Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Gooseberry Time

I have 8 gooseberry bushes right now on the property. Only four of those bushes are of bearing age. Gooseberries for us have been a great choice in berry bushes. Super easy to grow and pretty well disease resistant so far. The other plus for us is that they will grow in some shade. Since our property has lots of shade trees this fruit bush  will grow under the canopy of those large hickories and oaks on the property. Four we have planted on the east side of two small sheds. There they get morning sun and are somewhat shaded from the late evening intense sunlight. Those grow the best. My one suggestion is to give them plenty of room. My oldest bushes are close to 5 feet tall and wide. If you plant them too close they are prone to mildew. Thus far we have had no problems with that. Two of my smaller bushes are planted right at the east edge of the canopy of a large hickory again where they get the morning sun and are shaded from the harsh evening sun. Again they love the location and are growing great. The last two bushes I just planted this year. They are supposedly thornless and one is pink and the other is red. They are planted in an open location with little shade. I am watching them closely and if necessary will move them to a shadier location if the sun becomes a problem. 

Our first picking was yesterday and as you can see they are just starting to get a little rosy tint to them. If you leave them on the bush they will turn darker but we do not because the robins will get them all. So as soon as we see a little flush we pick them. We also like them at that stage because they have just a little tartness left to them at that stage which is the flavor we prefer. Once picked you can take your fingernails or a small knife and remove the tips and tails. See the stem on one end (tail) and a small tip where the bloom was on the other (tips) .  Then I wash them and let them drain and place them on a baking sheet and freeze.

Once frozen they are then transferred to quart cups and left in the freezer. I will add to the cups till the end of the season then make some into a jam and leave some whole and put in vacuum bags for pies. I need to post my gooseberry pie recipe. It came from my late mother-in-law and is award winning. She used to enter them in the goose festival bake off in the town she lived in and won most years. 

You find lots of english recipes for gooseberries as it is a fruit that they really like and grow lots of. 

That's it for now. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Onions Hanging

We have been so busy. Before that big rain came in last week we pulled those onions that we had laid over in the boxes. Before they could get wet. We want them to form a nice dry husk around that center onion. 

Then the bent/crimped onions are draped over a wire in the top of the chicken house roof where the warmth of the tin roof and the openness of the wire coop walls allow the onions to stay dry with lots of air flow. Yet they remain high enough that the chickens can't get to them. 

And don't forget the ones in the woodshed along side the hanging garlic.

Gradually these onion will be chopped and frozen for winter cooking or dehydrated again for winter cooking. Some go into the canning recipes over the next weeks such as pickled beets and freezer slaw. The remainder will be eaten in the summer meals. 

There were 6 boxes of onions that were forked over after the onions were gone. Compost was added to them and all 6 were planted with our third planting of red beans. Red beans and rice is one of my favorite meals and takes me back to my Louisiana roots. We eat them regularly. Some I will dry and some will go into jars. 

The first patch is blooming now and have small beans on them. The second patch is out by the blackberries and are about 3 inches tall. We just planted the third patch. One crop goes out and the next crop goes in. A constant rotation until frost.

We pick the crops that we eat most, that grow best in our soil and climate, and produce the most. Then we plant them in constant succession throughout the season. This gives us food freedom and cuts our dependency on outside food other than just by choice. 

This vegetable list that is planted successively includes green beans, horticulture beans, squash, zucchini, red beans, butter beans, purple hulls, potatoes, beets, cabbage, mustard greens, lettuce, green onions, carrots and cucumbers. 

 Longer season vegetable crops that we grow but do not have time to plant successively and can only grow one crop a year include sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, and okra. That is in zone 6B/7A.

All of these crops require little support/staking except the runners. All of these crops we eat regularly and have many optional ways of cooking. And all of these crops either can, freeze or dehydrate well if not all three. 

While we still have lots of work ahead of us it gives us a great sense of accomplishment to see these crops hanging in our sheds. Another job down and many more to go. Another blessing granted. 

Hope this helps.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


Friday, June 26, 2020

Cabbage to Slaw

Remember the huge cabbage I showed you awhile back. We had a small dry spell without rain for about 3 weeks. Last week we got 3 inches. Know what happens when cabbage goes through a dry spell and then gets a huge rain. The plant takes up moisture faster then the head can grow to accommodate it. Tomatoes do the same thing. They crack and once they crack they rot. Knowing that the rain was coming we knew the ripe heads of cabbage had to be picked before the rain. I pick tomatoes before big rains if possible and let them finish ripening inside. Mother nature can be such a fickle gardening partner. 

I knew I wanted to make freezer slaw with this cabbage. You can find the recipes in my canning recipes. Above the shredded vegetables are sprinkled with salt and allowed to sit and the salt to draw out excess moisture. This slaw is like traditional slaw with onions and carrots shredded with the cabbage and the addition of green peppers also. Then instead of a mayonnaise dressing base you make a dressing from vinegar, sugar, dry ground mustard and whole celery seeds. The dressing is heated and then poured over the shredded vegetables. 

Above the vegetables after soaking in salt are drained of moisture and rinsed in a large colander.Once drained the HOT dressing is poured over the slaw and allowed to sit a little bit. Then I put the slaw in freezer containers and freeze. This slaw will keep what seems like forever in the fridge due to that vinegar. It will freeze for a good 6 months or more. While it is not super crunchy it retains enough crunch to still be really good. It is a way to freeze a salad for later. You just take it out and let thaw in the fridge. This is an original Ball Book recipe but my husband's grandmother made one at the turn of the century almost identical. . 

Remember the post I did 2 weeks ago about processing the turkeys I caught on sale. While I was canning I cooked down the bones from that turkey and now have 10 quarts of canned turkey broth. I use it the same as chicken broth in cooking and soups. 

I also froze 6 containers of freezer slaw to munch on in the months to come. I still have 2 separate crops of cabbage out there not ready yet. One I will put in the freezer to go into soups and such and the youngest plants, still small will be my fall crop and will become my winter sauerkraut. Especially since I have 3 half gallons of kraut in the fridge now that we are eating on. 

By planting my cabbage at 3 different successive times I can insure I have cabbage to eat year round in several different forms. Frozen in both slaw and for soups and fermented into sauerkraut that we usually eat as meals with sausage. We also enjoy fresh cabbage throughout the season. It's great smothered down in a big ol black skillet with some onions and bacon. Perhaps our favorite is in veggie soup. So if you are looking for a simple to grow crop that can grow pretty well 8 months out of the year in our location cabbage is your man. Just remember Bt is your friend in keeping down those little green cabbage worms. They make great chicken and duck treats as well if you want to pick them or just turn the ducks in to the patch. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Monday, June 22, 2020

This Life Of Toil

We finally got some much needed rain over the weekend. With a cool and rainy spring the weeds are always in abundance. No matter how much I mulch there always seem to be some really tenacious ones that thrive.  But the temperatures lately have turned hot and the rain was getting scarce.  Morning chores in the the cool temperatures of early morning include weeding regularly. Rarely am I out and about without my faithful hoe and wheel barrow. I finally retired the old wheel barrow I had on the farm for a brand spanking new one. With two wheels in front it is much harder to tip it over. The old one has graduated to a flower pot with pretty spring annuals and herbs in it. Can you believe I got 20 years from it. Nothing goes to waste though and I'll get a few more as a flower pot. I'll have to remember to take pictures of it. 

The spring peas are gone now. We got four pickings from  a St. Patrick's Day planting. They are now securely bagged and in the freezer. And in their boxes a new crop of green beans planted. This rain should pop them on up. 

The day lillies are enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures.

I started out with one clump of these yellow lilies that were left behind by the last owners.

But this pink one is my absolute favorite found struggling behind a scraggly shrub when we first moved here. 

Knock out roses that Baby O bought me for Mother's Day one year.

The elderberries are flourishing and the local pollinators are loving them.

And the simple loveliness of the old fashioned heirloom petunias.

Chairs are strategically placed in shady spots all over the property for old people to sit and catch their breath. Baby O bought me 6 of these for Mother's Day this year. They sure are nice. She truly does spoil me

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Friday, June 19, 2020

Spring Has Sprung

It's a never ending succession in the garden

It starts around St. Patrick's Day with the planting of the peas, onions, lettuce, beets, potatoes and cabbage. All cool weather crops that are slightly frost tolerant. They will mature hopefully before the heat of summer sets in. We picked the last of our peas and pulled the bushes and fed them to the chickens and ducks. 

Then come the asparagus sprouts emerging about the same time as the crappy (fish) start their spring run when they are breeding and the morel mushrooms start sprouting in the woods. Spring turkey season for you hunters.

This week we dug the garlic that was planted last October and it is hanging in the woodshed to dry. We will save enough to plant again this October and begin all over again. 

And those boxes of onions planted on St. Patrick's are ready to lay over to dry. After about a week they too will go into the wood shed to dry.

Next will be the spring green onions to either dehydrate or freeze and the beets to pickle. Then the cabbage will become a new batch of kraut and freezer slaw. All of these empty boxes will then be filled with summer green beans, squash, shell beans,melons and cucumbers and other heat loving crops.

Along the back fence on the east boundary of the property are the okra, butter bean and tomato crops. 

Every sunny nook and cranny has a crop this year. We are unsure what the future holds for food availability or grocery prices so we are in full gardening mode. Gorilla gardening if you will. Behind the woodshed is a bean patch. Red beans about ready to bloom. 

Once the cabbage and potatoes mature those spaces will go to July crops for the fall. Greens and carrots, fall lettuces maybe broccoli. And more fall cabbage. Then we gather our seeds and plant the garlic in October and rest another winter. And we give Thanks. We knit before the fire and dream and plan with the seed catalogs of January and plan again. New hope.

Season after season. Year after year. One harvest leading into another in a comforting progression. Life goes on regardless of the politics or the crisis. A life of work and thankfulness. A life of simplicity and peace. We love each other, our land and animals. We watch our grandchildren grow and flourish. And for the two of us we know that we are in the autumn season of our own lives. Our hair is gray and our knees are creaky but we get great satisfaction in knowing that we have lived a good honest life. Spring will be missed as it was short this year, cold and rainy. But next year will be another chance and regardless we will enjoy the blossoms.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

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