Monday, September 12, 2011

Hot Days and Cool Nights

Fall has arrived with silence in the morning. In spring the number of bird sounds was constant and now about all one hears is the sound of crickets chirping the temperature. I have not heard a robin or wren in more than a week and although hummingbirds are still around, they don't make much noise.
This past week the big event was presenting a vegetable class at the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation Gardening Study School. Great location at the Elwood May Environmental Park in Sheboygan. Plus, I had an excellent attentive group with many great questions. I sure hope everyone had as good a time as I did. Thanks, Julie, for the invite.
The garden is winding down with fewer tomatoes and cucumbers to pick. The second crop of figs is growing nicely and I have two watermelons hanging through the trellis supported by pantyhose so with luck they will get ripe. As a result of the slow down in the garden and with apple harvest about two to three weeks away I might just take a short break in posting.
Happy gardening

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harvest and "Putting Up"

More perfect amateur grown roses I have never seen at any fair.
These Zinnias were beautiful and a perfect entry.
These entries of Zinnias were great to judge.
"HUGE" does not really describe this Cockscomb.
And the veggies were nice too even though someone else got to judge them.
The poor man's - Seal-a-Meal process for my broccoli.
Just freezer bags and a straw.
Out goes the air.
And into the freezer.
The Tomatoberry was a great choice for drying.
The dryer tray ready for hot air - sun dried tomatoes over night.
The same tray in the morning - dried.
The whole dryer in a one quart bag.
Dilly Beans and peppers - Our "Putting Up".

Friday I spent one of the best days at a county fair I have had in a very long time. I was judging at the Shawano County Fair in class 15 - Flowers and House Plants. What a great display and more participants than I have seen in a long time. Not only were there many entries but they were good if not great entries. Noticeably, I saw the most perfect homegrown roses I have ever judged. I was very impressed with the perfection of the entry and they justly deserved the "Best in Show" ribbon awarded at the end. My photo does not do these flower justice - they were beautiful!
With the arrival of September the weather seems to have quickly decided to change. The threat of frost is in the forecast for northern counties in Wisconsin tonight - Frost! Oh No...
My grandmother would spend fall days canning the bounty of her garden and whatever anyone would give her. She would build a fire and cold pack her canned goods with that open fire instead of using her electric range - "costs too much" was her reason. That was her way of "putting up" for winter.
We did our "putting up" this week with canning, drying, and freezing our bounty. I have frozen beans and broccoli. I used the "air out of the plastic freezer bag" method - check out the pictures. The broccoli was not the best I have ever grown but frozen it will be OK during winter. I froze more tomatoes this week too. I think frozen is a good use of energy as we are not cooking them twice to make tomato juice or sauce. I only have to peel them with water and set them to cooking after they thaw and during the thaw I get rid of some of the water in them too. I did make tomatoes ( vegetable) juice too. I like to juice cucumbers along with the tomatoes and add the basil, parsley, garlic, and onion juiced instead of cooked. Some of the juice I will freeze just in plastic bags as it keep fine that way and is good.
We also did some drying of apples and tomatoes. Both will dry overnight and our research suggests that drying 6 trays costs about 25 cents. I really like the flavor of dried tomatoes. This year I used mostly the "Tomatoberry" variety as they are meaty and dried nicely. The entire dried batch filled one quart plastic bag and the sink was full of fruit prior to drying. As the apple harvest continues we will dry a major portion of that crop too. Dries apples are a favorite here and an easy way to store our crop. My wife did the real canning. She made "dilly beans' and she "put up" both sweet and hot peppers. The peppers are her crop and with the success of the Earthboxes she had a nice selection to can. All in all we have begun our "putting up" and all of these will be great additions to the winter menus.
Happy Gardening