A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Babies having babies

It's proud moment for any parent when their offspring begin having babies (provided they wait until the right time in their lives).  :-)  Knowing the babies that you lovingly tended and cared for for so long have begun reproducing and bringing their babies to you... it's deeply rewarding.  I grew a number of plants from seed this year and they have finally begun making babies for me!  I guess you could say I am a proud "Gardenparent."

My once little cucumber seedlings are making pickling cukes for me, my yellow squash are bearing their fruit almost faster than we can pick and use it, and the tomatoes are finally getting ripe!  I have Athena Cantaloupe that will soon be ripe and ready and even my Orange Giant Amaranth is getting its plumes to make a delicious crop of grain for us.

When we began with the garden this year, my intent was to create a complete list of what was planted and growing. Until now, I have not taken the time to do so.  Since the Spring was so harsh, there are a number of things that did not make it this year, so I will not include them in this tally.

Grown from seed:
  • Tomatoes - Rutgers, Opalka, Variegated, Yellow Pear
  • Onions - Candy
  • Beans - Provider Pole Beans, Jade Bush Beans, Yellow Garden, Yin Yang (Soup)
  • Basil - Sweet, Globe and Cinnamon (first time growing directly in the garden)
  • Cucumber - Agnes Hybrid
  • Peppers - Habanero, Tabasco, Alma Paprika, Golden Star Hybrid Bell
  • Melon - Tigger and Athena Cantaloupe
  • Pumpkin - Li'l Pump-Ke-Mon, Magic Lantern
  • Rosemary
  • Stevia (first time growing)
  • Squash - Bush Delicata, Galeux D'Eysines (Peanut pumpkin)
  • Potatoes - Russet and Red
Young plants put into the garden:
  • Tomatillos (first time growing)
  • Eggplant (first time growing)
  • Peppers - Tequila, California Wonder Bell, Jalapeno
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini (I didn't get my seeds in the ground in time this year)
  • Okra - Clemson Spineless (first time growing)
  • Rosemary - Barbeque (awesome for skewering meat on the grill)
  • Tomatoes - Striped Stuffer (thin walled for stuffing like a pepper - even shaped somewhat like a shallow bell as well), Limmony (lemon yellow and purported to have a citrusy taste)
  • Onions - Candy (I was worried my seedlings wouldn't make it and I am glad I thought ahead as many did not)
  • Stevia (again, worried about my seedlings - I actually ended up with two different varieties as a result)
Perennials in the garden
  • Raspberries - fall bearing
  • Strawberries - Honeoye
  • Blueberries - several varieties
  • Horseradish
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
Perennial Herbs
  • Oregano - Golden and Spicy
  • Mint - Chocolate and Mojito
  • Chives
  • Dill (not really perennial, but it self seeds readily and vigorously)
  • Sage (tender perennial)
We were very disappointed at how few things made it in the garden this year.  We planted loads more than this list includes, but an overly wet and unstable temperature filled spring made for little that successfully germinated.  HOWEVER, given the year we have had, we are more than pleased with the regular harvests we are enjoying.  Below, I have included a picture of the harvest from Saturday.  There were actually a few additional tomatoes picked later in the day, after I had put all this goodness in storage of some form.  The peppers, tomatillos, cukes, okra and beans went into the refrigerator for use soon.  The squash went into my big bowl of squash that sits in the kitchen waiting for use, and the garlic and onions went into the pantry for cool dark storage and drying.  Lastly, the unripe tomatoes took their place on the windowsill and on the tray I use for finishing ripening on the counter; while the fully ripe tomatoes were cored, an X cut in the bottom of each and put into freezer bags for use in salsa or sauces when I have the right quantity.  I find that this is the best method of preparing tomatoes (easiest) for salsa. The skins slip off easily when taken straight from the freezer and run under warm water.  I find this much more tolerable and handy than scalding the skins off, and the bonus is that they store virtually ready for use.  

On a sidenote: Mom came up for dinner last night (always willing to help with the prep end of everything - Thank you Mom!) and cleaned up and cooked all the beans while I worked on peach jams (there were more beans in addition to Saturday's haul already in the fridge waiting to be eaten!).  We will be able to enjoy these all week with our meals.  

So, the harvest has begun.  My babies that I loved and nurtured are now giving back to me and providing me with lots of babies of their own.  I am working fervently to store anything we cannot consume immediately.  This means lots of jams, jellies, relishes, and blanched and frozen goodies.  I need to get brave and get the pressure canner out so I don't have to rely on electricity to keep my veggies fresh for me.  For now, I will enjoy my near daily abundant harvests and keep preserving all I can, while tending those treasures that are still maturing in the garden.  I will remain an ever-watchful, protective and proud Gardenparent!

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