Friday, September 20, 2013

autumn is here

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autumn certainly has arrived here at second and edgemont.
things are slowing down a bit out there but there is still quite an abundance.
the light is changing and so has the garden's palette.

every few days i find just a handful of cherry tomatoes.
but herbs like thyme and sage are still plentiful. i plan to hang some to dry this week on the sun porch.

the hens are molting and like the nightly temps their egg supply has dipped.
but the horseradish is ready to be harvested. it's  doubled in size from last year.  time to make horsradishy deviled eggs!

the cone flower has all gone to seed.
but the dwarf weeping crab apple tree is dripping with fruit. i'll leave a few for the birds but the rest will be combined with other apples to make a tart applesauce and butter.

what's still growing in your garden?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lessons From the Gardening Year

Sorry to have disappeared off the map for a little while. My husband broke his arm and had to have surgery, so the garden took a backseat to life. 

There is a possibility of a frost tonight. We covered our peppers and picked a good handful of tomatoes that were on their way to ripening. It's been a good season. The weeds caught up to us in the end. They always do. At some point, we stop weeding and start harvesting and preserving and we never look back. :)

Thought I would reflect back on our year so far:

1. I missed growing Green Zebra tomatoes this year. Sure they take a long time to ripen but there is something about the flavor that I just love. Will make sure they are in next year's garden as I haven't found too many in the local markets.

2. T and I agreed that we just aren't big fans of Sungold cherry tomatoes. I know many people love them, but we found them too sweet. Also, they don't hold well off the vine and end up tasting fermented. We missed Matt's Wild and will be sure to go back to that variety next year.

3. Do you remember the mycorrhizal dip for our tomatoes? Well, We didn't mulch the tomatoes early enough and early blight took a strong hold. We wonder if the dip helped them last as long as they did! Perhaps we'll try it again next year with early mulch application to see if we notice a difference.

4. Three zucchini plants are still too many for two people. Cutting back to two next year. 

5. Cucumber beetles and squash bugs were the garden pests of the year. I think the squash bugs take first prize. In the five years we've lived in this house, we've never seen them in our garden. Our neighbors also had them this year.

6. If we grow melons and pumpkins again, we'll need to fence them. We lost a few precious melons to raccoons. 

7. Cilantro is best grown in Vermont in the fall. Our spring plants always bolt, but we're got some gorgeous cilantro in our field right now.

8. Our favorite tomato this year was the German Pink. T says, "They are big, beautiful, tasty tomatoes."

9. It's hard to grow strawberries from seed, but the little French alpine plants are tough. They were slow to get started, but we are still enjoying the tiny berries! It's rather exciting to be picking a locally-grown strawberry in September. 

10. We had another great garlic harvest. We'll be able to keep ourselves in garlic for the winter. Love that thought.

11. The hardest part of gardening in the Northeast is waiting for the soil to warm up! We think we planted our peppers a little too early to mixed results.

12. Our eggplants produced flower after flower but no fruit. I think I'd rather try to grow okra.

13. Thanks to our Baby Pam pumpkins we just had a supper of Thai pumpkin soup. We saved one aside for our Thanksgiving pie.

14. We tried to plant our Brussels sprouts in the summer for a fall harvest but the plants never took off. We'll be getting our sprouts from a local farmer this year. We'll plant much earlier last year like we've  always done in the past. 

15. Even in a so-so tomato year, we still harvest enough to can tomatoes for the winter.

I'm sure most of your gardens are still kicking, and this frost may never come to pass, but I'd still love to hear any lessons you've learned from this season. Happy harvesting!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

southern gardeners: a tip for increased germination rates in the fall garden

in the deep of the summer when i'm up to my elbows in tomatoes & bell peppers, the last thing i am thinking about is the fall garden. really & truly, my favorite gardens around here are in the spring & fall, but i never quite seem to plant my fall garden on time. thankfully, my farmer husband is always peering at the planting calendar & thinking ahead.

unfortunately for us in the thick of the south, direct seeding can be a bit difficult in the late summer. it's far too hot during the day & the soil tends to dry out too quickly. today i am here to share a tip we use in our garden for better germination rates when the weather is too hot & dry.

when we plant difficult to germinate seeds, such as carrots and lettuce, into the soil, my husband lays a scrap piece of burlap over the area where we planted. every morning he soaks the burlap with water to help keep the soil moist for ideal germination. 
once the little seedlings pop out of the soil, he removes the burlap. 

we expect a significant increase in germination rates with this technique! if you're living in the south with above normal hot & dry weather, try out this tip & let us know how your garden grows!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

how to freeze fresh green beans!

hello, tend friends! this morning i have been busily working around the farm with a renewed sense of peace & an abundance of energy! 

i thought i would stop by this morning & share our favorite (& quickest!) way to preserve green beans from the garden. on tuesday, abby shared some of her favorite ways to prepare the sometimes overwhelming haul from the garden & also asked for favorite ways to preserve green beans.

our trick is freezing!

when we purchased the farm, my parents gifted us a bit of money to purchase a freezer chest. we are so thankful they did! we have already filled it up with homemade chicken stock, pesto, tomato sauce, tomato soup, bell peppers, corn on the cob, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries & so much more!

we also added four gallons of green beans to the freezer. luke harvested the last of our green beans earlier last week (a wonderful surprise given we rarely have green beans this late in the summer season!) & we were very surprised to fill four baskets of those delicious beans. instead of crossing our fingers in hopes that we would eat that many throughout the next handful of weeks, we set aside a little over an hour & processed our garden bounty!

how to freeze green beans:

1. depending on the size of your harvest, fill an appropriately-sized pot with water & bring to a boil.

2. while you are waiting for your water to boil, wash all of your green beans thoroughly. chop off the end where the green bean was attached to the plant. 

3. once your water is boiling & all of your beans are cleaned & chopped, add them to the pot of boiling water. depending on the amount of beans you have, keep them in the water for 3-5 minutes. you will know the beans are ready once they turn a bright green color but remain fairly hard instead of limp. 

4. once your beans have finished boiling, place them in a bowl of freezing water until the green beans have fully cooled.

5. transfer your beans to plastic freezer bags. (tip: if you have a bit of extra time, you can place them on a cookie sheet & freeze before placing them in the bag to prevent the beans from sticking to each other.)

don't forget to label your bag!

cook & enjoy during the winter! we love seasoning our green beans in a bit of bacon drippings with salt & pepper.
- natalie