Tag Archives: gardening

What I’m planting- Week of June 1-7

Because of our trip, I got a little behind on planting. I didn’t want to start seeds before leaving because no one would be here to water them. And it took me about a week when we got home to get my bearings enough to plant. I was getting discouraged and thinking we’d just have to go without summer squash, winter squash, and green beans this year. Then I remembered that last year we didn’t even convert the backyard to a vegetable garden until Memorial Day weekend. That means I didn’t have anything in the ground until the beginning of June. And we got PLENTY of produce last year. In fact, I just checked my handy dandy spread sheet (more on that later) and I hit 184 lbs of produce from my garden last year. Not bad for a late start.

So on Wednesday, the stars aligned. Little man was at preschool and baby girl FINALLY took a good morning nap. This has been a rarity since returning from our vacation. I got a good chunk of time to work in the garden. Here are the seeds I planted:

photo (17)

I have grown Trombetta di Albenga (bottom left) for the past 3 years and they are AWESOME. The best zucchini out there. The flesh stays firm even when you sauté it. This squash lends itself well to being diced up and sauteed in butter, garlic and salt. It is seriously good. And very prolific too.

I’ve never grown Cocozelle squash but have bought them at the farmer’s market and really love the nuttiness of this zucchini. I hope it does well! I’ve never grown Dragon’s Tongue bush beans, either. I thought my little man might get a kick out of the beautiful beans and eat more of them. Turnips are one I’ve actually never grown, surprisingly enough. My friend over at East Sac Edible loves to grow them is always bragging about her awesome turnip tops that she uses in her miso soup. So this year I had to give them a try. You might be wondering what that ugly-looking squash is on the upper left. That Hubbard squash is quite the interesting winter squash. It’s not much to look at, but my aunt brought one over that she grew in her garden last Thanksgiving and it was SO yummy. She prepared it simply- steamed and then mushed up with butter. It was one of the best winter squashes I’d ever tried. And since I’ve never seen it at a farmer’s market, I decided to grow some myself!

I also planted 2 kabocha squash plants and 2 sugar pumpkin plants I bought at the farmer’s market. And, in the front yard raised beds I got some beets in the ground. Now if I can get out there to water often enough to get all these seeds to germinate I’ll be set. Fingers crossed.

Advertisements

Basic food preservation- drying herbs

Image

One of the very easiest ways to start saving food that you’ve grown is to dry herbs. In my garden herbs are prolific. I have oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary, lemon balm, mint, lemon verbena, tarragon. Of those, I’ve found that the easiest ones to dry for safe keeping are oregano, thyme and rosemary because they’re already fairly dry herbs to begin with and their leaves are small. 

The process for these herbs is extremely simple. Just cut what you want to dry, tie the stems together at the bottom and hang them upside down for a week or two until they’re completely dry and brittle. Then remove the leaves from the stem and store in a clean, dry jar. What could be easier? 

Image

A few weeks ago, my thyme and oregano were taking over one of my raised beds in the front yard. I needed to make some room for other things to go in but of course would hate for all those herbs to go to waste. So I dried them and replenished my supply from last summer. So simple. And I use oregano daily in my cooking, so it’s a good thing it grows so well here. 

Image

For basil, your best bet is to cut the leaves in half and dry with a food dehydrator on a very low heat setting. Basil leaves are just so moist that they take a long time to dry and do better with a little extra help from the dehydrator. I haven’t tried parsley but I imagine it would be the same. 

 

Happy preserving!

DIY Compost Sifter

Here is a project my dear husband and I made together back in June. It’s very very simple, but was my first “wood-working” project since wood shop in the 7th grade (which I believe only ever involved a scroll saw. Definitely not a circular saw or hand drill). My compost pile was pretty much finished and I decided I wanted nothing but the best compost for my front yard raised beds.
Enter: Sifted compost.
I looked at various design ideas on the interwebz and decided on something that would fit over my wheelbarrow so that compost could be sifted directly into it. I also wanted something with handles rather than a square or rectangle to make shaking the sifter over the wheelbarrow a bit easier.
So, we measured the width of our wheelbarrow to determine how long my pieces with handles would be. If I were going to make another sifter, I would extend the handles just a bit, especially on the far end, so that they’d be less likely to slip off the wheelbarrow when you’re shaking the sifter around. Live and learn.
Here’s what I bought to make the sifter:
2- 8 foot 1×4″ pieces of wood
1 roll 1/4-inch hardware cloth
1 package fence staples (like these). These are the kind you hammer in. I wanted something sturdier than a staple gun would provide.
We decided on the width of the sifter based on how much wood was left without having to buy an extra piece of wood.
IMG_6377
Here are the cuts I made. Hubs insisted that I be the one to use the circular saw. I’m glad he did because that was one piece of equipment that completely intimidated me and I’d never wanted to touch it before. Now it seems slightly less scary. Or maybe still scary but less foreign.
IMG_6379
Then I measured and predrilled holes using a countersink drill bit.
IMG_6380
Once everything was drilled together, we measured and cut the hardware cloth with wire cutters and then hammered it in place with fence staples. I told you this was a simple project.
IMG_6386
Beautiful black sifted compost! Ready to amend my soil.
IMG_6395
I threw the larger pieces back into my compost bin for further composting.
IMG_6399
And there you have it! An easy DIY garden project that will really help make your soil rich and beautiful.