Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Have Moved to GrowAGoodLife.com

Thanks for visiting! I have rebranded my blog and moved to Grow A Good Life. You should be redirected automatically in a few seconds. If not please click here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First Eggs!!!!


One of my Easter Eggers has been singing the egg laying song for about a week now so I was expecting to find an egg any day now. Today she seemed especially uncomfortable and kept scratching and sitting each nesting box trying to get comfortable. I must have checked the boxes 20-times today until finally...


Although chickens don't usually lay two eggs in one day, I am pretty certain that these are both from the same Easter Egger since the other EE hasn't shown any signs that she is ready to lay yet. Maybe she was a little backed up? Both eggs were the same size and pale blue color. One egg was a little rough, cracked, and slightly dented.



White Egg on Left is Supermarket Extra Large


Easter Egger Trying to Get Comfortable

I know there will be many eggs to follow, but these are the first and I think they are a beautiful sight.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Harvest Monday: October 28, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Design projects have been very demanding of my time. Don't get me wrong; I am extremely thankful for the work I am granted. Just sometimes the hours necessary to hit deadline interfere with normal life.

In addition, we have been busy preparing our little homestead for winter. Wood has been stacked, woodstove cleaned, and chimney swept. Last weekend we gave the lawn its final mow and gathered a nice mix of shredded leaves and grass clippings for the compost bin.

Here on the homestead I have gathered blushing tomatoes daily to bring inside to finish ripening. Even though the weather was warmer than usual and the tomato vines kept going, I knew our frost-free days were numbered. Finally, this past week we have had several frosts that have ended the tomato dreams of taking over the world.

This week's harvest were mostly root crops. I wanted to try growing some different crops that could be used in soups, stews, and roasts. I experimented with growing celeric, salsify, and parsnip. These were harvested this week and roasted along with a chicken for dinner on Saturday.

Celeric

Celeric
Salsify
Salsify
Parsnip

Each could have been better served with a little longer growing time, but overall I was pleased with the results and want to grow again. I will be sure to give each more space in next years garden and plant them earlier to allow them to mature more fully.

This past week frost ended the tomato, pepper, and pole beans for this year. Overall, the tomatoes have produced very well for us this year. I have a freezer full of ripe tomatoes and I have also canned lots of salsa and tomato sauce. I still have a bunch of partially ripe tomatoes on the kitchen counter and in baskets. To tell you the truth, I am relieved that the tomato season is finally over. I need the break.

The Last Tomatoes Harvested Before Frost
Juliet Produced Fruit Right Up to Frost

I will be moving my blog over to a new one soon. I would love it if you would follow me over to www.growagoodlife.com.

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvest Monday: October 14, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

The early autumn colors surrounding our property were brief and rather dull this year. The leaves are beginning to pile up around the edges of the yard and will be gathered this week to fill the compost bins. The cooler fall weather had me craving stew. Some Parsnip, Celery, Green Onions, Carrots, and Herbs were gathered from the garden and a few potatoes were pulled out of storage for a chicken stew:

Parsnip, Celery, Green Onions, and Carrots

Early in the week, the rest of the reachable apples were picked. We shared half with K's sister. The rest will be used to make apple pie and another batch of applesauce for the pantry:





We had our first frost last week. Tuesday afternoon had me scrambling to harvest all the partially ripe tomatoes, peppers, and basil while K picked all the ripe raspberries:

Heritage Raspberries 

Partially Ripe Tomatoes Harvested Ahead of Frost Warning

Anaheim Peppers
Mixed Sweet and Jalapeno Peppers
Basil

Wednesday morning found everything frost covered. But as the day progressed, I found very little damage to the garden. The frost must have been a brief one. It was enough to take the Basil plants down, but only a few leaves on the tops of the peppers were affected. It is hard to believe that there are still some tomatoes ripening on the vines. Another batch of sauce was made from the never ending pile of tomatoes on my counter.


Several garden beds have been cleaned up and will receive a good layer of mulch before the snow flies. I still need to decide where to plant the garlic this year. Many of the raised beds are deteriorating and will need to be replaced next spring. So I will need to either build a raised bed this fall or chose a spot in the in-ground beds.

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

Friday, October 11, 2013

Putting the Girls to Work

I dug the rest of the potatoes last week, then placed the chicken tractor over the bed so the girls could work on the bed.






They had a blast digging through the soft soil looking for bugs and other tidbits to eat.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

First Frost: October 9, 2013

I wasn't sure I believed the weather predictions that warned that a frost was possible in our area last night. The weather has been rather warm for this time of year. Just in case it was true, I harvested all the peppers, partially ripe tomatoes, and basil I could find.


I let the dogs out at 7 am this morning and it was 30˚F. We did have a light frost last night. I was glad I heeded the warning and brought in all I could.



I will review the damage later today.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Growing Season is Almost Over

"Got any potatoes?" K shouted upstairs. I was working a long day last week to hit a graphic design project deadline. I clicked save and said that I would be right down.

We have an agreement. If I don't stop work to start dinner at 4 pm, K jumps in to figure it out or we won't have anything to eat. He had chicken ready to grill but didn't know what I did with the recently harvested potatoes. This past weekend, I packed them up in boxes layered with shredded paper and stored them in the coolest area in our basement.

There was still a 2 x 8 foot section in the garden that needed to be dug up. I grabbed a shovel and unearthed some potatoes for dinner. I also harvested some fresh pole beans.



I paused for a moment and looked at the garden. It is looking kind of rough and I know that the growing season is almost over. I will miss harvesting what is needed for daily meals.

The end of summer is such a busy time in the garden mostly dealing with the harvest coming in all at once. In addition, I have been very busy with graphic design projects. Lately, there’s hasn't been much opportunity to reflect, to absorb, to acquaint myself with things beyond daily life.

As I looked around, I noticed the trees have begun to turn and the woods surrounding our property are looking a little thin. Fall is here and it is time to begin clean up the garden and prepare the beds for the approaching winter.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Harvest Monday: October 7, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

It was a gorgeous fall week here in Maine. I am so happy that the early frost warnings last month didn't happen because the garden has gone on to produce so much since then. I even expect to harvest another round of peppers as the plants have more fruit that has sized up during our warm week. According to the weather predictions, we may enjoy one more week before nighttime temperatures begin to drop into freeze danger levels. I think that is all the remaining tomatoes need.

It was a busy week preserving in between graphic design projects. The kitchen counter is still lined with ripening tomatoes and several baskets full of partially ripe tomatoes were harvested this week. The fully ripe tomatoes were made into tomato sauce that simmered on the stove during the day as I worked. Once one batch was canned, there were more tomatoes ripe and ready to process. By the end of the week, I put up 17 pints of tomato sauce. We also enjoyed our first meal with tomato sauce from this year's tomatoes. Oh my! I think the amount of Amish Paste in the mix led to a vast improvement of the rich flavor of this years sauce.



We loved the applesauce that was made from the apples picked from our trees last week and wanted more. While I was away from home at an appointment on Tuesday, K and his sister raided the trees and yielded about 15 pounds of apples each. K's sister baked apple delights all week while I turned my batch into 9 pints of applesauce. I can't wait to pick more apples this week.



The final potatoes were dug on Saturday. There are about 20 pounds in this bucket to add to the rest in storage. There was about 5 more pounds that had critter damage that will be trimmed and used this week.



Herbs were clipped and dried. Pictured below is some Thyme:



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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Outside My Window Earlier Today

Why yes, I have been eating out of your garden. What are you gonna do about it, eh?






Harvest Monday: September 30, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

The garden has been a little behind normal all season. Thankfully, frost has held off for now and we have enjoyed a lovely fall allowing most things to mature. Below are some of the harvests we have enjoyed this week:

Fall lettuce is growing slowly, but there was enough to clip a few tender leaves for a sandwich topping:



The fall Swiss Chard is beginning to size up. Unfortunately, keeping the deer away from it has been challenging:

Swiss Chard

The partially ripe tomatoes harvested before our frost warning last week ripened quickly on the counter over this past week. Our chest freezer in the basement is full, so I processed and canned my first batch of sauce for the season. There are so many more tomatoes still in the garden. I am harvesting a little each day. The majority will mature if we are granted a few more frost-free weeks. Luckily the forecast seems to be in our favor.

Amish Paste Tomatoes

Juliet Tomatoes

So many peppers were harvested last week before frost. Most were made into Salsa and Green Chili Sauce, but some ended up in the refrigerator. I finally seeded, chopped, and froze these this week for later use:

Peppers Ready for the Freezer

Pole beans are still producing. There has been plenty for fresh eating and I may be able to harvest enough this week for another batch of pressure canned beans to add to storage:

Trionfo Violetto and Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans


Raspberries are delicious this year and are producing a few handfuls each day:

Heritage Raspberries

I found some halfway decent apples on our trees. I consider this a bonus harvest. We didn't spray the trees this year so most of the apples are affected with various molds and pest damage. I was looking for some apples to feed to the chickens when I found these that didn't look too bad. Once peeled and trimmed a little they were perfect for making a small batch of applesauce. I hope to harvest more this week:


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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Harvest Monday: September 23, 2013

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is gathering from his or her gardens in different areas.

Happy Fall! It was a close call last week for the garden. For two nights we had a frost warning for our area. Usually when frost hits I am ready for it. But this frost warning was weeks earlier than expected. This combined with the garden's late start in spring due to the colder than normal temperatures threatened to reduce my yield of tomatoes by half. I had a lot of fruit on the vines waiting to ripen.



I harvested all the partially ripe tomatoes and all the peppers just in case:







I also snipped a lot of basil. Basil is so sensitive to cold temperatures that I didn't want to risk losing the plants. I combined the basil with garlic and olive oil to make pesto that was frozen for later consumption:



The weekend was a busy one as I attempted to tackle the glut of tomatoes and peppers. Some tomatoes were used along with peppers, onions, and garlic to make two batches of canned Zesty Salsa. I also made a double batch of Dan's Green Chili Sauce and froze it. Even after all this, I still had six more pounds of peppers to process. I ended up reserving some for fresh eating and cutting the rest into chunks and freezing them.

The ripe tomatoes were washed, placed in zipper bags, and frozen for now. I will turn them into sauce later...or rather sooner than later as our chest freezer is officially full right now with mostly tomatoes.

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