September Garden Tally

Ok, it turns out I lied last month. SEPTEMBER is the month of tomatoes.

I just tallied up what we harvested from the garden last month and it’s INSANE.

Tomatoes

Amish Paste: 16lbs, 11 1/8oz.

Fox Cherry: 15lbs, 3 3/4oz.

Cherokee Purple: 4lbs, 9 5/8oz.

Matt’s Wild Cherry: 2lbs, 1 5/8oz.

German Striped:  2lbs, 2/8oz.

Isis Candy: 1lb, 5/8oz.

Gilbertie: 8oz.

Other things:

Tomatillos: 4lbs, 9 1/2oz.

Green Beans: 2lbs, 4 3/4oz.

Moon and Stars Watermelon: 17lbs

Zucchini: 4lbs, 5 5/8oz.

Dry Beans: 11 1/8oz

I looked up the cost of organic tomatoes at Hannaford in this week’s flyer, and it’s $3.99/lb.

We harvested over 42 POUNDS of tomatoes in September ALONE.  At that price, we grew more than $167 worth last month. Considering we put in about $15-20 in seeds, seedlings, potting soil, mulch, fertilizer, etc. we got a great return on our investment!!

Many of those tomatoes were canned, to be used this winter in lots of tomato sauce, soups, ketchup or bbq sauce and other things.  We also froze a lot, out of pure laziness.  Canning tomatoes gets old fast, I admit.  Luckily our new chest freezer is up to the task. 🙂

Fall Garden

The garden in the fall always looks so tired. No longer are the vibrant greens and cherry reds showcased in all their glory, instead it all looks like the plants have partied hard all summer long and are now nursing their hangovers.

Though the tomatoes are now on their way out, the corn is picked and stored away for drying, and the squash refuse to produce anymore, there’s still lots going on in the garden.

Fall peas are starting to grow! They are loving the cooler weather and lots of rain we’ve been having.

There are a few more Moon and Stars Watermelon in the garden, though some have rotted on the vine, no thanks to all the rain we got the last few weeks.

After a whole summer of only producing a couple peppers, the Marconi plants have all of a sudden taken off.  I picked 5 peppers alone last week and there’s still more to go!

All 30 of our leek plants made it to maturity! They’re not that big, most likely because we planted them so close together, but they are really good! Here, K is picking a couple to throw in our Fall veggie stirfry we’ll be making this week.

I’m not sure what kind of flowers are growing in our plot right now, but the bees are loving them! We had around 6 enjoying themselves.

We’ve harvested all our eggplants already this summer, but there are new flowers out on them again. I wonder if we’ll get anymore before frost?

We have some HUGE carrots waiting to be dug up this year.  Apparently the experts were right! If you thin your carrots, you will get much bigger ones.

The melon tried to get away from us by rolling down to the gate.  Apparently it doesn’t want to be made into fruit salad!

Plotterkill Preserve

Plotter Kill is a 632 acre preserve located along the Plotter Kill, a tributary of the Mohawk River in Schenectady County. Kill means “creek” in Dutch, and as this area (like much of New York) was first settled by the Dutch back in the 17th century, there are Kills all over the place.

K thinking about the falls in the middle of the conifer forest.

It’s quite a rugged place, muddy, hilly, with exposed roots everywhere.  The ledges that line the hills/cliffs are apparently what give the Plotter Kill its name: from “Platte” (flat).  At the end of the ice age, it was the melting waters that cut the gorge of the creek.

K and I were just driving by when we decided to pull in and check it out.  We looked at the different loops we could do, and decided to do the blue (1/2-mile) trail that would skirt along the edges of the waterfalls. Thinking that 1/2-mile would be really quick, I was surprised that it took us about an hour to hike – but that’s how rugged it was.  I did a search on the Plotter Kill on Google when we got back and it looks like others get similarly fooled – someone wrote that their 2 mile hike along the Plotter Kill took them more than 3 hours!

Looking down the slope to the Kill below

The gorge dips more than 900 feet through the Preserve and due to the rain this past week, the trails were very muddy and the waters high flowing, so the hubby and I decided to stick to the top of the waterfalls and save the bottom for another day.

Lower Falls

Upper Falls

The Falls are really pretty from down below, and we hope to get over there soon.  Here are some public domain/CC photos that others have taken.

This looks like Lower Falls

Lower Falls during the winter - Photo Credit: Geotek/Wikipedia CC

So if you’re local and looking for some good waterfall hiking, you should definitely check out Plotter Kill.  Just be prepared to get muddy!

Green All-Purpose Spray Cleaner

I take great pride in the fact that K and I haven’t used commercially prepared cleaners and detergents in over a year, with the exception of dishwasher detergent.  I’ve yet to find a homemade version that works well, and so we usually buy 7th Generation or Ecover for that. (We do use a vinegar rinse instead of Jet Dry).

One of the best green “recipes” I have found for an all-purpose spray is also one of the easiest.

Into a clean spray bottle:

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 tsp of washing soda
  • dab of liquid soap.

Combine and shake.

So easy!  It does a really great job of cleaning up every day messes, and as I use washing soda in my laundry detergent, I always have everything on hand.

But I recently decided to look for an even better all purpose spray to cut grease as well as germs.  I found this.

Gorgeously Green All-Purpose Spray

from Sophie Uliano, author of Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life


Into a 32-ounce spray bottle:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure castile soap
  • 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 20 drops tea tree oil
  • 20 drops of lavender
Combine and shake.
Amazingly, I had all the ingredients on hand for this spray. I guess I’ve gone more green than I thought! The combination of tea tree, lavender and peppermint oils create a really “clean” smelling spray, I was pleasantly surprised.
Even though buying the ingredients initially might add up a bit, over the long haul, this spray is better for the environment and your wallet.  Although a bottle of essential oil runs ~$5, the number of bottles of spray (plus numerous other uses for the oils) will definitely pay you back.
Try it!

Farmers Market Sunday

The summer Greenmarket will be coming to an end in about another month.  It will then move indoors to Proctor’s until the end of April.  No more fresh fruits! Only greens and root veggies for awhile! Bah, I need to prepare myself.

But in the meantime, there’s still lots to enjoy.  This week, we picked up:

  • That awesome ciobatta bread, a croissant, and a cheese danish from Our Daily Bread.
  • Potatoes (can’t remember the name) and Orange Hubbard squash from Barber Farm.
  • Concord grapes (grapes!) from Madura Farm.
  • 2lbs chicken sausage from Coopers Ark Farm.
  • 1 gallon apple cider from Migliorelli Farm and 1 bunch arugala.
  • 1 half-gallon of reduced-fat milk and 1 pint chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery.

Those grapes.

I’m not fully convinced they didn’t find these wild, because, after all, Concords are related to a wild, native species of New England.  Still, they taste an awful lot like Welch’s grape juice!

Next week at the market, same bat time, same bat channel!

Pick Your Own

What a crazy weekend!! I feel like I’ve been set on “go” all weekend long, but it’s been absolutely fantastic.

I attended my first local blogger meet up on Saturday and made some “blends” – which I learned means blogger friends.  There was Lauren, Cynthia, Jen, Becca, Heather, and Nicole. We’re going to pretend I wasn’t talking when this picture was taken and don’t look horrible, ‘kay?

It was really nice A) to meet some new people, B) to meet some new people who don’t look at me crazily when I pull out a camera in the middle of something and C) to meet some new people who don’t look at me crazy when I pull out a camera because they’re doing the same thing!

We met up at Indian Ladder, which, as you must know by now, is one of my favorite places, considering the amount of times I have gone apple picking there.  I mean, how can you not love a place that is run by FIFTH generation farmers???

I do wish Indian Ladder would get with the program and allow people to bring in their own bags instead of making you purchase a plastic bag to pick apples.  Altamont Orchards does this, and although I was caught empty-handed last year, I do really appreciate the conservation aspect (as well as the not-having-to-use-oil aspect, of course!).

We had lunch at the Yellow Rock Cafe before heading out to the field-o’-the-day to pick Empire and Kendall apples.

The Empire apple field looked pretty picked over, even though Empire’s aren’t supposed to come into their own until the last week of September.  Kendalls were much more plentiful!

After apple picking, everyone headed back to my place to do some canning! There were a few canning virgins and the place was a bit chaotic as we tried to fit in two recipes in less than 3 hours.

A bit of the chaos:

Canning supplies

Apples in Heather's bag

Getting the apples ready!

Apple cider from Indian Ladder

Apple butter recipe

Apples ready for cooking

Heather's priceless face!

Cynthia tried to burn my house down

The finished product

Nicole approves!

Tomatillo Guacamole

The other day K emailed me a NYT recipe for tomatillo guacamole.  With pounds and pounds of tomatillos sitting in our freezer and our garden, we thought this would be a good way to use some of them.

O.M.G. This is one of the best guacamole recipes I have ever tasted. The tomatillos (and jalapeño) give it a kick in the right direction! And supposedly this has half the calories due to the tomatillos.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husked
  • 1 jalapeño or 2 to 3 serrano chilies, seeded if desired and roughly chopped
  • 10 cilantro sprigs, more if you love cilantro
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 small or 1 1/2 large ripe avocados
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (more if you love lime!)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the tomatillos on top, stem side down. Place under the broiler at the highest rack setting and broil two to five minutes, until charred on one side. Turn over and broil on the other side for two to five minutes, until charred on the other side. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender, tipping in any juice that has accumulated on the baking sheet. Add the chilies, cilantro sprigs and salt to the blender and blend to a coarse purée.
  2. Cut the avocados in half and twist the two halves apart. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl or the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Mash with a fork or pestle. Do not use a food processor or a blender, as you want to retain some texture. Stir in the lime juice, the tomatillo mixture and salt to taste and combine well. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Notes

  • Unless you like your guacamole REALLY spicy, de-seed the jalapeño, for the LOVE OF GOD.  Or you will end up like me eating your guacamole with a glass of milk.
  • No joke, this guacamole is so good I found myself wishing I could can this stuff to eat all year long.  Not that it really matters, since avocados aren’t local anyway.  But you can grow limes here!