Monday, April 16, 2018

A Little Canning, A Natural Dye Experiment & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  As the wood stove won't be in use much longer, I decided to take advantage of that free source of heat.  A quart of homegrown dried crowder peas was put on the wood stove top, along with 3 gallon bags of vegetable scraps for stock.  Another pot of water for canning was heated too.  Later in the week, the forecast was for 80, but on Monday it was a rainy morning with a high of 50, so I decided to do some canning while the heat would be more appreciated.  The #10 can of black olives I got in Asheville was recanned, giving me 16 half pint jars to add to the shelf.

While watching the canner, I prepped dinner.  There was enough butternut squash for two crumbles, so I froze half for a future meal.  As I prepped, I added the vegi bits to the broth pot on the wood stove... squash skins and ends, mushroom and garlic ends, asparagus bottoms and herb stems.  I had frozen some homegrown thyme and parsley, and used that in the crumble.  During the night, I realized I'd forgotten to add reishi mushroom to the broth, which I love for all it's benefits, so did that.  The broth was canned the next day, adding 5 1/2 pints to the pantry.  I reused the water the canning rings were boiled in to boil eggs once it cooled. 

I recently noticed the large rhubarb was putting forth a bloom.  I've never had one grow large enough to do that, so I'm pretty excited about it.  I did some research and found I need to cut it: "The flower head that comes up from rhubarb plants should be removed immediately when you first observe it... to maintain and ensure the highest quality and maximum yield from your rhubarb garden, it is important that the plants not be allowed to go to seed."  Good to know.   I did cut it, and saved some stem and the tender part of the stalk to do something with.  

I forgot to mention I left two books in the little free library, when I dropped off a soap delivery last week.  I didn't see any books that interested me, so didn't pick up any.  After turning a lotion bottle upside down, there was still quite a bit left in the bottle.  I added some water, and was able to use the rest of it.  I enjoyed season 2 of Victoria on Netflix, and the movie Breathe through Amazon Prime.  Laundry was done with homemade soap, and hung on the line.  I made an apple pie from filling canned in January.  Asparagus was harvested several days.  I've been working on my pumice stones at Whynot Pottery.  Most were put in the kiln on Friday, and fired over the weekend.  I've been told they came out wonderfully, and can't wait to see them.

dyed with cedar rust fungus, no mordant
On one of my walks, I noticed the bright orange gel of cedar rust fungus.  When I picked some up, it turned my hands slightly orange, so I thought it was worth a dye experiment.  The initial attempt with just the fungus didn't impart much color, after boiling and overnight soaking.  By the next morning, the sunlight had bleached any color from the fabric.  I found only a couple of mentions online of dyeing with this, one with wool, and the other silk.  I used a piece of cotton, one of flannel, and scrap of beige silk.

dyed with cedar rust fungus and iron
The next day, I added some iron water I'd made by soaking metal shavings, around 1/4 cup to the pot, and soaked the fabric in it overnight.  The colors were deeper this time, and they had not faded any when I took them off the line in the evening.  I intend to try another round with alum, but haven't had time to do it yet.

wild iris
We had a big gardening weekend.  We're working towards a no till garden, but the weeds had already gotten away from us, so J tilled just the top inch or two to disturb the weeds.  He prepared areas for carrots, beets, lettuce, arugula and spinach, and I planted them.  I cleaned up a couple of beds, weeding and pruning back dead winter stalks.  One is an area with herbs, rhubarb, and woad, a dye plant.  I intend to plant the area with more dye plants this year.  I transplanted the wintersown safflower, one I intend to use for dyeing into a larger container.  I did the same with wild mignonette, and Hopi red amaranth, two more dye plants.  The hollyhocks seemed large enough to plant, and I tried three spots, hoping at least one will make them happy.  I also planted the phacelia in a bed near the garden, hoping it will bring beauty and lots of pollinators.  The peas got strings to climb upon on Saturday.  We noticed the tops had been chewed by rabbits, and on Sunday, J said more of the tops were gone.  At this rate, there will be no peas.  We're pondering what to do to make a barrier.

wild cherry
We've enjoyed fringe trees and viburnum along the path on this land, and have intended to move some closer to the house to enjoy for some time.  We finally did that on Sunday, and got them in the ground just before a big thunderstorm rolled in.  We only took a small amount.  Most of both was left in the wild.  We also got a few ferns from a spot that J had pushed up last fall, and some plants that look like a small sunflower.  We're hoping the rain will settle everything in nicely.  So far, the only seeds recently started in the house that have germinated are Indigo Blue Berry tomatoes.  It's a start. 


April said...

I look at your photos of spring and read of your gardening and sigh. Outside today is a layer of icy snow (in spots) and the temperature is a whopping 32 degrees. Spring may just pass by Ohio this year.

Laurie said...

I can see how that would be discouraging, April. We did have a light frost last night, but it's back in the mid 60's today. I'm sending lots of spring thoughts your way.

Lynn said...

How do yo re can olives? I'd love to do that.

Laurie said...

Hi Lynn. I follow Jackie Clay's directions, which is: Drain olives and bring the brine to a boil. Fill jars and add boiling brine. She doesn't mention head space, but I do 1". Pressure can at 10# (depending on where you're located, that may need to be higher) at 60 minutes for half pint jars. Happy canning!

Lynn said...

Thank you so much for this and being so quick about it. I'm going to give it a try.

Michèle Hastings said...

I grew rhubarb in NH even though I don't like it! My mother would always take some and make rhubarb or strawberry rhubarb pie. I don't remember mine ever flowering.

Laurie said...

Michele, I'm not really sure if I like it! I made something with store bought rhubarb some years ago, but don't remember what. I've been collecting recipes, and hope there will be at least one we like. Something that comes back year after year is a lovely thing in the garden.