Yeah, it's that time of year for a crapton of posts about preserving. Makes me kind of glad, this is the first year I've really needed to make a ton of entries about it.
So the tomato skins from yesterday. Those dried overnight at 125. This morning, I flipped all the skins over- they kind of crackled off in sheets but there were still not dry spots on the underside. Then left them for several more hours. The result was a really dry cracking mess :) I hand crushed all of it onto a plate to ensure it was all properly dry, then filled a recycled mayo jar with it, and tossed it into the freezer to get really extra brittle before pulverizing it with the spice grinder. The resulting powder was about about 5 ounces of powder. Tomato powder can sell for a buck or more an oz, so not too bad for something that otherwise I would have tossed into the compost pile, or folks might toss into the trash.
Yep, the hot peppers and onions are in the dehydrator now. The pound of serrano peppers took up 2 trays- I just cut off the stem end, sliced in half and put cut side up on trays. The onions that needed to go got minced up in the mini-processor, and filled the other 4 trays on jelly sheets.
I do have to say, our current compost bucket filling action is really unfair to my eventual worm bins- they would be getting a glut now, but would probably be more starving in winter! I think I should not gauge anything right now to that project. And I have come across some information about worm towers recently that might just end up getting worked into the final raised bed plans.
Finally got off my keister and set up the shelves for the canned goods. My love convinced me that yes indeed the cellar is good enough for storage. So the shelves went up, the goods went down... and all the cases of empties went out to the solarium. Now my kitchen and office now longer quite looks like a crazy canning factory, lol.
All of the salsa is still on the kitchen table of course- I don't shelve canned stuff till after 48 hours of observation. And looking at the pic of all the stuff spread out on the table- I do leave a lot of headspace- several recipes call for 1/4 to 1 inch headspace. I just use the bottom ring on the glass jar for my general headspace. Gives me a good "instant window" on looking at the jars. And that way I don't have to perfect level stuff every time.
And holy crap, I canned three and a half gallons of salsa yesterday.
The first of the red apples were ready, picked 8 pounds of smallish, blemished, and generally not very good for fresh eating apples that were ready to go. Got to try out the new juicer, it's a tool that I will need to get used to, lol. I yielded 1 quart of juice, it's currently in the fridge to decant overnight. I think I might get a pint and a half of juice. This was a good practice run with the juicer :)
I got in the first of my seed trades today, yay! Mammoth sunflower :)
Seeds... I saved the seeds from some serrano peppers, cantaloupe, orange sweet peppers, purple sweet peppers, banana legs peppers, and Methley plums...
And check this shit out- Methley plums are Japanese in nature- usually grows to a 30 foot plus tree! But I can take the pits, grow them into sproutlings and graft those sproutlings into the peach tree. No kidding. This way I can see if the plums grew true or not from seed, and the Greengage plum can pollinate it. The Greengage does not need a pollinator, but the Methyel does. If the seedlings don't set true fruit, no problem- I can just cut that graft off again. If I want to I can graft other peaches and apricots onto the peach tree already in the orchard. It can be a new life to that tree, using the trunk as the rootstock for new branches of other fruits.
I can do the same thing with the apples and pear trees too- graft other varieties onto the rootstock.
Got cleaning done in the garage, some much needed sorting of recyclables. A few cases of empty bottles went down to the pole barn for later use :) In general that area of the garage looks much nicer :)
And heh, I was just prepping up some taters, large diced with flavorful oils and herbs, and the huge pitty pan, cut into eighths, drizzled with oil and herbs... all to go onto the grill tonight.. And my love popped in and handed me a ring! He printed it off on the 3D printer, it's a perfect pinky ring :) Chain link like a cycle chain on the top, plain band on the bottom. He's so sweet, no wonder why I married him!
Sometimes getting stuff done feels like you are doing more than what it looks like you did, lol. I got the first dozen stones I cast for the walkway by the herb garden. Looks rather nice and gives me a real good idea on just how much more I need to make! Because it's kind of a trickish hill area, I ended up using three of my knot edgers along one side- think I will end up needing to make some more of those. In general I need to pick up some more cement and cast a bunch more stones.
Got a lot of weeding done in the herb garden- I swear, the area just always looks like a jungle, why do weeds always seem to be more rampant that herbs? Did some serious cutting back on the tarragon too- got a huge clump of it hanging to dry in the office :)
Finally planted in the chamomile plants, they seriously needed out of their pots. I put them into the wee folk garden- I think they will do rather nicely there, I hope they spread out a lot.
And I mowed the front half of the yard. It was getting pretty shaggy looking again. I've started in general mowing around the whole apple tree area. I'm glad I wear safety glasses when outside, otherwise I would be sporting a black eye from a frigging apple right now, lol. But the lawn does always look nice when it's freshly mowed.
The salsa got labeled up and stowed downstairs.
So it's Monday.. a rainy Monday. I was in a funk today, I think it was the weather- I felt under the weather with a clogged up head all day. Not much got done.
We cracked open the first 8 oz jar of salsa last night, ate the whole thing with dinner, lol. It turned out pretty darn good- fresh and salsa-y, a good hit of spice but not too hot for general chowing on. Went rather well with both chips and the veggie skillit I made for dinner, full of spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic, zucchini, and sweet potato.
Got some spinach seed sowed today. I trimmed down the Mr. Stripey tomato that is pretty much puke, left the couple branches that actually have something on them, and planted in seed all around. Noticed that several of my Green Arrow peas are starting to pop up too and the mixed lettuce.
Pulled the orange and red sweetie mini bell pepper seeds I had on sprout test- 100% germination, yay! They got packaged up and put into their proper spot. I'm waiting a couple more days on the yellows, they are germinating slower for some reason. Started a sprout test of the cantaloupe seed from the cantaloupe I got from the produce place.
Did some sorting of the seed list I have- mostly figuring out what tomatoes are what. I have a nice collection each in blacks, oranges, reds, and yellows, and a couple whites. No greens yet. And a nice array of canning, drying, and of course fresh eating toms.
Got in some of my seed trades today, hooray! Blacktail Mountain melon, Manzano orange hot pepper, bread poppy, Santa Fe Grande pepper, Golden zucchini, valerian, feverfew, german chamomile, and yerba mansa. I also got a response on my inquiry about trying a variety of garlic, and it looks like I'm going to be sent a newbie box to try out in a few weeks when the garlic is cured, hooray! I will for sure be looking forward to that package coming in the mail.
But all in all, a pretty blah day. I decided to make Mom's hamburger casserole because I wanted comfort food..
1 lb hamburger- raw
1 medium onion, diced
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
5 or so russets, peeled and sliced
1 can peas, drained
1 28 oz or two 14.5 oz cans chopped tomatoes, drained
Layer in this order to make 2 layers. Burger, onion, potato, carrot, peas, and tomatoes. Bake in a covered dish at 350 for two hours. Make it without salt or pepper, and season at will when serving.
The cattails along the easement drive are ready to pick and preserve. I gave a shoutout to my friends to see if anyone wanted any, but I think I might just pick them all and preserve them just because I can :) I can figure out something to do with them if no one wants them. I need to get out to the back 40 and see where the milkweeds are- I want to grab a few pods to plant in the sanctuary for butterflies future use and save a bunch for sharing. And there is an adopt a milkweed for Monarch Butterflies exchange on Gardenweb, and I want to adopt some people. I think I need to pick some of the wild blackberries for sharing around too.
So after being all blech yesterday.. Today the sun was shining, and it was time to do stuff.
Started out by mowing the back yard and sanctuary. The grass was still a bit damp, but everything mowed well enough. Then we strung up clothesline in the backyard, though I think we might not have strung it quite tight enough, it sags, lol. But more than sufficent to hang linens out on the line to dry- outdoor dried linens always smell great.
Got the round knot stones over to the north side of the house where they belong, and hauled the large hexagon stones down to the bee corner. Dug up all the weeds, raked everything out, and dropped the stones in place. I still need to make several more before that corner is done, lol. While I was doing that, I dug up the last of the irises that were there and didn't get transplanted last time- those are already dropped off at the post office for one of my friends :)
And I took the first whack at digging up the big batch of daffodils down in that corner. I got a lot of them, but I doubt I got them all. Felt like I was digging a hole to China the things went so deep, lol.
This is all the bulbs spread out on the driveway so the dirt dries up. They were in the sun when I first laid them out. After the dirt dried, I rubbed each one by hand to get all the dirt off and check for damage before bagging them up. There are about 140 total there, but I ended up bagging 125 because some were damaged from my initial digging in the area.
I'm still not absolutely positive where I want the final bed for these to be. I'm thinking perhaps since there are so many of them, I might be justified in tearing out the whole corner of ditch lillies on the solarium and replacing that whole mess with daffodils instead. I do not like ditch lillies, and heavens knows I've got more of them all over this property than I could ever know what to do with. On the other hand, I very much love daffodils, so heck yeah I will plant them in.
I shudder to think about how much this many bulbs would cost if I purchased them- some are smaller and would be multiple in the bag for a few bucks, but most are huge and would likely be sold individually for a couple bucks each. I'm thinking perhaps I will set some of the smaller ones aside for trading or sending to friends.
Got a bunch of cattails cut today for drying too :) I'm not sure how many, but at least three dozen, lol. An armful of the things. And I left a couple handfuls out there too. The easement drive strip is so nice for this.
Also checked milkweed- handily enough, there is one in pod outside the solarium door- see the good things that can happen when you don't keep up with weeding? By the feel of it, I still got a couple weeks yet at least before the ones on the back 40 are worth harvesting. But yeah, I will go back there soon just to make sure.