Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away!!!

The rain has just been relentless! Yesterday we had more then 3"!!! Most of that was from one horrible storm! We probably got another inch of rain today!

Tuesday, I finally cleaned out most of the summer veggies in the cold frame beds and sowed some seeds.

This is the Left Cold Frame Bed
If you look closely, you can see what the rain did to the soil. I will most likely have to re-sow the seeds. There are a couple of carrots that managed to survive the horrible heat, some leeks in the back, a huge pepper plant that I couldn't bear to pull out and one of the celery transplants from the plots in the right back corner. 

This is the Right Cold Frame Bed
The soil in this bed is a mess from the rain too. There are two little celery transplants (they are doing well!) in the left back corner a couple of carrots, a basil plant and one lone onion. It's a good thing that I am behind in my fall planting...or everything would have been ruined! I put netting over the beds in order to keep the Darn Squirrels out! They have been horrible the past couple of weeks, digging in everything!!

Look at my Sage Bush!!

The Thyme is not doing so well either!

These brown sticks used to be Rosemary :(

Boy, we certainly have had the most horrible weather this year!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Canning..............Pickles, Pickles, Pickles

Due to my cucumber shortage this year, I didn't think that I would get to make all the pickles that I had planned to. I managed to make two batches of Cucumber Relish (2 different recipes) and 1/2 of a batch of Bread & Butter Pickles from our garden cucumbers.

This past Saturday, I went to the farmer's market to get some meat from our favorite butchers. Low & behold, when I walked in the door a local farmer had pickling cucumbers! I bought all that he had, 10 lbs! Yippee....boy "The Italian" was going to be happy! Ever since our visit with Jody, Belle & the boys at Spring Garden Acre, he has been hooked on those wonderful Cold Packed Dills that Belle made and so graciously gifted us with.

The first pickles that I made on Saturday were Bread & Butter Pickles, recipe from Ball Blue Book of Preserving.

Aren't they pretty??

Then I started another batch of Italian Farmhouse Pickled Green Tomatoes.

These were finished on Sunday, since they need to sit overnight.

I also started a quarter batch of Sweet Gherkin Pickles. These babies take several days to make. As always, they shrivled, I didn't take a picture of them. They look horrible. This always seems to happen...but, they do improve after they are in storage for awhile and taste wonderful! If any of you really experienced canners have a secret as to why they do this or a good recipe.....Please do share!!

Monday, I made the much desired Cold Packed Dills for "The Italian". Here's a link to Belle's recipe.

Yep, the big One Gallon jar is "The Italian's"!!

So, that's what's been canning around here! What are you putting up??

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Help Save Landreth Seed Company

Many of you may be aware of what is going on with the Landreth Seed Company. I had no idea until I read this post by Todd at Big Blog of Gardening on Sunday.

America's oldest seedhouse, Landreth is being threatened with shutdown by their creditors. Buy a 2012 seed catalog to help.

Landreth Seed Company is America’s oldest seed house. It has been around since 1784 and is the most historically important small business that is still operating! It is the only American company, still operating daily, that existed when this country became a nation.

Its founders were honorable men who helped establish and guide the agricultural and horticultural industries of this country in the 1700s, the 1800s and the 1900s. Landreth exemplifies American business and the ethics and integrity that built this nation

On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the Company’s accounts were frozen by a garnishment order initiated by a Baltimore law firm. If this garnishment order is not satisfied within the next 30 days, Landreth will cease to exist and a part of America’s history will be lost forever. I need to sell 1 million 2012 catalogs to satisfy this garnishment and the cascade of other indebtedness which this order has now initiated.

If you want to help save this piece of America, if you love gardening and heirloom seeds, if you care about righting the injustices of a legal system badly in need of repair, then please help Landreth. Please purchase a Landreth catalog, and if you can afford it, purchase several for your friends. Please send this link to everyone you know, One million catalogs is a big number, but with the internet it is achievable.

Please help us to save Landreth.

Reprinted from the Landreth Seed Company website

I know that times are tough. But, there are several ways you can help save this historical company. You can go to their website and purchase a catalog, place an order or click on the widget below and make a donation. "The Italian" and I made a small donation and ordered a catalog and some seeds.

You can also visit their Facebook page to get updates on what is going on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvest Monday..........09/26/2011

I can't believe that this is the first fall Harvest Monday and the last one of September! As of yesterday morning, I thought that my harvests for the week would consist only of the last Spaghetti Squash and 5 tomatoes. Well, I was wrong! I went to the plots late in the morning on Sunday and once again came home with a great harvest!

Look at this container of sunshine!
There are still tons of peppers at the plots. I'm letting them ripen and will not pick any green ones until we have a threat of frost. The Rosa Bianca eggplant are still doing great and the other three varieties are still small. I even found a ripe Kellogg's Breakfast tomato on a dead vine! Jose, a great gardener at the plots, gave me some Yard Long Beans which are pictured here. We had them for dinner last night and I think that I may just plant a few next year.

I picked this big zucchini at the plots on Sunday. To my surprise, there are two small fruits on the plant that should be ready by the end of this week. The Spaghetti Squash is the last one of the season. We now have 8 nice squash to store for use over the winter!

To my disappointment, most of the Leeks had to be pulled. The outer layer was getting soft from all of the rain. I will slice and freeze them for use over the winter. It really doesn't look like we will have any left in the ground for over-wintering.

I also pulled the remaining bush dry beans at the plots on Sunday. There are still some dry pole beans over there that are not ready to be picked. I couldn't leave the bush beans in the ground any longer or they would just mold and rot from all this rain. I have a lot of the dry beans hanging on the back porch to finish drying. Due to all of the rain and humidity, they are not drying very well. I think that I will move them to the attic later today.

That's about it in the harvest department, with the exception of herbs. For some reason, I haven't weighed a single herb this year. There's been a lot of other things going on that I will post on during the week.

Total weighed harvests for the week - 15.625 lbs.

Beans, Purple Pole - 6 oz
Celery - 3 oz.
Eggplant - 2.75 lbs (44 oz)
Leeks - 35 oz
   Bell - 33 oz
   Hot & Spice - 39 oz
Spaghetti Squash - 2 lbs 7 oz. (39 oz)
Tomatoes - 20 oz
Zucchini - 31 oz

Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in Veggie Gardens and Kitchens around the globe!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Last Sunday when I was at the plots "Whitie" a fellow gardener gave me 6.2 lbs of fresh dug sweet potatoes! He is also the great guy who gave us several dozen of his delicious sweet corn on a couple of occasions this year! Thanks Whitie, for your wonderful veggies!

Look at these lovely sweet spuds!!

I decided to make some sweet potato fries. After looking for a good recipe, I came up with this. The seasonings that I have listed is what I used. Be creative and use what you think would taste good. I think that the Paprika & Cumin are a must though.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • About 2 lbs. of Sweet Potato wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Cayenne Pepper (use just a dash if you don't like it hot)
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place potato wedges in a large zip-lock bag or a container with a lid
  3. Mix Olive Oil and choice of Seasonings in a small bowl
  4. Pour Oil & Seasoning Mix over potato wedges and shake to cover them
  5. Place seasoned potato wedges on a baking sheet or in a baking dish
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done

This is what they looked like before baking. I totally forgot to take a picture of them after baking!

I hope that you enjoy these nutritious and low-fat baked sweet potato fries!

Liebster Blog Award

The Apple Pie Girl and Jody at Spring Garden Acre have been so kind to award me the "Liebster" Blog Award! APG is a fine gal who also has some nice boots! Jody, his wife Belle and the little guys, who we recently visited, have a great garden and some chickens too! Stop by their blogs and see what they have been up to!

"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all - have fun!

I had a really hard time picking just 5 blogs to, here are just a few of some great blogs that I really enjoy reading. They are listed in alphabetical order.

At Home on Paradise Cove - Deb is a great Lady. She is relatively new to gardening and loves to experiment with her garden. Her and her husband Fitzgiver live on a small lake in Western Washington. She is also a wonderful artist!

GrafixMuse - Rachel is a Graphic Designer who lives on a few acres in Maine with K. She has an amazing garden and does a lot of preserving.

Greens and Jeans - Emily has a great garden in New Hampshire. I met her mother Marcia, who stopped by recently to see the plots. Emily also has some new chickens and makes some really beautiful quilts.

Life as I Live It - Patricia is a wonderful lady with many stories to tell. I have to say that "The Italian" and I always enjoy reading her blog.

Mrs. Pickles Garden - Mrs. P lives in Saskatchewan, zone 2a. She does an impressive job of growing veggies living in a zone with a very short growing season. She also makes a lot of pickles!

I hope that you give these great blogs a visit and enjoy them as much as we do!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Harvest Monday .................9/19/2011

The gardens have really slowed down. I only harvested a few tomatoes, a few nice bell peppers and some herbs at the home garden this week.

Yesterday, I went to the plots to pull the tomato plants, do some general clean up and pick some peppers. To my surprise, I found some viable tomatoes there. I also found that the groundhog had dug a new tunnel in to our plots! He has been eating the Brussels Sprouts, which is no loss to me since they were destroyed by bugs anyway. I was going to pull them, but decided to leave them as a trap crop for the groundhog. Do you think that will work? I'm going to go over there today and fix the area where he tunneled in and go over to my neighbor's plot and fill in the hole on her side. I had mentioned it to her weeks ago...but, nothing has been done. 

All of the popcorn has been harvested and the dry beans are starting to come in. I will wait until I am done shelling those and post them at a later date.

Some beautiful Bells, Rosa Bianca Eggplant and Red Pepperoncini Peppers

Green Tomatoes for some more Italian Farmhouse Pickled Green Tomatoes!

Some of the ripe tomatoes harvested this week.

Total weighed harvest for the week: 10.375 lbs.

Eggplant, Rosa Bianca - 11 oz.
   Bell - 54 oz.
   Pepperoncini - 6 oz.
   Green - 48 oz.
   Red - 47 oz.

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in Veggie Gardens and Kitchens around the Globe!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Visiting with a fellow Garden Blogger

"The Italian" and I spent the day with Jody, Belle & the two little guys at Spring Garden Acre.

We had a great time!

You can see their main garden, the chicken coop in the middle back, meat chickens to the left and the empty hill in the front is where the wonderful tasting watermelons and cantaloupe where planted.

Here are some of their fall crops in the side garden.

Look at these beautiful broccoli starts that were germinated inside and ready to be planted!

There was a lot going on!!

There were chickens.....and

a cat.....and

some great entertainment!!! and...

lots of great food! Belle made a wonderful salad of fresh lettuce and tomatoes from the garden. We also had some home grown Bar-BQ Chicken and I brought some home made baked beans. Everything was so good that I was too worried about eating it and didn't take any pictures...except for the best watermelon we have had all summer...fresh from their garden! We ended the meal with home baked shortbread, cookies and coffee!

We came home with these wonderful gifts! Two bottles of wine that they made. One bottle is Peach Wine and the other bottle is Apple Wine. We were also blessed with a jar of Belle's Cold Packed Dill Pickles and 5 hand knitted dish clothes! I don't know how she knew that I was in desperate need of dish clothes!

Thanks Jody, Belle and the boys for a Wonderful Day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Canning.......Italian Farmhouse Pickled Green Tomatoes

I made these pickled green tomatoes for the first time last year.....and boy they are good!

First, find yourself about 4 lbs of green tomatoes. Wash them and then chop into about 1" cubes.

Place in non-reactive bowl, sprinkle with 2 Tbsp salt, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The next day, gather some fresh basil, mint, garlic, a hot pepper or two (if desired) and some sun dried tomatoes. Re-hydrate tomatoes in warm water. Do NOT use tomatoes packed in oil.

Rinse salted tomatoes with cold water and drain.

Chop, garlic, mint, basil and peppers. Toss the drained tomatoes with these ingredients.

Pack hot jars with seasoned tomato mix layering in the sun dried tomatoes. Cover tomatoes with White Wine Vinegar, top off with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, seal and refrigerate.

The tomatoes need to age awhile before using. "The Italian" didn't discover them for a few months in the frig. But, I think a week may be OK. You may be able to process them in a pressure canner. I'm not sure though.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Harvest Monday..............09/12/2011

This past week was not a nice week weather wise, here in our parts. It rained all week. The days are getting shorter, we don't have any more news on the garden, I have not been a happy camper and have not felt like blogging one bit. I have been getting some canning done which will make for some good posts at a later date.

The only harvest from the home garden that I weighed and took a picture of are two more Spaghetti Squash.

These fine babies were harvested on Tuesday or Wednesday. The green striped one was on the same vine as a few of the others I have harvested. It is now changing to a nice golden color.

The Moon & Stars watermelon from last weeks harvest was ripe...but, could have been left on the vine a bit longer. It was OK and I'm sure that it would have been sweeter if I had left it on the vine.

Sunday, I finally made it to the plots and harvested the last Moon & Stars Watermelon, a White Fortna Pumpkin, 4 Leeks and some small ears of Popcorn. The popcorn will be dried and weighed at a later date. I don't know what is with my leeks this year. They are so early and the outer layer of these four were starting to get mushy so I had to pull them. I really like to leave them in the garden and harvest them during the cold days of fall and winter.

I also harvested three Eggplant a hand full of Purple Pole beans and lots of peppers at the plots. The bean tepee fell down again from all the rain and wind this week. Unfortunately they are done for the year. I think that I will get some more eggplant and definitely  a lot more peppers from the plants at the plots.

These beautiful Habanero peppers some Serrano peppers and Pepperoncinis were also harvested from the plots yesterday. I'm working on making different types of hot, we will see how they turn out.

Here they are....the last salvagable tomatoes from the plots. The green tomatoes will be made into something that will be canned and posted about at a later date. The red tomatoes will be made in to some more tomato puree. There are also a couple of Trail of Tears dry beans in between the tomatoes. They are just starting to get ready. I think it will be a couple of weeks before most of them are ready though.

Total weighed harvests this week - 26.5 lbs.

Eggplant - 24 oz.
Leeks - 18 oz.
   Bell - 22 oz.
   Hot & Spice - 33 oz.
Pumpkin White Fortna - 34 oz.
Spaghetti Squash - 92 oz.
   Green - 67 oz.
   Red - 86 oz.
Watermelon - 48 oz.

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions our host of Harvest Monday to see what's happening in Veggie Gardens and Kitchens around the globe!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Harvest Labor Day.........09/05/2011

The summer is definitely coming to an end. The nights are cooler, days shorter and the harvests are dwindling.

Here are a few pictures of some of what was harvested from the gardens this week.

The first harvest from the plots after the hurricane.

I was going to pull the celery at the plots awhile back and then decided not to. I'm happy that I didn't. These plants turned around and gave us a decent harvest. They aren't nearly as nice as the celery from the home garden....but, I am happy with them. I also separated three small plants from these bunches and planted them at the home garden. We shall see if they take root and grow.

One of the two remaining Moon & Stars watermelons from the plots. As you can see, there is a little nibble mark from a few weeks ago when the groundhog was using the gardens as a buffet. It's just a surface mark and did not hurt the melon. We haven't sliced it open yet. We will do that later today. If it isn't edible, I will remove the weight from my totals.

Part of the harvest from the plots yesterday. I thought that I would be pulling the tomato plants. But, they are still managing to produce some ripe tomatoes. I did harvest some green tomatoes this week which have been used in hot sauce and pickled green tomatoes.

Also harvested this past week but not photographed were two more leeks from the home garden. With the four that have been harvested so far this season, I made a wonderful Leek & Potato soup! There was another nice Spaghetti Squash harvested and a couple more on the vine. I have started to shell some of the dry beans and will weigh and take pictures of them at a later date.

Total harvest for the week: 41.1875 lbs

Beans - Purple Pole - 16 oz.
    Slicing - 11 oz.
    Burr - 6 oz.
Celery - 4 lbs.
Eggplant - 13 oz.
Leeks - 6 oz.
    Bell - 60 oz.
    Hot & Spice - 75 oz.
    Green - 47 oz.
    Red - 190 oz. (11.875 lbs)
Spaghetti Squash - 60 oz. (3 lbs. 12 oz.)
Sweet Dumpling Squash - 12 oz.
Watermelon - 5 lbs.
Zucchini - 19 oz.

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's happening in gardens and garden kitchens around the globe!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Community Gardens move Update....Pictures Added

I received the following e-mail from the garden program administrator this morning:

Hi Robin,

This is what I know as of now.  More details will follow.
·         You will be able to finish out the season at the current location. Plots at the new site will be available early next spring.
·         The quality of this soil is excellent and should be great for growing vegetables.  Jeff and I were at the new site earlier this week to check the soil again. Bob turned over a small patch of grass so we could see the soil.  It really is the best soil you could get.  He left this small patch of soil exposed so if you want to see it for yourself, it’s in the section that is closest to the road and across from Cedarview Apartments.
·         Glenn Solt, Director of General Services has said: the plans have been under way for a new building that will house the Cetronia Ambulance Corps, the Lehigh County coroner and county emergency services. Glenn also said the county hopes to erect the new building next year. The Cetronia Ambulance Corps has sought some state funding to augment its own fundraising efforts for the new building. The new structure would help the ambulance corps bring its services under one roof.
·         The strip of trees/bushes down the middle of the site will be removed (this will become a road) and also some tall trees at the far end will be removed. I hope this helps!

Regards, Kathy

There was an article this morning in the local on-line paper. Which you can view here.

I am planning to go to the new site later today and hopefully take some pictures and check out the soil.

There will also be a meeting with the gardeners once the county has given Farmland Preservation more details on the move.

I went down to the new site this evening and took some pictures. I was told that the county will start working on the site this month.

This is the front of the site. The trees will be removed.

These trees are in the center and will be removed for a road.

This is an area behind the trees. As you can see if you enlarge the picture....the bunnies are there and waiting!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pending change & Plots clean-up

I have been in a blue funk since receiving the mail on Monday. I received a letter from Farmland Preservation, the county department in charge of the Community Gardens. Subject: "THE CEDARBROOK GARDEN PLOTS - MOVING TO A NEW LOCATION!". What????

It seems that someone in the county has made a decision to move the gardens. For what reason?? They are not sure. But, it seems that the county wants to use that land for something else. The gardens have been there for quite some time (20 years + or -). They used to be in another location until the county sold that land Dorney Park.

Needless to say, I was very upset. I sent an e-mail to the woman who is responsible for the gardens on Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning I received a response and talked to her on the phone. Her department had no idea that the county had planned to move the gardens and at that point had no details on the dates. Typical goverment!!

Yesterday, I finally went over there to get things cleaned up from Irene. While I was there I talked to some gardeners who have been there since the beginning and went through the last move. Rumor has it, that it will be some time until the gardens are moved.....maybe as late as fall of 2012 or spring of 2013. Who knows at this point!!!

That being's what the plots look like after several hours of tidying up and weed wacking.

The bean tepee is standing once again. I put it upright, added some supports and tied it to the fence. None of the plants were uprooted.

I put a metal stake in the ground and tied the corn and beans to it in the "Three Sisters" planting in Bed #2. The leaning posts and trellis for the Sweet Dumpling squash was removed and so were the plants. I did find one more squash.
I left the leaning tomato plants alone in Tomato Alley. The plants are almost dead and why bother to try to make them upright at this point. I harvested some ripe tomatoes and a handful of green ones that were on the ground. The plants will most likely be removed, if I have the time over the long holiday weekend.

Asparagus beds look great!

The corn & beans in other "Three Sisters" planting were staked  and tied up too. There are a few small white pumpkins on the vines in this bed. We shall see how big they get before the vines die off. As you can see, powdery mildew is setting in

The hot & spice peppers and celery in this bed are thriving. The eggplants are doing OK too!

Burr Gherkin cucumbers still growing like crazy!

The bell peppers did really well. I only found two broken branches and only had to harvest two green peppers. The one plant is nearly 4' high at this point! Hopefully we will have enough warmer weather to allow the peppers to turn in color.

That's about it for now. I will post any news about the pending garden move as soon as I receive it.