Tag Archives: gardening

Waiting on spring…..still

I’ve been working on a lot of the same things lately.  Making more dryer balls, felting more soap, knitting more wrist warmers, crocheting more flowers for hat pins.  Not much that you haven’t already seen.  So I haven’t taken any pictures.

I went to Shepherd’s Harvest and it was fabulous.  I had a great time, met lots of old friends, made new friends, and talked a LOT!   It was wonderful.  But I didn’t take a single photo – so nothing to show you. 

I’ve started the Becker Farmer’s Market on Fridays from 3 – 6 PM.  The weather has not been very friendly, and traffic has been a bit slow.  There is not much to photograph – so again, nothing to show you. 

But yesterday, I helped Darryl finish the fence around our veggie garden.

The main garden

The main garden

We now have a permanent fence of chicken netting.  Before we only had the nylon deer netting around the garden. 

Inside the main area

Inside the main area

Several rows of plants are already up, but the bad weather and rain had prevented us from working on the fence. 

Peas in the side area

Peas in the side area

 The netting did work pretty well to keep the deer out, but raccoons would tear it to shreds and the old stuff was in rough shape.   We are hoping this will last a long time.  

And since we are talking gardening….

Phaleanopsis

Phaleanopsis

…how about this beauty?  The buds were just setting last fall when I brought it in and it didn’t grow a bit most of the winter.  Slowly as it got more light this spring, the buds started swelling and today, May 28, it looks like this!  I believe this is an orchid Darryl got for me in the spring of 2011.   This is the first time to re-bloom.

Up next, the sweet potatoes

Winter preparations continue in earnest!  We had a quite a good crop of sweet potatoes this year.  Sunday morning we scrubbed a bunch and put them in the oven to bake.  In the afternoon, we peeled those, cut them in chunks and sealed them in bags to be frozen.  We repeated the process with the remainder of the ‘normal’ sized sweet potatoes.

packaged sweet potatoes

Ready for the freezer

The result is 12 bags of sweet potato chunks in the freezer.  They will be a quick veggie when making a main course in the oven.  Just put them in an oven-safe dish, add some butter and brown sugar, heat them up in the oven and YUM, YUM. 

But we did have one sweet potato that defied ‘normal’. 

big sweet potato

The whopper

This one required special attention!  Check out its weight.

sweet potato on scale

A personal best

While far from any record, it was the biggest ever grown here.  Darryl was quite proud and insisted that we take its picture on the scale!  Over two and a half pounds!  And that is the last picture you will see of that potato.  We peeled it raw, cut it in big ‘french fry’ shaped pieces, coated them with olive oil and salt and baked it.  The whole thing!  And we (just the 2 of us) ate nearly all of if for supper.  We could have finished it, but also had stew to eat!  It was so good!  WAY better than the frozen sweet potato fries you get in restaurants or the grocery store.   

Only the parsnips remain in the garden!  I will try to squeeze freezing them in between the remainder of the craft shows!

As winter approaches

We are nearing the end of the gardening season.  A couple days ago, we pulled up the carrots.   The tops were cut off and fed to the alpacas.  It was a great treat for them.  Then we had this:

buckets of carrots

Two buckets of carrots

After washing and peeling the carrots we had some good sized ones.

carrots

Quartered carrots

The small bowl of carrots found their way into the crock pot with a roast for supper.  The bucket full on the right became….

4 bags of carrots

Four bags

bagged and ready to freeze for future roasts.  We had some really small carrots.

small carrots

Too small to freeze

These were bagged up raw….

raw carrots bagged

Five bags of fresh carrots

to take in lunches or eat for snacks.  And the in-between sized carrots were sliced.

sliced carrots

Two big buckets full

After blanching, these carrots became….

bags of carrots

Fifteen bags of slices

bagged and ready to freeze.  They will remind us of summer all winter long as the veggie at meal time or in soup.  And the alpacas are loving the peelings and the ends of the carrots.  Even the little ones are eating their veggies!

Carding fiber

I’ve been carding some fiber into batts. 

fiber batts

Shades of brown

I have blended some brown and white alpaca.

alpaca fiber batts

Black to white

I’ve blended black and white, too.  But I need to card a lot more.

bars of soap

Round bars

I have nearly 100 bars of soap from All Things Herbal left to felt.

felted soap

Round bars complete

And 23 more that I have already felted.

bars of soap

Square bars

Plus I have these 50 bars of soap to felt for my own sales.

felted soap

Almond Oatmeal completed

Here are the 10 bars of Almond Oatmeal that I’ve already completed!  I’ve got a start on the job, but a long ways to go! 

The veggie garden seems to be taking my fiber time these days.  I’ve been picking and freezing lots of broccoli, corn, and beans.  We’ve been picking and eating lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and potatoes.  It’s time consuming now, but come winter, we’ll have a freezer full of the best ‘fast food’ around!  I will be thankful then for my efforts now! 

 

 

Preparations continue

One step at a time, we are getting ready for winter.   We finished digging the sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes

Prize winners!

These were the 3 biggest sweet potatoes we grew.  We bought a dozen plants.  I think 9 or so grew and we got a couple ice cream buckets of potatoes.  Yum! 

I think I did my last dyeing outside yesterday.

yarn

Yarn #1

These pictures were taken just after I finished dyeing.  So most of the yarn is still dripping wet.   Some of this is reserved for custom orders.

yarn drying

Yarn #2

These will be for sale soon.

yarn

Yarn #3

As will these.  The yarn is still so wet and heavy and the pvc pipe so long, that the pipe is bowing under the weight of the yarn.  A total of 32 skeins above.

yarn

Yarn #4

And these 5 skeins are the ends of the cones.  They are miscellaneous amounts on each skein.   I will use these to knit something.   That is record for me – 37 skeins of yarn dyed in one day!  They sure do look kinda rough when they first come out of the dye pot.  Wet and all tangled up!  After these pictures were taken, I washed, rinsed, rinsed again in vinegar water and hung them to dry.  Once dry, I will re-wind the skeins so they are pretty and neat.

It’s coming

Yep, Winter is coming!  October has been a wonderfully warm month, but I know the other shoe will drop soon!  And we’ve been trying to get ready.

bell peppers

Bell peppers

This is the last of the bell peppers from the garden.  They are now chopped, bagged and in the freezer.  The habaneras were picked and given to a friend.  The plants were up-rooted and taken for composting.  Some of the sweet potatoes were dug, some remain.  Carrots and beets also are waiting to be pulled and frozen. 

orchids

Bench of orchids

These plants (orchids and a couple ivies) have enjoyed the summer outside.  But they recently got the required bath before coming inside for the winter.

ficus tree

Ficus tree

This tree also needed a little ‘de-bugging’ to be allowed re-entry to the house.  So with a trash can full of soapy water, each plant got washed, rinsed and set out to drain and dry.

plants

Clean plants

Within a couple hours, all the house plants were once again in the house.  Hopefully, leaving most of the bugs and spiders outside!  I did find a cool surprise – 2 of my orchids have flower spikes just starting!  Winter may be coming, but I can look forward to lovely flowers. 

Progress is being made!  Back to knitting tomorrow.  And the weekend looks warm and calm enough for dyeing!  Must take advantage of that.  Might be my last chance to dye outside.

Miscellaneous goings on!

Seems I’ve been running in many directions these days, so here’s a recap.

1)  I had a  great time at the Little Falls craft show.  Perfect weather, good traffic in our office turned into store, even some return customers from last. 

2)  The garden keeps producing.  Here are some peppers I stuffed and have ready to freeze. 

Ready to freeze

3)  Tomorrow, Sept 17, I’ll be spinning at Pioneer Days in Albany.  There are lots of school kids who come to visit to see what it was like in the ‘old days’.

4)  I finished this new cowl / scarf.  My own pattern (I should write it down!  I might want to make another!), 100% alpaca, bulky yarn that I dyed. 

Purple cowl / scarf

5)  On Saturday, Sept 18, we’ll be Zimmerman at Art Reflections for the Krazy Dazecelebration.  We’re bringing our alpacas Sonny and Rolly.  I’ll be spinning and will have lots of alpaca things for sale. 

6)  Rugs and stadium seats are in!  We pooled our fiber with the fiber of Twisted Suri Alpacas and had awesome rugs made. 

3 ft x 5 ft, $150

Lots of colors and designs.

2 ft x 3 ft, $75

I’ll have them all to see at Farm Tour, Sept 25 – 26.

Butt Warmers, $20

Also make great place mats.

7)  Yes, Farm Tour is barely over a week away! 

Please come to see us at an upcoming event.  They are posted on our Events Page and I also try to get them on our FaceBook fan page.

Drying tomatoes

Each year I attempt to freeze enough tomatoes to last us through the year.  I do not like to buy tomatoes in cans because of the strong acid they contain that requires plastic lining in the cans.  But I have always bought tomato paste and tomato sauce.  Until now.  I picked about a dozen big tomatoes, put them in boiling water until the skins come off and squeezed the juice out of them.  I then placed them on the trays of my dehydrator.  

3 trays of tomatoes

I learned that if I sliced them in half (at the equator if the stem was the North Pole!) that the juice and seeds were contained in little pockets which were easy to empty out.

Tomato sliced in half

And…

Bowl of juice

 I got this juice (which was kinda chunky and needed to be chewed!) besides the 3 trays of pulp.

After a couple emails to my food mentor, Karen, I got crispy, crunchy tomato chips.

All dried out

 

Almost see-through

 

Paper-thin

Since I don’t own a food processor, I put some of the chips in a zipper baggy (doubled), took my rolling pin and my meat tenderizer and proceeded to roll and hammer the tomatoes into crumbs.

Pulverized!

I got about a half cup of crushed, dried tomatoes from all those fresh tomatoes!  But they really have flavor.  I’m storing in the freezer in zipper baggies. 

I may do more if time permits, but will certainly be testing these out soon.   For paste, use with water in a 1:1 ratio, for sauce 1:2 ratio of tomato to water.

A new shed

Tuesday was the only sunny day this week.  Darryl took vacation and with the help of my dad and a backhoe, they build this:

Side view

Side view

I tried to get a picture of inside, but I’m too short to unzip the door high enough that it would stay open.  

Front view

Front view

And the sun hasn’t been out since they finished, so these pictures are rather dreary.  

It is empty – so far.   They worked until dark getting it put together.   The original idea was to store our alpaca trailer in it, but that would require plowing a path to the shed all winter in case we needed the trailer in an emergency.   So, the shed will store the summer stuff – lawn mower, canoe (unless I can sell it!), garden stuff, etc.   That will make room in the barn for the trailer. 

The loader on the backhoe also moved our well-composted poo pile.  

Our garden

Our garden

Some to the garden and some to the alpaca pasture. 

The alpaca's pasture

The alpaca's pasture

Now to get it spread – a job for the weekend.  While I’m at the Braham Craft Fair!

Ready for testing

I’m having a difficult time broaching this subject – my experimental product is….  well… crappy…. full of it….. doo doo…..  Are you getting the theme?   Yes – I’m working on a way to use the alpaca manure that is so wonderful outside to do the delicate job of watering house plants! 

I’ve made ‘tea bags’ in 2 sizes.  And put them in bottles of water to steep.  I also tried putting loose crushed manure in the third bottle.

Steeping

Steeping

They are (left to right) #1 = small bag, #2 = large bag, #3 = loose.

I started the brewing process on Monday.   Today, I took about a cup from the bottle #3 and mixed it in a half gallon of water and watered my houseplants. 

Tea bags of 'paca poo

Tea bags of 'paca poo

I also made a couple tea bags for a real plant person to test.  At this point I’m trying to determine if the bags are needed, what the strength should be, will there be an odor, and will there be bugs.   I guess time will tell!  If you are interested in helping test these – let me know.