Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Garden Overview & Totals......Part 2

Part 1 of the 2011 Garden Overview & Totals can be found here. Part 1 started at Asian Veggies and ended at Garlic.

Greens: There were a few different veggies planted that I put in the Greens category. All were originally planted in the cold frames in early December of 2010. They all did well and we really enjoyed them. This year I planted an additional variety of kale in the cold frames.

    Arugala - 1.3125 lbs.
    Chard - Rainbow - 2.0625 lbs.
    Collards - Vates - 1.375 lbs.
    Kale - Squire - 1 lb.

Kohlrabi: I have always thought that Kohlrabi was a very cool looking plant. I had never tasted it but planted it because I had the room and I thought that it was very cool. The varieties planted were Early Purple Vienna & Early White Vienna. Both did very well at the plots. I am not sure if I will start any this winter for next year since I don't know if the new gardens will be ready in time for planting.

    Early Purple Vienna - 1.9375 lbs.
    Early White Vienna - 1.9375 lbs.

Leeks: It was a very strange year for leeks. I usually don't start harvesting them until fall and leave many in the garden to harvest during the winter. This year many of them had to be harvested early since they were getting slimy. I think it was due to the excessive heat then the excessive rain. The remaining few were harvested a couple of weeks ago for two reasons. One, bad planning on my part at the home garden. Two, I didn't want to leave the remaining 4 at the plots over the winter. Total harvest was 7.125 lbs.

Lettuce: I didn't do a very good job of separating the weights of the different varieties of lettuce. The varieties planted this year were; Romaine, Freckles Romaine, Buttercrunch, Gourmet Mix, Eva's Burgundy, Rocky Top & Quattro Stagioni Sel. Rossina Di Pescia. Total harvested - 12.9 lbs.
I really need to do a better job keeping lettuce growing in the garden. I was so so late starting lettuce for a later crop.


Watermelon: There were two varieties of watermelon planted at the plots; Sugar Baby & Moon & Stars. Both varieties had an encounter with the groundhog. The little monster ate the Sugar Baby melons when they were young. So we didn't get any for ourselves. We did manage to harvest a couple small Moon & Stars though. Total harvested - 8 lbs.

Cantaloupe: Two varieties of cantaloupe were planted at the plots; Organic Delicious & French. They did OK and both varieties were good. I was really bad at my record keeping and don't remember the details and which did better. The Total harvest was - 13 lbs.

Misc. Melons: Two other varieties of melons were also planted at the plots, Korean & Tularosa. The Korean melons were from seeds that I had saved from a melon that a dear friend of ours gave us a couple of years ago. This melon did OK and 1 lb. of fruit was havested. I was very excited about the Tularosa melon. The seed was gift from Holly. This melon is supposed to be wonderful! I ended up with only one plant. It was planted at the plots and was doing well. One day it just died. I have no idea why. It was fine one day and wilted the next.

Onions: All of the onions this past year were planted from sets or purchased plants. I had such a bad year when I started them from seed. It was so much work and the results were the worst that I had ever had. Maybe some day I will try my hand at growing them from seed again. All of this years varieties were storage onions. Sown from sets were Red Baron & Stuttergarter. Sown from purchased plants were Red Zepplin & Copra. The onions really liked the soil at the plots and did great! I didn't separate the totals of the two different varieties of red & white. Next year we are planning on sowing some sweet onions in addition to storage onions. I think that we also need more poundage to get us through the year. We shall see how we make out.

    Red Onions: 23.3 lbs
    White Onions: 16.5 lbs.
    Spring Onions: .7 lbs

Peas: There were a lot of different types of peas planted this year. Some were planted at the home garden and some at the plots. The peas did pretty well. I did notice that of the varieties of peas that were planted in both locations, the ones planted in the home garden did better.
  • Shelling Peas: The only variety of shelling peas that were sown were Little Marvel. Some were sown at the home garden and some at the plots. Most of the first sowing at the plots rotted due to the excessive rains we had. The Total harvest was 4 lbs. Next year I will be adding some new shelling varieties.
  • Snow Peas: There were three varieties of snow peas planted; Oregon Giant, Mammoth Melting & Carouby de Maussane. The Oregon Giant & Mammoth Melting were sown both in the home garden and the plots. They did pretty well. The early peas of these two varieties were great. As the season moved on the peas got tough and stringy and the plants were pulled. The Carouby de Maussane were only sown at the plots and did not do very well at all. I don't think that I will be planting that variety again. Total harvest was 4.7 lbs.
  • Snap Vine Peas: We had some great new snap pea varieties this year that we absolutely loved! These were; Spring Blush Snap & Sugar Magnoila Purple Snap. Both varieties are vining and were purchased from Peace Seeds. The Spring Blush peas were sown in the home garden and yielded 1.8 lbs. The Sugar Magnoila peas were sown at the plots and yielded 2.6 lbs. Both of these varieties will definitely be planted next year!
Peppers: It was definitely the year of the pepper for us! They just would stop producing!!

Hot Peppers:
  • Habanero - This one plant, seed from Mimi, produced the biggest Habanero peppers that I have ever seen. This baby just kept going and going!! I have a lot of them dried that need to be ground for Habanero Powder....which was requested by my Sister In-law.
  • Jalapeno - These seemed to produce at their normal rate and we had plenty pickled for use over the winter. The Jalapeno peppers were extremely hot this year.....right from the start.
  • Pepperoncini - These seeds were from Thomas. This pepper has got to be one of the most prolific varieties! It was amazing how many I got from just 3 plants! I have to say that I am disappointed in the flavor though. They were very bitter with an odd flavor. I love pickled pepperoncinis on just about everything. I am going to have to look for a different variety though.
Spice Peppers:
  • Cayenne - The Cayenne peppers seemed to produce at their normal rate. There are plenty dried that need to be ground for cayenne pepper.
  • Paprika Hungarian - The Paprika peppers did very well this year. They were much larger then usual. There are also plenty of these dried waiting to be ground in to powder for cooking.
  • Pimento - The pimentos started out great....until the groundhog decided that he was going to eat each and every one of them. I only managed to harvest two before he had his feast! We were really looking forward to canning these.
Total Hot & Spice Pepper Harvest - 25.7 lbs

Sweet Peppers:
  • Orange Bell - These were very prolific this year. I just wish that they would turn color quicker. I may need to look for a variety that gets a little bigger and turns color quicker. I'm open for any suggestions.
  • Corona - Yellow Bell - This variety produced well also. It does have a few problems though. The color is the same as the orange bell, it doesn't turn color quick enough and they aren't all that big. I am open for suggestions on a yellow bell as well.
  • Red - Corno Di Toro -Italian Heirloom frying - This also did very well since it was the year of the pepper.  
  • Red - Marconi - Italian Heirloom frying - This pepper did great and is bigger then the Corno Di Toro.
  • Red Bell - Quadrato Rosso D'Asti - Granny gave me this seed. I have to say that this pepper is wonderful! They are big bells that turn an absolutely perfect lipstick red! Now, if I can only find an orange & yellow bell that are this good!
Total Sweet Pepper harvest - 51.2 lbs.

Potatoes: I planted three varieties of potatoes this year; Yukon Gold, Sagre Red & Kennebec. I choose these varieties because they were early or mid-season potatoes and are supposed to be good for storage. Even though we did have some problems with the potatoes this year, they did pretty well. The Yukon Golds  were planted in a bed next door at the rental house that I use to own. They started to look like they had a disease. So, I pulled them early. I also planted half of the Sagre Reds there and half at the plots. All of the Kennebecs were planted at the plots. While digging around for some potatoes at the plots, I noticed that something had been nibbling at them. So, all of those potatoes were pulled early too. The Yukon Gold is our favorite potato. The Sagre Red were OK, but I have had better red potatoes before. The Kennebecs  were definitely the best performers. I think that I am going to look for a different variety of red potatoes to plant next year. I planted 2 1/2 lbs of each variety and the harvests were as follows.

Yukon Gold - 7.5 lbs.
Sagre Red - 9.5 lbs.
Kennebec - 23.1 lbs.

Raspberries & Blackberries - All of the raspberries were Heritage.  Some were new canes that I planted and some were already at the plots. They didn't do all that well. There was an early modest harvest and no fall harvest due to the hurricane. The total harvest was 3.7 lbs. The blackberries that were at the plots when we got them are a variety called Hull. I have to say that we really really loved those blackberries. They made the best jam ever! The total blackberry harvest was 11.5 lbs. I am planning on moving some of them to the new Community Garden location early next spring.

Spinach- I have to admit that spinach has got to be the most difficult crop for me to grow. I have tried everything. The best crop that I had was last year when I got so disgusted that I just ignored it and we went on vacation. When we came home we had tons of spinach. Maybe it needs the passive gardening approach. This year I got absolutely nothing from the spring crop. So in disgust, I threw a ton of seeds at the one end of the one bed at the home garden for a fall crop. I think that I planted  a couple of varieties of Bloomsdale and maybe some Matador. They are growing! So, we may have some fall spinach after all. If not, we will definitely have some in the spring!

Strawberries - I planted a new strawberry bed at the plots this year. There were three varieties planted; Jewel & Annapolis (June bearing) and Ozark Beauty (everbearing).  They did not do very well. They all took off early in the season.Then they had a hard time with the many heat waves that we had and a long hot drought period and then tons of rain. I think that I have lost many of the plants. It looks like I may have to buy some more next year. The total harvest was 4.2 lbs.


Summer: The only variety of summer squash that was planted was Cocozelle Italian Zucchini. We really like this variety and it did well this year. No SVB's! Total harvest was 17.7 lbs.

  • Spaghetti Squash - The spaghetti squash were planted at the home garden along the fence at the end of the herb garden. We won the SVB war with these too! Total harvest 23 lbs.
  • Sweet Dumpling - These were planted at the plots in the one Three Sister's planting. The squash bugs tried their best to get to them. But we ended up with a decent harvest of 8.8 lbs.
  • Field Pumpkin - The SVB's got to the pumpkin vines and we only ended up with one orange pumpkin that weighed 6 lbs.
  • Long Island Cheese Squash - The seeds for this squash were from Mimi. They were quite small but did well. This is the squash that I used to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Total harvest 6 lbs.
  • Greek Winter Squash - Jane in Maui gave me these seeds and I was very excited about this squash. The vine grew like crazy but it failed to produce one single female flower.
  • Fortna White Pumpkin  - I planted this pumpkin because I thought that white pumpkins were pretty cool. They are on the small side. But, they did well. Total harvest 16.2 lbs.  We haven't eaten any of them yet. So, I can't give an opinion on their taste.
Tomatoes - It definitely was not the year of the tomato here in eastern PA! The total tomato harvest was 316.8 lbs. I did a tomato review that you can read here.

That's about it for the 2011 Garden Overview & Totals. I will do a short post on the herbs this year....even though I failed to weigh any of them!

Here's to a great gardening year for all in 2012!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Garden Overview & Totals ...... Part 1

This was not the best gardening year for any of us...but, I'm not going to complain too much! This year there was a lot of work getting the plots going. It looks like next year is going to be a lot of work too since the Community Garden is moving.

The total weighed harvest from the gardens to date is a little over 720 lbs. Considering the fact that last year I harvested more then 400 lbs. from 230 square feet of actual garden space and this year I harvested 720 lbs. from about 1000 square feet. It was not the best year. OK, that's the end of my complaining!

I will do this post the same as I did it last year, in alphabetical order. This may be a bit lenghty and boring. But, is part of my garden record keeping.

Asian Veggies: I planted three varieties of Asian veggies this year; Pak Choi, Baby Choi & Chinese Tatsoi. The Baby Choi and Tatsoi did better then the Pak Choi. Due to a fluctuation in temperature, the Pak Choi bolted very early. I was extremely pleased with the Baby Choi's production. I presently have all three of these varieties growing in the cold frames and it looks like we will harvesting some soon.

    Pak Choi - 1 lb
    Baby Choi - 7.625 lbs.
    Tatsoi - 1.0625 lbs.
    Total - 9.6875 lbs

Asparagus: Two new asparagus beds were planted at the plots. One bed was planted with Jersey Supreme Hybrid and the other bed with Purple Passion. Both beds did well and are prepped for the winter. Hopefully the moving of these beds will be a success come next year.


Pole Beans: I planted two varieties of purple pole beans; Dean's Purple Snap & Blue Coco Snap. These were planted late at the end of June due to the fact that I didn't get a place ready for them at the plots. Then we had the hurricane, which blew the tee-pee down. We did manage to get 3.375 lbs. from them but not enough to freeze any. Next year I am planning to sow them on time and also add two additional varieties, Chinese Red Noodle and Red-Seeded Asparagus. It's going to be a beanless winter :(

Fava Beans: This was the first time that I planted Fava Beans. The variety was Precoce A Grano Violetta. Unfortunately ants got into the plants and we were only able to taste a few. They were absolutley wonderful! I am looking forward to planting some Fava Beans next year.

Lima Beans: The limas were also planted way too late. The variety sown was King of the Garden Pole.
Due to the very late planting and all of the rain at the end of the season. None were harvested.

Dry Beans: The dry beans were planted as a second crop and in empty spaces I had both at the plots and the home garden. Due to the excessive rain late in the season, I feel the harvest was about 50% less then it should have been. We did loose one variety entirely. But, we do have enough stored for some home made baked beans and some soup & chili.

    Great Northern Bush- 3 lbs.
    Jacob's Cattle Bush - 13 oz.
    Coco-Rubico Bush - 6 oz.
    Kidney Bush - 1.5 lbs.
    Trail of Tears Pole - 10 oz.
    Sadie's Horse Runner - None

Broccoli: This was the worst year I have ever had for broccoli. I would say it was a total failure. The spring broccoli bolted due the heat and the fall broccoli has been basically destroyed by the ground hog at the plots. Two varieties were planted; Walthan 29 & Calabrese. I have added some new varieties to the list for next year and also some Broccoli Raab. A few will be planted at the home garden in the spring next year since I'm not sure if the plots will be ready. It was disappointing...but, I have never really had a problem in the past. A total of 1.1875 lbs is all that has been harvested so far this year.

Brussels Sprouts: This is my second attempt at growing brussels sprouts and quite frankly my last for a couple of years. I only harvested a handful last year. This year I thought that I would not have any to harvest. After a recent visit to the plots, it looks like there may be some after all. I planted Long Island & Falstaff. These plants are heavy feeders & take up a lot of room. I am planning to try them again once the soil is established at the plots.

Cabbage: The cabbage did OK this year. Three varieties were planted; Chiefton Savoy, Red Acre & Tet Noire. I only planted 3 of each since I wasn't planning to make sauerkraut this year. They all produced small heads and it was enough for the two of us. I even managed to freeze 3 nice portions of Braised Red Cabbage for use over the winter.

    Chiefton Savoy - 3.75 lbs.
    Red Acre - 4.875 lbs
    Tet Noire - 4.25 lbs.

Carrots: The early planting of carrots did well. I planted Chantenay Royal, Parisienne, Danver's Half Long & Scarlet Nantes in the spring with a total harvest of 5.875 lbs. The later sowings did not do well. The seedlings kept dying from the heat. We only have 4 carrots growing right now! Hopefully I will be able to produce more carrots next year since they are a definitel staple for cooking.

Cauliflower: This was another crop that had a difficult time this year. I planted three varieties; Early Snowball, Silver Cup & Igloo. They also had a difficult time with the extreme early heat and the fall crop...well, the ground hog. The total harvest was 2.21875 lbs. Not nearly enough for us. I have always had success with this crop in the past. I will also plant a few in the home garden next spring and may look into some different varieties.

Celery: I always plant Golden Self Blanching Celery. The celery did very well this year. I planted some in the home garden and some at the plots. The home garden celery was harvested first and was absolutely beautiful! I thought that the celery at the plots was going to be a failure and procrastinated in pulling it. I am very happy that I did. It turned around and gave us a nice harvest. I also managed to get 3 small shoots from these plants that are now growing in the cold frames. I also noticed a couple of days ago that there is some celery growing out of the bottom of one of the compost bins! Another note, the celery this year was not nearly as strong as celery I have grown in the past. Total harvest 10.4375 lbs.

Ground Cherries: I recieved some Aunt Mollie's seeds as a free gift from one of the seed companies last year. I planted two in pots on the deck at home. They didn't really seem to ripen as they should. The dang squirrels definitely enjoyed them! I'm not sure if I will try them again next year.

Corn: I planted some Japanese Hulless Popcorn for the first time at the plots in two Three Sisters Plantings. They were planted a bit late and the very small harvest has yet to be tested. I'm planning on planting the popcorn again next year in the same fashion and am adding a variety called Strawberry. I so enjoyed the popcorn that my mother planted and I'm not giving up!

Cucumbers: What a time I had with the cucumbers this year! I usually have way too many and end up pulling most of the vines when the pickles are made. The plan was to sow Japanese Climbing & a Slicing variety in the home garden. The Little Tykes & Gherkins were to be sown at the plots for pickle making. Well the first planting at the plots failed and all I had left was more Gherkin seeds, which turned out to be an actual spiky Gherkin variety. That was not the description of the seeds.  At home, I usually plant the cucumbers where some of the early peas were planted. It usually works well as I won't have to make pickles at the same time the tomato glut comes in. The cucumbers at home didn't do well and died early. This happened to a lot of people in our area. It must have been the weather. We did harvest enough for some pickle making. Later I found some from a local farmer and we are good in the pickle department. Next year I am going to plan a little differently for the cucumbers. There have also been some new varieties added to the list.

    Japanese & Slicing - 7.34375
    Gherkin - 1.47 lbs.

Eggplant: There were four varieties of eggplants planted; Black Beauty, Early Black Egg, Rosa Bianca & Lunga Violetta Di Firenze. Only the Rosa Bianca eggplants were the normal size. The other three varieties were less then half the size they normally are. The harvest was enough to make eggplant caponata and were we also able to freeze some. The total harvest was 17.344 lbs.

Garlic: I don't know what I was thinking when I planted the garlic. I only planted 55 cloves. That's hardly enough for "The Italian". The varieties were Siberian & some Misc. varieties that got mixed up over the years The heads were smaller then normal. Hopefully we will have enough to get through the year since we were still using the stored garlic from the previous year long after this years was harvested. This fall I purchased new garlic for planting and should definitely have enough for use and planting next year.

    Garlic Scapes - 10 oz.
    Garlic Heads - 5.125 lbs.

That's it for Part 1. Part 2 to follow and it will begin at Greens.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.....Thanksgving Edition.....11/24/2011

In all my blondness, last Thursday I didn't realize that this Thursday was Thanksgiving. If so, I would have mentioned that I would do a Thanksgiving Edition of Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard. In this post I am posting what has been made or served for our Thanksgiving feast from our stored goods.

Eggplant Caponata - canned - served with homemade toasted French bread
Cheddar Cookies - served with various homemade jellies & jams
Tapanata  - served with homemade toasted French bread

A couple of months ago I found this great recipe for Cheddar and Pepper Jelly Cookies here. We decided that these cookies would be great served with various jams & jellies as an appetizer for Thanksgiving.

Cheddar Cookies
  • 8 oz (2 cups) Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 TBL (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup flour
  1. Place cheese and butter in a food processor (could be creamed by hand or mixer); add flour and process until the mixture forms a soft dough. Gather up the dough and divide into two flat disks. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until chilled, about 45 minutes. (I made my dough ahead of time and put it in the frig.)
  2. Position two racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or use nonstick sheets.
  3. Using 1 teaspoon dough for each, roll the dough into small balls and place 1 inch apart on the sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and make an indentation in each cookie for the jelly.
  4. At this point the original recipe states to put a dollop of jelly on each cookie and return to the oven. Since we are serving these with various jellies and jams, I just returned them to the oven and baked until done about 5-8 minutes for my oven.
  5. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Recipe makes about 20 cookies. I made a double batch and made them a bit smaller.

The Feast:
Stuffing made with homemade bread & Herbs, Celery & Onions from the garden.
Mashed Potatoes - from the garden
Applesauce - canned

Pumpkin Pie - made with fresh cooked Long Island Cheese Squash from the garden
Cherry Pie - made with frozen local sour cherries

I think that this is going to be the best tasting pumkin pie that I have ever made. The squash batter tasted just wonderful before I cooked it!

Yum, yum.....Cherry favorite!!

The rest of the feast was made with locally grown produce. I also made the Brown Bag Apple Pie.....yum! The locally grown Granny Smith Apples were the biggest, yugliest and best apples that I have ever had! I only used 5 apples for one big pie!

Isn't that just wonderful???

From our hearts to you.....Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Next Thursday I will do an update on the mustards and post the Horseradish Mustard recipe.

I may not have the time today to respond to all your comments or visit your blogs...since we still need to make the Living Room the Dining Room and the Dining Room the Living Room like we did last year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cold Frame Maintenance & Changes

I've been doing a little maintenance on the cold frames. Before we went on vacation I did a little work on the tops. First I put some sturdier braces on the corners. Some of the original ones were not real sturdy and the tops started to twist a bit. Then I put new plastic on the tops. The plastic that we had originally used was some that we had around. It was not the proper plastic to use for the tops.....but, it was free. This year we decided to buy the proper type of plastic for the tops. I did some searching and found greenhouse plastic that is supposed to last for 4 years. I purchased enough to re-cover them twice. It was about the same price with shipping as buying a roll of plastic at a Big Box Store. I can either use it to cover them again or to make a protective covering if needed in the garden.

I was not happy with the original supports to hold the tops open. They were short and could not hold the tops open very I made some new ones. I just took some stakes that I had around and drilled holes in them.  They seem to be working well. We shall see how I feel during the cold winter days.

I also put concrete blocks in the front to put the bottom of the stakes in. I think this will work much better and I will now be able to adjust the height of the opening to as small or as large as needed.

The rope lights that were in the cold frames last year were also re-installed. I wasn't going to put them in. However, they seemed to work well last year. So, I decided to put them back. One of you bloggers out there (I don't remember who) did a post with a link to an article about winter greenhouse growing. The article said that if you have 1-2 hours of additional light during the night, it will stimulate growth during the winter. After reading the article I decided to add one light per cold frame. They are connected to a timer and come on for 2 hours in the middle of the night.

I found everything that I needed to make the lights in the basement.

The only problem that I am having besides the hungry bugs is this.

The timer would not fit under the flap to the exterior water proof outlet cover. I removed it and replaced it with an indoor one. Now I have to find a cover that will protect the outlet and the timer from the rain. I'm sure I will think of something. If not "The Italian" always seems to come up with innovative ideas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Community Garden Move Update

Many of you are probably wondering what is going on with the garden move......Well, not much! In case you didn't know I was picked as one of the 4 gardeners on the Garden Commitee. We have had two meetings so far. I missed the first one since we were on vacation at the time. The second meeting went well with the limited information that has been given to Farmland Preservation so far.

The new site was changed to a different location. The new new location is behind the county garage not far from the current site.

The good thing about this site is that it can't be sold. There are a couple of  not so good things though. The plots are 10' smaller then the old plots. So I will loose 400 square feet of space. My neighbor (since you are only allowed one per address) is on the waiting list for a plot. I have made three different garden layouts so far. Plan One, if we only get two plots together. Plan Two, if we get all three together and Plan Three , if we get two together and one separate.

The other not so good thing is that the land will not be prepared until late winter or early spring, depending on the weather. The original plan was to have it done this fall. I guess that there are reasons, unknown to the Garden Committee as to why this is not being done. You must remember that this is government at work. The land will be prepped using a tractor and spader. This method is much better then conventional tilling.

I also received a copy of the soil test for the new site.

It really would have been very beneficial if the soil could have been prepped this fall. Oh well, it's a good thing that my favorite garden center is having a big sale! All bagged humus, dehydrated manure and leaf compost is 75% off! So far I have purchased (30) 40lb. bags of humus for .80 a bag and (30) 40 lb. bags of dehydrated manure for 1.29 a bag. I think that I will be there tomorrow buying some more!

I'm also in the process of contacting local schools to find volunteers to help with the move. Farmland Preservation has been told by "The Powers that Be", that there will be no help available to the gardeners from the county workers for the move.

That's about it for now. I will post additional information as it becomes available.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..........11/17/2011

For those of you who have been stopping by this blog for awhile. You may remember my first attempt at making mustards last year. You can read Part 1 here, Update 1 here and Update 2 here.

Last year I made four varieties of mustard; Spicy Brown, Bavarian Whole Seed, Coarse Ground Yellow & Coarse Ground w/Red Wine.

The Spicy Brown Mustard was perfect and everyones favorite with the exception of my one best friend, who is a mustard freak like me. Her favorite was the Bavarian Whole Seed Mustard.

This year I decided to make two double batches of the Spicy Brown Mustard, two versions of American Yellow Mustard, Horseradish Mustard & my own recipe, which is Coarse Ground Mustard w/beer.

All of the mustards are made and then placed in a cool dark place to age. The mustards are extremely strong when first made. The aging will mellow the flavor. Once the flavor is to your liking, place it in the refrigerator to keep the flavor to the desired pungency level.

The recipe for the Spicy Brown Mustard can be found here. The only adjustment that I made was to use half the salt.

The original American Yellow Mustard can be found here. I also cut the salt in half.

The second version the American Yellow Mustard was made very similar to the first. The only change that I have made so far is I took yellow mustard seeds and ground them a bit to use instead of store bought ground mustard or mustard flour. This will make for a some what coarse mustard. I may have to add a bit of the store bought ground mustard as it may be a bit too thin. We shall see how it is after aging for a week in the basement.

This is a double batch of each of the following ready to be aged: American Yellow w/ground seeds, American Yellow & Spicy Brown.

My goal is to make a similar, but better mustard then the Bavarian Whole Seed Mustard that I made last year. I felt that it was too thick and too coarse. I did a little research and found another mustard recipe that was a whole seed mustard and also used beer. This is what I came up with.

Coarse Ground Mustard w/Beer - Notes in red are adjustments to the recipe
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • 1 1/2 Cups Beer
  • 1/2 Cup Malt Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup lightly packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Dry Mustard + 2 Tbsp.
  • 1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey
  1. Partially grind mustard seeds in spice or coffee grinder. I suppose you could grind them by hand with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Soak the mustard seeds in beer overnight. The beer will foam up when you add the seeds. So make sure you have a big enough bowl.
  3. Place soaked seeds and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until evenly mixed.
  4. Put mixture in glass container, cover and age in a cool dark place until desired flavor is reached.

This is the coarse ground mustard seeds after soaking in beer overnight. The remaining ingredients will be added and it will be put in storage to age.

The Horseradish Mustard will be started this afternoon since I wanted to get the horseradish from the Farmer's Market.

I will do an update on the mustards next week and also post the recipe for the Horseradish Mustard and let you know if I have made any adjustments to the recipes.

What's been going in or out of your cupboard lately??

Monday, November 14, 2011

Harvest Monday...................11/14/2011

This past week I harvested the remaining leeks from both gardens. There were two leeks left in one of the beds at home and four leeks left at the plots. They aren't all that big....but, they will make a nice soup!

Normally a lot of the leeks are left in the garden to harvest over the winter. This year due to bad planning on my part at the home garden and the weather....all of them are now out of the ground.

Note: We are going away for most of the day. So, I may not get to respond to your comment or visit your blog until tomorrow.

Total weighed Harvest: 1.25 lbs of Leeks

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Tomato Overview

2011 was not the year of the tomato here in Eastern Pennsylvania. I'm not going to complain too much since we did manage to get enough tomato products put up for the year. With the exception of tomato catsup, none was made.

The total weighed tomato harvest was 316.8 lbs from 42 plants. This is considerably less then I expected since we harvested 221.2 lbs from 19 plants in 2010 and only 16 were really productive (due to a very late planting of 3 of the plants).

The first ripe tomatoes were the Matt's Wild Cherry. 2 little cuties were harvested on June 16th. The first big tomato was a Cherokee Purple, seed from Daphne, weighing 4 oz. on July 1st.

The largest tomato this year was a Pineapple, seed from Diana, weighing in at 2 lbs. 9.5 oz. It was the largest tomato I have ever grown....and tasty too!

I also did a Cherokee Purple experiment with 4 plants from 4 different seed sources. Due to the weather conditions this year, I am going to do the experiment again next year. I will post the results from this year in a separate post.

Red Varieties:

Amish Paste - Indeterminate - Seed from Thomas - This was the first year that I planted this variety. It is a nice meaty and somewhat oval shaped tomato. The fruits weigh about 5-9 ounces. It is a great tomato for cooking, canning & slicing. This variety did fairly well with the horrible weather conditions this year. It's a definite for next year.

Belgian Beauty - Indeterminate - Seed from Landis Valley - This was the first year that I planted this variety. The fruits are round, meaty and low acid. The first few were a good size around 1 lb. This plant did not do the best this year due to the weather conditions. I am going to plant it again next year.

Matt's Wild Cherry - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds -  As always, this variety did great. It's a non-stop producing plant that fares well in any conditions.

Howard's German Red - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - This is one of our favorite overall tomatoes. It normally has large long pointed very meaty fruit. Although you would think that this is a tomato for cooking and canning, it is a wonderful tasting tomato for slicing. This variety did not do well with the weather this year. I will be planting it again since it is a great tomato and has always done well in the past.

Paulina - Indeterminate - This tomato is from seed that I saved a couple of years ago. The original tomato was purchased from an Organic Amish Heirloom Tomato Farm nearby. This variety is very similar to the Amish Paste tomato and the results were about the same. This tomato will be planted again next year.

San Marzano - Semi-determinant -  Seed from In-laws trips to Italy - My in-laws have brought me this variety of seed on two separate trips to Italy. I have to say that I have not be happy with the results. Every year, I say that I will give it one more try. The fruits are very small, take forever to ripen, production is low and is always the first to disease. I don't think I will be planting this one again. I am going to try another source for this tomato next year though.

Reigart Plum - Indeterminate - Seed from Landis Valley - This was my first year planting this variety. It is a small oval tomato that is a about twice the size of a grape tomato. Although it is not that big, I really liked this tomato. It did very well this year in spite of the horrible conditions. It is a meaty tomato and is great for cooking, canning and salads. It's on the list for next year.

Pink/Purple Varieties:

Glick's Brandywine - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - This is a great tasting slicing tomato. Last year this variety produced the largest fruit. Things were a bit different this year due to the weather. It had the same problem that I had with many of the other varieties. It was unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. Seed Origin; The history is that the seed came via Glen Brendle, whose family obtained it from Isaac N. Glick, an early seedsman from Lancaster, PA, who distributed seed for Johnson and Stokes Seeds of Philadelphia. Brandywine Tomato was first introduced by them in 1889. This is supposed to be the most original of the many Brandywine strains. It is on the list for next year.

Tiffens Mennonite - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - This is a Mennonite Heirloom potato leaf variety very similar to a Brandywine. The fruits have a wonderful flavor and are great for slicing. This variety is usually a good producer with large fruits. Due to the weather, I had the same problem with this variety this year that I had with many of the other varieties. It was unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. It is on the list for next year.

Purple Varieties:

Cherokee Purple - Indeterminate - Seeds from Daphne, Diana, EG & Thomas - What can I's a CP! We just love this tomato and we were very pleased with all 4 seed sources! This variety did have a difficult time with our horrible weather conditions though. It was unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. Of course all four are on the list for next year!

Eva's Purple Ball - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds  -  It's a smaller very round fruit ranging on the average 5-8 oz. each, just the right size for lunch. This is a wonderful tasting tomato, extremely prolific, disease tolerant and also good for cooking and canning. This has got to be the most dependable variety that I have ever planted! No matter what the conditions, the fruits are the same size and the plant keeps producing. Seed origin; This is a late 1800's heirloom tomato from The Black Forest Region in Germany via Joe Bratka's grandfather who kept this wonderful heirloom tomato from dying out. Joe donated seed to a seed saving organization in 1992. We are planting a lot of this variety next year!

Purple Calabash - Indeterminate - Seed from Emily - This is a beautiful purple tomato with a lot of ridges and a wonderful flavor! The fruits are of a a medium size. It was very prolific and did fairly well with the weather conditions. This variety will also be planted next year.

Other Colors:

Pineapple - Indeterminate - Seed from Diana - This is a great tasting and absolutely beautiful tomato! The fruits are yellow and red and extremely large. This plant produced the largest tomato this year. There wasn't a fruit that was under 1 1/2 lbs! The fruit does ripen a bit later then most tomatoes...but, it is a must for anyone who loves tomatoes. The plant got very large and did better then most in spite of our weather this year. Of course we are planting this one next year.

White Tomesol - Indeterminate - Original seed from Amishland Seeds - We really like this tomato. It's a very pretty white variety that has a very nice flavor. The taste is light, not acidy at all, not too sweet or rich, just light. It is normally a pretty good producer with medium to large fruits. This year the fruits were much smaller then in the past. The plant did OK with the weather conditions. It's on the list for next year.

Black Cherry - Indeterminate - Seed from EG - This is a great tasting tomato! The fruits are usually about 1 oz each....very big for a cherry variety. The plant was very large, produced a tremendous amount of fruit, disease resistant and did exceptionally well with the weather conditions. It's a go for next year!

Paul Robeson - Indeterminate - Seed from EG - This is a large black tomato. Although CP's have always been our favorite eating tomato, I think that I can say this variety is as good! The first few fruits were very large and absolutely wonderful! As the weather deteriorated, I had the same problem with this one as I had with the CP's, Brandywine and many other varieties. It became unusually deformed, had a lot cracking and a hard time ripening. It's on the list for next year.

Kellogg's Breakfast - Indeterminate - Seed from EG - This is a wonderful orange colored tomato with very large fruit! They are very meaty and about the same size as the Pineapple tomatoes. Most of the fruits were at least 1 1/2 lbs. It is a low acid fruit and was also the favorite eating tomato of many who tasted it about here. It ripened a little later then many of the other varieties. It did fairly well with the weather this year. It is also a go for next year.

Due to the weather, this was a very difficult year to get a good review of the tomatoes. I hope that you all enjoyed the review and don't hesitate to ask a question. Hopefully next year, I will be a bit more organized and take pictures of each and every variety to add to my review.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..............11/10/2011

So far this year I have canned almost 300 jars of food. Most of our canned goods are stored in the basement. I have this great old cupboard that I keep a lot of the jars in.

I do try to keep everything organized in order to find something without moving too much. I try to keep canned goods from the previous year on the top shelf. As you can see it's pretty much full.
I have some tomatoes here.....and

some tomato puree on another shelf....I really think that I need to re-organize the basement shelves. It's a hot mess down there! I think that The Italian Santa is getting me a pressure canner for, I'm sure I will need a lot more space!

I did not do any canning or preserving this week. So, I thought that I would share a recipe. This is a great red sauce with sausage, wine & vinegar that we really enjoy. I'm not sure what region it is from in Italy. I think that "The Italian" was watching Lydia one day and she made something similar.

Red Sauce w/Sausage

  • Sausage removed from casing. You can use sweet or hot. This time I used two links of each of our homemade sausage.
  • Red Wine (preferably free from your wine collecting neighbor)
  • Olive Oil
  • Tomato Puree or whole canned tomatoes pureed
  • Vinegar
  • Onion (optional)
  • Pickled Hot Peppers
  • Pasta of choice
  1. Remove sausage from casing, put in a bowl, mush with fork and cover with red wine. Use plenty of wine.
  2. Let the sausage sit and absorb the wine for about 30 minutes. You may need to add a bit more wine if the sausage absorbs it quickly.
  3. Chop onions, if desried. I used about 1/4 of a medium onion in the sauce this time.

This is what the sausage looks like when you pour the wine over it. It will absorb the wine.

    4.   Put a a medium size saucepan on med/high heat, add about 1 tbsp. of olive oil, add sausage and wine mixture and saute meat until cooked.

    5.   Add Tomato Puree (I used 1 1/2 pints), onion if desired and about 1/4 Cup of vinegar to mixture and cook until thick. You may want to add a little more vinegar while cooking, depending upon the flavor. The vinegar and wine really make this sauce.

    6.   Cook pasta and serve topped with hot peppers.

The quantities I used made 2-3 servings, adjust quantities to accommodate portions required.

What's been going in or out of your cupboard lately?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Harvest Monday...................11/07/2011

All of the dry beans have been shelled & weighed. I just love dried beans! Many of them are so pretty!

Dry beans are usually one of the easiest crops that I grow. You just put the seed in the ground, let them grow, dry out and pull the plants when you get around to it. Not this year! With all of the rain we had late in the season many of the beans were rotting, molding and sprouting. So, I had to pull the plants, bring them home and hang them to dry.

I planted 6 varieties of dry beans: Great Northen, Red Kidney, Jacob's Cattle, Trail of Tears, Coco Rubico & Sadie's Horse Beans. The two varieties that I was the most excited about were the Trail of Tears (seed from Daphne) and Sadie's Horse Beans (seed from Diana). I didn't plant many of the Trail of Tears and the yield was good considering the weather. Unfortunately the Sadie's Horse Bean crop was lost entirely due to the wet weather. The yield on the remaining 5 varieties was about half of what they should have been.

Aren't they just Beautiful??
Varieties from left to right: Coco Rubico, Trail of Tears, Jacob's Cattle, Red Kidney and Great Northern white bean in the back.

Total weighed Harvest: 6.1875 lbs

Great Northern - 3 lbs (7 Cups)
Red Kidney - 1.5 lbs (4 Cups)
Jacob's Cattle - 13 oz (2 Cups)
Trail of Tears - 8 oz (1 Cup)
Coco Rubico - 6 oz (1 Cup)

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in gardens around the globe!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard............11/03/2011

After returning from our vacation and catching up after the storm. I finally got to the orchard and purchased some apples to make some applesauce. I only purchased about 12 lbs. I used most of them for making some applesauce and left a few for eating.

I made my applesauce according to the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I just cut, cored, peeled, chopped and cooked the apples in a large pot with a little water. Instead of putting the cooked apples in the blender or mashing by hand, I used my immersion blender. It came out a little thinner then normal. I think that next time I will mash it by hand.

I made 7 pints of applesauce. We really don't eat a lot of, it should be enough for the two of us.

Tuesday evening I made one of our favorite soups, Winter Tarragon Tomato Soup. It's a great and easy recipe! I have posted this recipe before...but, here it is again.

Winter Tarragon Tomato Soup 

  • 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  •  Quart Canned Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine or Vermouth
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar (I use less)
  • 1 tsp. Dried Tarragon
  • Salt if desired
  • Sour Cream to top
  1. In large saucepan melt butter and saute onions for about 15 minutes

     2.   Add Tomatoes juice and all, then mash with potato masher
     3.   Add Wine, Sugar and Tarragon, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes

  4.   Puree with immersion blender and add salt if desired


Serve with a little sour cream and.....

Some Fresh Baked Bread!!

So, what's been going in or out of your cupboard lately??

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Powerless People

I was going to do a New Orleans post today. However, after reading some articles in local papers regarding the power situation in our area, I decided to write about the Powerless People.

As you know, "The Italian" and I live in a city and we recently had a very early snow storm which caused about 350,000 people in our area to loose power. Many will be without power until this weekend.

One article in particular caught my attention. It is in a local on-line community newspaper. The title "What's Your "War Story" Now That the Storm is Over?". You can read it here. I was absolutely amazed about what the author has learned from this experience and the comments. You have got to be kidding me! You rushed around looking for an open gas station and something for the kids to eat??? McDonalds??

We have learned a lot from this storm!
  1. We are not nearly as prepared as we need to be
  2. We are much more prepared then most
  3. We are sitting down this weekend and making a checklist of some very important items that we need
  4. We are also going to discuss and re-think a few "things" around here
  5. We were very lucky that were many open gas stations, restaurants and stores
  6. We were very lucky that it wasn't really cold out and it wasn't windy
If we ever have a "real disaster", I don't think many people could survive very long............what a shame to be a "Powerless Person"!