
(a)wetter spring/summer
(b)sunny but not too hot midsummer
(c)planting later in the season
(d)NOT using a weed deterrent
(e)using a wonderful variety (Serendipity)
(f)hubby getting pissed off at the crows enough to keep an eye on things ...

But the biggest difference was probably
(g)planting clover
From Gargoyle Gardens
We have never had very good luck on the tip/apex of the triangle field ... So we let that go to clover all year ... Choosing not to turn it under with the rest of the soil in the spring.

I have hopes that next year we will be able to getting a good stand within that tip.

So far we have gotten over 200 dozen out of just that partial triangle field, but I'm afraid that the season has come to a close and the children's roadside stand must close for the season. (we don't go by bushel here, that can vary based on what is in it ... A bushel of apples is not the same as a bushel of corn - nor are two bushels of corn going to have the same amount since it will vary by the size of the cob)

I haven't much room left in my freezers and I have squash that needs to go in ...

Time to get a hold of and learn to use a pressure canner I think - and fast!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


From Ginger's Farm Photos

This was today's haul.

Yes the zucchini is a tad large (but not the largest I've had before) and some are too small that looked bigger on the plant. I have to work on the harvesting technique though as those littler ones mostly split in half.

Not sure if I picked the patty pans too soon or not soon enough since the description on the websites I've gone to vary in the size they should be ... I've read just baby size (2-4inches) to saucer size (6-8inches) I guess we will have to see.

It sounds like I can just use them like I would a zucchini or a yellow squash ... Slice n eat or baked ... Hubby wants to try grilling them.

RECIPE: Stuffed Summer Squash

Harvesting Begins

We have begun to harvest ... A tad late by the look of things too.

I have two HUGE zucchini and one rather large butterstick.

I will be doing quite a bit of picking tomorrow after hanging up my laundry ... Barring more ran ... So I will hopefully have photos to show.

Have taken lots of photos but just haven't taken the time to post them here.

The deer have been munching on the ends of the plants again as they are trying to grow up the hill and out into the corn fields ... They have out grown the cover of meshing and there is nothing I can do about that so nature will take it's course I suspect.

Just so long as the giant rodents leave me some for my table in the winter I wont mind so much.

As of now - hubby likes pointing out that he feels the same way about the crows getting into his corn fields ... He is hoping they will leave the plants alone now that they are about knee high as well ... Yes they are about 2-3 weeks behind growth but the 5 1/2 inches f rain we have had this month has helped them greatly, that and the 90-100•F heat ... Nw if only they will hold off tasseling until later as well and not "pop" before they have gotten tall enough to produce properly size cobs ... And hopefully. We will be able avoid the schmutz this year.

But I am hopeful ... It is the best it has looked in years.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yippee Another One

lookie Lookie!

I have squash starting to come in too ...
From Ginger's Farm Photos
Only thing is hubby didn't pay attention to how things got planted so I don't know which type it is ...

Guess I will have to wait and find out.

It looks too big to be a yellow summer squash ... It's too cylindrical to be a patty pan (which looks like a UFO) ... I'm thinking it's a Queen Anne ...

The wind keeps blowing off my netting exposing the fruits of my plants ... This could mean real trouble for them when the deer and other critters take notice ... Of I'm lucky the mere presence of the material will scare them off ... I guess it all depends on how strong the instinct to eat them is.

I forgot to mention ... For those who wonder how quick pumpkin grow ... The vines/tendrils that I moved yesterday of the pumpkins (see yesterday's post) already put down roots into the ground when I moved them a little farther into the garden ... They aren't deep roots but they are there ...

And prickly! If you don't know pumpkin, you might want to wear gloves if you have to handle the vines T all - at least until you know of you are going to have a reaction to the prickles and their juices.

Growing Wild

Well it's been a while since I've posted but I wanted to share some photos of my garden
From Ginger's Farm Photos
As you can see the crows have been having a blast eating the corn ... All those bare spots are where they snipped off the shoots to get to the kernel underneath.

The fields just started to sprout weeds this week after a good 3/4 inches of rain this weekend. ... And boy are they making up for lost time.

I did however come up with a pretty good way to keep the deer off my pumpkin & squash ....
From Ginger's Farm Photos
I used nylon netting - such as you would use on a wedding dress or a ballet tutu - and covered the top of the squash garden.

I have to keep going out to stretch it over the ropes, and it has gotten rips, but the thing that amazed me is that the pumpkin keeps trundling into it - it grips into it like peas to a trellis and they keep sending their runners underneath to try to climb the hill... but this would mean they will get mowed over which would be very bad for the plant, so I have to gently pull them up and send them back the other way into the garden ...

I had worried that having them under the mesh would prevent the bee from pollinating the flowers ... But today I found this:
From Ginger's Farm Photos
Look! Look! There is swelling starting behind the flower! Sweet!

Now to figure out a way to keep the raccoons, birds, and deer from eating it until it's ready for picking!

Meanwhile in the green house ...
From Ginger's Farm Photos
I finally have baby carrots ... They are all orange instead of the red, yellow or white I was expecting. I didn't think carrots "mated" but perhaps I'm wrong ... if so I would suspect that they would revert to the original type they were originally crossed with ... kind of like hybrid corn - some is so unstable that if they get pollen from another type of corn, they become field corn.

Speaking of corn .... what little crop we get will be coming in very late this year. I suspect somewhere around mid-September early October ... depending on the weather.

Bright side:
we will have sellable crop after the stores run out
The days will be cooler while I prepare it for freezing
It should tassel after the worse part of summer so it doesn't tassel too early

Dark side:
the kids will only be able to sell on the weekends or after school.
Those pesky animals will be trying to steal my corn for their winter stocks the same time I'm doing it.
We run the risk of the corn not tasseling at all because of the day light/warmth issues that come with the fall.

Personally I'm hoping to avoid schmutz ... it's a black fungus that occurs and can cause unusual growth of the cobs. The infected plant needs to be rep Ed completely and disposed of in such a way as not to infect the soul .... so no putting it in the compost bin or just tossing it to the side of the field ... I think of it a corn-cancer, but I've heard it's a delicacy in Japanese cooking.

Well have to go ... Didn't realize how late it was.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Damn Deer

Like everyone else I can appreciate the beauty of these creTures ... As long as they are not EATING my garden!

We went on vacation for 10days (figuring the weeds could play for a bit) but my hubby had to come back in town for a dr appt ... He came back to the vacation spot with the great news that the corn had grown to about 4 inches tall! Yeah, even though it's just 6 rows it was exciting to know the con was growing so well after so many years of poor yields.

We got home on Sunday to find that all but ONE row was snipped off at the base!

No this wasn't deer - but I'll get there in a bit .... Patience

Around the place where each ear had sat there was a perfect divot .... so we figure it was either pheasants or wild turkey (daughter saw one of this sitting on our steps while we were out of town ... we had the dog) ... deer would have (a)atenolol the tops not just leave them by the wayside and (b)they would have left clear hoof prints down the row like they did when they munched the tops off my peas and beans last year ....

Checked m pumpkin and squash ... Oh what lovely flowers I had ... They were growing so well ... Yes thTs a were ... But wait.

That Tuesday after vacation just south of us was put under a tornado warning and radar showed that the storm they were concerned about would be coming straight our way - now last time I planted out my starters in the main garden we got over 1 inch deep in hail the next week and killd them all (yes I cried) ....

So the kids and I were out in the pole barn this time trying to brain storm some storm shelter for the plants ... My oldest daughter was all for letting nature do what it will ... Youngest son as for just covering them with a tarp, straight down to smother and smuch them ...

We found ne tarp and two saw horses .... And were able to cover 5 out of 20 plants .... I chose the pumpkin to save - after all the fruit can be sold come fall and we can recover some of the seed cost.

The twister/cyclonic clouds passed just to our west shifting it's path at the last few minutes .... thank you fairies for moving that and for keeping that funnel up for us ... not even any hail bt the temps did drop and the air did thin out. (the saw horses fell over but the plants beneath were still good)

So yezterday hubby decided that instead of having just one row of corn to feed the family, he was going to use his fixed tractor (another story) to plant half the larger field keeping the other half in clover ... green manure ... and then while he was at it, he might as well do the part that was eaten up too.

Kids and I went to look at my plants - I figured I should have had some closed flowers starting to swell behind ... but I certainly wasn't expecting to find what I did ...


They left evidence behind ...

Actually the first thing I noticed was the lack of bright color ... No biggie, I was expecting them to be starting squash/pumpkin remember? ... then I saw the prints and got on my knees to figure out way some of them looked so beaten up ... And there it was ...

Nipped off tops! Flowers laying on the mulch! Slems split from the deer putting their foot/hoof on them to pull off the tops! DANG!

Now I have no issues with animals acting like animals ... and I understand that this is just what deer do ... but there is a wildlife center over here which REFUSES to put fencing around their land to keep their critters in ... they even refuse to spray the area to control deer ticks/Lyme disease ... in fact they won't even allow the DNR to treat for mosquitoes which get so many people sick in our area ...

I buried the cracked stems in the soil - with the theory/hope they will put out roots the way tomato plants will when you pull off the stems and bury the stem to cover (try it, you will get a better plant) ... I don't know if I will be getting much in the way of squash ... since they already had buds they took the majority of the punishment ... but the pumpkin APPEARED untouched ...

Decided to use the 10yards of mosquito netting I had to surround the garden like deer fencing ... Oh how nice that would have been had I enough ... I had enough to cover just on side and two ends leaving the other side open like a deer-salad-bar ... UUUUUUGGGHHHHH

But I opened up the netting and stretched it across the top and even though the sides where open it was better than it was before ... The netting is old - well over 5 years so it was brittle and soon the fencing stakes managed to rip through but that was actually an advantage because the first plan was to run a string around the stakes to give the netting some support so now the netting is resting on the string and hanging down the sides like a tablecloth ... with a few rocks and some packed dirt I was able to get the sides to stretch towards the ground and give it a more enclosed feel.

It's not pretty but it's in code/ordinance and -this morning at least - should do the trick

I just hope the bees will be able to find their way in for pollinizing - they should there's more an enough space.

I am concerned that a deer might find itself tangled if it tries to put it's head under but my son thinks the deer will probably break through it and my hubby thinks that the first good wind will blow it away! We will see ...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Planting the very old fashioned way

Well we ... We - like I did anything about it ... Hubby sprayed the fields last week with the lighter tractor while the fields were still a tad too wet for the big tractor to ge into ... E weeds had started to take over the plowed sections of the fields

But they make things so weak these days that it just didn't do much good ... It as supposed to start to whither after 24 hrs but even a week later ey were still thriving ... Stupid weeds.

So hubby decided that a couple of diskings would help things out ... And then he could plant the corn.

Too bad the tractor decided that it was done before it really began.

As soon as the risked got into the soil the water pump gave way ... And of course since the engine got wet, it stopped dead. And he ran to get something underneath to catch any of the moisture coming out - quick mover that he is, we were able to dig around the wet soil afterwards and get it (plus a bit more for safety) out of the field completely ... We only lost about a wheel barrels worth of dirt, not bad.

But that left us with a huge problem ... A whole lot of corn seed that needed planting and then there were the plants from the green house ... And the soil was too hard to do either easily.

Oh what to do ... We were really counting on those plantings to at least fill the freezers for winter ... If we can do that we'll be happy. Any extra and we'll be estatic but really we will be happy to just get enough for the table.

After an hour of self pity ... Hubby and I - okay mostly me because he was in a defeatist mood - began brainstorming ... And came upon an idea.

Granted not a brilliant idea, but one that would at least work for a little bit.

We have a hand tiller .... Oh the look on his face! I told him to do just a spot large enough for the greenhouse plants ... He was dreading it but I told him that if he just went back and forth instead of the length then he could make a plot about as big as we had at our old house in the city ... He felt that would be easier to handle and after all the idea was to get the green house plants in.

So I got the sons to go down to help him (I thought) so the girls and I could go grocery shopping and get some stuff for the younger one for a school project.

(you'll have to read mympost about the trip on my other blog)

I returned to find this:
From Ginger's Farm Photos
Hubby was tilling and the youngest was pulling out the ricks and putting them on the side of the field for use later.

From Ginger's Farm Photos
Hubby and son each took a rake to smooth out the dirt and then make a decent furrow ...
From Ginger's Farm Photos
But the hand planter was the best tool for the job, but it doesn't do so well in soft soil such as works best for the corn - so just a little extra help was needed ... No he wasn't pulling hard, it was more like guiding to keep the planter in the furrow.

Then when they were done, they used the rakes to cover the seed and tap it gently. Iv got special additive that holds water for hot days like today or for those days when we get too little rain (like July) ... But I forgot to let him know.

He did put down two packages of my plastic mulch though - surprise, surprise - and planted the pumpkin and winter squash!

But h he was so sore afterwards ... I felt so bad for him.

The young son and I went down to water the plants this afternoon - they looked so sad, that I wish I had watered them sooner. Hubby gave them a good drink before planting but the heat was so much today.

The GH got over 120•F today ... That is as high as the thermometer goes ... I wound up having to water those plants twice today to keep them from wilting.

Even my salad greens are starting to look stressed ... I will have to trim the whole lot tomorrow while the sun is low and treat them for going up to the cabin for the weekend where they will be consumed most ravenously.

Oldest daughter will be in town so she can make sure the rest f the plants get plenty of water and the tarps get put up for ventilation/ cross breeze.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Holy Crap Bat Man

I just caught the local weather and found that we are in danger of FROST for the next couple f days!

We aren't that far north .... Frost this late in May is unheard of ... its not unusual to have cooler than normal temperatures but not FROST ...

And with the rain that is expected this weekend as well -- we run the risk of actually having SNOW over the long weekend! It won't stick to the ground but it could happen ... It is more likely to be hail or sleet though.

Not good for the green house but even worse for the plants if they catch a chill .... I'm gonna be so bummed if anything happens to them ...

They are growing so well!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


We came back from the in-laws today (full story of the adventure here ... What a rainy weekend!

I don't know how much we got at their place, but when we came back we had 2inches in the rain gauge and we got another 1/4 inch in a single cloud-burst after we got home ... we've had at least one more storm go over head since the sun went down (thunder boomers and all, but it's been raining on &off too) so there may be more than that even.

Of course the local Weather Bug location says it only got 1/5th an inch ... I'm thinking they need to double check their equipment ... Hee hee.

But the moist weather has done some wonderful stuff in the green house ...

We've had to remove the lid from the plants and the salad table because the plants have grown so tall!
Salad table ready for harvesting Ginger's Farm Photos

Carrots - tray "A" Ginger's Farm Photos
hubby wants me to wait until after the carrots start to shoulder before picking them so we can have "baby carrots" ... But I'm afraid if I don't thin them out now, they will all die from over-crowding.

Carrot tray "B" Ginger's Farm Photos
Also ready for thinning out, and I'm thinking I would plant the Nantes carrots down the cener, but looking at them now, I think it might be too much for the pot to handle.

Swiss Chard & Collards Ginger's Farm Photos
Another one ready for picking ... I'm thinking it will help to thicken up the stalks as well. The leaves should be so tender that I will probable be able to put them right into a salad without the need for cooking. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tomatoes &Peppers Ginger's Farm Photos
Now if only I could remember which is which ... Hubby can't remember if he turned this tray or not when we first did the others.

Squash Tray "A", right side out againGinger's Farm Photos
Had to turn these back around so that I could get a shot of the newest "arrivals" who popped thru this weekend.

Squash Tray "B" Ginger's Farm Photos
Turned these around so the bigger, surviving plants could get more light ... But their stems are thick and healthy ... Remember that these are the ones that I switched clear lids on and half of them died?

Squash Tray "C", first side forward Ginger's Farm Photos
Isn't that just the cutesy little plant you ever did see? I had really given up hope of it sprouting after all this time, but there it is.

Squash Tray "D" Pumpkins, front forward again Ginger's Farm Photos
A little disappointed - you see with the way the other trays had popped their last few seeds I thought for sure that the little budlings that sprouted a couple weeks ago would come up, but they just didn't go like the others ... I'm thinking that they are probably gone. No hope for them ... Poor little guys.

I'm so excited!

Hubby says I can plant the squash down on the long field after the next plowing, but he wants to plant a couple of rows of corn there too. I've even gotten "permission" to use my plastic mulch down there to help with the weed control ... Now my only 2issues will be watering and keeping the plastic in place.

M thinking of planting the pumpkin on the side if the hill where the burdock seems to grow so well .. But then the problem is ... The burdock blooms so well there. I'm afraid that trying to kill the burdock will also harm the pumpkin. If you know burdock - it is very stubborn.

Maybe I should plant them down in the long garden as well ... But then the upside of putting them on the hill is that the dog can help keep the chipmunks and deer scared away from them ... The deer know she can't get to then down there ... As evidence by the peas and beans which were eaten practically gone last year.

They walked down the rows and chewed off the tops just as they were setting their flowers like it was their own personal smorgasbord! And the last time I grew pumpkin over by the green house, they took big bites out of the fruit that grew before I could get to it ... But then the dog was on a tie-out otherwise he would have been all over them.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Alright - this week the green house has really been getting warm ... okay, its been like spring in Arizona.

It has been getting up to at least 100*F on sunny days ... and the temps are warming up at night so it hasn't gotten down below 50F for about a week now as well. 

So what did this mean to the plants?

Well last week I didn't take photos because it didn't make a big difference - it was still getting close to freezing most nights (like 35F) ... but with this warmer weather I decided to take a look ... also because its been a pretty cloudy week I needed to see if anyone needed some water.

WOW what a difference in just one week ...

Pumpkins (LtoR:Howden, Dill Atlantic)

Squash flat C (LtoR:Sugar Hubbard, Butternut)

Squash flat B (Front to Back:Patty Pans, Black Beauty Zucchini, Yellow Marrow) Yello Marrow died after overnight cold temps

Squash Flat A (LtoR: 2rows emply, Queen Anne Acorn, Sitck-o-Butter summer squash)

Swiss Chard showing color, Collards widening leaves

zoom of Swiss Chard colors - wow they look cool!

Carrots B (LtoR: Parano, Purple Haze)

Carrots A (LtoR: Red Samuri, White Satin)

Salad Table (FtoBack: 2rows Garden Heirloom Blend, Pot & Patio Blend)
Okay - so what will these things look like when they "grow up"?

Pot & Patio salad blend: includes PomPom, Merlot, Little Gem, Victoria

Parano Carrots (I thought they were purple outside, orange inside ... huh)
White Satin
Purple Haze (this is the one I was thinking of before)

Collards (cut them up, cook them down - yummy!)

Dill Atlantic - supposed to get up to 800 lb for some pumpkins ... don't think mine will be THAT big
Howden - 10-15# per pumpkin on average ... but too watery for pies unless you slow cook it to prevent scortching
Black Beauty zucchini, love zuccs but they like to hide from me - last ones we grew were huge!
Cube of Butter squash - you are supposed to be able to batter and deep fry the flowers too
Sugar Hubbard - 15-20# a squash, and about 4-5squash per plant
Early Butternut - great for "pumpkin" pies
Patty Pan squash - the kids should love the UFO shape, about the size of a 45record ... um, bigger than a CD for those too young to remember 45s
Swiss Chard - OMG have you priced this in the store lately? I am soooooo hoping this does well for me

Queen Anne acorn - these will only get to about 1-2# each

I still have quite a bit of seed that I did not start yet, or may not get to it at all, because of two reasons
A) the weather has made the garden impossible to get into with the tiller, it just gets stuck
B)hubby wants to spray it with Round Up first to cut down on the weeds - really he shouldn't have to - I have all the plastic mulch we can fight over. I like it, he can't stand it.

But I have a feeling that MOST of what I have will not be grown until next year :(
Like my cabbages ... don't think they will have time to take off before their optimal time passes ... the onion seed, although I might be able to grow it during the winter in the green house ... my broccoli - can I cry now? I love broccoli, and was planning on freezing this to beat the rising food prices ... my peas & beans - staples to my dinner table, although they can be sown later and I should still get a decent crop from them.

and the corn ...

if the fields don't start to dry out, we will never get the corn in on-time! We have until the end of the month to get that seed in though ... especially if the kids are going to sell any of it before school starts in the fall.  Normally, when we get a crop, we have the first crops coming in just before the state fair ... but its been quite a while.

still time to get out the soil test kits for the kids to take some sample though so hubby can suppliment the soil.

Organic growing will take a while for him to embrace - it took me this long to get him around to "crop rotation" ... old ideas are hard to break.