Monday, November 29, 2010

Last Harvest Monday 2010

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We spent our Thanksgiving at home, just us. It was nice and a bit relaxing. I still made the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, including Pumpkin Pie. I used the last of my pumpkin from the garden for these two pies, and they didn't last 2 days! Out of the five of us, only the girl does not like pumpkin pie! Crazy! Even the baby LOVED it! I let him have some for breakfast! Ha!
 Well, this is the last Harvest picture of 2010! A good freeze and snow was predicted for Thanksgiving night, which was funny cause we had the windows open all day on Thanksgiving. But, I picked everything I could when we had a break in the rain. The chard has been used already!
Last of the lettuce, Chard, baby spinach a pea and a couple cilantro sprigs.
 The spinach never did get very big, but surely still edible.
Spinach and cilantro
 Day after Thanksgiving.
girl in the snow as it is melting.

Well, it has been a great Harvest year! I'm excited for the next. As for this year though, the garden has ended just in time for my new challenge. The Dark Days Challenge. Hope you will continue to check back and see how I am doing with that.

This weeks harvest:
1 gallon bag lettuce
1 small bunch chard
3 sprigs cilantro
1 pea
1 small bunch spinach
My season may be done, but others are still going strong! Check them out at Daphne's Dandelions!
Happy Harvesting

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eat Local?

Even if you knew me personally, you probably still would not know that I did not grow up a city girl. But city girl I have become. I have to admit, I did not know the meaning of "locavore" and had to look it up.(Someone who is passionate about eating local!) I am more of one that loves to see all the different things in the grocery stores from every place and country you can think of. I was spoiled in Houston, TX. I could practically find anything I wanted! The diversity of people and their food is huge there. That is why this 4th Annual Dark Days challenge really will be quite the challenge for us! The challenge is to eat one meal a week during the dark days of winter completely local! And it starts this coming week.
You would think this would not be so hard for me, coming from a family that is almost completely self sufficient. My grandparents, who live in northern Michigan part of the year, and south Florida the other part, almost entirely eat only what they raise, kill, catch or grow.  I often think about this and admire it, especially that they still do it in their 80's. I think some of it is out of necessity but much of it is out of their own joy of doing it themselves. My grandmother grows a garden, cans her vegetables, raises chickens for meat and eggs. My grandfather hunts and fishes and helps my gramma with the heavy labor. Yes, it is old fashioned. But it works for them. It is quite different than the way most of us live. They plan to have their freezers full before the end of summer to get them through winter. They depend on the fish they catch and the deer they kill.
And, believe it or not, when I was young, I did much of those things, including raise chickens, ducks and a few other animals here and there. We had a pig we raised solely for the meat we would put in our freezer. My dad still raises cows for their beef. And we occasionally had a garden as well.
When I learned about this challenge, the end of the growing season was already here. I was able to can or freeze a few things, but definitely not enough to get us through this challenge. So I will definitely be doing a little leg work and research to find what I need to make a meal once a week that is Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical. Those are the guidelines.
I have never been passionate about eating local. I don't buy organic, it's too expensive. But I do have a garden that I try to grow completely organic, and hope that it continues to grow in variety each year in order to provide for our family good, local, organic food! I do feel better giving them food that I know is completely chemical free! 
So, let the challenge begin. This week, I will be checking out a local farm to see what they have to offer and if it is enough to make an entire meal! Check back soon to see what I come up with! It ought to be interesting. Once a week from December 1st, 2010 to April 15th, 2011!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Progression of my Vegetable Garden

We moved into our house in May 2007. I knew the first thing I wanted to do was have a garden. Even though it was crazy busy with 1 yr old twins moving into our first home I still planted tomatoes. I bought a couple and I planted a few seeds straight out of a tomato I liked! I had 5 good tomato plants that year. I planted them right where the previous owners had laid a makeshift brick basketball court! I pulled out just a few bricks and planted the seeds or plants right in their spaces!

That fall, one of Dh's coworkers came to take all the grape vines and blackberry bushes that took up this entire garden area seen below! While it would be nice to have grapes, I am not a fan of blackberries and I really wanted a nice big vegetable garden with a nice assortment! We did have a HUGE blackberry harvest that year in 2007 though. I spent hours picking them. 
This was my first real garden in 2008! I had tons of tomatoes, lots of cabbage, lots of cantaloupe and I HAD PUMPKINS! I also had some peppers, broccoli, cilantro and a few other things. Cucumbers did NOT take off that year. Not one! They really do grow much better on a trellis in my short experience!
2008 Garden
2008 Garden
 That winter I went to the library and checked out every garden book and Kentucky Gardener magazine I could find! I didn't have internet that year. I really wanted to go bigger, better, and a bit easier! And I wanted to learn everything I could about gardening, bugs, companion plants and organic gardening!
The next year, 2009, we started our square foot gardens. We had them all set up, just like I had read. We even got a great deal on some mulch and got it all laid out nicely. It looked SO NICE! I was so proud.
Summer 2009
Then, 2 weeks later, this happened! My garden area gets water running thru it in 2 different directions, from the neighbors and from our front yard, right down the center of the garden! Washed all of our hard work away! It still did well though, I had tons of tomatoes, cucumbers, some serranos, 1 small sugar pumpkin. It may not have looked as nice, but it sure was producing.
Summer 2009, 2 weeks Later
Every year the garden grows! 2010, we built a 6th raised bed! In total we have 96 sq ft of raised beds on less than 1/3 of and acre in a subdivision!
The garden did really well this year, except for cucumbers and pumpkins, I started seedlings in March and the garden is still going in Mid November! My garden is ADDICTIVE! Once you start, it only grows! The addiction and the plants! I think about my garden all year around! This is my 4th child! Not just the vegetable garden though. I LOVE flowers too! I strive to make the perfect landscape and it is a lot of trial and error.
Mid Summer 2010
Fall 2010
Fall 2010 after the cleanup
 I've learned a lot over the past 3 years. Much of it due to my fellow Garden Blogger Friends! Thanks for all you share on your blogs! And I love to share my garden with you! I don't know what I would do without an outlet such as this to share my excitement. I think I would drive my non gardening friends nuts!
Happy Gardening!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harvest Monday-Coming down to the End

It is coming close to the end of our 2010 garden. I'll probably be picking the rest of the lettuce here soon, and the Chard is about done. I'm still hoping for more peas and some sugar snap peas, and some spinach but they are coming along slowly and there really isn't much. The garden looks bare.
Yesterday, I picked a bit of lettuce and a bit of chard and a few peas. That's it for this week!
Last week I canned up those last tomatoes and what wouldn't fit in the jars I made some soup for DH. First time I ever made tomato soup, but he said he liked it. I steamed up some carrots, added some basil and garlic and chicken broth and put it all in the Magic Bullet! Nice and smooth and creamy.
This weeks Harvest:
1 small bunch lettuce
1 small bunch chard
4 pea pods.
Check out Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners are harvesting this week!
Happy Harvesting!
I did have a few more tomatoes ripening up. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harvest Monday - Same old, Same old!

It's Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions. These are whats left of the tomatoes. Those green ones in the basket probably are not going to ripen, but that is all that is left of the big pile on my counter and window sill! I will probably get the red ones canned up today if my children allow me to!

Today, I have Chard and Lettuce out of the garden. I have 3, maybe 4 kinds of lettuce here. I know one of them is "peanut" Buttercrunch. I am guessing the wider one. The other wide one is more crinkly, so I don't know if it is also a Buttercrunch or something else. If anyone knows the other ones on the right, please help me ID them.
I made a nice salad with the last bunch, with walnuts and dried cranberries. This one I put a cranberry walnut dressing on, but I didn't like it as much as I like Raspberry vinaigrette on this salad. I also enjoy it with sliced almonds or pecans! Yum!
 The garlic is growing! There are about 10 total! 4 here.
 We decided to start our own leaf compost bin! It still needs some sides...It should be pretty full once we get the back yard cleaned up! My only worry is this area back around the shed is just full of ants. Freaky full! I hope that it heats up enough and that turning it often will keep them out! And it is kind of shady back their, it is under a maple, so I hope that doesn't become a problem.
 Spinach is starting to grow a bit. It is all bunched up together. I did try to plant it spaced out, but it just all washed up together I guess.
 I have 2 Cilantro still going. Guess he does like colder weather! I grew it in the summer before. Must have been an odd summer.

 So, I have a new use for my chard which we love...smoothies! Ha! One of our other favorites is on Pizza! One night I steamed it on top of some steamed strawberries and pears that I was making for baby. He loved it and I thought it was pretty good too! Gave it a nice sweet and fruity flavor! His was pureed of course. I froze some up and he eats a a couple of thawed cubes ever couple of days!

This weeks Harvest:
1 Bunch Chard
1 Bunch Lettuce
29 Tomatoes ripened on the sill!
25 Juliet tomatoes ripened on the sill!

Don't forget to check out the other harvests at Daphne's!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Garden and Smoothies!

The November garden sure is small! But there are still things coming out of it occasionally!

Lettuce is still going. I am lucky to have any at all. This is the bed the critter likes best, and the one in the corner there. I have found animal waste in the beds a couple of times. Cat? Possum? who knows! I never catch it! I am too busy sleeping!
 Sugar snap peas almost to the top of the trellis, but no peas yet! The peas on the other trellis have given me a few. I planted a lot of Lincoln and Alaska peas, but not many took and the ones that did aren't this high. Guess they did not like our warm fall! There is some chard down there too!
 Sugar Snap Pea flower!

I do have a little spinach growing too. But it is growing super slow and I don't know if I will get any before it gets too cold for it.

My kids love yogurt and berry smoothies, and after reading about Green Smoothies on Our Happy Acres, it gave me the idea to add some green to our smoothies! I have some Chard to find some uses for, so why not! Ya, their not green like Villager's! They might have turned their nose up at that! But these were good, and any extra green is good if you ask me! My kids are pretty good about eating their veggies anyway!
 Eli's was made with Coconut Milk Yogurt, blueberries and greens due to his intolerance of dairy! He loved it and was mad when it was gone!
So, thanks for the idea Villager!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday November 8, 2010

Finished picking the peppers last week before we got 20's over night. Seems like it went strait from warm to cold!
 A pile of Chard and about a gallon size bag stuffed full of lettuce!
 The tomatoes that have ripened so far. There are about 30 left on the window sill.  I canned these the other day with what I had in the freezer waiting to be canned.

Today I am working on bringing my indoor greenhouse out by a window. It just didn't do well in the laundry room last year. I think it needs all the extra light it can get! I will be putting my basil plants in there and maybe some other cuttings. And of course seedlings will be started in the spring in there!

Don't forget to check out Daphne's Dandelions for more on what is being harvested this time of the year!

This weeks Harvest:
16 Tomatoes
30 + Juliets, it's really hard to count when my dear daughter keeps eating them right out of the basket as they ripen!
1 Gallon size bag of Lettuce
1 bunch Chard.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Garden Clean Up and Canning

Yesterday I took all the tomatoes out of the freezer that I had been saving all summer, and a good portion of my tomatoes that are ripening on the window and counter and started canning. Not a huge turn out for this summer. Seven pints. I might still get 1 or 2 more from the 30 tomatoes I have left ripening.
 Today, I cleaned out the garden bed. All that is left is peas, lettuce, chard and spinach. I picked a lot of the lettuce the other night before a night in the 20's. The rest of it appears to be ok for now.
 All cleaned up. The tomatoes are pulled. The only box with a grid on it has some garlic shooting up! Yay!
 I pulled all the frost killed plants, mostly Impatiens, and dug up the Dahlia's.  I rinsed them off good, dried them in the sun and put them in paper bags with sawdust from all of our recent tree trimming!

It was a hard days work while hubby was dragging tree limbs to the front for the chipper! I pulled plants, removed the lattice from the was in pretty rough shape. Turned all the soil in the beds, raked up around the beds and moved some bricks and rocks. Then finished off by trimming the front bushes! Whew! All this while little Eli watched! He was not too happy by  the time we came in.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 1, 2010!

By October 16th last year the garden was completely cleared out and done for the season and I was getting ready to have my little baby boy. But this year, it is November 1st and I still have a pretty full garden!
The other day, I had picked this whole bucket of green tomatoes and peppers before frost, and a couple of pea pods. I got it all cleaned up and laying about hoping for it to ripen!

After a few days, a lot of the hot peppers had changed colors to orange or red. Very pretty aren't they? I also had several Juliet grape tomatoes and a few slicing tomatoes and potted up my spicy globe basil in a beautiful pot that I received flowers in for mothers day!
I won't even show you a picture of the destroyed hot peppers we TRIED to smoke! They were burnt to a crisp! We'll try again!

The beds out there have a decent amount of Chard and lettuce!
My daughter eating chard like a sucker! She ate 2, crazy girl!
And the birthday boy(Tuesday), how he loves his squash! ;)
 No, these are not our own home grown pumpkins, sadly! And, it is really only one. There are a couple more uncarved ones on the porch.
 It isn't even from the farm we like to go to. We got rained out for Eli's birthday and ended up buying pumpkins at the big box garden store. booo!

 This week from the garden:
22 bell peppers
5 JalapeƱos (that we burnt to a crisp!)
23 Habanero peppers
41 serrano peppers 
3 pea pods
5 ripened tomatoes so far
36 ripened Juliet grape tomatoes so far
Lettuce 1 bunch
Chard (6 stems)

I should also mention that I planted garlic this week for the first time. I hope it goes well!

Don't forget to check out Daphne's Dandelions for more fall harvests!