Monday, July 26, 2021

A Bird ID & Our Potato Disaster

Hello, friends.  Last week, I canned blueberries in a very light honey syrup, with plans to use them for pies.  Three of the Tattler lids didn't seal on the tomatoes canned the day before, and I had just enough room to add them to the canner to reprocess them.  It worked great to take the blueberries out at 20 minutes, and leave the tomatoes in for another 25, and they all sealed this time.  I went through Swagbucks for a Vitacost purchase for 4% back, and used coupon codes for 20% off of most things.  Our first eggplant was harvested.  A saute was made with a tromboncino squash, a yellow squash we were gifted, tomatoes, and foraged chanterelles, with fresh basil and oregano.  In one of the mushroom classes I took, the instructor felt the old man of the woods mushroom's taste benefited from drying, so that's what I did with one I foraged.  Daily hand picking is barely making a dent in the Japanese beetle population.  They've started eating things we've never seen them on before, including comfrey, with it's prickly leaves, and basil flowers.  Sheesh.  

Can you find the 3 critters?

There were frugal fails last week.  Because my car was in the shop, I missed the Big Lots 20% off sale.  I've been keeping a list for when they had one of their sales, and guess it will have to keep until the next time.  A significantly greater fail was our potatoes.  When I went to gather potatoes one evening, I found many of them rotting.  Because we had so many this year, instead of having them in single layers as we have in the past, they were piled up.  We believe that was our error.  Boy, was that a nasty, stinking mess!  I sorted through all I could handle that evening, threw many into the compost, and used a pile of them for mashed potatoes that needed parts cut away.   J threw some more lime on them until we could do something else, and put an old dog lot around them, to keep McNibs away.  Another day, I went through them again, and gathered all the small potatoes to can.  Another 2/3 of a 5 gallon bucket were composted, and another batch were cut and salvaged, and used in a stir fry for dinner.  I'd say we lost 20-25% .  Lesson learned.  If you didn't see the post, this is how we store them when we have a large harvest.  

It appears that we should have a bountiful fig crop this year, despite the first round being frozen by a late frost.  One of my go to salads at the moment is a sliced cucumber and tomatoes, with black olives.  After our spring lettuce was gone, I was regularly buying the clamshells of spring mix for our salads.  Besides the lettuce lasting no time before becoming slimy, I realized how much plastic I was generating with those clamshells.  The natural co-op carries leaf lettuce, but it's 45 minutes away.  Any time either of us are in that town, we pick some up.  Aldi's and Food Lion only carry the clamshells of organic lettuce.  The other store, which I rarely shop at, sometimes has organic leaf lettuce, but not always.  Hence the cucumber, tomato, olive salads.  Apple beet salad and fruit salads occasionally make it on the menu too.  As soon as there's time to prepare a garden area, I plan to plant more lettuce seeds, as well as some of the fall crops.  Thanks to Julie Zickefoose, I'm delighted to know that the sweet birdsong I've heard at first light is an Eastern Wood Pewee.  I have her Saving Jemima book, which I'm waiting to enjoy on our beach trip.

The harvested eggplant, potatoes I'd steamed earlier in the day, sweet peppers, onions and garlic were sauteed together.  On Friday, I canned the small potatoes, which filled up the canner (18 pts), except for 3 potatoes, which I enjoyed as part of a late lunch.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and bread crumbs were made from the failed GF loaf I made, plus a couple bread ends.  I gathered a bouquet for a visit to my sister, who was under the weather, and brought eggs and tomatoes to share.  J voted thumbs down on radish pods I'd collected from the garden.  I was glad I put them on the side, instead of in his salad.   He finished covering the asparagus patch with the final layer of soil.  We've been needing mulch, and it occurred to me someone may be offering organic hay on either Craigslist, or fb marketplace.  Sure enough, he found some not too far away, and brought home a round bale.  He partially mulched the asparagus with it, on a very hot afternoon. 

There were 9 orders to wash and powder coat on Saturday, which had me hustling.  Packing them will take another day.  Another round of tomatoes was canned on Sunday, this time 11 qts.  The man J got the hay from gifted him 6 heirloom tomatoes, and a milkweed I don't have.  When I researched it,  it's not a recommended milkweed to grow due to bloom time, but there are varying opinions out there, and we do have many native milkweed plants here, so I think it will be OK.  It's an annual in this zone, so I can always choose to not save seed.  It has a very pretty flower.   I harvested tromboncino, cucumbers, tomatoes, a yellow squash, basil, oregano and lambs quarter.  Both squash are still growing very slowly, but we're usually able to have one meal a week using them.  J had tried replacing a part in the freezer that died, but it didn't fix it, so he offered it for free.  Within minutes, he had someone who wanted it, and it was gone within a couple of hours.  I was quite happy to have it off our porch.  These peak days of summer have me hitting the ground running each day, but it feels good to be harvesting and putting food by.  Wishing you a most abundant week, friends.  


daisy g said...

Yes, those Japanese beetles are a real treat for the chooks.

You're still harvesting so much. Good for you. I have sown some Jericho lettuce seeds and they have germinated fairly quickly. It is supposed to tolerate the heat and humidity very well. Let me know if you want some seeds.

One of the best things about ordering from Misfits is the lack of packaging on their produce. Everything is organic and most things ship very well. They have a red leaf lettuce that is absolutely divine! Let me know if you'd like to try it. I have a discount code.

Enjoy your week! No doubt you will be dodging the humidity like the rest of us!

Michèle Hastings said...

Sorry to hear about your potatoes and the bugs are a constant battle.

Laurie said...

That's so kind of you, Daisy. Let me check the status of our seeds. I think we still have a good mix of hot weather and cool weather lettuces, but I'll let you know if not. I will ponder Misfits. Thank you again!

Thanks Michele. I went through the potatoes one more time this morning. There were another dozen or so we need to eat quickly, after cutting bits off, and a handful that went into the compost. I sorted and covered them all up with pine straw. Hopefully, all that's left is enjoying them through the coming months.

Jeannie said...

So sorry to hear about the potatoes. Disasters like that are heartbreaking after you have worked so hard growing them. None of mine lasted long in storage in the basement last year. We had to eat them fast. I am wondering if it is because they were touching.

I also have trouble getting Tattler lids to seal and think it might be mineral buildups because we have hard water. I wipe the jar rim with white vinegar and put vinegar in the simmering water right before I apply the lids. It seems to have helped.

Laurie said...

I think it's only a couple of months or so before our potatoes start sprouting in the basement. I do try to keep them separated on shelves, and if you don't mind taking sprouts off, they lasted a few months. I believe it's usually in the 50's in the winter in our basement.

We're plumbed for rainwater, and it doesn't get much softer than that. I may try putting some vinegar in the lid water to see if it makes any difference.