Colorful Bounty

The garden is looking… well, fallish.  Bob pulled out all the remaining bell peppers and tomato plants, and finished spreading the leaf mulch we got from the city mulching site.  Next we will sprinkle some BrixBlend Basalt from RockDustLocal.com.  This is to replenish minerals into the soil that are taken up by the plants that we eat.  Our backyard is construction clay, so it can use all the help we can give it!  That’s also the reason for the layers of leaf mulch as well as using the BTE (Back to Eden) no-till method, meaning: wood chips.  The wood chips can be seen still piled up.

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Normally, we would put the rock dust down before the leaf mulch, but… we got things done out of order this year.   I’m not fretting.  I’m fairly sure the leaf mulch will break down to soil compost over the winter anyway and the rock dust will filter through with successive rainfall.  No big deal.

After pulling out all the tomato plants, we ended up with about 3 pounds of green tomatoes of various sizes.  That is just far too much to fry and eat, though we love fried green tomatoes, too, we have had our fill lately.

So what to do with 3 lbs of green tomatoes?  I searched the net and found that we could make something yummy that we love to eat, Salsa Verde!

Since neither of us had ever made it before, we pretty much settled on the first recipe I came across.  Bob LOVES to do the canning, and he took over from there.  I spent the majority of that time at the grocery, something he hates doing. haha  Yikes, it was a serious madhouse yesterday!

By the time I arrived home with our goodies for the week, he was just about ready for me to taste test his handiwork.  Here is the basic recipe, but I’m pretty sure he added some vinegar and garlic powder, plus not quite as much cilantro as it called for, since I’m sensitive to its taste if overpowering.  He also compared the taste to his bottle Taco Bell Salsa Verde and declared it was close enough.  I LOVE that we will be getting away from an industrial-produced chemical poop-storm fast food condiment.  In fact, I think we may have enough to last us many, MANY years.  There are 9 half-pint jars in total.

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While we waited for the happy POP! sounds, we mused over some of the other things we’ve canned this year, our favorite being the Sweet Jalapeno Relish, which we haven’t opened to enjoy yet.  It was delicious on the stove, so we know it will be delicious when we’re ready to dig in.

Here’s our little pantry so far.

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The pantry is looking more colorful these days.

It may not look like a whole lot, but this cabinet is a good 18 inches deep and full all the way back, and there’s more on the kitchen table that hasn’t been stored away yet.

We have:

  • Sweet Jalapeno Relish
  • Bread & Butter Pickles (slices and spears)
  • Dill Pickles (slices)
  • Hot Dilly Beans
  • Green Beans (half-runners)
  • Pickled Beets
  • Potatoes (still have many more of those to can)
  • Sweet Banana Peppers (tried Bread & Butter and then a vinegar brine)
  • Okra & Onions
  • Grape Tomatoes Sauce
  • Cherry Tomatoes Sauce
  • Purple Cherokee Tomato Sauce

There’s probably others, I’m just not going to pull them all out at this point.

Over all, it’s been a colorful, bountiful harvest!  One day, in our next house, I’m putting a request in to have Bob build us a wall shelving system where we can display all the colors in rainbow fashion, even if that’s in a cellar somewhere.

For now, we are still waiting on the peas in the garden… they haven’t produced big time yet.  We have decided that if they don’t by this next weekend, they are probably stunted, as all the blooms are gone and we’re not seeing little peas producing.  I think we got less than 10 peas.  I’m going to put them in a salad and enjoy that tiny bit.  Next year, we will be sure to plant by the first of August instead of the 22nd.  No harm done, failures make for the best lessons!

 

 

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Fall Peas Please

We are trying!

As a last minute decision, I talked Bob into planting some fall peas, Mammoth Melting Sugar Snow Peas.  I believe it was about August 22 when we planted, zone 6A.  It was at the very edge of seriously risking frost damage and most likely only getting one harvest instead of a few.  I’m a risk-taker, so I talked him into it. 😀

Bob had a grandpa who used to tell him that when he broke new ground for a garden he would have to “throw down the seeds and run” because they would grow that fast!  Our peas popped out of the ground within days!  They were super duper happy peas, which made us super duper happy, too.

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Here they are, our little baby peas, so precious. ❤

As they grew, I couldn’t help but take picture after picture.

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I think they’re beautiful.

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The above photo was September 14th, a little shy of one month old.

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September 20th with the evening sun shining. 🙂

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October 5th, look how big they are!

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We had our first bloom that day. So proud! Maybe we can beat the frost! Maybe!!

And then, yeah… the frost came and it’s still coming!

First Frost was a few days ago, and here are our efforts to keep the frost off.  Of course, the plastic is pulled off here, but you get the gist.

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There are still tons and tons of blooms.  We have even eaten one or two peas, but the majority have not produced yet.  We are still crossing our fingers.  In many ways we are novices, so we learn by trying.  Like for instance, I learned that while growing seedlings in the garage under lights in the spring is pretty easy and fun, trying to grow them in the garage in the FALL is STUPID. lol  Even with a fan blowing, it was WAY TOO HOT and I lost pretty much all of those seedlings.

The garden is winding down, and we have no idea if the peas will make it or not.  But it’s been a fun summer gardening “together-together” – as we used to garden “together-apart”.  When we lived in different states, before we moved in together, we each had gardens we tended, separately.  I’m so grateful to have this soul by my side and our efforts combined towards the life we each envision for us, on a small farm, doing the gardening and farming, that we love.

Our Annual Wood Chip Day

All summer we planned to get our free leaf mulch and wood chips from the city mulching site.  We set the day for Saturday, October 6th.  Last week I scheduled a rental pickup truck at 7:00 AM Saturday.  That day we headed over to the mulch site with the truck, eager as beavers.

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As they were loading the first of what we planned as 3 trips (1 leaf mulch, 2 wood chips), Bob said to me, “Do you see any wood chips?”  Panic spread instantly as I scanned the area.  “Um… there’s a small pile over there.  But we can ask them as we leave.”

No.  There were no wood chips available!!!  Truck rented and no free wood chips.  I would have to call around when we got back home to see where we could buy some, and fast.  The truck was only rented until 3:00 PM.

As a possible quick fix, I posted our photos at at the city mulching site on my Facebook wall and asked my friends for help locating wood chips “TODAY”.  It worked!  Before we arrived home, a suggestion was shared and the place was close by and their chips were $10/sq. yd.  Not bad.

Since it hadn’t rained too much in the week prior, we were, THANKFULLY, able to drive the truck into the back yard and shovel the leaf mulch out into the garden over the fence.

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After we were done with load #1, we ate something to tide us over and headed out to the mulch business.  They had grass seed, gravel, mulch, and plain old untreated wood chips.  Nice!

Here we are, way back into the thick of their giant piles of various mulches, waiting for our load.

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I think these huge machines are cool.  But none of them were in use at the time, just the little bulldozer, or whatever it’s actually called.

Chips ahoy, I mean, away! (sorry, had to)

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This guy was so nice.  He loaded us up, fully.  So full in fact, that we didn’t need to come back for the 3rd load of the day.   Whew!

Back at the house, it took us both shoveling for about an hour to transfer all the wood chips from the truck to a big pile in the garden.  And yes, we were quite SORE for a day or two afterwards.

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Since we still have a large portion of the garden growing peas, okra and tomatoes, the leaf mulch and wood chips are in piles awaiting the day we can spread them all out, along with rock dust (restorative minerals).

This was our first season growing in no-till gardens.  Last year we obtained our mulch and wood chips from the city free site, and we planned the same for this year.

I’ve since been told that we should be more careful with these sources because cities often spray along roadsides and chip those overgrown areas up.  This means chemicals might still make it into our garden.  This good samaritan told me we should let our chips rest for 6 months or so (turning occasionally), until we find that earth worms are enjoying the piles.  Earthworms, he said, won’t move in if it’s toxic.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of such space in our quarter acre suburban property.  So for now, we get them where we can, place them in the fall, and hope the fungi does its work and the worms come crawling in.  They did this past year anyway.  We had tons of fungi AND red wigglers, neither of which we supplemented (all natural).  So fingers crossed for next season!  I think we will have next year’s garden still at this residence, then the following year… maybe somewhere else. 🙂