Thursday, October 30, 2014

Garden Update for October 29th

October 29th Garden Overview

Here is the last garden update for October.  Really?  October is almost over?  It seems like it just began!

Yesterday the sun finally came out and I went outside for a couple of hours to work in the garden.  I cut the remaining acorn squash and pulled out the vines and cleaned out their beds (front left).  I cleaned up the melon bed as well (trellis on right) and pulled out the bell pepper plants.  I cleaned up some marigolds in the broccoli bed as well as some old broccoli leaves and cleaned off another bean tepee.  Still more cleaning to do that I hope to have time for (& a dry day) this weekend.

October 29th- Brussels Sprouts

October 29th- Brussels Sprouts

October 29th- Habanero 

October 29th- Harvest
kale, eggplant, variety of peppers, acorn squash & celery

Check back next week for another garden update.  As long as there's something happening in the garden (& I'm able to take photos), I'll keep posting weekly or bi-weekly updates.  :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Garden Update for October 20th

October 20th- A little at a time the garden is being cleared out

October 20th- All of the winter squash have been harvested except for 13 acorn squash.
I cleaned the beds up a little and will clean them out completely once the acorns have been cut.

October 20th- The kale is still growing strong, as well as the brussels sprouts behind.  One bean tepee has been cleaned off and removed, 3 more to go. 

October 20th- Onion & herb bed was tidied up, melon vines were trimmed (trellis), tomato bed is empty, peppers are still growing 

October 19th- The harvest for today- broccoli, peppers, the last of the green beans, melons, Christmas pole lima beans, the last of the carrots and some collard greens

October 19th- The mystery plant we have growing beside the garage turned out to be a pumpkin.  It's still growing and turning a deeper orange every day. 

October 19th- spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash (only 3 the whole season?)
and our 3 little Cinderella pumpkins

We're into the rainy Fall weather here so clean up has been slow.  I still have lots of apples & pears to do something with.  Need to get busy with those.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Garden Update for October 15th

October 15th

It's been a few weeks since I posted a Garden Update.  In fact, it was September 23rd when I posted the last update!  I have a few harvest photos, but only of the few larger harvests.  I've been really busy trying to use up or preserve the harvests, that I haven't kept up with the photo-taking of everything.

As you can see in the photo above, there are a few "naked" beds.  The winter squash plants are dying back (front left) and I'll be cutting squash this weekend and may go ahead and pull the plants out and clean the bed up.  I think the pepper plants may be almost finished as well.  I'll give them another quick once-over to see if they're ready to be pulled.  The green beans and lima beans are just about finished.  Most of the garden will be cleaned up by the end of the month and will rest for the winter.

September 24th

September 24th

September 24th

October 4th-  I picked all of the remaining apples & pears on the trees.  They either went into the basket or into the compost.  About 45 pounds of apples and 18 pounds of pears.

October 4th- 18 pounds of pears

October 4th

October 6th

I'll keep the kale & collards going through the winter as long as I can.  I'm not sure if I'll try to start more seeds indoors for another harvest of lettuces & spinach or just wait till spring.  I've been so busy with everything else I never did get seeds started over the last couple of months for turnips, radishes, lettuce, spinach, etc.  
Anyone else out there still harvesting?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Simple Fall Decor

A table in the entryway 

Over the past several years I've been trying to use more natural decor items over imported & plastic items.  I still buy things occasionally that have been imported, but I try to pick items that are made of natural materials when I do.  Here are a few areas of my home that I've decorated for Fall.

Gourds, mini pumpkins & corn bought at the local market, 
as well as pine cones saved & used for a few years 

The living room...a mix of natural, vintage & store-bought items

An apothecary jar filled with feathers from my parent's guineas, wild turkey feathers on the wreath, grapevine pumpkins, cast iron crows, votive candles(battery operated for safety) in vintage tart tins,
vintage glass insulators (large brown one & mini white ones), 
real mini pumpkins & corn in the basket, poppy seed pods 

The oak branch is artificial, it's being held upright by river rocks in a vase
I found the pheasant in a thrift/vintage shop, not sure if it's vintage, but he's cute & simple
I always have baskets & buckets of pine cones sitting around

The dining room buffet... 
I bought the twig runner a couple of years ago.  The buffet is being protected with a length of muslin
A grapevine arch is a backdrop for the Fall village pieces
All of the pumpkins are candles that I use for decor and have never lit them

Champagne & wine glasses filled with acorn "vase filler"
The acorns are artificial, but the tops are real
Only the front glasses are filled so that we can still use the glasses in the back

A large pumpkin candle sits on a wreath as the dining table centerpiece
A real pumpkin could also be used

The little child's desk in the family room...The gourds in the wagon are real, however the pumpkins are plastic.  I've had the pumpkins for about 15 years and am thinking about giving them a little makeover.  I want to pull their stems out and replace them with cinnamon sticks.  I have 5 of these little pumpkins and even though they are plastic, they are cute and realistic enough to keep around. 

The little desk, found at a local vintage/ thrift shop
My daughter and I made the owl bag from a kit a couple of years ago.

I hope you enjoyed the little glimpse into some of my simple Fall decor.  I'll be adding some turkey items soon as well and will share more photos. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Making Applesauce

Fresh Picked Apples

Last month we picked two baskets of apples from one of our trees.  The first basket weighed 20 pounds.  The basket picked a week later weighed 24 pounds.  What to do with all those apples?  I decided to make applesauce with about 24 pounds of them. 

Homemade Applesauce

According to one of my canning books, 12 pounds of apples would make about 8 pints or 4 quarts of applesauce. I weighed out 12 pounds of apples and washed them.  Then I set to work on peeling them with my peeler, corer, slicer contraption.  I'm not sure how long this took, but it seemed like forever.  Although, I'm absolutely sure it was faster than doing all the work by hand. 

Apples, Peeler, & Jars to save peels & cores for making cider vinegar

If you don't have one of these peeler, corer, slicers, I recommend that you find one.  I purchased this one from The Pampered Chef about 12 or more years ago and it comes with 2 different slicing widths options.  It's simple to use; just push your apple onto the spikes at the end of the rod and turn the handle.  The apple is moved to the left where it is peeled, cored and sliced into a spiral.  From the there, you can cut in half to give you perfectly sliced apples for baking, canning or snacking.

Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer in action

As you can see in the background of the photo above, I was saving the peels and cores to make cider vinegar.  You can read about that {here}

As you're peeling your apples, you'll need to set your cut pieces into a large pot (I needed my 12 quart pot for this) and treat them with citric acid (available where you purchase canning supplies) to prevent browning.  Once you have all of your apples in the pot, add about a cup of water and heat them until they begin to soften, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Apples cooking down a little to soften

After this, transfer a little at a time to a food mill (the amount will depend on how large your food mill is) and puree through into another pot (an 8 quart pot was perfect for this).  Keep working until you've turned all of your cooked apples into applesauce.

*Before you begin the food mill step, this is a good time to start heating your canner water & jars.  By the time you're finished with the puree, your jars will be heated.

Cooked apples in the food mill

Once you're finished with the puree, add 4 Tbsp of lemon juice to your applesauce.  If desired you can sweeten your applesauce with up to 3 cups of sugar.
Return your applesauce to the stove and bring just to a boil.  Then you're ready to begin filling jars.
Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process in a waterbath canner, both pint & quart jars process for 20 minutes.  After these 20 minutes, turn off  burner, remove canner lid and let rest for 5 minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and let cool for 24 hours.

You may experience leakage from your jars.  If this happens, leave your jars to cool undisturbed, as they will still most likely seal.  After cooling for 24 hours, remove bands, check seals and wash all sealed jars along with their bands.  Refrigerate any unsealed jars.

Completed applesauce ready for the jars

The first day I made a batch of unsweetened applesauce.  The next day I made cinnamon applesauce.  To make cinnamon applesauce, add 4 teaspoons of cinnamon to the applesauce during the step where you add the lemon juice (& sugar if you're using that).  You can also  use any combination of ground spices; cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc.

Unsweetened & Cinnamon Applesauce

I used about 12 pounds for each batch and was able to make 9 pints from each.

Unsweetened Applesauce

I ended up using all of those 44 pounds of apples that we first picked (I canned some in light syrup as well) and I picked about 45 pounds more last Sunday.  I think I know what I'll be working on next week!

Cinnamon Applesauce

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Their Favorite Sleeping Spot

Nox & Onyx

Nox & Onyx have claimed the back of the couch (& blanket) as their favorite sleeping spot.

Nox & Onyx