I did it! I started planting. I put in the peas, onions, carrots, spinach, lettuce, corn and beets. I put them in on Wednesday (the 4th) but I just haven’t had a chance to write it up.
Calvin, my almost 4-year-old was my helper buddy. He was very deliberate with planting, and put the seeds just as far apart as I told him to. With the beets he would just take 2 seeds from the tin at a time. He was excited to be helping because he had taken a nap, and got to stay up later than his older brother.
While we were planting I noticed that our apple trees are budding. I have high hopes for our apple trees this year. This will be their 3rd summer and the general consensus is that they take till their third year to start producing. We had a couple apples their first year, but nothing substantial. Last year the birds ate all the flowers. This year we’re not putting out bird seed in the feeder till the apples have set and have been bagged for protection. With the extra care and a little bit of luck I think we’ll have a decent crop.
Happily, my garden orders will only be about $100 this year compared to $200 + dirt money we spent last year and the year before. The garden will be a little bit smaller which partly accounts for the decreased cost. The vine borers were so bad with the pumpkins last year that I’m not going to plant anything that they can eat. Hopefully a year of starving will keep them at bay, and I can grow some nice pumpkins again next year.
I have a lot of seeds left over from last year which helps too. I only had to order one type of tomato this year.
Goals and Decisions
This year I decided I wanted to plant less types of plants, and to do more canning with the larger crops. I settled on beets, peas and basil. Beets because I like beets (and I bought a pound of beet seeds last year!), peas because you can never have too many fresh peas, and basil because last year’s crop was sufficient for cooking, but much too small to make pesto. And I love pesto.
I also focused on turning the garden next to our house into an herb garden. I just got accepted to the UMN Masters of Geographic Information Science, so I expect that the next couple of years will be very busy. I plan to continue gardening, but I want to reduce the amount of work it takes. I’m hoping that having an herb garden is part of that solution.
This Year’s Order: $101.23
The total isn’t actually in yet, because I haven’t bought the cherry tree, but it’s in the budget this time around and I know what kind I want. We’re going to get a North Star sour cherry tree. Here’s the rest of the order.
Next up on the todo list is to clean my starter pots so they’ll be ready when the seeds get here. I also need to sharpen my lawn mower, shovels and hoes. I bought a tiller that doesn’t start last fall, so I need to get that running and till the garden.
Last night was supposed to get down to 30 degrees between midnight and 8 AM. After debating covering plants and crossing my fingers, I decided instead to harvest everything I could. Between a business trip last Wednesday and Saturday, and the sudden need to harvest everything to save it from the freeze, there was a lot to take care of. In no particular order, here’s how it has been going down
How To Make Mint Syrup
1 cup tightly packed Mint leaves
1 cup water
1 cup syrup
Boil them all together on low until the liquid reaches the desired consistency (about 15 minutes). Strain out leaves, and store in the fridge.
It’s good, but more mint leaves would have been stronger/better. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to use it for, but it tastes good. We don’t use mint that much and planted this because my 5 year old likes mint and wanted it.
How to Make Sun-Dried Cherry Tomatoes
I halved this bowl full of cherry tomatoes and started drying them in the oven. I put the oven on the lowest temperature it could do (170 degrees F) for about 5 hours. At that point I transfered them to the dehydrator.
If my dehydrator had a fan, I would’ve skipped the oven.
How to Freeze Corn
Here’s the rest of the corn. It wasn’t all fully developed, but most ears were at least partly developed — well enough to make it worth processing.
Caroline and I husked the corn…
…and then blanched them for 5-6 minutes.
Once it has boiled for 5-6 minutes, we cooled it off in a sink full of cold water. The black kernels are actually purple, from the purple corn. We had cut out the couple of bad spots before the blanching process.
Then we cut off the kernels of corn, and put it in freezer bags. The cutting is easiest with a nice sharp knife.
Here it is, after it had been in the freezer overnight.
How To Hang Herbs To Dry In The Kitchen
To hang up herbs in the kitchen, I put up two nails near the ceiling, and made a loop of twine. I twisted the twine nice and tight so it was taut.
I made bunches of herbs, and then wherever I wanted the bunch to hang I would un-twist the twine and slip the bunch between the strands. The twisted twine would then hold the bunches of herbs in place without a clip and without tying.
The herbs should be dry in a couple of weeks.
Pickles and Pickled Peppers
I used the Ball Blue Book recipes for these 5 jars of fresh-packed pickles, and 2 jars of pickled banana peppers.
The Rosemary Came Inside
Rosemary doesn’t love the cold, so this guy came inside.
Freezing Green Beans
The green beans that didn’t have big beans inside got blanched and frozen. The ones with big beans will go on a wire rack and I’m hoping that they will continue to ripen so we can eat the bean parts of the beans. The Internet promised me that they will.
Homemade Hot Sauce
I turned a nice pile of green serrano peppers into two bottles (and a little extra in a zip-lock).
3/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
I put the above ingredients in a blender, then added peppers and blended them a few at a time until it reached the right consistency.
As for the flavor, it’s DELICIOUS!
My Todo List
These squash need to sit in the sun for 10 days to cure. Their stems will dry, and once that’s done the butternut squash should be shelf stable through most of the winter and the pumpkins should hopefully turn orange by Halloween.
This seemed like the best place to put the tomatoes till I can set up some shelves in the basement. The tub made it easy to wash them at least.
The tomatoes will get put on shelves with enough air circulation and light (sun and grow lamps on a timer) that most of them will hopefully ripen. Last time we did this, about 80% ripened, 15% started to rot, and the remainder must’ve been too green to ripen.
Sorry for the extra long post, it’s been an extra long couple of days doing garden stuff.