Archive for August, 2009

Over the past week we have been harvesting a ton of tomatoes. On Tuesday we went to the garden and harvested a bunch of the currant gold rush, red pear, and yellow gooseberry tomatoes, brought them home and put them in the food dehydrator to dry them.

Chopped currant gold rush tomatoes

Arranging the tomatoes on the food dehydrator trays

Gooseberry tomatoes arranged on the trays

Preparing the red pear tomatoes

arranging the tomatoes on the tray

turn on the dehydrator and let cook for about 12-14 hours

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Peach-Vanilla jam

On Sunday I made peach-vanilla jam using some peaches from the farmer’s market. This was my first time making jam so I had Natalie coaching me through the process. Here are some pictures of the process:

Step 1: Chop up the peaches after the skins have been removed

Step 2: add 5 cups of sugar

Step 3: Mix the peaches and sugar

Step 4: Prepare the vanilla beans

Step 5: Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes

Step 6: Prepare the jars. Boil water and put jars and lids in the pot to sterilize them

Step 7: Once jam has simmered for about 20 minutes, add it to the hot jars

Step 8: Put jam filled jars back in the boiling water for about 10 minutes

Step 9: Remove jars and wait for the lids to pop, the lids all popped meaning the jam was preserved in the jars.

I used the recipe from the Blue Book of Preserving as a guide, but modified it just a bit by adding a vanilla bean, cinnamon, more peaches, less sugar, and more pectin.

Yield: about 7 half-pints

1 qt finely chopped, pitted, peeled peaches
5 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 pouches liquid pectin
1 vanilla bean
3 cinnamon sticks

Combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving about 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

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Our garden features 3 different kinds of flowers and 2 types of sunflowers. Every time we head over to the garden we are amazed at the number of bees the flowers attract. Here are some pictures of our flowers, you will notice in most of the pictures a bee is present.

Blue Cornflowers

Purple Cornflower

Indian Prince Flowers


Lavatera flower

closed sunflower

open sunflower with a bee

The men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use. But the bee . . . gathers its materials from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.

~Leonardo DaVinci

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Blueberry Season

Last weekend we ventured to Dexter Blueberry Farm (http://dexterblueberry.com/default.aspx) to pick blueberries. This is our third year picking our own blueberries and I have to say it one of the best parts about summer. The blueberries this year are $1.60/lb., which when you think about it is incredibly cheap. Last Saturday we picked about 10 lbs and is only cost $16. We froze 5-Quart-sized freezer bags worth of blueberries that we will now use throughout the Fall/Winter.

Here are some pictures from our venture to Dexter Blueberry Farm:

The farm has rows and rows of blueberries to pick

blueberries on the vine

A full bucket of blueberries after about an 1 1/2 of picking, Cost=~$8

Natalie and I with our buckets full of blueberries

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. ~Henry David Thoreau

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Despite the temperature only being 64-degrees as I write this post on August 22, I have been harvesting lots of tomatoes lately. I harvested the first of the green zebra tomatoes on Thursday. Here are some pictures of the tomatoes:

Red Pear tomato ready for harvest

Harvested tomatoes, red pear, gooseberry, currant gold rush, and green zebras

Currant gold rush tomatoes

The first green zebra tomato

The inside of a green zebra

One farmer says to me, ”You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with;” and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle.”

~Henry David Thoreau

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On Thursday evening I went over to the garden to harvest some lettuce for dinner and saw that some of the sunflowers had bloomed. A couple of the sunflowers are over 10′ tall.

The amazing thing about sunflowers is the intricate pattern the seeds make on the inside

I love this picture of a sunflower just about to bloom

This is the Evening sunflower that is growing in the eggplant patch

Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.

~Henry Ward Beecher

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Today was a pretty exciting day in the garden. We picked about 20 beets, 8 onions, and a few bunches of lettuce. The tomatoes are looking very good, I actually picked a couple of the Gooseberry yellow tomatoes and ate them right off the vine. The peppers are also looking very good. For the first time this summer we are going through a hot stretch, yesterday it was in the low-9o’s, today it was in the upper-80’s and very humid. We also got quite a bit of rain this weekend.

Here are the pics:

Here are some of the flowers we planted, notice the honeybee on the purple flower…

Green zebra tomatoes

Santa Fe pepper

This is an evening sunflower we discovered growing with the eggplants. It looks similar to the sunflower plant that is growing in a nearby neighbors garden.

Then we saw this…

gooseberry tomatoes

Today’s harvest…

One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener’s own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.
-Wendell Berry

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