Monday, October 31, 2011

Harvest Monday: October 31, 2011

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their garden yield for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting each week and how they are enjoying their homegrown produce.

A few Leeks and Green Onions were reserved to use this week, but the remaining were chopped and frozen:


Leeks - The largest was 3-inches wide, but most were around 1-inch.

Green Onions

Some sage was frozen whole to be used in stuffing, roasts, and stews over the winter months:


Thyme was gathered into bunches, wrapped with a rubber band around the stems, and hung to dry near the wood stove:


Be sure to visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winter in October

We ended up with about 4-5 inches of very wet heavy snow this morning. It has melted quickly over the course of the day.

Snow covered garden.

Raspberries bent over from the weight of the heavy snow.

The biggest issue was we had no power until about 2:15 this afternoon. I made tomato sauce yesterday and was planning on canning it this morning. Instead I was firing up the wood stove for warmth and to heat water for tea.

Bradie finding frozen apples beneath the snow.

Hopefully the snow will be gone soon and we can enjoy fall a little while longer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard: Roasted Vegetables

“Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” is a way for us to share posts on how we are using our garden harvests. Jody at Spring Garden Acre is hosting “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” this week while Robin at The Gardener of Eden is on vacation.

Variations of roasted vegetables are made at least one a week at my house using whatever fresh vegetables the garden provides along with whatever meat I happen to have on hand. In the summer the roasting occurs on the grill or in a crock-pot. In cooler weather, it is roasted in the oven. It is never the same meal twice.  All vegetables, seasoning, and meat are interchangeable. I usually throw in whatever is on hand at the time. Below is how I prepared the meal last weekend.

Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

1 pound of boneless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces
1 pound of potatoes cut into 2 inch cubes
2 cups of summer squash (zucchini and yellow summer) cut into 2 inch cubes
1 small delicata squash cut into 2 inch cubes
4 carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
2 medium red onions cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian herbs, chopped (rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, basil)
5 sprigs of rosemary
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Olive oil
Vinegar of your choice (white, balsamic, cider, etc.)
Fresh ground pepper
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 Tablespoon of vinegar. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Set aside.

Place all chopped vegetables in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with half the Italian herbs, fresh ground pepper, and sea salt to taste, then drizzle with olive oil. Stir to coat.

Place bread crumbs in a flat bowl. Add remaining Italian seasoning and fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine.

Dredge chicken pieces in bread crumb mixture and add pieces to the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Top with rosemary springs.

Cover roasting pan with foil and place in oven for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue roasting another 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked through.

The variations to this meal are endless. Meat is optional. You can include whatever vegetables are in your harvest basket for that day. You can easily experiment with different herb combinations.

Join others at “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” at Spring Garden Acre this week and share what you've been baking, cooking, canning, drying, or how you have used some of your preserved garden bounty.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nor'easter in October?

The weather people are predicting a Nor’easter this weekend in New England. Winter storm watches and cancellation announcements are already scrolling across the local news stations and websites.  The potential snowfall for my area is 5-10 inches.

I am so not ready.

Today was a pleasant day to work outside in the garden. It was chilly, in the 40s with a cold wind but the sun was warm. My goals were to harvest some herbs, the last of the green onions, and the leeks. I also needed to prepare the garlic bed and plant the garlic.

I was able to accomplish these goals and also move the Self Watering Containers and pots into the shed, wind up all the garden hoses, and shovel out some compost on the new garden bed dug this year.

It is rare that we have snow by Thanksgiving. There is still so much that we need to do before winter takes hold. We still have leaves to rake, shred, and add to the compost pile. There is a pile of wood in our driveway in need of stacking. And the garden isn't as cleaned up as I would like it to be.

Tomorrow will be devoted to final storm preparations. The leaves still on the trees will be heavy with a coating of snow and may cause power outages. So we need to be sure we are prepared for no power.  Luckily, the wood stove and chimney have already been cleaned and prepared for winter and the snow thrower is ready for action.

Hopefully the snow that falls this weekend is not an indication of the type of winter we will have and will melt quickly.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard: Pumpkins

Robin at The Gardener of Eden is hosting “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” where we can share how our garden harvests have been used or preserved.

It was fun to grow pumpkins this year. I grew two Sugar Pie Pumpkin plants from seed and they sprawled among other squash plants in the newly dug garden bed.

I had three Sugar Pie Pumpkins that needed tending to this past weekend. Deer had nibbled on the outer skins and the pumpkin had begun to get soft in those areas.

The pumpkins were prepared to make into puree by first carefully cutting into pieces and trimming the rotted parts out. The pulp was scraped out with a spoon reminding me of childhood jack-o-lantern. The seeds were reserved.

The pumpkin pieces were placed in a roasting pan and the pan was placed into a 350F degree oven to roast up to an hour or until tender.

In the mean time, the pumpkin seeds were rinsed well and patted dry with paper towels. The seeds were tossed in olive oil, garlic powder, and chili powder then spread out on baking sheets. After a quick sprinkling of sea salt, the baking sheets joined the pumpkin already in the oven. The seeds were baked until they began to turn golden brown. Then they were stirred and spread out again so they would toast evenly. 20 minutes later the seeds were removed from the oven and allowed to cool on the baking sheets.

The pumpkin was removed from the oven when a fork pierced the skin easily then allowed to cool. Once cooled, the pumpkin's skins slipped right off. The fruit was cut into smaller pieces and mashed with a potato masher (you could also use a blender or food processor), then divided up into freezer bags and frozen.

Two cups were reserved to make two loaves of Pumpkin Bread. I used the recipe from the very first cookbook I owned, Better Homes and Garden's New Cookbook.

Pumpkin Bread
(Makes 1 loaf)

1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger. Add pumpkin, milk, eggs, and butter.

Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until blended then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour and beat well.

Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Join others at "Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard" at The Gardener of Eden and share what you've been baking, cooking, canning, drying, or how you have used some of your preserved garden bounty.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Harvest Monday: October 17, 2011

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their garden yield for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting each week and how they are enjoying their homegrown produce.

The Pak Choi seedlings grew fast and healthy under the lights. These never made it to the garden. Instead they were used in a stir fry:

Baby Pak Choi

The last of the onions were harvested and allowed to cure in the warm sun:


Some usable celery was found among the tattered stalks. This was used in a beef stew:


The potatoes were dug this week the damaged and small potatoes were used in a beef stew:

Dark Red Norland Poatoes

Kennebec Potatoes

Most of the garden is finished for the season. A lot of garden cleanup was accomplished last week during my vacation from work. Only green onions, leeks, and spinach are still in the garden. The broccoli was pulled because it was infested with caterpillars. The plants were covered with a row cover, but somehow a cabbage moth was able to find it. I am still contemplating the best spot to plant garlic this year.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

I am honored to receive the "Liebster Blog Award" from Robin at The Gardener of Eden. Robin writes about her gardening adventures with her husband, "The Italian" as they grow and harvest from both a home kitchen garden and a community plot in Pennsylvania. Most recently, Robin has been in mega-canning mode. She preserves her garden bounty along with locally produced fruit and has been posting some unique and inspiring canning recipes. Be sure to visit and see for yourself what The Gardener of Eden is all about, and take time to leave a comment when you do. Thank you so much Robin for nominating my blog for this award.

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

The Liebster Blog Award is designed to introduce others to enjoyable blogs that have less than 200 followers. When you accept the award, you choose 3-5 other blogs that you feel are deserving of more subscribers and pass the award on to them.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have fun!

Now it's my turn and I would like to nominate...

1. Back to Basics: It has been an interesting year for Jessica (AKA Prairie Cat) and her significant other Tad. They purchased a new 9-acre homestead in Missouri this summer. Even though the closing was delayed and they were nomads for a time, they planted and tended to a garden on the property anyway. Now that they are official farm owners, they have already acquired chickens. I can't wait to see what next year brings. Stop by Back to Basics and wish them well in their new home.

2. Dave's Square Foot Garden: Dave is not new to Square Foot Gardening, he gardened on his property in Massachusetts for several years before the surrounding trees eventually took back the land. This year, Dave began a new Square Foot Garden at a community plot at Bolton Community Gardens. He has also become a certified Square Foot Gardening teacher. Dave has posted his step-by-step process of building his new square foot garden on his blog. Visit Dave's Square Foot Garden blog or facebook page to catch up on his garden progress.

3. Fresh is Best CSA: Jeph not only loves gardening, but he partners with fellow gardener, Mary to grow enough produce to provide weekly shares of garden grown goodies to members of their CSA in Ohio. Jeph blogs about seed starting, garden progress, ways to use the harvest, and sneak peeks into the CSA shares of the week. Wow! Talk about knowing exactly where your food comes from. Follow along at Fresh is Best CSA.

4. Sinfonian's Garden Adventure: I followed Sinfonian's post on the GardenWeb forums for years before blogging became popular. Sinfonian's experiment with building potato towers put him on the map of popular bloggers several years ago. Since then, the potato tower fad has faded and Sinfonian experienced blog hosting problems that forced him to move his blog to a more stable platform. He gardens in Seattle WA area and blogs about his adventures with square foot gardening, raising chickens, and building chicken housing. His blog is always fun to read and I especially enjoyed watching his chicks grow up and begin laying. Visit Sinfonian's Garden Adventure and say "hello."

5. Georgia Home Garden: Kris caught the vegetable gardening bug a few years ago and built a new Square Foot Garden this year. It was fun watching his garden grow and I was very inspired with Kris' success with growing corn. He has also posted a great tip on how to fix a common problem of blown over corn. I can't wait to see what he grows next year. Visit Georgia Home Garden and leave a comment.

I hope you give these blogs a visit. Thank you again Robin for nominating my blog.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Digging the Kennebec and Dark Red Norland Potatoes

On Tuesday we finally had some fall weather. Although it was a bonus to have such a beautiful summer like weekend with 80-degree temperatures, it is difficult for me to work in the garden when it is that warm. Tuesday was predicted to be in a more comfortable range 60s-70s. Rain is expected later in the week, so it seemed like a perfect day to dig up some potatoes.

Two varieties of potatoes were grown in two different garden beds in the garden, Dark Red Norland and Kennebec. They were planted using John Jeavons' Biointensive method. I wanted to try this technique after reading about Laura's (The Modern Victory Garden) 2010 success.

It was in the high 30s when I began digging on Tuesday morning. It was chilly but comfortable working in a sweatshirt and gardening gloves.

I began digging the Dark Red Norland bed first. The Dark Red Norland were planted on May 17th and began dying back around August 15th. Unfortunately, this provided three weeks less growing time than the previous year. It was clear when digging for new potatoes that the overall yield would be lower than the year before.

Most of this bed has been dug up earlier in the season for new potatoes, but I wanted to go through it in a more thoroughly to be sure I found all the potatoes. As expected, the potatoes were small and the overall yield was lower than last year. I also noticed that the quality of the soil in this bed is not very good and could use some heavy amending.

I then moved over the Kennebec bed. The Kennebec were planted on May 14 and began dying back around September 5th. Except for a little digging on one edge, this bed was left mostly undisturbed most of the growing season. I pulled off the soaker hose and raked off the hay that was used to mulch the bed. Already I could see many potatoes along the surface that grew beneath the covering of the hay. Most were protected, but some green ones were discarded. The green color is from chlorophyll and indicates that increased levels of solanine and chaconine may be present. After learning about solanine poisoning this year, I am not taking any chances.

was encouraged the moment I began digging the Kennebec bed. There were lots of potatoes and some very huge ones.

After a while of digging I was achy, tired, dirty, and hungry. I took a break and went inside. I was surprised to see it was lunchtime. I had been digging for four hours.

After lunch, I finished digging the Kennebec. Since there is little growing in the garden, the gates are left open so Bradie can come in. She enjoyed being allowed inside the garden fence.

I weighed the potatoes and spread them out to cure for a bit. Later I will box them up and place them in a cool spot in the winter. Ten pounds of seed yielded 47 pounds of potatoes. Last year, eight pounds of seed yielded 68 pounds of potatoes.

The yield was down from last year, but we will still have plenty of potatoes to enjoy over the winter. I am not convinced that the low yield was a result of the new planting method. There are too many factors that could have been involved, including the soil, weather, seed, nutrients, watering, etc.  I will still be using this planting method next year in a different garden bed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Monday: October 10, 2011

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their garden yield for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting each week and how they are enjoying their homegrown produce.

A minor frost hit the garden on Thursday morning and a more severe one on Friday morning. The few remaining pumpkins and squash were harvested Thursday evening after work:

Sugar Pie Pumpkin and Butternu

Before the frost on Thursday night, there was still optimistic growth going on in the garden from the peppers. The plants were filled with blooms and peppers. I harvested all the fruit that were on the plants Thursday evening:



Marconi Rosso

Quadrato Rosso D'Asti

It looks like another batch of salsa will be made this week.

More Concord Grapes were also harvested before the frost. One batch of wine was started on Friday. The rest of the grapes were frozen and will be used in a future experimental batch of wine.

Still in the garden are some leeks, green onions, broccoli, spinach, and some Swiss chard that has been nibbled on by deer. The potatoes also still need to be dug. A lot of garden cleanup will occur this week because I have taken a few days off from work to enjoy some fall weather. This weekend was rather warm, in the 80s both Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully, the temperatures will be normal the rest of the week.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank You Steve Jobs

Thank you for urging us to "Think Different" and providing us with the tools to do so. The world is forever changed by your brilliance.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Harvest Monday: October 3, 2011

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their garden yield for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting each week and how they are enjoying their homegrown produce.

I made two batches of Concord Grape Jelly on Saturday from the grapes harvested last week. Then I had the urge to make some homemade English Muffins.

I used Alton Brown's English Muffin recipe from the Food Network website, but needed to modify the process a bit because I don't have rings or an electric skillet. Instead, I used wide mouth canning rings to hold the shape and lined these with strips of aluminum foil to make them taller.

A frying pan on the stove over medium low heat replaced the electric skillet in the recipe. The rings were placed in the pan, sprayed with cooking spray, and sprinkled with cornmeal. 1/2 cup of batter was used per ring. More cornmeal was sprinkled on top of the batter. Then the pan was covered and the timer set for 6 minutes.

Using tongs, I slipped off the aluminum foil, gripped on to the rings, and turned over the English Muffins. The rings also slipped off easily. The pan was covered and the muffins cooked for another 6 minutes. When finished cooking, the muffins were removed from the pan with a spatula and placed on a cooling rack to cool. Fork splitting provides the best nooks and crannies.

I will be purchasing English Muffin rings and trying this recipe again very soon.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.