September 26, 2010

Pints of Pickeled Peppers

Okay, so summer's bounty wasn't quite over. We were delighted to harvest another load of peppers and okra this week. The banana peppers yielded about 3.5 pounds, and the hot mariachis gave us another pound of spicy goodness. The okra gave another couple pounds of pods as well.

Unsure how to use the extra hot small mariachis, we decided to dry them. Yvonne wasted no time pulling out the Ronco dehydrator to dry the peppers. Now, whenever we need a hot pepper or some kick in a dish, we'll rehydrate a mariachi for use this winter.

Soooooo, another 3 pounds or so of banana peppers. Sounds like pepper-onion relish time! I salivate at the thought of adorning bratwursts on a bun with our own homemade relish. Y found the recipe and quickly began prepping the peppers, which took about an hour and a half.

I got onto the task of creating our own pickling spice mixture. Why buy pre-made when you can make your own? After a little research and some flavor additions of our own, we came up with what we think was a winner.

TY's Festive Pickling Spices.

After the long pepper prepping, we got onto making and then canning the relish.

We had enough for 4 pints of beautiful pepper-onion relish. I will smile every time I bite into that magical, relish-adorned bratwurst this winter!


September 21, 2010

A Quantatative Summary of TYs Summer Bounty

As all good farmers do, we kept a log of how much we harvested during the season. Tom was the driving force behind this and made sure that everything got logged. At the start, we measured items by different means; some by the pound, some by the item, etc. For fall we will stick to pounds for everything for consistency sake.

Here is what was produced in TYs Veggie Patch this summer...

Squash - 8.63 lbs

Swiss Chard - 14.50 bunches

Cilantro - 4 cups. This photo may look like more than 4 cups and it probably is. We weren't quite ready to use the cilantro at the time it took off. Then once the tomatoes were ready for salsa, the tomato plants had grown over the cilantro and smothered it. Note for next year; give tomatoes more space and prune them more frequently to control growth.

Dill - (the fuzzy stuff on the right side of the photo). We never did weigh this but we used a good deal in early summer. Same thing happened with this as the cilantro - the eggplant and marigolds snuffed the dill out.

Basil - 64 cups. Yep, that's right. AND towards the end of the season we let quite a bit of it die off too.

Cucumbers - 16 each

Beets - 3.51 lbs

Lima beans - 0. The plants got HUGE but only produced less than a hand full of beans.

Soybeans - .5 lbs By the time these came up, it was too hot for these beans. At least, that's how they behaved. They put out beans, but seemed to struggle with the heat. Must be better for spring and fall instead.

Green beans - 0. Bugs got to these plants before they produced anything. Didn't even get going enough to get a photo.

Tomatoes (Health Kicks) - 49.52 lbs

Tomatoes (Money Makers) - 11.71 lbs

Tomatoes (Druzba) - 1.56 lbs

Tomatoes (Black) - 7.42 lbs (Pictured above.) The very last tomatoes of 2010, ripening on the window sill ... a few more health kick hybrids, a few black beauties, and a couple more health kicks. I used a few to make guacamole for Sunday's game-time feast. The black ones were a big favorite ... so meaty and non-acidic, a true fruit that you just want to eat like an apple, they were so good. Unfortunately, the plants are MONSTERS. Next year, they're getting pruned religiously.

Peppers (Banana) - 4.91 lbs

Peppers (Rainbow) - 1.25 lbs (and counting ... there are another 4 or 5 on the vine that will be ready in about a week or so).

Peppers (Mariachi) - 9.38 lbs

Potatoes - 3.19 lbs

Okra - 9.62 lbs

Lettuce - .63 lbs. This also never took off. We got a few leaves to make a single, side salad and that was it. We likely didn't have the soil just right. But it was amazing any of it grew to begin with, especially since the dirt was mostly clay and had never been worked. We'll be adding some green manure in the form of a cover crop this fall to help that situation.

Eggplant - 18.32 lbs

Cantaloupe - 9.44 lbs (and these were volunteers, to boot!).

Pumpkins - 0. Lack of water and bugs got the better of the pumpkin patch.

Still in the ground and producing (although on their last legs) are 6 or 7 okra plants, and all three pepper plants. Once we've harvested the last of those we'll add them to our total. But for now the main focus is on the fall seeds we planted two weekends ago. Now we're just waiting on the fall temperatures and some much needed rain!


September 11, 2010

Summer in TYs Veggie Patch Comes to a Close

yodelaaaaeeeeeeooooooooo! Time to cut back some of this summer overgrowth, among other things.

Out with the old, in with the new. A new TY tradition, new gardening gloves for the season. Goodbye, Summer 2010, and hello Autumn/Winter 2010-11. ")

Y wasted no time in ripping out the carcasses of our summer garden. Many trips were made to the compost bin holding areas.

All the while, I harvested about 140 pounds of worm castings.

Kitchen vegetable and fruit trimmings were turned into black gold, thanks to the mighty red wiggler worm. I gathered up the worms and castings from the bin, then split out the worms from the good stuff. Some wormies made their way into the garden, but the vast bulk of them are headed back to the bin where 120 pounds of fresh kitchen trimmings await.

This stuff is velvety-fine.

As rain threatened, we began to plant the fall garden. Here Y puts in heirloom sweet English peas. I asked Dad what his favorite fall garden crop was. Sweet English peas were at the top of the list. We've never tried these before, so hopefully we'll figure it out and will be as wowed by the sweet green delights as William Garner was.

As we began to plant, tinkling rain began. Here is a closeup of a pea seed about to be covered.

As rain poured, we moved into our outbuilding. Here I preps peat pots for broccoli, cauliflower and collards.

God willing, we'll actually remember which one is which tomorrow. Yes, there are name stakes in the peat pots. But Y couldn't find a grease pencil in time, so we're depending on geography and our wonderful memories to help us remember (please, Lord, let us remember which is which).

A couple of pictures of the last harvest of the 2010 summer. Y not only dug up the remnants of Summer 2010, but harvested along the way. Beautiful, ain't it? We took a lunch break and ate an amazing cut assortment of black beauty heirloom tomatoes, the sweetest, tastiest tomatoe there is (in my opinion).

Ooops.... forgot the okra. That huge one is for drying for seed. Next summer's planting will be here before you know it. :)

The first, albeit late, green bell pepper of the season! That'll be $2.99 please. (And DANG, it smells hot. I know Y has her hopes up, but so do I. Personally I love home-grown hot-as-holy-heck peppers, but she's sooooooooooo hoping a sweet bell arrives. Regardless of how this one tastes, it's win-win.)

I spent lots of time harvesting worm castings. I also screened and refined a batch to see, well, if we can sell this crap. (And I'm not speaking coarse here ... this is actual, truth-be-told worm poo, the best fertilizer in the whole world. Maybe someone will want to buy it off of eBay tomorrow. Let's see!)

Overview of garden - before and after.

Box #1 - before and after. We planted leeks & beets.

Box #2 - Before and after. Here we planted peas, turnips, garlic, spinach, kale.

Box #3 - before and after ... here we kept the bell peppers and fresh parsley. I added a top-dressing of worm castings.

Box #4 - before and after. "Thyme is on our side, yes it is." That's thyme in the foreground, with mariachi peppers allowed to turn red, plus and a little bit of basil in the background"