Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Preserving my harvest

No time to write much. Even though I have about 20 half written posts sitting in my draft folder. I have been buried with cucumbers and zucchinis.

Ignore the weeds. 2 plants each and it was the motherload.
The cucumbers have escaped the garden and are climbing the fence.

The Zucchini are very tall! The fence posts are 48 inches, the zukes are 3/4 their height.
 Pickles
Old Fashioned Bread and Butter Pickles
Pickles
Polish Dill Pickle slices
More pickles
Refrigerator Pickles
Did I mention pickles?
Jardiniere
That was just the cucumbers. Except I am not finished.

Dill Relish

Sweet Relish

5 day Cinnamon Pickles in progress.


Now for the zucchini.
Zesty Zucchini Relish

Garlic Dill Spears and Chunks
Low Sugar Mock Apple Pie

Low Sugar Muesli Zucchini bread
 Mock Pineapple is AMAZING! I made mine lower sugar with Splenda. The texture is spot on crushed pineapple and the flavor matches the no sugar added you can buy.
It fooled the hubbs!


3 more loaves of Zucchini bread have been baked and frozen.

Citrus Ginger Zucchini marmalade is up next.

My humble little  canning pantry makes me happy!

Whatcha y'all working on?

©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorized use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I REALLY debated if I wanted to post this or not and decided yes, I should share...

This isn't a particularly funny or entertaining post today. Nor is it photo laden as are many of blog entries I post. However, I would like think this is worth the read.

The hubbs and I have been working around the ol' homestead, trying to clean up and get rid of stuff. So much stuff.  You know how it goes...things that you set aside, with the promise that you will take care of it tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. Then pretty soon you stop seeing all the stuff and clutter. Or you just stop caring because your attention and energy are focused elsewhere.

Behind our garage I have a very old, rusty dump cart. It has a tire that goes flat all the time but once the tire is inflated it can still be hooked up to the riding mower to haul stuff. Except it has been back there for about 2 years. Unused, aging and piled up with all sorts of stuff. Old willow branches, plastic flower pots, busted solar lights, extra tomato cages, and  some old plants which were meant to be composted.

In the midst of finally clearing out what really should be considered a garbage pile, I came across a very tattered package. It was sun faded, ragged, and disintegrating due being exposed to the elements. I was able to make out just enough from the faded image this had been the sleeve to a blackberry plant. Much to my surprise, beneath the debris was the little plastic bag that had contained the bare root blackberry, and it was... alive. 

The bag had split so moisture had been able to seep in, it had been insulted from the harshest of the weather by all the junk piled on top, but was still able have some slivers of sunlight. Against all odds, this organic, living plant had survived. I wish I had a photo when I first pulled it out, it had only 1 set of straggly leaves. Rather wilted and  looking almost ready to give up.  I was able to intervene and save it...although technically it was my fault it was in the "junk" pile. When it been placed there I really thought it was non viable.


This really gave me pause. The cart and the plant. They are metaphors for the human condition. How often do we clutter our lives, our minds our emotions by hanging on to what is essentially junk? Suppressing the feelings, emotions, ideas or projects which need to be nurtured?  You like the cart, carry this burden. If you are lucky, occasionally you have something that pumps you up and gets you going again when feel overwhelmed. You like the plant held onto hope. Grasping and clawing to survive, just to get through to the next moment. Until you couldn't. And just when you are ready to give up, your burden is eased. Either through external influence or the casting off your internal baggage.

As you can see this plant-as shown in the photo above-now thrives. A change in perspective if you will. Now firmly rooted, the plant is safe and secure. The tendrils of growth reach for the warmth of the sun and more growth has appeared as the plant is now longer confined to the plastic bag.

This story, no story isn't quite right. Story implies a entertainment or whimsical fable. This is a truth. This no longer about the human condition in general non-descript terms. This is me and my truth. Oh the plant and it's conditions were quite true. This is me.

You see... for the last 17 years, living in this house, I was never quite emotionally invested. This house was NEVER meant to be the forever house. We moved here during a very tumultuous time in our (my life) lives. I have carried so many burdens, moving through life with stoic responsibility. I was always hoping, wishing, wanting different and better.

During the time in this house there has been major chronic illness, job loss, death, and despair. There have also been moments of joy and celebration but I was often fixated tomorrow. Or as soon as I fix this..or change that...or when it is perfect I will...or SOMEDAY I am gonna...What if...

Next thing I know, it is 17 years later. I am 50 years old and I have buried myself under a pile of unrealistic expectations. I made myself a prisoner of unhappiness. I didn't allow myself to grow as I was too busy searching for happiness and fulfillment to realize that which I sought was always within my grasp.

You see, even though I live in My Cozy Little Farmhouse, very few--if any one--external to my family comes to my home. There are many reasons I could offer. I like solitude, peace and quiet. My home is my dojo--my sanctuary. But when you peel back all the layers, the core truth is insecurity. I am insecure.

The house isn't perfect. I'm not perfect. There is a litany list of unfinished projects. I am an unfinished project. To invite someone in is have my serenity interrupted. I will be vulnerable. The thought of my house being scrutinized sends my anxiety skyrocketing. I will be judged.  I'll tell you this... being a neurotic control freak can be quite lonely at times. 

I met with a very dear friend for lunch recently. She was kind enough to loan me some books (the top 4 are loans, the Encyclopedia was her gift to me, the pressure cooker books are library loans and the last 3 garden books are mine) from her glorious personal library. 


We have known each other for at least 8 years. And she has not, in all that time, been to my house. I have been to her house a few times. I have other friends whom I have known even longer and it is the same situation. I have been to their homes, but they have not been to mine. Or the select few that have been here, it has been only once, many years ago.

So during the lunch conversation, my friend and I discussed opening myself up to happiness.  Much like my tenacious little blackberry plant, I can be a bit prickly. For the blackberry plant, beyond the thorns and layers of foliage, with time and nurturing is a reward. Fortunately for me I have a few wonderful and caring people in my life who have decided to look beyond my thorns. And the reward is I am blessed with their friendship.

This blog is easy. The friendships...and I REALLY do consider these friendships are distant. You don't really see the chaos and imperfection, because after all it is selective editing and presentation.  Up close and personal interaction...well that is a bit more difficult.

 However, I am no longer just hoping and wishing for perfection. I am going to reach for my happiness which has been here all along. I am going to bask in the warm sun of every new day,  make the most of where and how I live. I have cast off my junk pile of burdens and break out of my self imposed prison. It may take some time for me to acclimate to this new life. Because much like my spunky little blackberry plant, I too will thrive.

You see, I finally made the decision to bloom where I am planted.


©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorized use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Garden Update part1

Y'all...for the first time ever...EVER...I  lost my entire garden (11 tomato plants and 10 pepper plants--ALL Heirloom varieties) with exceptions being my berries, asparagus and 1 little old bell pepper plant.  How utterly tragic!

We planted the garden on May 2nd. Normally we don't plant until Mother's Day. But it had been a very mild winter and the soil was much warmer than normal for this time of year. We followed the planning forecasts. It seemed safe. There were 2 dates May 6 and 7 which were slightly worrisome. The low temps were  expected to be 36° to 40°F. We took a gamble and lost. We ended up with a hard frost overnight May 7.

The hubbs and I debated (code for a minor argument) the frost advisory.  I REALLY wanted to cover everything. He insisted everything would be ok.  IT WAS NOT OK! The plants withered under the cold frost.  I am sure the hubbs withered under my frosty cold stare and cold shoulder treatment. I am far more scary to him when I don't talk, haha. I should have woman-ed up, schlepped my rear to the garage and pulled the totes out to find the row cover material. I was having some back and shoulder issues and an overall not feeling well. My mistake, next time I will work through the pain. So all those little seedlings I nurtured and plants I spent my hard earned money on are now in the compost pile. All those heirloom seed collection opportunities gone...UGH!

I had to spend $80 initially to replace the entire garden.  But there was an 11% rebate so it soften the blow to my wallet just a wee bit. And fortunately my cucurbit seedlings were too small to have been planted initially and the beans had not yet sprouted. I lucked out and was able to get heirloom varieties...just not my heirloom varieties I planted initially.

The hubbs and I had  another "minor debate"  about the temporary garden fence being installed. So I compromised  used 2 hours of vacation and installed it while he was at work. Problem solved. So here we are with the replants 2nd week of May. It is a rather sad state of affairs. Everything is so small and looks sickly. The weather has been horrid. Cold and rain. I am very stressed about my garden...or the lack thereof...


This is the end of May/ beginning of June and all the plants appear to perking up. The Blue Lake bush beans are growing well. We are doing succession plantings, with a new row of beans planted every 2 weeks to extend the harvest up until 8 weeks before the first frost which would put the last planting early to mid August. That's gonna be a lot of green beans! And don't be alarmed my soil isn't as bad as it appears. It has been amended quite a bit. It still isn't the dark, rich, chocolate cake color  of a super rich and loamy soil but we are progressing.  At the end of the season instead of pulling everything out we are going to pull all the debris to a 5 ft by 5 ft area, then trench and berm, and light that beyotch up, Haha! NO seriously! It is called Biochar. After the biochar the soil will be pulled over the biochar (at least 8-10 inches deep). The remainder of the bed will be covered with manure rototilled in and covered in straw. Then come Spring the whole bed will be tilled. Another 5 ft by 5 ft will be biocharred and left fallow (maybe a half season) and we will keep repeating the Biochar process until the entire bed has been burnt or amended with Biochar. IF we are lucky enough to have enough debris we can create the biochar in a burn barrel and apply it to the bed. So between fire and cow/horse/chicken manure, we will get the soil where it needs to be.


Speaking of  chicken manure...Meet my newest neighbors, The Golden Girls. My good neighbors has her own flock. They are very entertaining and she has shared some eggs--which were fantastic!



The asparagus did pretty well this year, despite the hubby who "helped" weed it last season.  It is now is now finished for the season. I am expanding the bed to add 12 more root crowns. So eventually I will have 20 producing plants! In the interim I have brussel sprouts planted and hopefully I can harvest some before the weather turns to Hades. And since it has stopped raining, I can finally treat whatever is chewing my plants.

My grapevines were cut down and 2 were dug out because they were very weak and diseased. They  had not been producing the way they should for several years and that was  my fault. The vines removed had extensive fungal disease and had choked/ strangled one another. Had the vines been properly spaced and routinely prunes they would have been viable the remainder of  my life and beyond. Properly maintained grapevines can live 50-100 years. This is where they were originally planted. It  now looks so bare.  Except for the damn poke plant. That grows all over my yard and has taproots from hell. Sigh.


Here are my replacement grapevines. I ordered the Edelweiss from Gurney's which you can see is doing fantastic. It will be planted this week (1st week of June) as soon as we finish the arbor. A little later than I would like to plant but the weather has not been cooperative.  The Mars, Marquis and Reliance were ordered from Burpee and I am a little concerned because they don't seem to be doing much of anything. Fingers crossed the begin to bud out soon.  I used the baby pool (which has been perforated for drainage, has a thin layer of gravel and excellent loamy soil to heel my plants for planting in the ground.

However imagine my surprise... the grapevine we had cut down, still has some life in it. Considering we  basically butchered this vine, I can't believe I have this new growth after 2 weeks. I am gonna just go with it and let it grow. The other 2 vines were removed completely.  This one had a very large stalk and seemed to be vigorous. If I recall correctly this was a Concord but I really don't remember. (and my garden journal is misplaced). 


Well I am gonna stop here. This was a long post and I am fatigued. There will be part 2 to finish discussing some new additions of edibles.  Hopefully, in part 2 I can share some good news ...or at least progress with the garden.





©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorized use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.