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The Garden is Picking Up Steam

July 16th, 2019 at 12:59 am

Well, I got 4 gold rush zucchini, 3 cucumbers, 3 giant kohlrabi, a bunch of basil and a bunch of parsley from the garden today. I've got 3 trays of basil and 4 trays of parsley in the dehydrator. That makes 5 cucumbers now, so I think I may make a small jar of half sour pickles tomorrow.

I need to call a local sporting goods store that has a big canning and fermenting section and see if they have any fermenting stones first. If not, then I will just eat the cukes and order the stones from Amazon and wait for a few more cukes to grow. I already have the fermenting lids. I've never made half sours before, but I love them. Those are the kind you get in delis, but in delis they often add yellow #5, which I am allergic to. It takes 1 to 2 weeks of fermenting time to make them. I have the dill in the garden, but will have to pick up some garlic. I didn't grow any this year. I wasn't expecting any cucumbers to be ready yet, so didn't think to buy garlic on my shopping day.

Tomorrow I need to cut some cilantro, thyme, peppermint, and spearmint to dehydrate. The peppermint and spearmint can be hung to dehydrate, but I have to label them because both can look like oregano when dried. (Because of our humidity the other herbs don't dry as well in the air). Well, the spearmint is purple so it is easier to identify, but the mint and oregano look very similar. They don't smell the same, but I don't want to be second guessing myself later, either. I might even be able to harvest a few sage leaves, too.

I think I will also harvest the purple basil tomorrow and make a pesto with it. I like how purple basil tastes in pesto. I may marinate the chicken in that this week. We will see. It depends on how busy my dehydrator is.

I can't believe how much the beans and corn have jumped this week. And the butternut and sweet meat squash plants really have taken off. I did do an update video on my channel if anyone wants to see just how the garden is doing.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYIjd0itLug and Link is

I also need to clean the kitchen tomorrow. All the counters, the sinks, and the floor. DS will have to help with the floor. I can sweep it, but he needs to mop it. The long hallway could use a good vacuuming as well. Hopefully I will feel up to doing that after the kitchen. If not, well, at least the bathroom got cleaned. That was my major priority for today.

Oh, on the sad side of things, Persephone died. She was our last New Zealand white rabbit. She was the oldest, although Ruby (who became DS's pet) is only a couple of weeks younger. Persephone was a particular favorite of mine. She was descended from the first three rabbits we ever owned.

I am debating selling all but Ruby and one other rabbit. I am not sure which other one I would keep though. Rabbits are social so I don't want to leave Ruby without a friend in the cage next door. It would make the most sense to keep Zara and not the boys, but Zara is a bit of a snot, so maybe we will keep Cyrus or Vincent. Vincent is the prettiest as a broken red, but Cyrus, a broken black is the sweetest, most friendly rabbit aside from Ruby and he is Persephone's son and Starbuck's grandson. But Vincent is Ruby's grandson. Well, maybe I will keep 3.

An ARGH Kind of Day

July 10th, 2019 at 09:18 pm

That stupid deer still managed to jump the fence and get into the garden. Is it wrong of me to keep thinking how good he would look in my freezer? He is an awfully big fellow. Along with his brother, that would provide a lot of meat for the family. No, I know I can't do that. Deer season isn't until November and you can't discharge a firearm within city limits. *sighs* I am only half joking. He ate all the Romenescu heads.

All these years and I have never had trouble with deer. This is just so frustrating. It is going to be a bad produce year nationwide. I am growing to get stuff in the freezer and canned, not to be an all you can eat buffet to the local critters. This is one of the problems with living near a several acre wooded park. This thing is costing me money and taking food out of my family's mouths.

Maybe we will just have to build cages for all of the raised beds. Well, not the onions. They aren't touching the onions. Or the zucchini, herbs, cucumbers, or tomatoes. Just the brassicas. I do worry about the corn and green beans when they get big enough to produce, though.

Went to the gastro doctor's office and saw the P.A. about DD's liver tumor. She hadn't even looked at the MRI results. I was miffed. She's going to get back to us by Friday after she talks to the radiologist and consults the doctor, which usually means Monday or Tuesday. I was very clear when I made the appointment what we needed to talk about. I am sick of waiting rooms, sick of medical personnel falling down on the job, and sick of my daughter being sick and no one being able to figure out the underlying cause of all this crap that is happening to her body. Pardon my language. I am very frustrated today.

Busy Morning Running Around

July 1st, 2019 at 12:57 pm

I had to take DD to the eye doctor this morning as we worried that she had eyeritis again. She does not, thankfully, but she does have extremely dry eye. The doctor has switched her to using preservative free Refresh and so we had to run around looking for that. Fortunately it was at the first store we went to, but traffic was a bear.

They had some turkey legs on sale so I picked those up. I am going to make them in the Instant Pot making broth and then take all the meat off the bones. There are seven of them, but they aren't the giant kind so all seven will fit in the Instant Pot. I have the bigger 8 quart pot. Some of it will go into mini turkey casseroles for the freezer bank and the rest of it will be chopped up for salads for the week.

I have been craving chef salads, but the store didn't have any turkey chubs, so this meat will do nicely once cooled. The reason I like chef salads so much is that there is enough flavor in the toppings that I don't feel the need for dressing, which makes the salad healthier.

I plan to make six more stuffed bell peppers today and a triple batch of breakfast burritos. Then hopefully I will be able to get some work done in the garden, too. I at least feel like I have the energy today to do so and my hip is behaving today. It isn't super hot outside, either, but pleasantly sunny with a breeze. Perfect weather for gardening.

Fencing (Hopefully for Free)

June 30th, 2019 at 09:03 pm

We are working on putting up a fence around the garden. Well, part of it is fenced, but we needed to bring the fence up to the driveway because we have a pair of deer that have been visiting and earlier this week they ate the cauliflower heads off of all of Mom's cauliflower plants.

DH tore down the slaughter station and we are using the deck blocks and 4 x 4's from it to run across the driveway and the little strip of grass that the sewer line runs under next to the house. We are using the door from the turkey pen as the gate. We've got those in place with extra support across the driveway and then we need to pound in 3 t-posts and then run fencing around all the posts. It will be about eight inches off the ground so the cat (Mrs. Norris) that comes to visit and hunt mice can still get through and the little rabbits who can't get into the raised beds can still come and go. And we can fit a weed eater under it where the sewer line runs.

We will also be using at least one of the PVC gates we had built for the chicken yard back when we had chickens. It has a hole in it right where you need to reach through and open the latch, so that is convenient.

I really hope we won't have to purchase anything for this fence. We like to recycle as much as we can from around the farm and not just buy all new building materials. We have quite a bit from old projects and from things we are tearing down. The hinges we used for the gate used to be on the duck coop. We are reusing as much green plastic fencing as we can.

I think we will have enough, but we might have to use a little chicken wire to make up the difference. But we have chicken wire on the old turkey pen we can use. It might not be quite as aesthetically pleasing as if it were all made out of one type of fencing, but you can't really see it from the street, so that's not too big of an issue. It's more important that we protect our garden and all the hard work we have done so far.

MRI for DD and Non-Toxic Garden Spray Recipe

June 27th, 2019 at 12:11 am

I spent an hour and a half in the waiting room while my daughter got an MRI today on that spot on her liver. I was hopped up on Dayquil and Sudafed. My eyes are bad tonight because I read almost the whole time, but what else are you going to do? They had no internet. They also had bad waiting room chairs, so my hip and back hurt. I hope whatever they find is treatable.

I made spaghetti in the Instant Pot with some of my frozen meatballs, because that was the extent of my abilities. That means there is only one bag left of those, so I need to make more when I feel able. I might end up doing a triple batch this time. I am thinking of ordering a 30 quart stainless steel bowl so I have one big enough to hold 12 pounds of ground meat, plus all the stuff I mix into it. The one I have holds 4 pounds of ground meat. The bowl costs $31, but I think it would be worth if for the ease of meal prep.

I noticed that there were black aphids on my zucchini and patty pan squash. I made up some garlic spray tonight that will be ready to use tomorrow. All you do is take 2 cups of warm water and crush up half a head of garlic and add 1 tbsp of dish soap (I use an organic, eco-friendly soap). Shake it up. Let that steep overnight, strain out the garlic and put the liquid into a spray bottle. Then you can spray that on the affected areas of the plant.

It is non-toxic to the plant and it really works well for aphids. Since I always use organic methods in the garden, this spray is my number one way of fighting these little beasties. You have to reapply it after you water or it rains until the aphids are dead. I've only used it on brassicas before. I've never had aphids on my squash until this year. I didn't even know aphids liked squash.

I read about another remedy, too, that I may try in the future. You prune a tomato branch and cut it up into little pieces and then steep it in water overnight with dish soap, strain, and use it the same way on non-tomato plants. It emits a natural pesticide. I'd never seen this one before, so thought it would be a cool one to try and see if it is as effective as the other one. I'll let you know the results if I make it.

Oh, and if anyone is curious, the reason for the dish soap is that it helps it adhere to the plant.

Got My X-rays Back

June 20th, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Well, I have degenerative hip disease in my left hip, but it isn't severe enough for surgery, so I guess that is good, even though it causes some discomfort. The right hip has no sign of disease which is really good news. The doctor thinks that the majority of my pain is coming from muscles, ligaments, and tendons, so we will proceed with physical therapy and hope that works. I have had physical therapy for other things, but never for my hip. I really hope it will help.

The one thing I am worried about is if there will be any treadmill work done. Every time I do any serious walking my legs and feet swell up so severely I feel like a sausage about to blow its casing. And you can visibly note lumps of swelling on my shins. It is painful and can take days to go down. This is because with the RA I am prone towards inflammation. I am kind of hoping they will end up having me do pool therapy as it is so much easier on my joints.

I made an awesome meatloaf for dinner yesterday. I finally made a version that my son liked. He has always been very meh on meatloaf. I also made two extra for the freezer. Bit by bit I am increasing the levels in my freezer bank. I have used one bag of the frozen meatballs the other night when I really wanted to just grab take out and it was so worth it because they are really great tasting.

The meatloaf was basically the same recipe as the meatballs, only with tomato sauce powder, an additional type of cheese, and covered in bacon. Tasted different enough for it to not feel like the same food at all, but as simple to make as the other.

I did not get anything done today. I had a cruddy night of sleep, the kind where you sleep, but don't feel rested at all and then I woke up with a lot of pain in my hip. Actually, that's probably why my sleep was not restful. So other than harvesting some lettuce for dinner, I wasted most of my day on youtube.

Oh, and I did upload a garden update to my youtube channel in the early a.m. FireandI, you might be interested.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s The garden is starting to make some serious progress.

Trying This Again

June 13th, 2019 at 11:52 pm

If SA were a person, I'd want to be banging it's head against the wall right now. That being said, I was able to comment while signed out, so I think that part is working. Now, on to my day.

DS and I finally got the two garden beds mostly cleared of morning glory. The rest has to be shoveled and sifted, though we got some done tonight until we ran out of light. We also filled another garbage can and half filled a second one with manured hay, mostly composted manure and compost, and then a top layer of what we sifted and topped it off with a bag of organic Miracle Grow. I planted 3 bell peppers in there and I will plant the other two in the other one once we get it filled tomorrow. We need to pick up one more bag of that stuff tomorrow.

I also tied up the cucumbers so they will grow up the trellis. There are two flower buds on there as of today. I also have one little bitty bitty zucchini flower bud and several closed tight patty pan buds. The plants have doubled in size this week. Then I planted two more tomatoes I picked up today, a Champion II and an Early Girl. They were pretty big, a couple feet tall.

I also planted two jalapeños, a banana pepper, and a hot red pepper that looks like cayenne but did not say cayenne. I might still be able to dry it in place of cayenne, though. I don't think I have any cayenne seeds or I would stick some in the dirt and hope for the best. I'll have to go through them tonight. I know I have some pepper seeds and it is so hot this week that they might have a chance of germinating. I do have paprika seeds. It is late, but we tend to have Indian summers so it might produce and if not, it's only a few seeds.

I also planted some flowers. I put in a red wave petunia in place of the double wave that is not flowering much (I moved it), put in some Gazanias (never seen these before but they are pretty, and something called osteospermum which sounds like a disease but is a really pretty flower. I needed to plant some more flowers so that the pollinators are used to going around and come in to the summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes once they start to flower.

To the herb bed I added some pink yarrow (they gave me for free as it was looking pretty brown at the base, but the root was good and it comes back from it so I knew I could save it), some common sage, and marjoram (I found some!).

I bought some bee balm, but can't plant it until I get a container for it. It has runners that are invasive, but not difficult to get out. Still, I don't want to deal so I have a large round tote it will go in eventually, but right now I will just put it in a larger pot because it is only in a 4 inch pot and these things get 3 feet high or so.

I do have an initial input of about $200 by the time I am done buying stuff every garden season, since I mostly do starts and I do purchase a few bags of potting soil for containers, but I harvest about $1000 worth of organic produce every summer, so it more than pays for itself. In spinach, lettuce, blood-veined sorrel, kohlrabi, broccoli, strawberries, green onions, and herbs so far this summer I've already harvested $75 worth of produce and we haven't even hit peak production when tomatoes, corn, peppers, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green beans will come on and be canned or frozen for the year.

Tomorrow I hope to get some more done, at least the other garbage can filled, but it is also grocery shopping day. I don't need to get a ton, but I do need to get a few things from 4 different stores and that is a lot of running around, although they are all close together, so not as much as one might think.

I also need to process the chicken now that it is thawed out. I need to cook up a couple batches to make lunches for the week for me, DS, and DD. I need to make up meatloaves for the freezer. I need to make a dozen stuffed bell peppers for DH's lunches. I need to get those breakfast burritos made. So it may not be a ton done in the garden tomorrow, but some, assuming my energy holds, which on some days can be assuming a lot.

Teaching Myself Flatbreads and Dehydrating Herbs

June 12th, 2019 at 01:00 am

So I have been on a flatbread kick lately. First I learned how to make pita bread, then I learned how to make tortillas, and today I made naan bread for the first time. I hadn't planned on doing this, but they repaved part of the Trader Joe's parking lot and it is hard enough to find parking when the full lot is available, so I couldn't pick up soy free Naan bread. I decided to just go ahead and make some since I had yogurt for making the tzatziki sauce (used fresh dill from the garden in this).

It really wasn't that hard. The recipe makes six, but I made 4 larger ones instead, since I was making chicken shawarma and we like to wrap it up in the bread. Usually I make pita bread, but I wanted something a bit thicker to stand up to the juices. It worked a treat. And the bread was just amazing otherwise. I used this recipe:

Text is https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/homemade-naan.html and Link is
https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/homemade-naan.html It was a lot cheaper than buying it and really didn't take a ton of hands on time, maybe 30 minutes.

I also harvested a bunch of herbs today and have them in the dehydrator. I have 1 tray of spearmint, 1 tray of peppermint, 1 tray of holy basil (green), 2 trays of purple basil, 1 half tray of purple basil with a half tray of thyme, 1 half tray of parsley with some oregano and a few more mint leaves, and a tray of cilantro. I usually dehydrate enough herbs for the year and most of my teas, too. It is amazing how much money I save by doing this and the spices keep longer than store bought ones without losing their flavor. It is so worth the time involved.