Monday, July 25, 2022

The Summer Garden & Cucuzza Squash

Hello, friends.  How have you been doing these July days?  Last week, I planted seeds of beets, cabbage, kale, broccoli, and collards.  The beets were direct sown, and were Detroit Dark Red and Cylindra.  The others were started in pots, and were Russian Red, Premier, and Dwarf Siberian kale, Early Jersey Wakefield and a mystery cabbage, Green Glaze and Vates collards, and Green Goliath broccoli.  The lettuce planted in the pond last weekend was Salad Bowl and Dark Red Lollo Rossa.  I received free packs of sample HP papers, thanks to someone sharing on The Prudent Homemaker.  While using a $3 off $20 produce coupon, I found organic peaches for $2.49/2# (usually $3.99), and found cherries at another store for $3.99/#.  Some of the peaches were frozen for future smoothies.  We've had some nice, large tomatoes, including this whopper that weighed 1# 11 oz.

I decided to plant a few more potatoes, using ones that had worked their way above the ground before harvesting, and had started to grow little leaves, as well as ones starting to sprout.  I'm doing this as I come across them when gathering for dinner.  I wish I'd thought of it before we covered them up in their storage spot, but I saw mention where there was still time to get a harvest, even if only small potatoes.  We love potatoes, and more can only be a good thing.  Water from washing lettuce was used to water plants.  A bin of shredded paper was emptied into the compost.  The pups were bathed in the outdoor shower with homemade dog soap.  Their beds were washed, and dried on the line.  I sold a set of antique dishes for my friends on ebay.  There have been lots of apple and pear drops, so I've been gathering many of them.  Some of the damaged apples have been chopped for the pups and chickens.  I'm thinking of making a batch of applesauce with them.  No sign yet of the pond lettuce germinating, but soon I hope.  

Eggplant, stewed tomatoes and tomato juice were canned last week.  I made soap using the stove for the first time this year.  Sales have been slow, so I hadn't made any since April, when the woodstove was still going occasionally.  Thankfully, sales are picking up a bit.  Last week, I harvested cucumbers, yellow squash, eggplant, tromboncino, tomatoes, basil, blueberries, and green beans.  I went through Swagbucks for a purchase, which will give me $5 cash back, used a $12 reward, and will get another 10% back in rewards.  I mended a small hole in the watering can with epoxy.  The carrots and beets have started coming up, and quite a few kale, collards and broccoli are up, as well as another cucumber.  The first two chanterelles were gathered, and used in a veggie scramble.

The first two cucuzza squash were harvested.  I checked in with my Sicilian family, and they recommended making pasta with tenerumi and cucuzza.  I watched the video as well on YT, and found out, traditionally the beans inside larger green beans would have been used, but this was changed to black eyed peas in the US, in this particular recipe at least.  I found one large green bean with five beans inside today, so I threw it in, along with the homegrown canned peas.  I figured out what was making holes in our peppers, and causing them to drop off... slugs.  We have a bottle of beer we were given that we don't care for, so it will be used as slug bait.  I may also crush egg shells, and place them around the plant.  I'd love to harvest some peppers.  We're grateful for the good rain we had last week, and are hoping for more this week.    Wishing you a lovely week.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Summer Canning & A Lettuce Experiment

Hello, friends.  Last week, I canned yellow squash and tomatoes.  Instead of the usual raw pack canning of tomatoes, I tried stewing them for the first time, and canned the juice separately.  I'm thinking stewed should made a nicer sauce.  The time and effort seemed to be approximately the same, but I liked not having to deal with the steaming pot to remove skins, and then the ice bath afterwards.  The recipe I used left the skins on, so I did too.  I've done that with cherry tomatoes used in canning, and they were fine.  Another day, I blanched and froze lambs quarter.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow squash, tromboncino, eggplant, blueberries, a very few blackberries, parsley, oregano, basil, the first green beans and lambs quarter were harvested.  At Aldi, I bought a pineapple for $1.49, which is the cheapest I've seen in a long time.  I keep looking for the .99 pineapples I  read about people finding, but never see any in this area.  If I did, I'd try canning them, as they're doing.  J was given a large bag of local sweet corn, and froze most of it, after enjoying several ears.

I met my sister for a thrifting day, and found a dress to wear to the 70's disco dance party we're going to in August.  It's polyester, with a 70's looking pattern, and flared sleeves.  J had sent me a link for an outfit online, but it was $50, and I refuse to pay that to wear for one night.  The dress should have been $2, but I think ended up being $4 at the thrift store, still a great savings.  I also found J a fleece work vest, which was either $2 or $4, and a scarf for the dance outfit for $1.  We stopped by a produce stand, and I picked up a cantaloupe for $3.  Not a great deal, but cheaper than the stores have been here.  I shared cucumbers with my sister.  After I dropped her back at her car, I shopped at Food Lion, where I found someone had left coupons in the cart, including one for $3 off  $20.

We got rid of our two "extra" roosters, after J listed them online.  A woman and her small son came to pick them up, and though we didn't ask directly, we believe they will be additions to their farm nearby.  Though, in these times, I couldn't begrudge anyone wanting to put food by, I'm hoping they're living their best lives, with a flock of their own.  As the weeks go by, the littlest "RI Red" chicks are appearing to be bantams or some other small breed.  They're definitely not RI Reds.  We lost one of our Americauna hens last week.  She was just sitting near the door to their yard when I went out in the morning, and when I went to check on her a little while later, she was already gone, though she didn't appear to be struggling to breathe or any other signs.  I knew when she let me pet her that she must be pretty sick.  I continue soaking scratch grains overnight for the chickens, and giving them a mixture of banana peels, and whatever else I have that day.  Lately it's been chopped figs, grated cucumber, sometimes chopped tomatoes that have been pecked on by birds.  The day I canned tomatoes, they got all the seeds I had strained out for juice.  J glued one of the legs on the recently thrifted gateleg table, and I stained a small block he had replaced on it.  

Cole slaw was made with our cabbage and carrots, and J had the other cabbage half with potatoes one night.  I dehydrated the cut off tomato tops from canning for suet, and a few mushrooms that needed to be used, to add to the soup mix.  I planted the ends of one celery, and four lettuce in the garden.  Like last year, it doesn't look as though the celery is doing anything, but one lettuce appears to be growing slightly so far.  We have lots of melons and winter squash growing on the vines.  I keep finding various seedlings eaten off.  This week, it was lettuce and nasturtium.  In place of the nasturtium, I transplanted wintersown portulaca.   For the lettuce, we did a project we've been talking about for some time, which is making holes in a large piece of styrofoam for the pots, and floating the pots in our pond.  It supposedly keeps the lettuce cool enough to be happy during the summer, and the water has enough nutrients in it to help them thrive.  I planted four pots to start.  If they do well, we plan to add more.   

I made a peach cobbler for J, with some of the peaches a neighbor gave him, and some flour that needs using, as I'm GF now.  I started another MM cleanse this week, so it seemed a good time to do that.  For the cleanse, I've been able to use kale, tomatoes, herbs, garlic and cucumber from the garden in meals.  We've been able to open up at night, to take advantage of the fresh and cooler air, and got a small amount of rain.  I cleaned the chicken coop, and cut spearmint and southernwood sprigs to place in the coop and nest boxes.  While braiding onions on the porch with the pups, I saw a green snake fall from the roof.  It took me a minute to realize an anole lizard had it in it's mouth.  They battled for two or three minutes before the anole let the snake go.  I figure the snake had probably gone after the anole, and he was having no part of it!  Nature is something to behold.  

We had guests on Sunday.  They appreciated the photos of the garden I shared on social media, and asked if they could come out.  I was gifted a piece of a new to me herb, called papalo.  It's sometimes compared to cilantro, and has a strong scent and taste.  I've got it in water, to see if it will grow roots.  I was also given a bag of worm castings, an excellent gift for a gardener.  Cucumbers and tomatoes were shared.  J sowed carrot seeds.  I did a little bit of weed eating before the battery died.  By the time it was charged, I was onto other things.  J and I do Wordle and the spelling bee it links to pretty much every day, and compare.  As we do the free version of spelling bee, it cuts us off at some point, so I sometimes also do a free version called Free Bee, which does not cut you off.  It's the little things.  Be well, friends.  

Monday, July 11, 2022

Summer Light

Hello, friends.  I hope you've had a good week.  For the 4th, I prepped our tromboncino squash and potatoes with herbs for J to grill, and made a salad using our figs and blueberries.  My go to salad dressing these days is lemon juice and raw honey, which works really well for both sweeter salads like this, or more traditional salads.  We decided to have watermelon on the 4th, instead of ice cream, and will try that another day.  A batch of bird suet was made, using the last bit of a nut and raisin mix I'd bought in Asheville.  During these warmer months, I'm cutting the suet pieces smaller, so they are more quickly eaten in the heat.  Before I did that, they would occasionally dry up or get moldy, and this has solved that problem.  

I used Margaret's method to freeze parsley, and chopped basil and covered it with water in ice cube trays.  Both of these methods have worked well for me for a number of years, and are so much more flavorful than dried herbs.  The basil does cause some discoloration of the trays, so if that matters, perhaps have some dedicated to this purpose.  Our yellow squash and red onion were used in a dish with quinoa and avocado.  Swagbucks points were redeemed for a $25 gift card.  After an appointment, I shopped on senior day at Harris Teeter, getting a 5% discount.  The pieces that hold the lid on our wicker hamper fell apart, so I cut strips of leather, from a nice sized piece I thrifted for $1, and used these in place.  Laundry was dried on the line, and on one day, I had to quickly get it in before a rain.  Aren't the flowers of the cucuzza plants lovely?

Saturday morning, I attended the local arts guild rummage sale with my sister.  I didn't see much that I could use, but I came home with three sets of lovely Irish linen napkins, all different.  A longtime member of the guild had donated them, and called out to me as I passed by.  We had a lovely chat on how to care for them.  Afterwards, I ran by the library and the P.O., where I bought stamps before the increase.  We harvested cucumbers, lambs quarter, yellow squash, tromboncino, eggplant, a cabbage, blueberries and a few blackberries.  J & I ran the string for the butter beans.  The green beans have begun flowering, so I'll be picking before long.  I planted bottoms of celery and lettuce, to see if they would regrow.  We were blessed with 2 " of rain.  The water tanks and living things are all better for it.  This video fed my soul this week.  Be well, friends.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Planting, Canning & Harvesting

Hello, friends.  Last week, I repotted lettuce, and harvested cucumbers, yellow squash, figs, blackberries, blueberries, lambs quarter, eggplant, tromboncino squash, and oregano.  I planted the last wintersown coleus, and several cypress vine seedlings in the ground.  The next day, I planted zinnias started from seed in a pot to cheer me when I drive in.  I got back into working on my friend's antiques, and did 10 listings on ebay.  Two items sold, which is more than my recent track record.   I just really need to get all of it taken care of.  Thankfully, there's not much left of it now.  There was no indication of color when I bought the marked down geraniums above, and I couldn't be happier with what showed up.  The photo below is of the pond garden.  Left to right, there are winter squash, winter squash & watermelons, cantaloupe & honeydew melons, Dixie Lee field peas, and tomatoes.   The space between the melons and peas has been cover cropped with buckwheat and phacelia.  In the distance is the pond, which we use to irrigate this garden.  In the foreground, you can just see the old truck tool box we use to start some seedlings.  It was a cloudy day, so looks a bit dreary, but it's usually a very sunny spot.

On a cooler day, I cut up all the "need to use first" potatoes, made mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, and made cucumber salad.  I let another neighbor know we had lots of cucumbers, and she stopped by after work.  I worked at the gallery again on Saturday, and brought the owner some more cucumbers.  I was happily surprised by a $1/hr. raise, which really helps with gas prices these days.  While in our small town picking up something for J, I shared cucumbers and an elderberry I had potted up with a friend, and stopped by the little local grocery store.  I had hoped to get an avocado, but at $2.99 ea., I left it there.  They did however, have limes for .29 ea. and lovely cilantro for $1.29/bunch, and I got three of each.  They also had two cartons of mushrooms marked down to .99, so I got those too.  The next day, I canned our smallest potatoes, adding 24 pints to the pantry, and got a few small jars of mushrooms done at the same time.  The timing was only 5 mins. longer for the mushrooms, and the second canner load wasn't full of potatoes, so that worked out well.  

While at the sink one day, I noticed a vibrant blue bird.  Grabbing my camera, I managed to get a photo, and was delighted to find it was an indigo bunting.  Though I see them in the area, usually at the side of the roads, I don't remember seeing one under the feeders here before, so that was a real treat.  Golden paste was made for the pups, and also food for the hummingbirds.  I harvested kale, basil & parsley, and made a double batch of kale pesto, which went in the freezer.  The parsley and chard were weeded and fed with comfrey tea.  The rest of the kale went in a new to us salad.  Our potatoes and the first tromboncino were used in a MM zucchini tot recipe, and our figs, blackberries and blueberries were used in a fruit salad, with grapes and a nectarine that needed using.  Another night used our tomatoes, garlic and herbs in pasta sauce, and cucumbers, carrot, and tomato in a salad.  It's good to be eating more of our garden produce again.  We visited my MIL on Sunday, and don't have any big plans for the 4th, though we're thinking about trying out a vegan ice cream recipe, made with fruits, coconut milk and honey.  It sounds like it should be good.  Whatever your planning for the 4th and the week, I'm wishing you an enjoyable one.