Thursday, September 26, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Frugal Meal

Tonight's dinner was brought to us by...our garden (and hens)!

Fried white & sweet potatoes, fried okra, scrambled eggs with peppers & onions

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweet Potato Harvest 2013

Please disregard my foolish last blog post title.  "Last Garden Update"-what was I thinking.  As soon as I hit "publish", I realized I hadn't harvested the sweet potatoes or white potatoes. We also are still getting okra & watermelons. 
Whenever I let the hens out, I always have a visitor or two to distract me from my work.

Everything in the picture, minus the hamburger from my Dad & the bun and guacamole from the store, was grown in our garden.  Matt asked me when we would be moving further south so we can start growing our own avacadoes.  I told him when we retire to Jamaica (yea, right!).  

Farmer Essie helping me clean up some hay that the hens gleefully gotten into.  Don't ask me why she has a shovel, but I couldn't resist snapping a picture of her, in my boots!

I wanted to open the entire garden to the ducks and hens so that meant harvesting the sweet potatoes.  The weather has been GORGEOUS here lately (though we badly need rain) so I took the opportunity to start digging.

Potatoes as big as your hand


First plant pulled

The new chickens are fitting right in and getting busy, just what I wanted!

Bug patrol

By the end of the night, half the neighborhood kids were in the garden, helping harvest.  One perk of urban farming is having a living laboratory to teach the next generation about where their food comes from.

All this (plus a few that fell off) from another plant

In the end, we harvested 2 bushels of sweet potatoes from the 9 plants we planted.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Final Garden Update for 2013

I think this will be the final garden update for 2013.  The tomato & cucumber plants have given up for the season and I've put away the canning paraphernalia. 

Our okra plants were very slow coming on, but this last few weeks, we have gotten a few each day.  I consider myself a true Southern gal now since I've grown and learned to cook this truly Southern specialty. 

I pulled up a few potato plants because our watermelon vines are growing over the potato plants (a curse of urban gardening-small spaces)

This picture was from last week and it was my last "big" pick of the tomatoes.  It seemed like one day I was picking a bushel a day and the next, we were down to only getting a bowl full.

I did not plant cantaloupe this year and yet, we were blessed with 2 vines that came up and gave us a few melons. (one more benefit of the neighbors feeding your chickens their scraps)

Our first watermelon weighed 16 pounds and our 2nd weighed 12!

They weren't very dark red inside, but boy oh boy were they sweet tasting!

This little blessing showed up on our lawn one afternoon.  I still don't know who dropped it off, but of course we weren't going to waste them.

We made applesauce and I also canned some apples for baking.
If you are interested in canning apples, see the video below, which I found very helpful.

Here's a big batch of sauce ready to be jarred up.

I cooked the apples in pear juice that I process from some of the pears my parents brought me.  These apples were from my neighbor's tree so all ingredients were FREE!


Pear juice (to use next in next year's canning) and apples


I found a large bookshelf at a local antique store so I can finally display the fruit (and veggies) of my labor. 

Yes, I'm a little obsessed with canning right now but its just so fulfilling to look at these shelves and see all that the Lord has provided this year.

Now that most of the garden is done for this year, I'm already working to improve the soil so we can be even more productive next year.

AJ helps out by carrying a bag of grass clippings that will be used for chicken food and more compost. I also received a call from a local family who need to re-home their hens and wondered if I would take them.  The answer was "of course!" so now not only will I be getting more eggs but I have 4 more ladies to help work the soil as well. 

Girl Antics

Today, I caught some of the girls' antics as they sang their way through their morning chores.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Essie & Chloe!

Today is Essie and Chloe's 8th birthday.  We celebrated on Sunday so the grandparents could join us on the long weekend.

The girls wanted a minion cake (from the movie Despicable Me) this is what Dad came up with.

Eight candles for the birthday girls

It's hard to blow out candles when you're busy giggling.

Party plates!

The girls wanted the eyes for their pieces of cake.

Leave it to Grandma Melanie to turn black garbage bags into cute birthday present wrapping.

When the girls used to do "quiet time" in the afternoons, there was a backrest in Essie's bed that she would lay against and read books.  One day Dad commandeered the backrest for his own use, and Essie had never forgiven him for it.  So we suggested Matt's parents buy one for each of them for their birthday.

So soft!

Art supplies from Amy's mom and dad

Who are those mischievous-looking minions?

Birthday girls!

We were so glad that Matt's dad felt good enough to spend the day with us to celebrate the girls' birthday.

Meemaw and Grandpa down from Indiana

Chloe takes her loot and makes the long walk home from Grandma's house next door.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Labor Filled Weekend

At the end of last week, I was going to post that my garden had about run its course for the year and I was fine with that.  Then my parents came for their yearly Labor Day visit and loaded the back of their van LOADED with produce.  Their garden is about 2 weeks behind mine and their produce would have rotten if they had left it behind.  

My basement quickly filled with 2 bushels corn, 25 pounds of grapes, 1/2 bushel of peppers, 15 pounds of tomatoes and 4 1/2 bushels of pears.

We started out Friday by processing the corn.  We put 9 quarts into my freezer and 40 ears into our bellies (over the course of the weekend).

Then we were on to the grapes.

My mom worked her hardest, but after school, I called in reinforcements. 

I think we lost a few pound of grapes to our many helpers, but they did get the rest of them de-stemed in less than an hour.

Saturday was spent finished up the grape juice.

I borrowed this juicer from my neighbor and it worked great!

This is the public picture I wanted to post of Chloe helping me.
Once we juiced all the grapes, it was on to cooking them before we jarred up the juice.
We also cooked up 7 quarts of tomato sauce.

The finished product.  This is highly concentrated so we mix the quart with a quart of water or apple juice before we serve it.

Monday, it was on to the pears. 

Chloe helped by eating as many as she could.  If you look closely, you can see the juice running down her face. 

 I took this video to show you how this machine worked (for anyone interested).

We ended up with 9.5 quarts of pear juice and 13 pints of pear sauce from 1.5 bushels of pears.

Then today (Tuesday), my neighbor told me to clean her apple tree off.  More work to do.

Oh yea, and I picked this whopper (16 pounds) in the garden tonight.  Praying its ripe or I may just cry.