Friday, June 29, 2012

Independence Days Challenge Update...Keeping The Long Days Full

The rain has kept us indoors this past week. During our last wet spell I was able to get some chores done around the inside of the house. This last spell of heavy rain left me feeling a little out of sorts. We needed the rain. But we got too much rain. All the things I  found to put on my to-do list involved something that needed to get done outside. I did manage to get some bread made. It is hard to muster up the bread chi when it is 90 degrees outside.

During the clearing up day, in between showers, I would wander out to the garden and weed a row or two. Yesterday the sun finally broke free of the cloud cover. I was able to mow some lawn and get some weeding done at the community garden.  The garden is actually doing fairly well this year; even with the extreme variability we have had in the weather. I have learned over the last 5 years to plant mostly cold weather crops. I have some tomatoes, peppers and basil. But with all the rain we've been getting in the summer I have learned to adapt to crops that have a better chance of making it to harvest.

Plant: Well, I had to replant all of my squash and cukes. One day they were fine and the next they were lacy and over run with cucumber beetles.  I planted some more basil. I filled in some empty spots with summer cabbage, swiss chard and beets. Planted more carrots.

Harvest: Fava beans, lettuce, green onions, garlic scapes, cilantro, dill, rose petals, catnip,kale, swiss chard, rhubarb. Peas are quite abundant and should be ready to harvest by the end of the week. I have never had much luck with peas. Birds would steal the new sprouts, I could never plant enough to get a harvest large enough to freeze. But this year they found the perfect spot and are laden with blossoms and pods. I chose a snap pea this year to make processing easier and make better use of the plant.

Preserve: dried dill, cilantro, kale,rose petals. Canned Chicken Stock. Froze 1 last quart of Rhubarb.

Local Foods: Local eggs, local milk, local beef.

Eat the food:  Chop Suey from local beef. I bought a mozzarella cheese kit from our local Brew supply store. Last Year a friend invited some folks over to try making some cheese. I have tried it a couple of time afterward, using liquid rennet, with mixed results. Most of the recipes called for the final stage to done with a microwave. We don't have one. So I followed the instructions in the kit for the hot water bath and I actually made mozzarella cheese that looks like mozzarella cheese. We ate some of the cheese as small cheese balls soaked in olive oil and I used the rest on our pizza last night. I am thinking that this might be a way we can save some money. We eat a lot of cheese. There is abundant local milk which is comparable in price to commercial milk. We have been eating a lot of green salads with a simple drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. So good!

Waste not:I saved the whey from cheese making. I used some of the whey in the pizza dough last night. I froze it in small quantities. I will use some of it in a healthy beet tonic called Kvass. I will also use it in bread. I mulched the potatoes with weeds from the garden and grass clippings from mowing. I am growing my potatoes in huglekultures this year because I ran out of room in the main garden and still wanted to grow some of them.

Want not: I am really excited! We built a new cold frame using Eliot Coleman's elegantly simple design from Four-Season Harvest. Two 2 X 12s  and one 2X8. We cut one 2X12 in half and then trimmed and angle on them to the height of the 2x8. We are putting by our front door beyond where the snow falls off the roof. Because our house is passive solar the cold frame will have good southern exposure We are planning to grow winter greens in there so we can provide our own fresh greens in the winter. It is a good size for us. If this works out well enough to provide at least one or two fresh green servings in our diet throughout the winter then we will try another one next year. The lumber was only 30.00. We are still exploring the lights. We will try to scavenge some windows for it but if we can't, we may try some corrugated clear plastic panels. I have seen these on some local homestead green houses and they seem pretty resilient. They are only 16.00 a piece and can be worked with fairly easy.

Learn something new: Cheese making.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I would love to have greens through the winter. I have thought about building a cold frame, but with the snow, I just don't know if it would make it through the winter! Plus, I don't like shoveling :-)