Monday, September 23, 2013

Changing Seasons

Yesterday was the official start of fall.  Coincidentally, I was spending the last week preparing for my own change of seasons.  Other than some tomatoes, my garden is harvested. I have knocked down most of the plants and spread compost in preparation for tilling it under.

There a few other things that needed done to prepare for next years garden.  On Tuesday I planted the garlic.  This year I had volunteers come up, so I kept all of them.  I had nine heads plus seeds from one scape.  Now I have four rows planted with zero additional cost.

In another effort to save money on buying seeds and plants, Grace and I gathered seeds on Saturday.  She had one Lima seed and one pinto seed from school.  We planted them and we were able to get a few seeds to grow more next year.

We collected green beans too.  We labeled them because I collected the very first pods this year, but didn't let them dry on the vine.  I want to see if that makes any difference in how well they germinate.

We collected asparagus seeds as part of our other experiment.  We planted half of them immediately and saved the other half.  We also planted half the dried seeds that I collected last year.  For more on that project, watch

Lastly I grabbed a few good tomatoes and scraped the seeds out onto a paper plate to dry.  All my tomatoes were grown from seed this year and I hope to do the same next year but with my own seeds.

Now that all that work is done, we can turn our attention from gathering to hunting!  Now season for deer starts next Tuesday and youth shotgun season is this coming weekend.  Time to fill the freezer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Salsa; Canning Not Dancing

Some couples learn to dance later in life as a way to spend time together.  I don't think I have the moves for a waltz much less salsa dancing.  So instead, my wife and I spend time together by salsa canning.

Yesterday we put up 10 pints of salsa, with a bit left over for a jar that went straight in the fridge.  It was fun to work together, share a cocktail, and just chat about nothing.  With four kids and so many projects to take care of, time together is hard to come by.  Canning together seems to be one of the solutions.

When we finished we still had LOADS of tomatoes.  So we proceeded to give the Victorio Food Strainer, which we found when cleaning out the woodshed. (see previous post), a run for it's money.  This turned out to be quite messy.  If you go to the home page for Victorio Products, in the upper left corner you see model 250.  We found model 200 which doesn't have the clear extension on the trash chute and doesn't have the wrap around guard on the strainer.  That mean tomato juice sometimes flew out of the strainer, and much like pulp, juice can fly baby!  I also had to place my compost bucket closer to the sauce collector bucket creating a few mishaps.

But just as advertised on the website, you can put raw tomatoes in this thing and get clean strained pulp and juice, with all the seeds and skins going straight into a separate bucket.  No blanching to remove skins like when we can tomatoes.  After cooking for hours to reduce the water content, we ended up with four quart jars of beautiful tomato sauce.

That brings my haul this year to 17 quarts of canned tomatoes (think venison chili), 10 pints of salsa, 4 quarts of tomato sauce, and four pints of pickles.  Not too bad for a $36 investment in seeds.  Plus, I have collected seeds for next year, and hope to not spend anything to get the garden growing. That also doesn't count the food we have eaten straight from the garden like potatoes, corn, lettuce, leeks, and radishes.

We had strange weather this year, so we still have some late bloomers.  Specifically, green beans and some peppers.  Hopefully there will be another post later this year talking about how good those taste when eaten straight from the east half of the southwest quarter!