Our coldframe works!

Holy cow, did I have a busy weekend!  But before we went downstate, we went over to the garden (in the pouring rain, I might add) to see how the spinach is doing in the coldframe.

It looks great! And I have to admit, I was gearing myself up in case the cold frame was destroyed.  You know, a rock through the windows or something.  But no, it was in perfect shape!

Closer up

They are thriving in the coldframe!  We compared the growth to a little spinach plant (that I didn’t get a picture of) outside the coldframe and the one outside looks puny and frail comparatively. The spinach in the ‘frame had turned a rich green and even the transplanted seedlings (we had moved some of the plants from outside the coldframe inside) are doing great!

A bonus is that our coldframe is not completely solid because in the rain, plenty of water was dripping in and the dirt was wet, so we don’t even have to go water it in between visits.  It’s protected from the cold (at least until the snow flies), allows some moisture in, and will allow plenty of growth.

I only hope the spinach can grow much more before it gets too cold for even the cold frame.  I guess we’ll see!

No farmers market for us this week, but the Jets game was awesome and I will be back with pics tomorrow!

Advertisements

Taking It Easy

Thank you folks, for your kind words on my I’m Stressed post the other day.  I’ve taken your words to heart and doing some soul-searching on what I really want to focus on in my homesteading activities.  Now I just have to narrow it down, and that will be hard!

Instead of doing any big projects this week, I spent a lot of time with friends.  The hubby and I attended our friends’ JOP wedding in Schoharie smack-in-the-middle-of-effing-nowhere Tuesday night!  I got a call from A on Friday night asking if we would be their witnesses at the wedding.  Hell yeah!  A and R actually had a destination wedding in the Bahamas in May but no one except them was there, and I really wished we could have been.  Well, apparently, Bahamas weddings don’t transfer to the U.S., so they haven’t been “legal” this entire time, so I got my chance!  On Tuesday night, we pulled into the gravel parking lot of an old building in Schoharie, where the town judge and clerk were waiting for us.  There, A and R proceeded to repeat their vows (which were very nicely done by the judge I might add) and then we all drove back up the street to their house for pizza.  All weddings should be that simple. 🙂

IMG_0906

Last night, I met up with some old and current friends from work at the Mexican joint down the road, and we enjoyed catching up with each other, relaxing with some drinks, and having some fun outside of the office. Neither night did I get home early, but I stopped stressing about all I had to do, and made sure I got to bed earlier than normal.  Sleep still isn’t great, but I’ve been getting a little more.

Lots of my current homesteading activities are about to be done for the season, mostly gardening and food preserving.  K went out to our garden today (as I sat at the car dealership dealing with a very important recall on my Honda) to see how the plants made (or didn’t make) it through the frost.  Good news for the most part to report!  The peppers and melon did indeed wither and are now done, but the baby spinach has thus far made it through, hurrah! He wasn’t able to take any pics, but hopefully I can get out there this weekend.  (Again, sure wish the garden was in my non-existent backyard!) He reported the golden chard is actually looking the best it’s looks so far this year (it must like cold weather), the garlic has all sprouted, and the brussels sprouts are still fine, as expected.

Does anyone know when brussels sprouts get harvested?  A quick Google search says anytime between late fall to early winter, which taken literally to me, means we can pick it in January (if winter starts in late December). That doesn’t sound right, but ours are still pretty small and I’m hoping they will at least keep growing till November.  We’re in Zone 5 though, so I’m not sure how long they will last.

I’m still very new at this, as you can tell!  🙂  But I’ve come a looooong way since last April, when I had no idea what THIS was! 🙂

Mystery plant

Mystery plant

Bwahaha! I had seriously NEVER seen what brussels sprouts grow on. Never in my life!!

It’s supposed to snow overnight, now, so the hubby has renewed his quest to finish the coldframe before the next season starts. 🙂 He spent much of the night tonight in the garage and has thus far come up with this:

Front of coldframe

Front of coldframe

K drilling the back of the coldframe

K drilling the back of the coldframe

Apparently he still has several hours of work left on this, he says.  Yea, I’m so not getting this this weekend. 🙂

Stupid Raccoons

K and I saw Lev working in his garden plot, digging up his potatoes.  I asked him about his corn and told him what happened to us, and he said it was likely racoons, not squirrels.

So, squirrels of the world, I apologize to you for stereotyping your kind last week.

Raccoons!!!!! You are the current bane of my existence!!! **shakes fist**

You know why? Because they ate all our eggplant this past week!  No corn, now no eggplant – Chelle is a sad, sad girl.  WTH?  There’s a gate around the garden.  Sure, I guess they could have climbed it, but there are so many other cooler things to eat than my little eggplants.

Dear Baby Eggplants,

I miss you.  You never had a chance.  Seeing the chewed up pieces of stalk that was once your umbilical cord to life left behind, at least lets me know some animal enjoyed your fine flesh.  I know that you and the corn are now frolicking together in veggie heaven.

Love, Me

In other garden news, our melons are growing.  Yes, watermelon.  Yes, they are 1 inch big.  No, I don’t think we’re going to be partaking in juicy watermelon this year as the growing season is almost done.  Besides, the raccoons will probably eat them anyway. 😉

Tiny watermelon

Tiny watermelon

Watermelon flower

Watermelon flower

We should have thinned the carrots earlier because many of them didn’t grow that big.  However, we are starting to get some nice sized ones now!

What's up doc?

What's up doc?

And finally…the tomatoes are all but done. We got two this week.  There’s a couple left on the vines, but that’s it!  I’m sick of making tomato stuff, but I almost wish I had another 30 lbs!

2 little Green Zebras

2 little Green Zebras

This coming weekend we’re going to start preparing the garden for winter.  Gonna plant the garlic, transplant the alpine strawberry plant, collect more seeds.

Does anyone here save seeds?  Would anyone be interested in a seed exchange?

Our Harvest Continues

Sunday night the hubby and I were in our garden again, checking our green beans and tomatoes, the corn, and the brussel sprouts.  Bad news, the green beans are done.  The Mexican bean beetle really did a number on the leaves and they’re not maturing any more.  So sad…

However, our tomatoes have been prolific!  Look at these beauties.  I brought a big colander with me to the garden and filled it up.  It appears we have much more than enough to make tomato sauce this week!  We got all this, and that’s after making salsa with lots of our tomatoes last week.

A bounty of tomatoes!

A bounty of tomatoes!

Once again, we weren’t bothered by the tomato blight at all.  I’m not sure how we got so lucky.  To be sure, we lost a few tomatoes from over-ripeness and too much water, but we have more than enough to make up for it.  Some are pretty funny-shaped though.

Our corn is also starting to sprout finally.  It’s heirloom corn, so it’s not going to get that big, but I still am enjoying watching it grow

Corn stalks

Corn stalks

Ear of corn

Ear of corn

And finally, the very first crop we ever planted this year is ready for harvest.  Those 44 onion plants that we put in April 17 were harvested almost 4 months to the day later and look like this!

44 onions turned into this

44 onions turned into this

They are gorgeous! I just can’t believe the seedlings I planted that were about the thickness of a blade of grass, became full onions.  Right now, I have them spread on the floor of my garage, curing in the open air for the next few weeks, per this advice:

Onions should be harvested when most of the tops have fallen over and begun to dry. Carefully pull or dig the bulbs with the tops attached.

After harvesting, dry or cure the onions in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location, such as a shed or garage. Spread out the onions in a single layer on a clean, dry surface. Cure the onions for two to three weeks until the onion tops and necks are thoroughly dry and the outer bulb scales begin to rustle.

After the onions are properly cured, cut off the tops about 1 inch above the bulbs. As the onions are topped, discard any that show signs of decay. Use the thick-necked bulbs as soon as possible as they don’t store well. An alternate preparation method is to leave the onion tops untrimmed and braid the dry foliage together. (http://www.extension.org/pages/How_to_Cure_and_Store_Garden_Onions)

In a few weeks, I plan to braid the tops and hang them in our storage closet under the stairs.  Hopefully it’ll end up looking like this:

Braided onions

Braided onions

With so many onions, I think we’ll have enough to get us through till next year!

The Harvest is Beginning…

A new season has begun! Today at the Farmers Market we saw the first apples of the season being sold! None too soon. We gave up buying apple cider (made from last year’s apples) a few weeks ago because it was clear from the quality of the cider that it was time to let the 2008 apple harvest go.  Of course, there’s no new apple cider yet, but it’s nice to see how the apples get stretched almost a whole year.

Today was a bit of a random day.  We started off at the Farmers Market (of course).  Our loot:

IMG_0526

  • Loaf of whole wheat bread from Our Daily Bread
  • Quart of reduced-fat milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • French baguette from Our Daily Bread
  • 1/2 chicken (2.5lbs) from Mariaville Farm
  • 1 quart peaches from Maynard Farm
  • 1lb mozzarella cheese curds from Heamour Farm
  • 2 ears of corn from Barber Farm

After the market, we hurried over to the garden because it looked like it was about to start raining.  Soon enough it did, but we were able to take some pictures, pick a bunch of things, and see what needs to be done.

  1. Our sugar snap peas have been done for some time, are brown and dead and need to be cleared away. We need a free weekend (not any time soon!) to do that.
  2. The path to our plot needs major weed whacking. We found this tool in the community shed that is sort of like a scythe.  There was a real weed whacker there too, but K has never used one and was afraid of the damage he might do. 🙂 This old farm tool was awesome and cut through the weeds and grass in the pathway with ease.
  3. We have several bugs on our plants.  Now, we’ve not done much with fertilizer or pesticides/fungicides this summer, (not even organic) and it looks like we’re paying the price now.  We found this on our greenbeans:
    Larva of Mexican Bean Beetle

    Larva of Mexican Bean Beetle

    Looked it up and it’s the larva of a mexican bean beetle – who LOVE green beans.  Terrific. We also have these on our zucchini – and they or something else have about destroyed them:

    Some sort of squash bug

    Some sort of squash bug

    Not exactly sure what it is but we think it’s some sort of squash bug.  Sigh..c’est la vie, that’s life in the garden! We got enough zucchini already this year that we donated some to Squash Hunger! and still had enough to enjoy.

  4. We pulled our garlic today and were sorely disappointed.  They did not take well after being transplanted from Terry’s garden earlier this year. Our bulbs were small and pathetic but we WILL enjoy eating this garlic nonetheless. 🙂  Here’s a pic of them after I cut the stalks and roots off and tried to wash them up a bit.

    Garlic cloves

    Garlic cloves

  5. Our corn.  Um, yeah…maybe because we planted late AND because it’s an heirloom variety – they are small – only about to my waist!  Oh well, here are the four stalks we have.  We’ll see if we get any corn from them.

    "Eh" corn

    "Eh" corn

  6. Corn on the other side of the garden - these look a bit better

    Corn on the other side of the garden - these look a bit better

    Despite the bugs, we still got a full quart of green beans this week! (All our left over quart containers from berrying last year are coming in handy in the garden. 🙂 Last week we made one my favorites – green bean and tofu stirfry and we’re going to try to can this week’s batch.

    Green beans

    Green beans

  7. We have a few baby eggplant! Finally! Those things take a long time to grow. They’re only about the size of my thumb right now – looking to harvest them the end of September, most likely.

    Baby eggplant

    Baby eggplant

  8. And finally, I’d like to present to you the pièce de résistance – our tomatoes! Now, apparently tomatoes have been really hard hit this year.  There’s been so much rain this year that tomato blight (that same fungus responsible fore the Irish potato famine!) is widespread in our area and much of the North East.  And yet, our tomatoes, which we didn’t even properly stake this year, haven’t been touched at all.  Here’s what we’ve currently picked!
    Tomatoes!

    Tomatoes!

    These are all heirloom and organic, and the original plants were bought at our farmers market 🙂 The majority of these here are Green Zebras, with a few Pineapple tomato and Brandywines thrown in.  Yummy!  And guess what we’ll be making this week with them?  Salsa, baby! Can’t wait!

So, after the garden, I came back and spent much of the afternoon resting as I wasn’t feeling my best today (a lot better than last week though!) For lunch I decided to cut some slices of the french baguette (I am addicted to that bread!),  add slices of pineapple tomato, basil leaves from my plant and top with the delicious mozarella curds we bought this morning. Oh my goodness.

IMG_0541

A word about these curds:

I’m in love.  I don’t normally love salt, but these curds were just so perfectly salted I wanted to swirl my tongue over them, tasting the fresh mozzarella and salt over and over.  Yes, they were THAT good.  And fresh.  The lady at the farmer’s market said she was making them at 11pm LAST NIGHT.  In fact, it go to be too late which is why she had no mozzarella today, just the curds.

IMG_0538

Man…we’re planning on making pizza this week so K won’t let me snack on them.  Damn it!

The rest of our random day was spent looking for an Indian market to buy authentic naan (I gotta learn how to cook the stuff from scratch, I’ve seen it done enough times) and then running to the Festa at the church down the street just to see if they had zeppoli as opposed to just fried dough.  They did have it, and it was darn good, but way different than K and I are used to.  First off all, you got 3 for $2.50 – but they were HUGE.  The dough was actually delicious and cooked perfectly right but it had RAISINS in it and was dipped in regular sugar instead of powdered sugar.

Greasy but oh so yummy huge zeppole

Greasy but oh so yummy huge zeppole

I split one with the hubby, and actually liked it a lot, except for the raisins.  Raisins just shouldn’t be in these things.

Back at home, we finally canned our blueberries (that we picked 2 or 3 weeks ago now!) tonight.  Despite the fact that they’ve been in our fridge so long, they still looked great.  Who wants blueberry jam? 🙂

What I Did This Weekend

Man, I ramped up the activity level 150% this weekend and right now I’m paying for it.  But, it was fun for the most part anyway.

K and I went out to dinner for the first time in over a month Friday night. Not only dinner, sushi – it’s been too long. We tried a new roll called a Tournador roll (I’m sure Ichiban just made it up) that had softshell crab and cucumber wrapped up in spicy tuna wrapped up in a soybean wrapper. Got that?  We also got a couple pieces of tako nigiri sushi, and crab rangoons.  Add a couple of bottles of sake, and it was a good night!  I’m so mad I forgot to bring my camera, but I managed to grab a pic of the sake bottles the next day at least.

IMG_0491

After dinner, we went back to the house to rest a bit (for me) but then we went to see the new Harry Potter movie. Holy cow, dinner and a movie on the same night?  Now I’m just gettin’ crazy!

So, what did you think of the movie?  I love the Harry Potter books but I didn’t love this movie.  It was missing something, but I’m not sure what.  I could say what most people are saying – too much emphasis on the “young relationships” but I didn’t begrudge that – I just thought it needed more of something else.  More Alan Rickman?  I melt with that voice 🙂

Saturday we took Zöe-cat to the vet to get her stitches taken out.  Poor thing had surgery a couple of weeks ago because the vet THOUGHT she had a blockage in her colon…but um, she didn’t. I’m currently very unhappy with said vet, so she’s very lucky she didn’t try to charge me for taking out her stitches. (On a side note, I don’t think I ever need to go to a doctor/vet to get stitches taken out again.  I can use a scissor and pull them out just as easily as a tech).  I’m looking for another vet, but one thing I’ve loved about the one we have is that it’s a practice solely focused on cats.  Still, $1000 for a surgery my cat turned out not to even need?  And in the end, it’s not even the money, it’s that my cat underwent unecessary sugery – poor thing. She looks quite pathetic with her belly, side and paw shaved.

After we dropped the kitty off at home we headed to our local deli to get lunch and picked up these for a treat!

IMG_0481

That’s right, zucchini flowers are in season! Anna and Mo (short for Modesta), two lovely Italian ladies that run the deli with their family, have hundreds of zucchini plants and this time of year sell them in bunches for $2 each.  Can’t get more local than the backyard! K and I bought a bunch and enjoyed them that night.

IMG_0482

The flowers were a little wilty by nighttime.

IMG_0483

We cut the stamens out (pollen doesn’t taste very good), then dipped them in our homemade batter, then fried them.

IMG_0484

A little parmesan cheese, a little pepper, and it’s delish!

IMG_0486

Today was Farmer’s Market today, so of course we hit that up and came home with this:

IMG_0489

  • 1/2 gallon of low-fat milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1/2 gallon of apple cider from Migliorelli Farm
  • 1 loaf honey wheat bread from Our Daily Bread
  • 1 pint blueberries from Migliorelli Farm
  • 2 ears of  corn from Barber Farm
  • 1lb chicken sausage from Coopers Ark Farm
  • 1 small fresh mozzarella from Hemour Farm

We enjoyed more fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato with oil and balsamic vinegar for lunch. Yum!

Later on today we went to the garden and finally got the sugarsnap peas properly staked with chicken wire we bought at the hardware store yesterday.  They’re almost done, so there was no real point, I guess, but we picked a few more and we can always reuse the wire and stakes next year.  We looked for more zucchini but they don’t appear to be growing right. We picked one, but the end was all yellow and bad.

Then I thinned some of the carrots out. We also pulled one of our garlic stalks to see how far along the garlic is.  It was small, but usable, and we still have 6 left in the garden.

We used the garlic scapes from last week and made a great steamed mixed vegetable side dish with dinner tonight.

IMG_0495

Baby carrots!

Garlic

Garlic

Sugarsnap peas and partially bad small zucchini

Sugarsnap peas and partially bad small zucchini

Look how yummy!

IMG_0498

A Garden in July

Today has been kind of crappy.  I could barely drag myself out of bed until around noon, because I felt so poorly 😦 I tried to survive on 500mg of Tylenol this morning, but it wasn’t until I took 400mg MORE of Advil that I felt good enough to move.  So sad.

I wanted to share a pic of my dinner from yesterday. I had a breaded chicken cutlet with grilled zucchini.  Nearly the whole thing was local, with the exception of the olive oil and the breadcrumbs.

IMG_0448

The eggs used to coat the chicken with breadcrumbs AND the chicken cutlets themselves came from the same farm 🙂 The zucchini was from our garden! The entire meal was delish.  Normally I would probably have a starch with this, but I haven’t been eating as much lately.

After dinner we went to the garden because it desperately needed to be watered…we’ve actually gone 3 days with rain! First time all summer I think.

Corn

Corn

The corn isn’t looking very green 😦

Green bean plants

Green bean plants

Look at the baby green bean in the picture below!

Baby green bean

Baby green bean

Gorgeous looking pepper

Gorgeous looking pepper

I’m guessing this is one of our Cubanelle peppers.  Doesn’t look like a jalapeño to me 🙂

Carrots

Carrots

Aww, look at my husbands lovely white feet.  And the beautiful carrot tops we have 🙂

Golden Chard

Golden Chard

The chard is not looking so good 😦

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts look to be doing well though. I still don’t see any of the stalks growing though.

Sugarsnap peas

Sugarsnap peas

Here is the MESS of sugar snap peas that I tried to stake but failed miserably at. Hopefully I can get it looking better this weekend.

Close up

Close up

Here’s a close up of the sugarsnap peas. I’m fascinated with these (and the green beans) because I never knew how they grew before.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Can’t wait for all the tomatoes from these plants!

Close up

Close up

Look at that beautiful green tomato! I am hoping to get many many pounds to make tomato sauce AND salsa this fall!

IMG_0467

The zucchini plants aren’t looking too hot. We got about 12 zucchini in one week a few weeks back and not much since. But K says they will continue to reproduce through the summer. Hope so!

Zucchini

Zucchini

There’s a zucchini hiding in there!

And finally, here’s a picture of the formerly neat lettuce beds. They’ve gone to seed and we’ve let them go wild.  We need to turn them over and replant for the fall, since lettuce don’t do well in the heat of the summer.

IMG_0469

Things are looking pretty good I think.  I just want the tomatoes to turn out ok.