Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Season

As fall comes this week, my summer crops are winding up for the year. When you finish harvesting all of your crops, you can turn your garden over. We will turn our garden over by working some compost and composted leaves in the garden. The fertilizer will break down more over the winter. The aged compost already in the ground should help make spring planting easier.

Gardening for My Family is also having a change of
season. I have decided to let this be my last post. I will not be stopping gardening, however, just blogging! I will still be learning and researching, but I just will not be recording it on my blog. Ending Gardening for My Family will free up my time for other projects that I would like to do.

I hope that you will enjoy the new season of Fall this year, and that your garden reaps an abundant harvest!

"...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;" Ecclesiastes 3:2

~Anna

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini is a type of summer squash. The name "zucchini" came from the Italian word "zucchino" which means small squash. Zucchini was also grown in George Washington's and Thomas Jefferson's gardens. Additionally, many American settlers also grew squash and zucchini

This year, I planted 4 hills of zucchini. Next year, I will probably only plant 1-2 hills because it produces a lot! We have harvested lots of zucchini and have been trying new recipes in order to use it. We normally will make zucchini bread/cake with our extra zucchini, or cook zucchini and squash together. However, this year we had a bumper crop. We have made a zucchini bake with tomatoes, onions and cheese and zucchini fries. Here is the recipe for the fries:

Baked Zucchini Fries

1 cup Breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Dried Minced Onion
1/2 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 whole Medium Zucchini
2 whole Eggs
2 Tablespoons Milk
2 dashes Salt And Pepper

Mix together breadcrumbs, onion, garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl to make seasoned breadcrumbs.
Preheat oven to 400F. Slice zucchini into sticks.
In a shallow dish, mix together eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper.
In another shallow dish, spread out breadcrumbs. Toss zucchini slices in egg mixture then toss in breadcrumbs until evenly coated.
Liberally spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Arrange zucchini in a single layer and then spray liberally with cooking spray.
Bake for 10 -15 minutes, flipping slices half way through. Zucchini is done when the breading has browned and zucchini has softened .

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This year, we found some tomato hornworms on the plants. Tomato hornworms are the larvae of hummingbird moths. The small yellowish-green eggs are laid underneath the leaves. The worms have a red-orange horn at the end of their bodies. They can be 2-4 inches long. The worms can devour most of a plant in 1-2 days. The worms are hard to find as they are almost the same color as the stem of tomato plants. Can you see it in the picture below?
The worms were extremly hard to pick off. We had to use pliers to yank them off the vines. We even considered cutting off the branch that they were on! The braconoid wasp will parasite some hornworms. The paracited worms look like they have rice grains on their bodies.

I hope that you will not have any problems with these hungry worms in your garden!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Harvesting Dried Coriander

This week, we harvested some coriander. Coriander is ready when it turns brown. If it is still green, or not completely dry, it has a slightly bitter taste. The 100+° weather certainly dried the herb! The complete plant usually is brown when the coriander is ready for harvest.

Coriander is from the same plant as cilantro. Cilantro is the early flat leaf of the plant, not the fern like later leaf when the plant goes to seed. Coriander is the seed of the plant. If it stays on the plant too long, coriander will fall off and grow new cilantro plants.

Momma and I cut off some coriander with the stalks. I twisted the coriander off the stalks into a paper bag. I cleaned out the impurities by dumping handfuls of coriander down a paper towel into a container. The coriander rolled down, leaving most of the dirt and stems behind on the paper towel. We harvested a half pint full of coriander to use this winter!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes

This year, the Better Boy tomatoes have blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot is noticeable by a dark watery or soft brown spot on the bottom of the vegetable. It will commonly engulf the whole fruit which will fall off the vine. Peppers, tomatoes, squash, and watermelon are most commonly affected.
Blossom end rot is not caused by organisms like many plant diseases. It is usually caused by environmental conditions which include long periods of wet weather followed by dry weather or deficient calcium in the soil. There is not much that you can do to save the affected veggies. You just have to pull them off the vine and hope that it does not continue. There are a few things that you can do to help prevent the rot before planting:
  • Test the soil before planting. I should have done this with my garden since we have new soil. The bed that was affected was the one without the compost since we ran out. I think that the soil probably needed lime for additional calcium. If the dirt was not acidic enough, then I should have added gypsum for acidity.
  • Mulch around the plants to help hold moisture. My uncle gave us some straw pads that his baby turkeys came with in their crate. The pads should help with both weeds and moisture.
  • Avoiding extra fertilizing helps with the pH levels.
I hope that your garden is doing well and does not have any diseases or problems!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Early Summer Garden Update

It has been very hot here in the Valley. The heat has gotten the lettuce and spinach, so we planted squash and zucchini in their places. There has not been much rain, but with extra watering, the other plants are growing well.
There are little cherry and better boy tomatoes growing. There also are lots of blooms on both tomato plants still!
The okra is growing great with the heat. The zucchini and squash have sprouted and are beginning to grow little leaves.
The cucumbers have blooms and the some of the cabbages are ready to harvest. The peppers have blooms and are growing peppers.
The pole beans are growing up the tepees and some are over the top of the tepees. The bush beans have blooms and a few little beans.
I hope that your garden is growing and producing well too!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Harvesting Peas

This year, we planted some sugar snap peas. We planted six rows to enjoy. On Saturday, we got a bucket of peas, and today we harvested another bucket. There are still some blooms and unripe pods, so we hope to pick some more fresh peas within the next few days!
There are two classifications of peas, English and Southern. English peas include garden, snap and sugar varieties. Southern peas include black-eyed, purple hulls, creams, crowders, pinkeyes, and silver skins. Southern peas also go by many names such as field peas, cowpeas or protopeas. This year's peas would be considered part of the English varieties.
Peas are vining, so they can grow up a trellis. We purchased some 6-foot tomato stakes and stapled chicken wire to them. The peas even grew over the top of our trellis!
Another interesting note about peas is that any over-ripened pods left on the vine will signal the plant to stop producing. Also, over-ripened peas get starchy and do not have as sweet as a flavor as ripe peas. Peas also do not stay at the ripe point very long, normally just a day or so. We are picking our ripe pods so our plants will keep producing!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Floating Fruit and Strawberry Jam

Last Saturday, Momma and I made some strawberry jam. We made 9 pints. Momma and I used the same recipe as last year from the Ball Blue Book. However, we quadrupled the recipe last year, used two types of pectin and ended up with floating fruit over a strawberry syrup.

Strawberry Jam
Yield: About 9 pints

4 quarts strawberries
2 packages powdered pectin
1/2 cup lemon juice
14 cups sugar

Wash strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries, powdered pectin and lemon juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, or until slightly gelled. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

The first load in the canner separated. However, the second load of 2 did not since the jam sat out while we were waiting. I added the wait to the recipe... We also had our first jar breakage - thankfully it was an empty jar!

Since the second load started to gel while we waited, we realized that the others would probably gel as well, even though they were separated. We have a helpful e-Book on canning that noted that rolling jars with separated syrup and fruit after they sealed would mix the fruit and syrup together and allow it to set up correctly. We rolled the separated jars and the jam mixed and set up!

The great e-Book is called Every Step in Canning by Grace Viall Gray. Even though it was written in the early 1900's, I have gained some very helpful and useful tips on canning. It also is an interesting read to see the history of canning and how it has progressed over the years since then. Mrs. Gray also was a home economics teacher and used some of her expertise in the book. This e-Book is available at Olde-Books.com at a very reasonable price. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rhubarb - Pie Plant

This Monday, Momma and I made strawberry rhubarb jam. We made 11 half-pints. This is the recipe that we used. We will be doing some strawberry jam again within the next few days.

My Momma's Grandma (GaGa) always made strawberry rhubarb pie and jam when Momma was growing up. GaGa would drop the pie off at Momma's house after Momma got home from school. Momma would sneak a piece before her parents got home from work just like GaGa planned.

Rhubarb actually has a sour/bitter flavor and is combined with strawberries in pies and jams to make it sweeter. They both come due around the same time. It was introduced to Europe in the17th century. It was nicknamed the "pie plant" for its common use in pies.

We tried to grow a rhubarb plant, but Kathie, our dog, decided to dig it up for us. We got our rhubarb at Heartland Harvest again this year!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Groundhog Deterrents

Recently, I was told that a friend of our family was having some problems with groundhogs eating their cabbage and other plants. It interested me and I found some ideas for groundhog deterrents. Some things that can be done to get groundhogs to leave are to:
  • Fence the garden with chicken wire 3-4 feet high with 1 foot underneath the ground. Groundhogs can jump ordinary fences and burrow underneath. The fence can also be angled with the fence leaning towards the garden to block the groundhogs farther out.
  • Trap the groundhogs or shoot them.
  • Place ammonia soaked rags around the garden. Groundhogs do not like the smell of ammonia. Ammonia does not damage the plants either. The rags will need to get re-soaked after a while to keep the scent fresh.
  • Sprinkle epsom salts on the plants. Groundhogs disgust the taste of epsom salts and will not eat the plants. The epsom salts also are beneficial to the plants as well. The salts will need to be reapplied frequently because they get washed away easily.
  • Hang disposable aluminum pie pans and dishes around the garden to frighten the groundhogs off. Whirligigs and windchimes also can scare the easily frightened creatures away.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Busy Days in the Garden

I have been very busy in the garden these past two weeks. Here are some snapshots of the garden.
I have planted cabbage, herbs, beans, limas, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers and turnips.
We have gathered lettuce, radishes and onions.
Momma and I also weeded the garden.
Daddy, Ben and I have also added the pea posts for the peas to climb up. We also made tepees for the pole beans and limas to climb up as well.
I hope that your garden is doing well too!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Natural Rodent Control

I have been having some trouble with mice in the garden. They have been around the garden and the yard. Ben and I have been noticing them running across the driveway. Momma read in the Grit magazine that if you cut up an old garden hose, it looks like a black snake and scares away the mice. We did not have an old hose, but we did have an old lawnmower belt that broke a few weeks ago. Daddy and I cut the black lawnmower belt into 3 parts that were each a yard long. I put our "black snakes" into each garden. We have noticed a drop in our mouse population around the garden. It must look realistic since it scared Momma too! Our "snakes" keep out little rodents but not big dogs. Kathie "killed" one of our new snakes and brought it to us. :) Do you think that the lawnmower belt pieces look like snakes?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Tip #2 - Seeds

Last week, Daddy and I planted the spring garden. We planted radishes, leaf lettuce, peas, head lettuce, carrots, leeks, onions and garlic. We will be planting again in May. Last week, our area had a relatively major frost, but the seedlings are doing well. The seeds that we planted are cold weather plants, though they still need to be covered.

I have learned by experience that seeds can get too old. :) This year, I checked the backs of the packets to check the date so that I could see how old they were. Most seeds can last up to 3 years, but there are some that do not last as long. I used my gardening books and made a chart for easy reference on the seed life. (You may need to click on the chart to enlarge it.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Natural Plant Energizer

Last Saturday, Daddy, Ben and I got some aged manure from my grandparents' farm. We used it to fill up the middle bed and to mix with the clay-soil in the other two beds. Ben and I also added compost to the beds.

Aged manure is excellent for soil. It should be tilled in prior to spring planting. Fresh manure causes burning of plants because of too much nitrogen. Aged manure reduces the risk. Another way to reduce the hazard of damaging the plants is to combine manure with compost. When added to tight, compacted soil, aged manure loosens the dirt. It also reduces garden runoff. One great benefit of manure is that its nutrients are released slowly, fertilizing the soil. Manure enriches soil carbon, which is a great plant energizer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Tip #1 - Blueprints

If you are like me, spring makes me want to start gardening, but it is a bit too early for planting here in the valley. One of the things that you can do for your garden while you wait to plant is to make a blueprint. Blueprints help with planning a garden. If you make a blueprint, you don't have to worry about where you are going to plant your vegetables when you begin planting! Also, it is helpful for the plants not to be grown in the same area as the previous year. The vegetables would have already taken the nutrients out of the soil that they needed. I have kept my old blueprints so that it's easy to see how the garden was planned out last year. It also helps me to be more efficient with my garden space.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homestead Blessings

I have enjoyed advertising Homestead Blessings on my blog. My Momma and I have learned a lot from the West ladies. There are 9 DVD's in the set. The topics covered are herbs, gardening, canning, soap making, bread making, candle making, dairy, cooking and sewing. For a limited time, Vision Forum is giving a 45% discount on the whole set, which makes it available for $99! The offer ends April 1 at midnight. They are also offering a 25% discount on each of the 3 three-packs. I wanted to let you know about this sale because it would be a wonderful opportunity for you and your family to own these educational DVDs!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Giveaway!

Over at Graceful Designs, they are offering a spring giveaway! Hannah is a wonderful gardener, friend and cardmaker. She creates great photography, calligraphy and watercolor cards.
The winner of the giveaway will receive

In order to enter, go to Graceful Designs blog, and leave a comment on the giveaway post. The giveaway ends March 31, 2010. You can visit her blog for more information.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Almost Here...

Spring begins this Saturday! Our daffodils and crocuses have sprouted. Some of the crocuses have even started to bloom! My spring onions have also grown some, as well as my herb patch, which has some sprouts of cilantro. I am going to be posting some hints on spring garden cleanup, so keep watching for updates!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quotations from the Garden

"When families outsource their food production and processing, they lose the economic and educational benefits that such activities engender. Remember, a dollar saved is worth almost $1.50 because you don’t have to pay taxes on what you save—only on what you earn. So if you don’t have to earn it, you don’t have to pay taxes on it. If a family can displace $5,000 in groceries, that’s worth $7,500 of earned income. Suddenly home economics takes on new significance.

Rather than seeing multi-level marketing or newspaper routes as the only solutions for family-based business, we need to appreciate the opportunities in neighbor-oriented food sales. A rule of thumb in vegetable production is $1 per square foot of ground. In intensive raised bed and square-foot gardening type systems, this can be quadrupled. But even if we assumed the lowest figure, that’s more than $40,000 per acre."
–Joel Salatin
(From the HEAV Magazine Article "Turn your Home and Yard into a Profit Center" by Joel Salatin)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Prayer for Josiah

Josiah Carman is a two-year old twin. He is the grandson of one of our friend, Deb Maubach. Josiah was born with Hurlers (MPS I). Hurlers is a disease that affects the production of an enzyme that breaks down glycosaminoglycans. When glycosaminoglycans are not broken down, they will damage cells, tissues and organs. Normally, Hurlers patients do not have a very long life expectancy. Josiah's family decided to let Josiah have a bone marrow transplant. Through the LORD's sovereign hand, the bone marrow transplant can some times help with Hurlers patients' health and length of life. Josiah's twin brother, James, let Josiah have some of his bone marrow. James was very brave.

Josiah's family has asked for prayer. Josiah has excess fluid in his body which needs to come out. He has been very sick and can not keep anything down. He has a temperature because he can not keep the Tylenol in his body. Josiah also needs prayer that his throat will stop swelling. If he can not get the fluid out, he will have to go in the pediatric ICU and be intubated. Please pray for this little boy as his body battles to get better. You can read more about Josiah here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snow and Garden Thoughts

We got a "sugar coating" of snow this week. However, it will not be just a sugar coating before long. We could get over 2 feet of snow this weekend!
Snow is like a blanket over your garden. It helps to insulate the roots of plants through out colder temperatures. (It helps with my spring onions and garlic!)
With snow around, do not forget to feed the birds! My family and I love to watch the birds as they eat the seed. Also, in the summer time, birds help keep the bugs away in your garden.
I have been planning for this year's garden, so I will be ready when spring comes. Spring is in March, and that is just around the corner! The stores already have seeds in stock for this spring. While I am unable to do actual gardening outside, I can at least begin my "blueprint" for this year.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Coffee Grounds and Coffee Tea

My parents drink coffee every morning. We have an excellent supply of used coffee grounds. If you do not drink coffee, Starbucks gives away their used grinds. If you asked, other coffee shops would probably save them for you.

Coffee grounds are a great way to fertilize your garden. They have 1.45% nitrogen which helps to enrich the soil and to grow leafy vegetables. Coffee grounds are also a good source of calcium and magnesium for your garden. Interestingly, they are not acidic after they are brewed and have a PH level of 6.9 which is suitable for most plants. Coffee grounds can be used in your compost or applied directly to your garden as fertilizer. When you add the grinds to your garden, make sure you do not cover the dirt thickly since the grinds will develop a fungal layer if you do.

The grinds also can be made into a liquid fertilizer which is called coffee tea. All you need is ½ pound of brewed coffee grinds and a 5 gallon bucket filled with water. Let it steep until you are ready to use it on your garden. If you have a busy schedule, it might be easier to “short-cut” the coffee tea process by lightly sprinkling the used grounds on the soil directly before watering.