Thursday, December 31, 2009
I already knew Yukon Gold tots would not yield more using this method. And now I know three out of the four varieties I ordered this year will not be appropriate for this method. (Darn!) Almost had 2 varieties to cage, almost.... turns out fingerlings (yay, thats me!), Yellow Fin, Red Pontiac (my almost), and Indian Pit are recommended by this outfit, Irish Eyes. That link will bring you to their potato growing tips page which is loaded with good information. More information on building a cage can also be found on their site under "How to Grow 100 lbs. of Potatoes in 4 Square Feet" in the Grower's Guide.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Inventory your seeds (From Johnny's Seeds)
Before you order seeds, take a look at what you have left over from previous years. A few guidelines will help you decide which seeds are still good and which should be discarded.
Of primary importance is the way seeds have been stored. Exposure to moisture causes seed viability to decline, so seeds should be stored in a dry place in an airtight, watertight container. Zipper freezer bags, glass jars, plastic containers, and metal boxes can be used if they seal tightly. Buckets with tight lids also work for larger seeds like beans and corn. In humid climates, a desiccant such as silica gel or dry milk powder can be placed in the container to absorb moisture. Seed also should be kept cool, and can even be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
If seeds have been stored properly, and are not pelleted or otherwise pre-treated, this is the number of years you can expect them to remain viable:
- 1 year: onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, scorzonera, and spinach;
- 2 years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra, dandelion;
- 3 years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips, rutabagas;
- 4 years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil, artichokes and cardoons;
- 5 years: most brassicas, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, muskmelons, celery, celeriac, lettuce, endive, chicory.
Do your own germination testing
If you are in doubt about the viability of leftover seeds, don't take chances. You can test the germination easily. Moisten a coffee filter or piece of paper towel and place on it a specific number of seeds, such as 10 or 100. Fold the moistened paper over the seeds and put it in a plastic bag in a warm place. Take the paper out and inspect the seeds twice a day, spraying with water as needed to maintain moisture around the seeds. After the usual number of days required to germinate that variety, count to see how many have germinated and calculate the percentage of germination. Compare it to the germination rate on the Johnny's label; if it's close, your seeds are fine to plant. If germination is much lower or slower than expected, order new seeds.
Demand often exceeds supply for certain plants and seeds. This is particularly true of leeks, onions, and potatoes, so place your order soon. If you want potatoes in February for early planting or greensprouting, the deadline for ordering is Jan. 15. We've found an insulated carton that will get them to you in top shape, even if it's freezing here in Maine, at your farm, or somewhere in between. Specific varieties are available in 25 lb. increments. Reserve on the website right now, and your credit card won't be charged until your potatoes ship in February.
Here is what I have ordered so far after doing my inventory:
12 Georgia Jets Sweet Potato slips (These I plan on growing in containers this year.)
- Reportedly best for Northern growers, though yields are less than Beauregard variety which I grew last year. Loved the flavor of the B's, but with the cool weather they just did not have time to bulk up.
- Northern growers need to cover planting site with black plastic at least 2 weeks prior to planting to warm the soil. This year I am going to plant through some type of mulch to aid in keeping the soil temp up. This combined with raised container height (which also makes soil warmer) should help give my yields a boost!
- Ordered from www.tatorman.com, $11.50 for 12 plants shipped. Requested April 19th ship date.
Moose Tubers Order:
- LaRatte Organic Fingerlings, 3# - 'the mouse' potato. Plump nutty flavored yellow flesh. LATE
- Purple Viking, 2.5# - purple skin, white slightly mealy flesh. Great for baking or mashing. MID
- Keuka Gold, 2.5# - newer variety; similar to Yukon Gold but higher yielding. Moist, firm flesh. MID
- Red Gold, 2.5# - very early potato, around 65 days. Red skin, yellow waxy flesh. Poor storers. VE
- Picasso Shallots, 1#
Nourse Farms Order:
- Pink Champagne Currant (1)
- Reka Blueberry (1)
- Ouchita Blackberry (5)
Johnny's Selected Seeds:
- Peas: Feisty, Casselode, and Premium
- Tomatoes: Sungold and Green Zebra Indeterminate; Polbig, early Determinate
- Cukes: Northern Pickling and Diva
- German Extra Hardy Garlic (Oct. ship)
- Carrots: Mokum and Sugarsnax
- Lipstick Pepper (will compare to Carmen which I have 4 seeds left of, my current favorite)
- Victoria Rhubarb, 3 plants
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
How are you all doing with your seed stash? Will you be doing much ordering this year? (See this guy's face to the left here? He is Mr. Shrimp Goby and I just find him to be so ugly he's cute.....the fish never make the blog, thought I should change that!)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Yes, lets see....my Christmas cards didn't get done this year, Santa had to leave a note about a special toy being sent via the post, and I have so much food it isn't even funny. This will certainly be a Christmas to remember, lol!! It has been a reminder that the two most important things in life, health and family, can never be taken for granted. I have spent the week reminiscing about my childhood holidays, wishing I could go back to one of those Christmas Eve parties when my favorite Uncle Bill and my Grandmother were still there laughing and enjoying the company of family, good food, and good drink. Holidays really are special, they make up the memories that cloud the mind, and in the end, they may be all we have left of our loved ones. Today I was laughing with my "Bop" about how "Ma" (my Dad's mother) used to get laughing so hard, and so loudly after a few stiff party drinks. This would get my father going, and then his sister, and before you knew it everyone was in tears from laughing so hard.....God only knows over what. These are the memories I never want to forget, I am so thankful to have them in the first place. I hope you all have been busy making your own special memories- especially ones involving liquor and laughs!
I went to a site after visiting Farmgirl Fare's Blog, she posted some of her favorite charities. I have my own list, but I am adding one of hers to a different 'list' of mine, that famed resolution list that usually involves losing weight or giving up a bad habit. I gave up on the standard run years ago and tend to not even bother anymore, but this charity is going to receive a small monthly donation from myself for 2010. It won't be much but I know every little bit helps. I added the charity to my side bar as a reminder to follow through with this coming resolution: To help these creatures that have no words, to help them heal at the hands of good people so they will know something other than hurt from our hands and hearts. Thanks to Farmgirl for mentioning this wonderful charity, her blog is linked in sidebar for anyone that does not already read it!
It has been a great year, I am looking forward to what 2010 will bring (hoping it's not blight again), Happy (Almost) New Year everyone!!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
My two labs have been romping around in the fluffy stuff all morning, it was past their bellies so they were hopping like bunnies around the deck when they first went out, it was very entertaining as we cheered them on. The third, neurotic doggie child is in the corner shaking. The poor thing is so easily disturbed.....lets see how long he can hold it today before finding the will to head out in the weather.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
I also pulled most of the remaining carrots. One of the later sowings had not put on much growth, so I left them...here is the bunch I pulled, disappointing!
I have so many carrot varieties growing in three different beds, too many for me to keep straight....not sure which 2 varieties these are, but I can at least narrow it down: the carrots in the spinner basket are either Mokum or Bolero. The bunch to the left of the basket are either Petite 'n Sweet or Short 'n Sweet. They smelled so good as they were tugged from the earth, it will be interesting to see if the cold weather sweetened them up or not. The Napoli I sowed never took off (my bad, they went in quite late). I am going to cover them with straw and hope they winter over for an early Spring carrot.
Lastly, some Rouge D' Hiver romaine will be on the menu tonight, nothing like being spoiled by crisp greens from the garden in mid- December!
(P.S.- we have a Christmas tree on the premises, though it has not made it IN the house. Baby steps. :) )
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I have yet to pull my dahlia tubers out of the garden, it has been so wet. The temperatures are really going to drop in the coming days and weeks so it is now or never......things certainly are not getting any dryer, my wetlands are looking more like swamplands these days!
We still need to put up a Christmas tree. Again, the kitchen project and wet weather has foiled every attempt we have made. Do you all have your trees up? If so I would like to make a request.....would you post a picture of the tree on your blogs? I would love to see some Christmas cheer (if you have already done this forgive me, i have not 'done the rounds' lately)..... wish somebody delivered the darn things around here. :) I have my fingers crossed for a white Christmas here in coastal Massachusetts, that is my wish for Santa. Happy Holidays!
(EDIT: The smoker is actually quite simple Thomas. There are two doors. The bottom section houses the flame, the wood pan, and the water pan. The top has racks to place the food on. This is not a true pit type smoker, it has been adapted for the average Joe via the use of wood chips which are soaked in water prior to being set over the heat. I took it a step further and went with a propane version which makes controlling the temperature a breeze, I am able to control just as you would on any gas grill.)
Friday, December 4, 2009
I started it off in the oven since the smoker still needed to be cured. After an hour the transfer was made, and the applewood was a smokin'!! (A little too much I might add, the heat was left on high about ten minutes too long thanks to my daughter peeing on the rug, a book, and her blanket. Operation Clean Pee resulted in the chips catching fire in the wood pan....hoping this hiccup did not ruin the bird!) Here is the insane smoke that resulted:
Now for a shot of the appropriate smoking of the applewood chips:
I was very disappointed to find there were no innards & neck in the cavity. This was not an inexpensive turkey, I expected all standard parts to be included! Besides, the neck meat is one of my favorite parts of a roasted turkey......and everybody wants gravy right?
Everyone keep your turkey toes crossed that this bird will not only be edible, but enjoyable. I will report in tomorrow with the outcome. I am thinking smoked salmon will be the next experiment.
We have been enjoying some of our 'put by' food from summer. Peach and Blueberry Crumble for dessert (frozen peach pie filling with some blueberries thrown in for good measure), and Strawberry Jalapeno Jam on english muffins for breakfast. I had to smile at the memories of canning in the heat, knowing I would enjoy a little taste of summer's bounty come winter. And seriously, I could just eat that jam by the spoonful when no one was looking..... and actually come to think of it, my daughter has. Luckily at two years of age her thighs are still considered "cute" when squishy and dimply (though they aren't, she's a twig). I guess I should hand over the jar and a spoon and just watch in envy.
My little guy just came out to see what I was up to, so much for not disturbing the family. It's all the dog's fault. Border's and their neurosis, gotta love em! If you are ever bored just google something like "neurotic border collies" and be prepared to laugh at the stories folks have of their dogs shredding their mattress or breaking through the window to drag out every last couch cushion. These dogs are too smart for their own good and are so good at herding because they are cookoo. They really are. Mine was medicated for years just so I could leave him to go to work everyday. Sorry, I seem to have gotten side tracked. I think this rambling is a sign that it's time for some Sleepy Time Tea and a cuddle with a seed catalog, the Seed Saver's hasn't been cracked yet....good night all!
Friday, November 27, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Pictured above: Sink Mock-Up. The cuts are all finished, just 4 more coats of sealer and the counters can be dropped in. I LOVE my hammered copper sink. My son however, has informed me that he "doesn't really agree with it". My daughter has sanded some counter (against the grain), and attempted to cut the ends with kitchen shears. She also managed to sneak three jig saw blades up to her room and dance in the kitchen sink when no one was looking. Ha!
The kitchen reno has officially begun! Luckily I remembered to capture a 'before' image since the vision of this kitchen will soon be banished from my temporal lobe. The two shades of green I am mulling over are to the left of the window. We have 95% of the cutting done on the new counters and they have their fist layer of sealant on, boy is my house toxic from all those nasty chemicals. We are holed up in the one room that doesn't require a mask to breathe. Oh, and those red beasts? GONE!!!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Here are the very delayed caterpiller pictures. The big fat one belly up has me a bit worried, but he is still alive (and belly up).
Sunday, November 15, 2009
OK, so not the roundest meatball, but luckily shape does effect it's taste. These are something you will either love or hate. Do you like those cocktail party meats that come in a crock-pot with some sort of jelly ridden sauce? If yes, then you must try these meatballs. Both my kids have declared them delicious, and that my friends is a VERY special thing. I am following Pioneer Woman's suggestion of pairing them with mashed potatoes. Dinner is going to be good tonight.....better call hubby to pick up some (more) beer. I am thinking it may be another half Woodchuck Hard Cider, half Sam Adams kind of night. Anyone else enjoy this cider/ale combination?
(For the BBQ Meatballs recipe visit www.thepioneerwomen.com site, head to cooking section and it will be found under "beef". This Mac is not allowing me to paste the link, seems as though Erin may need to give me some operational pointers.)
Friday, November 13, 2009
Currently there are two inhabitants. The den is out on my bedroom porch with the apples and squash, away from the reach of our naughty canines. Here the little fuzzies will hibernate through winter (they can survive -90 degree temperatures by making their own 'anti-freeze'), and awake in Spring to have a snack and spin a cacoon. One little fella seems to have forgotten to curl up in a ball before going to sleep, today I found him belly-up. Hmm...dead? Nope, still twitches when poked. Hoping he is not his 'way out'. (The other bear was eating and up and about.)
I took some pictures, but my lap-top is on the fritz and in for repair. They will have to wait...check out the information below for a little woolly bear fun!
From Ohio Sate University Extension: Cute, fuzzy and downright fun to watch it inch its way across a sidewalk, the harmless caterpillar has enjoyed being at the center of weather folklore. Like the groundhog's shadow, the woolly bear's 13 distinctive black and reddish-brown bands have become a rule of thumb in forecasting winter.
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the longer the middle brown band, the milder and shorter the coming winter; the shorter the brown band, the longer and more severe winter will be.
The truth behind the woolly bear's band length actually has more to do with age than with predicting the weather. As the caterpillar prepares to overwinter, the caterpillar molts, becoming less black and more reddish-brown as it ages. Woolly bears overwinter from September to May, and are commonly found along nature trails and wooded edges and crossing sidewalks and roadways seeking overwintering sites.
"The length of the bands have nothing to do with the severity of winter," said Bloestcher. "Woolly bears hole themselves up somewhere for winter. What do they care what color they are?"
The woolly bear, also known as the woolly worm and the black-ended bear, is the larva of the Isabella tiger moth. The caterpillar falls under "bristled" species, of which there are several different colors: all black, all brown, yellow and gray. But the black-and brown-banded species is considered the true banded woolly bear.
Woolly bears share winter predictions with some of nature's other critters, like honeybees and yellow jackets. Folklore tells that honeybees will store honey en masse in preparation for a severe winter and yellow jackets will build nests either high in the trees or in the ground depending on what the coming winter has in store.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I am sure you are wondering why I am going on about these lights, but the fact of the matter is these stinkin track lights were the first bit of change, which brought about the counter tops, which has now created a whole landslide and now I just want to go stick my head in a hole (or go rob a bank).
Monday, November 9, 2009
Each has pro's and con's, I guess I need to decide if I want an old European worn and stained look, or a more modern furniture type finish that can not be cut on, ever. Oil and wax is completely non-toxic. A poly marine type finish will keep the water out but I question it's ability to truly be food safe....then again I feed my kids right off the kitchen table all the time and that is not 'food safe'.
Really I have been waiting years for soapstone, but it just is not in the budget, nor will it be after going over budget on our recent addition. Keep in mind my house is post and beam, so the kitchen ceiling is pine, and the cabinets are maple. Now I am adding oak to the mix- thank goodness the floor in the kitchen is tiled!!
(oh, and what about copper sinks, anyone have experience with that? I love their natural anti-microbial properties and think the staining wouldn't bother me.)
Friday, November 6, 2009
The first seed catalog for 2010 found it's way to my mailbox a couple of days ago. I have not cracked the sucker open...why you ask? Because I have plenty of seeds. Sure, there are a handful of things I need to pick up along the way, but for the most part I could grow two gardens with what I have stashed away.
But here is the problem folks, I feel as though I could use a seed intervention, a Seed Buyers Anonymous. Why are these darn catalogs so addicting? Is it the power we have over our own future, the possibility of a varied and beautiful harvest? Is it the crinkling paper and noise the seeds make in the packets when we sort through them, each their own little natural treasure?
I don't know what it is exactly, but I do know I love seeds and their catalogs, and now that the 2010's are arriving I should probably part with my very worn stash of 2009's. I suppose my next post should be a tally of what I currently hold in my little plastic box, my own catalog of sorts. Is anyone else out there feeling like a seed addict, always wanting more?
The house is quiet, the coffee has been poured, and I am going to dive into that High Mowing catalog...wish me luck!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Now I am curious to know if chickens were out of fashion in New England at that time. Here are a couple of pictures I took along the way:
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Just kidding, but in all honesty I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. I love, love, love the Singapore Math workbooks, but the Scince is a bit elementary in my opinion. Probably more geared towards Pre-K. No problems there thanks to all our books and encyclopedias, luckily for Shaun his Mom is a Science geek. :) The Critical Thinking workbooks are also impressive, I want to order some for myself! Check out their site if you are looking for some stimulating material for the kids. I hope this jumble of hand picked curriculum doesn't leave anything out. Thank-you all for the wonderful support over the past couple of months, this has been a tough decision, and now my little man and I must relax and enjoy this opportunity.
This week was the last CSA pick-up for the year. I will miss it, though I am still undecided as to what to do next year. We are still waiting for the first frost to come and the leaves are really beginning to fall now. Plans to expand the garden, or at a minimum the fence, are in the works. Thomas has me longing for more crisp garden greens and hoop houses.
I was approached by a company to purchase a photo of mine for their upcoming catalog this week, did anyone else have this same experience? I am under the impression they were blog browsing. Anyway, my Cipollini Onions photo will be featured if all goes as planned and I was tickled pink by the request....this is exciting stuff for a stay-at-home-mom! I hope everyone is staying healthy or is on the mend. Hold onto those hoes, this is going to be one wild winter!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My initial reaction was extreme sadness knowing these beautiful creatures will lose their life today. What can I say, I am a sappy animal lover! I have seen with my own eyes the humane and free life they have led until now and this does bring comfort. I hope I will continue to have the choice of eating meat raised on this farm knowing I am supporting the right way to raise heads for slaughter, not the wrong, as this is not an easy opportunity to come by.
edit: Home Scool Update- The Letter of Intent has been filed and I met with Shaun's teacher and principal yesterday. Friday will be his last day. His wonderful teacher will hold a spot for him in her class until Fall of next year, and the principle offered for him to return any time. I will bring him in for testing in May to determine his placement (K or 1st) should he return to public school for the following year. All is falling into place.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
- being sick and lazy.
- freaking out over my son's high fevers; so high the digital thermometer could not read it, only goes to 105 degrees. YIKES!
- deciding to grant my son's wish of being homeschooled. Curriculum has been ordered, lesson plans are made, letter of intent being drafted.
- trips to the Pediatrician and Veterinarian.
- waiting for the co-op truck to arrive for five and a half hours in a parking lot with two sick kids and one sick Mom only to discover one of the precious angels turned on my parking lights and we now have a dead battery and no jumper cables. Not to worry, fabulous hubby saved the day!
- lastly, a fun farm field trip on our first day of having 3 fever free people!! YEAH!
Weeks ago I realized I had a ripe, albeit minuscule melon. Sweet victory!
We have found a use for all the garden runts, mantel decorations (there are squash and melons in there)!
Here are the photos from our recent farm trip. The tour included seeing how the carrots are processed for retail sale (up the conveyor belt into the drum where they are washed, then hand sorted and bagged), bagging some carrots to take home, a tractor tour of the farm, and picking a small pumpkin out of a 'patch'. The kids had a blast, my daughter was clutching those carrots like they were the last four on earth, lol. She even ate one!