Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dogs in the Snow

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. K and I spent a quiet day here at home. Wednesday we were hit with a winter storm that quickly left 10-inches of snowfall behind. As we cleared the driveway, I worried about losing power. It has been a long time since I have cut up a chicken and I have never done so with a turkey. But I was prepared to attempt it if the power went out and we were reduced to cooking Thanksgiving on the wood stove and gas grill.

Luckily, we never lost power and everything went as planned. Pumpkin and Apple pies were baked the evening before, the turkey was stuffed and in the oven Thanksgiving morning, and the vegetables prepped. All the herbs and vegetables came from this year's garden. Everything was delicious and we ate too much as usual.

Here is a video that K shot of the dogs in the snow last Wednesday. Bradie is the yellow lab in the foreground; Millie is the golden in the distance:

One week later, the snow is gone. Temperatures have been unseasonably high this week and rain melted the last of the snow yesterday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meet Millie

We are thrilled to provide a loving home for Rena's dog and constant companion, Millie (AKA Millwood or Woody). She is a senior, golden mix with a sweet disposition and loving personality. She is also partially deaf and suffers from allergies.

Millie was a bit depressed when we brought her home, but within a week she seems to have adjusted quite well. Bradie has always shown respect when visiting Millie's home, but we weren't sure how she would behave once Millie was here. She's been very welcoming and sharing of her space and our attention.

Bradie (right) showing Millie the garden.

Bradie (back) showing Millie where to find apples.

The cats, Jasmine and Mysty have been a bit cautious with a new dog in the house but I am certain that they too will adjust. Millie lived with a mischievous cat and she assumes our cats will be similar. So she is trying to play with them, but they won't have any of that nonsense.

Millie rolling in the grass

Knowing that Millie suffered from allergies, our first priority was gradually shifting her food to one that is more natural and healthier for her.  The transition went well and there seems to be an improvement already.

A vet visit has provided us with a plethora of medication, remedies, bathing, and cleaning items to help with her allergies. She is suffering from infection in her ears and paws. We are still waiting for blood and urine test results.

Millie will have a great existence here for as long as we are blessed to have her in our lives.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Hole in Our Lives

K's mother, Rena passed away recently after a long, long struggle with kidney disease. She was the most caring, kind, and giving person that I have ever known. She was also very strong, brave, and stubborn especially when facing this disease.

Rena loved her children and would do anything for them. She expressed her love in many ways, but one of the strongest was through her fabulous cooking and baking. She rarely allowed her illness to interfere with baking treats or preparing a special meal when visitors came to call.

Rena defied the doctors' expectations and survived way beyond the time they predicted. She and her family were allowed to make the best of the time she had left. K and his sister were with her in the end. The suffering has ended but the pain of the loss has begun. There is a big hole that will never be filled completely, but I hope Rena's strength resonates to those who loved her and helps them heal.

R.I.P Rena

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard: November 3, 2011

Every Thursday, Robin at The Gardener of Eden hosts “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” where we can share posts on how we are using our garden harvests.

Full Freezer

The only things remaining in the garden last weekend were leeks, green onions, and herbs. I had not harvested them because I was absolutely out of room in the freezer to freeze them. We have a chest freezer in the basement filled mostly with tomatoes right now. It was time to make some room.

I pulled out five 1-gallon freezer bags of tomatoes and placed them in a sink full of cold water to thaw out overnight:

Once the tomatoes were completely soft they were put through my Food Strainer and made into a batch of "Seasoned Tomato Sauce" (Ball Blue Book of Preserving) and canned:

There are still a lot of tomatoes in the freezer, but at least I made some room for the green onions and leeks from last week's harvest.

Although the gardening season is over, the canning will continue for me throughout the winter. There are still a good amount of this season's tomatoes, peppers and onions in the chest freezer waiting to be turned into sauce and salsa.

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Planting Garlic

As I cleaned up the garden this past weekend in preparation for the snowstorm, I was faced with the yearly decision of where to plant the garlic for next years harvest. I needed to select a bed that did not have other alliums growing this year and did not compromise the garden planning for next year.

Garlic cloves ready for planting.

This is my third year planting garlic in Square Foot Gardens (SFG) and I have found that a 4x4 garden is the perfect size for the amount of garlic we use throughout the year.  Once planted, garlic is pretty trouble free. I give it a little organic fertilizer at planting time and a little more part way through around the time the garlic scapes begin to emerge.

Garlic bed July 2011

There isn't much left to my Mel's Mix in my SFGs. Over the years the soil breaks down and is amended with fresh compost. I like SFGs because the raised beds warm quicker in the spring, water drains really well, and the grid system makes it very easy to plan.

I have also found that the beds tend to dry out more quickly than the rest of the garden, the plants roots usually don't stretch beyond the box, and nutrients become depleted quickly and must be replenished more often.

I decided to double dig this bed to loosen the soil beneath the bed to make it easier for roots to penetrate. I also wanted to incorporate some of the native soil from underneath.

Double digging the SFG

I added a generous amount of compost, mixed it all together, and leveled it off. Then I sprinkled some organic fertilizer over the top and worked in it to the top few inches with a rake.

The garlic was planted 6-inches apart and 4 inches deep, then covered with a generous layer of hay. I usually use shredded leaves, but haven't raked any yet this year. It was very windy; so I had to anchor the hay down to keep it in place.

Mulched with hay

Covered with snow from October storm