Saturday, November 17, 2012

Supporting the plants

I fully admit, this post is a tad overdue. You see almost a month ago now, we tore out the garden. We tore out the cucumbers and the tomatoes and we managed to do most of it in a way where we could see the underlying supports. This was partially done because I wanted to see exactly what was under there. I knew we kept adding supports that went taller and taller, but I was curious.

Alive and happy

This is what the tomatoes looked like on September 3rd. Which is the last good picture I have of them being alive and healthy. As you can see the tomatoes are going everywhere and you cannot see the deck railing behind it. We stopped using the stairs on this end of the deck for awhile since the plants were growing on the stairs. 

The "bones" of the plants
This is a picture of all the poles that were supporting the tomatoes. The tallest verticals were 8 ft tall. We also had 6 ft poles, 4 ft poles and 2 ft poles. How silly were we to only use 2 ft poles. There is all sorts of horizontal that held the tomatoes back (and they they grew over them). On the day we had the big harvest, we realized that the tomato plants grew up and over the top horizontal bar, then all the way back down to the ground. We had poles tied to the front supports and the lattice to keep it from falling forward, as well as a ton of ropes tying it to the deck to hold it as well. 

As a small note, Pooka loved the rainbow that appears in the picture above. She said Green Thumb must of had it put there. 

Tiny little green bean plant
On this day we found the tiny little green bean plant that had been overgrown by the cucumbers and the tomatoes. We never got enough for a meal, but it made enough to snack on. (Sorry for the mess around him,  we were still cleaning out the tomato plants and stuff just kinda fell wherever.  We eventually cleaned it up and raked a bunch back into the dirt. 

Supports for the cucumber plants
Here is all the supports for the cucumbers. If you remember  they grew around the corner of the deck, as well as up the poles, across the ropes and all over the railing. We had so many cucumbers, I would say these did amazingly well, and while Daddy asked that we grow fewer plants next year, hopefully we will have another wonderful year with them.
All the poles used in the cucumbers and tomatoes
Once we tore down all the poles from both sets of structure for the cucumbers and the tomatoes, we put them in piles by size. There were so many, I wish I had counted them, but I forgot. Hopefully next year we have all the poles we will need to build a garden for Pooka. Hopefully. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Colored Carrots

Winter had finally started to hurt our carrots. They looked great, but some of the greens were starting to get a bit of frost damage. We decided to go ahead and pull them. We probably could of gotten away with just thinning them, but since it is Nov, the decision was made to pull them over the weekend. Sadly, I forgot to get a picture of the pots filled with green. Daddy and I were trying to beat a storm when we decided to pull them.

This is what we initially pulled. There are a few that are still a bit small in here, but they made for great baby carrots. These are not the baby carrots you buy in a store that are just real carrots whittled down. These were true baby carrots.

Washing the carrots
Pooka couldn't wait to try her new carrots. She ate one and then grabbed a tiny orange one and ran to Brother and begged him till he tried it. He didn't initially want it, but he realized there are somethings you do to make smaller siblings go away. What was better was after he tried it, Pooka looked at him and said "How did my experiment taste Brother?" Daddy and I had quite a few suppressed giggles.

The carrots we can use
 Baby carrots were on the menu with dinner that night. We were originally going to saute them, but Pooka asked Daddy not to since she didn't like carrots that are cooked. They went over quiet well, the carrots are not woody or tough. They are actually very tender. We didn't finish them all, so Pooka asked if she could take a few to school to show her teacher. That is the plan for today. Here's to another science filled day.
Colored Carrots for dinner anyone? 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Failure...

The Science Experiment Garden had our first big huge failure this year. Remember when we planted the radishes this fall. Well they failed. Quite dramatically actually.

Sad sad radishes

At the end of October, (about the same time we released the butterflies) I noticed the radishes looked rather sad. Really sad. Really really sad and pretty well eaten by something. A closer look showed us more little visitors, and not the friendly kind.

Sneaky little guy

This is a cabbage worm, which will eventually turn into a cabbage moth.  I do find it slightly funny since the broccoli (another one of their favorite foods) hasn't had a problem with them at all. Even now the broccoli is still alive and growing great and still producing. But the radishes apparently were rather tasty. So tasty in fact the plants were eaten bare. 

Fallen worms... But they were still alive
Being that it was late October when this happened, we decided to just pull the radishes. We found over 30 of the little buggers in the 2 pots. You can see 2 of them that fell off as we carried them through the house to the front yard to dispose of. Talk about nasty little buggers.

Radish Harvest. 
We harvested the radishes. This is all that was really worth keeping. I know part of it is that Pooka planted some of them too close together.  Okay all of them too close. This tells us next spring we are going to work on doing a seed tape or something (something new to learn and try next year). One failed experiment leads still teaches us something. Like watching a bit closer as a 4 yo puts seed in a bucket of dirt when it comes to root veggies. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tomato, tomato, Apple Pie?

As you can guess, I have a few posts backed up. Alright, more then a few posts. I promise to get better about trying to get posts out, now that the immediate threat of a holiday is past.

Remember the great green tomato harvest. Well, it took a few weeks but the last of the tomatoes ripened. Daddy and I got to work canning all the tomatoes you can see here into crushed tomatoes. Pooka loves being in charge of handing us warm jars and lids out of the sink. Crushed tomatoes is a very heavily used item around here. We make our own spaghetti sauce, as well as using it in chili, soup, texas hash, all sorts of things.
Tomatoes everywhere

We ended up making 5 quarts and 1 pint of crushed tomatoes. I always forget how much tomatoes cook down.

Homemade crushed tomatoes
And remember all the apples we used to help ripen the tomatoes. Well nothing around here goes to waste, and since we aren't very big apple eaters, Pooka, Daddy and I decided to turn it into Apple Pie Jam. I found the recipe over at Hickery Holler Farm's blog. I will always give credit when I find a neat recipe or idea.

Apples did their job ripening tomatoes
The directions are there, but in the end, we had apple pie in a jar. The 2nd batch (which was a double batch) came out a bit more syrupy. I am pretty sure its because the apples were overflowing their pot a bit and I turned off the heat a bit sooner then I needed to so the pectin may not of set as well. Either way, it still tastes so wonderful on ice cream, cheesecake or in oatmeal. Pooka just loves it on toast or biscuits for breakfast.

Pictures of batch 1 - 6 1/2 pints
The apples we had ended up making 21 1/2 pints of processed jam and 1 pint of unprocessed (I didn't have a time for pints). I think we will be finding all sorts of neat ways to use this. I also know a couple of pie lovers that I wish I could share it with (but I don't want to send it through the mail).

That Sunday was a very busy day. We did a ton of canning in one day (while watching a football game). However, I did forget to get a picture of all the jars we had made that day. Mostly because we were anxious to get it put away so we could have counter space. The next day I thought of it, but didn't want to go pull them all out again. Another day I will have to sit down and type up the canning inventory I made the other day. It amazes us how much Pooka loves this, and how good we feel knowing what we are feeding Pooka and her brother. One other huge thing that surprises us, the very large amount of food out of a garden we didn't expect to do much and how little went to waste.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Scary things in the garden

Happy Late Halloween/Samhain! I was hoping to get this post up last night, but it didn't happen. Kids and Halloween and blogging don't mix.

Something is in the Garlic bed
There was something scary in the garden. This is the garlic bed that we spooned so we would know where we planted the bulbs.  On Halloween night, I noticed something spooky.

Eyes and spiders and pumpkins. Oh my...
The eyeballs we made out of Styrofoam balls for Brother's Halloween party along with the orange basketball shaped pumpkins. The spiders (bought on clearance) we used as well (we had a game of throw them into a bucket to make monster's stew). This was a great way to get a bit more use out of something that was really a 1 time needed item. But something else was spooky in the garden.

What is in there???
Do you see it yet? It's not the gravestone looking spoons (that are not as straight as they use to be). 

While yes, there are a few weeds in the bed, do you see all the garlic sprouts? Those long straight leaves are Pooka's garlic that in this weird weather sprouted WAY early. The question is, will it live till spring? I don't know, but something tells me I may want to plant more garlic very early this spring. Just as a back up.

We hope you all had a Happy and Safe Halloween/Samhain.