Monday, January 4, 2010

The Winter Work

Well, the seeds have been organized and ordered.  More fruit plants have been ordered (Reliance Grape, 5 Blackberries, 4 low bush blueberries, a white currant, a mandarin orange tree, and rhubarb), the new garden expansion plans are in place and my NOFA bulk order just needs to be mailed out.  Whew, my mind has been 'garden-garden-garden-' for days on I need to sit back and relax until seed germination begins.  Oh, and did I mention I have over 1,000 pea seeds?  YIKES!  I should have paid more attention, Johnny's shelling pea packets have a minimum of 375 seeds.  I ordered three varieties.

We are continuing to enjoy the fruits from the freezer and the canned goods from the pantry shelf.  I am eating some blueberry pancakes right now as a matter of fact!  Freezing all those berries and pie filling was a good move.  Speaking of berries, this year's purchases are once again breaking the bank so I have decided not to do the CSA this year.  Fingers crossed I will have access to a beef order another way at the end of the year, I would just rather invest the money in my own garden.

It has been a challenge to streamline my plantings into something more functional and less fun for the 2010 season.  Sadly there are many seeds in my stash that will not be sown this year, last year I seemed to have too many or not enough of many things......too many tomatoes for fresh eating, but not enough to process; too few green beans for a side dish or salad; too many cukes for fresh eating, not enough to pickle etc..  Because my space is limited I am considering doing an every other year type planting schedule for pickling cukes and tomatoes.  If I grow both I am limiting my abilities to can, especially on the tomatoes.  If I alternate years I can do sauce/salsa one year, and pickles the next.  I am out of my mind to even consider this??? (I would still grow a few tomatoes for fresh eating.)

Lastly, anyone have a favorite salsa tomato?  Can you use any type?  (Last year I was going to make lots of fresh salsa and it didn't happen once.)


Erin said...

Kelly, I use any tomato for salsa and have never had any complaints! If you are limited in time for canning (like I was this past year) remember you can freeze whole tomatoes... while not good texture for fresh eating you can always use them stewed or made into a sauce fresh the day you need it. I think you made a wise decision with the CSA. From what I see in many areas, in their eagerness to be "trendy" and get their name out there, many CSA's tend to be overpriced -since many will pay big bucks to be able to tell their trendy friends that they are "in a CSA", and the CSA in turn gets greedy and sells too many shares, resulting in lower amounts of produce and quantities that are questionable at best. I remember hearing of someone getting 3 fingerling potatoes... what can you do with that, LOL?! You can and are doing better on your own. As for the meat, start looking on the internet and check our your local chapter of BuyLocalBuyFresh, or a comparable group for local farms. Ours here makes monthly deliveries to a host home in the area for pickups, but I still drive the 1 1/2 hrs to do an actual farm pickup. We love seeing the farm, great people and I love the kids seeing where their food comes from. Last time we were picking up in their "barn store/freezer" area, someone left the door open and a goat wandered in and started eating my son's rubber boots, very cute. To my pleasure, none one of the 3 families there complained about the goat being in with the food, being unsanitary, etc.... there was just laughter. It is always a great experience and I hope you are able to locate a source this year (plus it's usually cheaper direct from the farm!)

Kelly said...

Thanks Erin for all the great feedback. I have been on waiting lists for years in my area for local beef. I did buy cuts from a Rhode Island farm but was not happy with the meat quality or farm owner. This last beef order is as local as I can get, same town....but very in demand. I would not have made their waiting list again this year ( my meat was purchased through the cows they set aside for the CSA shareholders). We visited the farm with the kids as well, and that beef is worth every penny! (And the owners are just wonderful.)

I have some frozen tomatoes (thanks to Rose), but they are all cherries. I am only growing my favorite cherry this year along with one new variety (3 plants in total), all the rest will be slicing tomatoes.

I will miss the fruit from the CSA (it was a multi-farm deal), but the rest I hope to make up for in my garden expansion. I tried some new things and determined what I like what I don't so I don't need it for that exposure anymore either. Thanks for all of your gardening wisdom, I am so happy I came across your blog all those months ago! :)

Erin said...

Likewise! It's fun swapping ideas, failures, and successes! I forget that you are in "the trendy part of the U.S." LOL, I can't even imagine waiting lists! You should do fine on your fruits with farmer's markets and your new trees going in. You will be reaping rewards in no time! Glad you mentioned the waiting list, I forgot that I need to put my order in by Feb if I am to have a beef share by summer. With hubby on deployment for 8 months of this year, that one should last awhile!

Annie's Granny said...

Kelly, I used any and all varieties of tomatoes (except cherry) in my salsa, and we just love it. I just scalded them to remove the skins, cut them in half and squeezed out the seeds, then did a coarse chop in the food processor. If they were really juicy, I drained off a bit of the juice before cooking the tomatoes.

Kelly said...

Thanks AG. :)

Erin, lol- yes trendy, but even 9 years ago when we moved here I would call those roadside "BEEF" numbers, leave a message and never get a response. You must have trouble cooking with hubby gone since they boys are, well, boys.

Thomas said...

Or you could have hubby cut down a few trees for a bigger garden. :) I'm hoping to expand my growing area to several parts of our yard. (Marc just doesn't know it yet. Sometimes it just better to say "SURPRISE!")

What are some of the things you purchased from NOFA?

Kelly said...

Thomas, you have mail. :)

Ruralrose said...

The secret to freezing salsa/tomatoes is to strain it before putting it in the freezer bag. Salsa - tomato, onion, peppers, cilantro, salt, sugar. I use the food processor for big batches. For recipes one has to plan and plant so all the ingredients are ready at the same time. Like if you plant all your dill in the spring there will be none available when the cukes are ready to pickle. I grow different varieties every other year too. You will be surprised how much fruit you will be able to grow yourself, and for free after the first year too. It is wonderful to hear you are investing in your own garden this year, surely this is an achievement. Peace