Thursday, September 24, 2009

Curing Garlic

I grew some spring garlic this year. Normally, garlic is grown in the fall. It will hibernate over the winter and grow in the spring. However, I planted my garlic this spring, and it turned out just fine.

There are three types of garlic: stiffneck, softneck, and elephant garlic. Stiffneck garlic is much more temperamental than softneck garlic. It has a central stem, while the other types are all throughout the clove. Also, stiffneck garlic produces scapes that are edible when they are young and tender. Stiffneck garlic is also harder to find, though it stores much longer than softneck. Softneck garlic is normally the commercial garlic found in stores and as the seed-cloves. It is the kind that I planted this year. Interestingly, elephant garlic is not really garlic, but it is a member of the leek family.

Both uncured and cured garlic are edible. Curing garlic is like drying it. Uncured garlic is fresh out of the garden. It must stay in the refrigerator, while the cured garlic does not need to be refrigerated.

When you cure garlic, you should make sure that air will be able to circulate around the garlic. A good way to ensure that it will circulate under the garlic, is to get a screen to keep it off the ground. I made sure that the garlic would be in a dry place so it would not draw moisture.

To cure my garlic, Ben and I made a wooden frame out of some planks. We made some feet for it out of blocks of wood. (Kathie had a good time with us!)
For a screen, we stapled chicken wire to the frame.
I dug the garlic, and shook out some dirt from the roots.
Then, I immediately placed the garlic on the screen. I removed the screen out of the sunlight into our garage.
The garlic should cure for 2-4 weeks, or until the skin on the outside is papery and dry.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Garden Visitors and Beneficial Insects

Today, I found a toad in my garden. He was napping in the flower pot that I had placed in the beans to attract toads. Ben and I often find toads in front of our shed. Toads help decrease the amount of unwanted insects and bugs. However, not all insects and bugs are bad! Some beneficial insects are
  • Assassin Bugs - These queer insects are both ugly and helpful. They have an unusual appetite for pests. However, they have a painful bite which is sometimes infectious and disease spreading.
  • Earth Worms - They dig through the soil, tilling it up. They also help add nutrients back to the ground.
  • Garden Spiders - They catch insects of all types.
  • Green Lacewings - The larvae is commonly known as the "aphid lion". It eats not only aphids, but also leaf hopper nymphs, spider mites and caterpillar eggs.
  • Hoverfly (Also called syrphid flies.) - Their larvae eat aphids and other small pests
  • Ladybugs - Both the larvae and the adult are helpful in eating aphids and other soft bodied pests.
  • Minute Pirate Bugs - Thrips, tiny caterpillars and aphids make up this little predator's diet. They love high temperatures and high humidity.
  • Parasitic Wasps - The most beneficial type of wasps are parasitic wasps. They lay their eggs on cabbage worms, cutworms and others pests.
  • Praying Mantis - Though considered a beneficial insect, praying mantises do not know the difference between beneficial insects and pests. ALL insects that move are fair prey to them!
  • Spined Soldier Bug - A member of the stinkbug family, the spined soldier bug harpoons and kills its prey.
A good place for some pictures of the beneficial insects is Veggie Gardener.

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*Note*
I am going to be posting once a week through out the winter months. I hope to post on some things to help get ready for next year's garden! Don't forget to stop by this winter for a visit!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Freezing Okra

Last Friday, Momma and I froze okra. It is a very easy method of preserving when you do not have enough okra to cook immediately. We blanched our okra because it destroys enzymes and bacteria. Enzymes and bacteria will discolor and change the flavor and the texture of the okra

We washed the fresh okra from the garden. After that, we blanched them for 3-4 minutes.
We immediately placed the blanched okra in ice water for five minutes to cool it down.
Once the okra was cool, we drained it.
When the okra was drained, I cut it into 1/2 inch slices for soups.
After the okra was cut, I placed them in a bag.
Momma and I vacuum sealed the bag and froze the okra.
We enjoyed working together and preserving some of our harvest to enjoy later in the winter!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Fruits and Veggies of My Labor

The LORD has provided many blessings in food this year.
Momma and I have canned:
We also have other canned goods that were given to us:
  • tomato soup
  • pear honey
  • blackberry jam
  • bread and butter pickles
  • apple butter
Momma and I have also helped can:We also hope to can some applesauce later this fall.

Momma and I also dried many of our herbs and some of our vegetables which include:
Momma and I haven frozen lots of produce that our neighbors, friends and family have given us:We will enjoy the frozen, dried and canned fruits, herbs and vegetables over the winter!

"And God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.' And it was so."
Genesis 1:11