Monday, October 9, 2017

Freeze warning issued

The weather has been kind of dreary lately, cloudy, cool, some rain, even some jacket weather.  But yesterday was a glorious fall day, sunny and short sleeves.  I spent a good part of it outside doing some mowing and some fall clean up chores.  Today isn't expected to be as nice but I will be outside most of today as well as a freeze warning has been issued for tonight and I need to harvest what I can just in case.  The rest of the ten day forecast appears to look like it will stay above freezing but tonight's predicted 31 degrees could be the end of my tomatoes.
I have been doing some work in the greenhouse.  I hope to begin seeding the greens this week so I am cleaning and organizing and sanitizing equipment.  Last year, I had purchased a pot of strawberry plants and I overwintered them successfully so this year I am hoping to expand that and try it on a larger scale.  This past spring my daughter bought some strawberry plants in little pots and we planted several together into four hanging baskets and they were outside this summer.  Some of them developed runners so I have separated them and put them in hanging baskets.  I also have a raised bed of strawberry plants that were given to me when a friend's patch was dismantled and those are also getting runners and some of them are trying to get a foothold outside of their wooden walls so I am hoping to get those relocated to pots for the greenhouse as well and today might be my last opportunity. 
It is canning season and my excess produce is making its way to jars.  I have been doing tomato recipes and some jelly.  As I move through the canning process I have been dreaming about an outside canning kitchen.  Earlier this summer I bought a vintage sink to use outdoors. 
My plan is this winter to get it mounted on a stand and plumbed for water from the hose with another hose to drain away the water and I will use that sink to wash produce.  I am also looking at outdoor cooking and propane camp stoves and flat top grills as there never seems to be enough burners for all of those big pots in my tiny farm kitchen. 

I am hoping to have a farmers market update post soon.  In addition to baked goods and produce sales I have been trying my hand at soap making and gluten free baking.  Lots of stuff to post about. 
Happy fall!

Joining Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My kitchen smells amazing

Tomorrow will be all about baking for the Thursday farmer's market but yesterday and today I have been canning.
six heads of roasted garlic

Right now I am making roasted garlic pasta sauce.  It starts by roasting six heads of garlic and 4 green peppers and I have to say that roasted garlic has my kitchen smelling pretty amazing.  It will be a couple of hours before the sauce is ready for the canner and then another hour or so before the jars are cooling on the counter. I am trying t new recipe and will be sharing the recipe if it is successful over at the farmstand cookbook (link on the right sidebar).  It incorporates many garden treasures.  The garlic I purchased but the tomatoes, green peppers and herbs are all grown on the farm.  

Earlier this week I was making Bloody Mary mix, dandelion jelly and pepper jelly.  

I had a few more dandelions so an opportunity arose to make another couple of batches of dandelion jelly.  That recipe has been previously shared and can be found here.

The Bloody Mary mix also uses tomatoes from the garden along with bell peppers and jalapeno peppers.  It will be fun garnished with the pickled asparagus that was made earlier this spring.  I am making two versions, one with Worcestershire and a vegetarian one without.  

I make a pepper jelly with green bell peppers and jalapeno peppers.  My kids also make pepper jelly although their choices of hot peppers is a lot more adventurous than mine.  This year I tried a recipe for a zucchini pepper jam to sell at the market.  The zucchinis are a substitute for the bell peppers and the flavor is similar but it is a great way to use a spare zucchini.  I used farm grown zucchini and jalapenos.  You can't get more local than that.

 Earlier when my plums were ready I made a single batch of roasted plum blackberry jam.  I only had enough plums for five small jars but it was the first batch of plums from our young trees.  

I have grapes in the fridge to be processed and the elderberries are ripe and this year I will be making jelly with them.

 I will update this post with links for the other recipes as they are posted. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Garden harvest

This afternoon and evening i braved the mosquitos to harvest the ripe peppers and tomatoes and zucchinis.
My wagon filled with produce.
Green bell peppers and mini bells.
three types of summer squash and pink and black cherry tomatoes
These are Brandywine tomatoes
Paste tomatoes
All in all this time I picked 9 zucchini, 4.5 pounds of bell peppers, and over 75 pounds of various varieties of tomatoes.  The tomatoes have had a rough time and it shows with some scarring of the skin.  We had drought, monsoons and now cold.  They will work well for canning even if they aren't going to win a beauty contest.  I have started to can, making pepper jelly and zucchini pepper jelly and Bloody Mary mix so far.  Today there were a few dandelions in the yard so I collected some for another batch of dandelion jelly.     

Sunday, August 20, 2017

what a couple of weeks it has been since my last post.

The weather

It has been dry on the farm.  Watering was taking a fair amount of my time.  The grass was brown.  Well, not for the near future.  This week we have had more than 10 inches of rain.  We started with 4.5 inches last Sunday and then, two days later, the next Tuesday had another 6 inches.  So now the time that I was spending watering I am now spending monitoring the sump pumps and watching the no longer dormant grass grow.  It could be so much worse. My growing spaces are all on high enough ground to not have had any standing water issues or drowned out plantings.  The couple of low spots, near the driveway, south of the greenhouse and on the pasture, were ponds for awhile but they are now receded.  I have a little bit of wet floors in the basement but no damage.  I had a near miss with the well pump and so now I am more frequent in my checks.  My sticky switch is back and I hope that like the last time it gets to be unsticky.  In the meantime I am turning off the breaker when tapping on it with a stick doesn't do the trick. 

The farmers market

I have been having a great time at the farmers market.  It is a lot of work but fun.  We market twice a week on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  I have brought my gear and set up my stuff each time since my first time.  Next Saturday I will be skipping and I know that I will be wondering if it is busy or slow and if the regulars will notice that I am not there.  I usually take baked goods and when I have them, some garden produce.  This week I sewed a couple of market bags to offer for sale and I will be finishing up more of them and one or more  harvest aprons to sell as well.

A couple of customers early on asked about gluten free options and no one at our market was doing any gluten free baking.  I have been experimenting with some new recipes and trying to bring something gluten free each week.  Lots of time I bring it all home at the end of the market.  This week the near miss with the well impacted the amount of time that I had for baking and I skipped the gluten free I had planned and of course that was the time that there were customers that might have bought it.  Shucks.

Each market day I take yeast breads and quick breads and scones and sometimes biscotti.  I have been trying to have some type of food item using zucchini, the first thing that was ready so far in my otherwise late garden.  I am just starting to get a very few red tomatoes but I have been taking some of my parents' surplus.  It is nice of them to share.

I have had great help and advice from my kids on this new endeavor.  They are my best cheerleaders.  The behind the scenes help has been great but the most visible contribution has been on facebook.  Mom's Hobby Farm has a until lately mostly unused facebook page that they have been posting to. 

The plums

I may have shared in the past the saga of my plums.  For several years now I have had as a goal to each year add some new perennial fruit to the farm.  Several years ago Nathan and Michelle gave me four fruit trees in May.  It was either mothers day or my birthday but probably a joint gift.  There were two plums and two pears.  The pears are not yet fruiting.  Last year one of the plums had its first fruit forming when overnight it disappeared.  There wasn't a lot of baby fruits on the tree but it was stripped clean overnight.  A bit of online research suggested squirrels might be the culprit and this year I brushed onto the trunk some vaseline mixed with hot sauce, a suggested remedy.  Either the hot sauce worked or the squirrels have lost interest but I actually got a small harvest of edible fruit.  The fully ripe plums were juicy with this heavenly aroma, red skins and gold flesh on the inside.  There was not enough to make a batch of plum only jam but there was enough to mix with blackberries from the store for a roasted plum blackberry preserve and that is what I did today.  5 jars of deep red/black goodness,.  I am considering taking them to the market but with only five jars I will probably hoard them for special breakfasts with my bunch.  Maybe next year I will have to plant blackberry canes. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The farmers market

The little town where I grew up and which is the nearest town to the farm has a small farmer's market that happens on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  I have started to participate.  For the last three weeks or so I have taken a table and set up in the shade of the park and sold my wares.  My garden went in late so I am not yet flush with surplus garden goodies so I have been taking baked goods.

It is a small group of vendors, 5 or 6 most days, who have been doing this twice a week for many years.  I am the new kid on the block and these pros couldn't be more helpful and friendly.  I hope to make a little money but I think that the social aspect of it will be at least as much fun.

Here is picture of my table.  I have been taking a different combination each time of baguettes, buns, mini loaves, biscotti, scones, almond cake and Danish puff.  I also have taken a few jars of savory and sweet jelly.

Finally I am getting produce to actually take to the market.  My summer squash has started to come.  So I have had a few zucchini and yellow squash in addition to the baked goods.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

orchard update

At the farm I have started a small orchard.  It began with a couple of apple trees and then a year later two plum trees and two pear trees.  My goal was to add more fruit every year.  This year was supposed to be peaches and some nut trees but the place where we tried to order them from sold out before our order could be filled. 

Last year I noticed that one of our apple trees was missing a lot of leaves.  It still produced apples and I hoped that it would be better this year.  This year it is even worse.  I did some research online and the suggestions were to fertilize and to try to give optimal care.  So today I spent some time in the orchard.  I mowed under the trees and weeded the area around the trunk.  I tried some of those pound in fertilizer spikes and gave the trees a good drink.  My other apple tree is one that seems to produce apples every other year.  This is the off year and although there are a few apples coming it is not as many as last year. 
sparsely leafed apple

a apple of the other tree
I have not had any pears yet but the trees are only a couple of years old.  My plum trees are not very old either but I have one plum tree that got fruit last year and then the fruit disappeared overnight while it was small and hard and green.  In my research online the consensus seemed to be squirrels. This year I am going to try coating the trunk in several places with petroleum jelly laced with hot sauce.   From my research it sounds like the squirrels do not always eat from the same trees each year but we will see. 
The elderberries are flowering.  Last year I made an elderberry cordial from the berries.  This year I am considering using the flowers for jam or sharing them with Cait and Robb who are budding wine makers for an elderflower wine if they are interested in giving it a try..   
heavenly scent

tiny flowers
The grapes are starting to form
It has been a dry year.  It was supposed to rain overnight, thunderstorms, and heavy thunderstorms even, were predicted and we only received a sprinkle so I am back to watering. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

what a Friday. And Saturday

We have been experiencing some really hot, dry weather.  On Friday, my brother Jack and his friend Todd, came over to replace the skylights on my machine shed that had been damaged awhile back by hail.  The process involved removing the damaged fiberglass panels and replacing them with new panels.  The old ones were nailed in place and the top edge was tucked under the ridge cap which would need to be loosened to make the change and then the new panels would be screwed into place.  There were five to do, high up on a tin roof.  Todd brought a rolling scaffolding which was very helpful.  By the time the panels were cut to size the west skylights were in the shade so they started at that end.  Not knowing exactly what they would find it actually went much better than anticipated.  The original idea was to get a couple done in the evening and finish up the rest on Saturday morning and instead they got them all done.  It was very hot, 90 degrees, so it was a blessing that it went as well as it did. 
Jack and Todd removing the first skylight

putting in the new panel

on the scaffolding
My mom had sent out barbecues, chips and baked beans and I had made a potato salad so after finishing the last skylight we were eating supper together.  Dad had been here for the whole process and Cait and Robb joined us as we finished up and the six of us were sitting at a table near the shed and we heard one cracking noise and then another.  As we watched a very large branch broke off of the maple tree next to my driveway.  It fell, just missing my car and luckily the rest of the vehicles were parked near the shed.  I refer to the part of the tree that fell as a branch but it really is the size of a good sized tree.  The maple that it broke off of has four or five branches that form a huge canopy.   

Saturday morning, still hot, muggy but today with stiff winds, Jack and Dad arrived to cut up the branch.  We cut off all of the small branches with leaves and they were piled to burn after they dry out.  We cut up and piled the larger branch pieces.  They will be cut to length and split and stacked when it is cooler.  Jack was running the chain saw, Dad was dragging the larger branch pieces behind the truck and I was dragging the brush to the pile. 
The brush

the branch with the brush mostly removed

Dad dragging a big log backwards with the pickup

The wood piled for cutting and splitting.
I feel so fortunate that no one was hurt and no real damage was done.  I am so blessed to have great family and friends.