Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tomatoes for 52 weeks

It has clearly been a tomato year and I started by planting 4 different heirloom tomatoes. Each with different qualities. I tried to cut down on my total number of plants, but ended up with 51 plants PLUS several “volunteers” that I just could not bring myself to uproot.
I started the seeds indoors in February. (which is WAY too early), just could not help myself.  I have a greenhouse, but planting seeds I start them inside in a tray and leave them for a week on top of my hot water tank.  Then as they start to grow I transplant them into pots and put them out in the green house. This year started off pretty cold, so I kept 11 plants in the greenhouse with all the windows wide open so that I would have plants into the fall with tomatoes, and I could just close all the windows then.

One great variety I grew this year and plan to save is called Alicante an English heirloom that was supposed to moderate sized but has grown huge. The others are Brandywine, Zapotec and Narn. I have harvested at least 350 lbs of tomatoes so far. Given away 4 large  boxes of them. 
Ken and I have been having great fun canning tomatoes. We have 50 pints of roasted tomato sauce in our little cold room

I quarter the tomatoes in large roasting dish, add oregano and basil from my garden, as well as lots of garlic, olive oil and salt and then roast them in the barbeque for 3-4 hours.
We then let the sauce cool for a few hours and I try to pick out some of the larger more obvious skins, then I put the whole lot through the blender and usually the next day we can them.
It is kind of funny, for Ken and I it is a major event this canning. We have it all down to a science, we get all the jars ready and the hot water bath boiling and the sauce boiling and then I pour the sauce in the jars, Ken puts lids on and into the boiler...
We tend to wonder how his mother who is almost 90 does this all by herself.
Then again it is fun for us to do it together. 
The thoughts of this yummy  sauce all winter long is great.
We use the more clear  liquid part of the pint for a pasta sauce Ken makes every tuesday ( the day that I work and he does not work) I use the sauce for pizzas on the days that he works and I am off and on Thursdays which are the days we BOTH work, we can just have the sauce over pasta.
Last year just before the first frost (about now)  I took all of the green tomatoes and put them in the basement on shelves with news paper. Throughout the fall we were eating tomatoes from the basement, last one Christmas day. I would go once a week or so and get rid of any bad ones.  My goal is gradually to no longer have to buy produce at the store anymore.
I am going to take the very best looking tomatoes off of the very best looking plants and save the seeds.   The way I see it with all of these concerns about labelling /non labelling GMOs at least I will know for certain where most of my food comes from.

Ken and I are extremely excited that we have just registered to vote in this next US election. After 14 years of living there and paying taxes there, at least now we will have a chance to vote.  The way things are going, it does not seem as though they are going to need our vote.
janet  jankenb    @

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I have just gone through the garden, picking the raspberries and strawberries, added a few peaches from the  market and hemp hearts, greek yoghurt and made my daily smoothie. For years I have contemplated this, but it never seemed enough to carry me though to lunch, but with the greek yoghurt, which is very high in protein and the hemp hearts, I am totally full. 
We currently have 120 raspberry plants and about 50 strawberry plants. I only purchased one raspberry plant at the very beginning of last year. On one of hottest days of last summer a patient of mine brought over about 10 plants that she had just cleaned out from her bushes.  Then a neighbour threatening to get rid of all of his raspberries, invited me to help him out.
So early this spring I got a few of his. The thing I discovered was that many of these that we were given are ever bearing raspberries, (or fall bearing), they seem to produce some fruit in the spring and then a big crop in the fall. They are much bigger than the other raspberries.   So this summer in the heat of the summer, when it looked like we were going to get cooler weather (which we did not) I went and dug up another 20 or so of the neighbours raspberry bushes. I then spent weeks hovering over them trying to keep them alive with cloth covering, watering, watering, watering. AND was thrilled to see little buds coming out at the end of august.

So finally 2 weeks ago I went and got all of raspberries from his yard, bringing my plant total to 120.  Those ones do not look great but from experience I now know that they will survive, I will just have to wait until next summer to enjoy them.

My Oregon friends will think I am nuts, but we have also planted Blackberries, the thornless type.  Although there are some wild blackberries here, they are only in very select places.  We have found wild raspberries on the back on our property, in fact it was Chewy who first discovered them. He was eating berries, and sure enough they were raspberries. Since then I have found that there are many areas around here with wild raspberries. I unfortunately discovered this a little late for raspberry picking.  Most raspberries only produce in June, and the wild ones here clearly fit into that group.
So LOTS of berry smoothies next summer

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Woke up with a start today, drip drip drip of rain on the gutters, and a low pitched howling of the wind. I glanced up at the clock to a blank screen.  OH SHOOT, I had read the forecast on my iphone for rain, but had not considered storm, whoops.  My thoughts immediately focused on my freezer, an object of significant activity of late.
With much of our fall harvesting done, the significant amount of it frozen, the freezer has become of huge importance. 
So I asked Ken, the time, he said 6:25, I then asked if he knew how long it had been out. “It was on at 6:10 when I last looked”.  So at least that was a relief that it had not been out all night.
Next concern is about the office. It is Monday morning and Ken works Mondays.  Our office is small and central in a little mall 2 blocks from here. SO we have windows at the front and windows at the back and nothing else.  Our office runs off of computers, all the charts are electronic, but it is a secure internet based system, and so as long as we have our laptops charged, and our iphones charged, we have access to the charts.  
We have been here for a year and a bit now, and though the power goes out, it seems this year, once a month, we have yet to work a day in the office without power.

I fell asleep last night reading a book about a woman trying to make it on her own in Michigan in rural area on fixed income, canning, preserving and making it through the winter. Of course the chapter last night was when the power went out in snow storm.
SO the next place my thoughts this am went to was wood stoves.  We have been living in our house now for a year almost to the day. We moved in long before it was done, and it is still not completely done, but we ran out of funds and thought we would prioritize things as we would afford them.
Ken has been all for getting a big generator, I would rather spend the considerable amount that that would cost, to make our house more independant, such as a wood stove.  I decided that today is the day to look at wood stoves, since it is not cold yet, it will be soon enough, and I sure do not want to wake up cold in January.

I thought I would try to get back to writing blog, but in short spurts, when I am feeling like writing, so this is my first new  attempt.
Since the power was out, I could not post it until now.
So this is our new house, and there is a total neurotic next door who draws the property line in Round up, even though it is a spare lot.