Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tomato Harvest Yields 16 Pints

Faced with an overabundance of ripening tomatoes, I decided to try my hand at canning. Marita and Carl volunteered to help (and share in the finished product.) We spent Sunday afternoon peeling, dicing, and working up steamy conditions in the kitchen.
We picked tomotoes over the span of a few weeks, keeping them in the garage fridge until canning day. It turned out to be quite a haul!
We decided to use pint jars since we're generally cooking for two. 
I had everything set up for my helpers:  cutting board, strainer, and bowl to catch the juice. 
Carl let me borrow his canning kettle, and I used a big pot to quickly blanch the tomatoes to help pop the skins. 
 Scoring the bottoms, quickly dunking in boiling water then in ice water gets the skin ready to peel.
Mom and Dad, hard at work.  
The tomatoes were peeled and cut in half (or quarters). The juice was saved, too, and canned for use in soup.  
 10 pints at a time were placed in the hot water bath for 40 minutes. 
Ta Da!
Our first canning session was deemed a success!
And, of course, I had to make a special tag. How else can we identify what's in the jar? I am looking forward to having a taste of noTTafarm tomatoes this winter. It will keep us dreaming about the possibilities of our 2017 garden.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friend or Foe?

It's a beautiful afternoon with an incredible temp of only 72 degrees - seemed like a perfect time to get a few tomatoes out of the garden. Check out the little visitors I spotted. Tell me, are these friends or foes of our vegetables? I'm guessing our plants would be better without them.
Hello, Hungry Little Catepillar! Are you the one, nipping big holes in the sides of my tomatoes? You and your brothers and sisters need to beat it.
Everyone's favorite summertime pest, the grasshopper. Hop away, please.
These parsley-chompers have been relocated. Perhaps they'll enjoy the taste of poke weed.
Hooray for Pollinators! There's a bumble bee inside this gourd blossom.
Here are two of our ornamental gourds, getting bigger and turning bright yellow.
Scotty is happy that his peppers are turning red! 
Stay Tuned for More Garden Updates!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ho Hum Summer Drags Along

The highlight of our August so far has been the distribution of dirt. Yes, the big pile of top soil we had delivered to create our garden beds has finally been eliminated. Scott shoveled and hauled away the final two Ranger-loads today. He's been moving the dirt slowly but surely to several holes and low spots in the east yard along the driveway.
Hooray! The big pile of dirt near the corn crib is finally gone! The neighborhood tiny-yellow-butterflies were happy to find a muddy patch in which to do their butterfly things.
Scott planted grass seed in all of the various dirt patches he created. Several larger holes along the driveway/culvert area have also been filled in over the past few months (sorry, Raccoon family. Your underground hideout has been eliminated.) 

In other news . . . 
The garden has taken off and given us a lot of enjoyment. I still can't get over how the plants are actually living and producing. The ornamental gourd that Scott planted is slowly (actually, not that slowly) taking over its bed. Somewhere under that vine is our green beans.
The tomatoes are ripening all at once. Marita and I have plans to attempt canning next weekend. It turns out that 15 tomato plants is perhaps a few too many for two mater-eaters. (Carl doesn't eat them and Scott only likes them cooked . . . it's up to Marita and I to enjoy them in their delicious, natural, raw state.) At least I'll have something to blog about!
An overview of the garden. I'm especially fond of the marigold border; the flowers are so cheerful!
This is one of our first harvests. We ate everything in this bucket for dinner and all of it was delicious!
Dave, our once-a-year-farmer, stopped by a few days ago to mow the tall grass in the front pasture. He returned today (Aug. 14) to bale it. (Note: I caught a Monarch butterfly in this photo - that's pretty cool!)
The hay harvest was kinda skimpy; only 2 big bales this time. 
Ahhhhh . . . now this is more like it! I should spend less time worrying about finding projects to do and more time hanging out in the hammock with Wilson! All of my project suggestions are usually met with, "let's wait until bad, cold weather to do inside stuff . . . I'd rather shovel dirt or chop down poke weed." Silly Scotty!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!