Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wow, two months and the end of the year...

I haven't written a post in two months, whew. I can't say nothing has happened, though life has mostly been a blur of split up days of work mixed with losing my mind and depression trying to get everything done.

So a few brief highlights... Sold some stuff on Esty, yay! Still have that last small handful of tomatoes from this years garden to eat up, which is a triumph in and of itself. Weather has been bizarre- just yesterday was our first real drop down into freezing and icy snow crap.  It was in the 60's for Christmas. The plague went around here a few weeks ago, and that totally sucked ass. Got to see one of my brothers happily married, and that was supremely joyous.

I am already in midst of plans for the 2016 yard of course. So far, I've been able to overwinter quite a few plants. And have a ton of seed planting planned too- the veggies are starting to really form up, now I need to figure out the flower and herb planning, lol. I sowed the first of the wintersowing jugs today, four of them full of hellebore starts. I had kind of forgotten about the seed packets in the fridge, and sure enough, some of them had sprouted. So potted up they needed to be.
There will be extra rotation going on this coming year with all the problems that erupted this year- that will teach me to try to keep the beds static, lol. Right now the kennel beds, the north side is planted in with garlic, and the west side is empty- I want to give that one a serious digging in and work over before doing anything else. The three lasagne beds need a good digging in too. The raised beds need a serious weeding and turn over. The "new" beds need a lot too, heh. And I still want to seriously consider digging in some more front border.
Yipes, what I wouldn't give for a tiller, lol.

The close of this year also brought us the greenhouse that blew away- and needs to be fixed. Sis and I ended up traveling around the whole pond and back 40 before finally finding it in the neighbors back 40, lol. It was for sure an adventure walk, I ended up waist deep in a ditch. Good times of living in the boonies, hehe. I really loved having that season extender on hand. I'm starting to kick around ideas of wrapping the kennel runs in plastic and seeing how that works for an "instant" hoop house. I have some pretty high hopes that we can get the chicken coop up and running, and probably get a hive or two set up in the year to come.

This year coming brings our first round of comparison tomatoes. Jaune Flamme will be coming back along with Snow White to go up against a main crop of blacks, and some container varieties of interest- including a second year of Dwarf Wild Fred. I will be growing fewer super hot peppers, and more mild and sweet peppers- but overall reducing the total number of pepper plants. Back on deck for sure are Aji Lemon and 7-pot brain strain yellow so long as the plants I have inside fare well. My mystery CA pepper too if the cuttings I took fairly late into the season ever decide to start doing well. Fish and Black Hungarian for beauty and tasty. Going to try to get a cherry bomb crop again. And for sweets- not sure yet.

I put in my 2016 seed order already- 12 packets of seeds spread across three companies.
High Mowing had my Jaune Flamme and free shipping- so I ordered those and a pretty sounding bread poppy seed.
Since Garden Watchdog listed Seedsnowas a good source, I picked up a few 99 cent packets. Ordered a couple packets from my long standing favorite, Pinetree Seeds- and for the first time ever, I didn't order any veggie seed from them, only some flowers.

But I guess I should pop off this post while I can... try to get my shit together for next year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Preserving tally

Started April 27, 2015... Yeah, I know it's kind of off, and I've lost a bit of time here, but whatever, lol.

Couple weeks ago I dehydrated up a quart of shredded from raw sweet potatoes.
The other day I dehydrated up a quart each of clementine and lemon slices, and dehydrated 4 pounds of kale (on sale 99 cents baby) to about 6 quart jars full.
Made up three pounds of chive butter for the freezer, and a quart of chive-peppercorn vodka.

5/8- IQF and sealed up 6 packs of asparagus for the freezer- about 12 pounds overall. 
Dehydrated a quart of clementines, a quart of lemon slices, and a pint and a half and a pint of lime slices.

5/13- did up a quart jar of fridge mushrooms from 2 pounds of baby portebellas.  It was a super tight pack, but it would have been too loose in two quart jars. Note to self, each jar packs a pound and a half perfectly, keep that in mind for future reference.

5/19- canned up 9 half pints of dandelion jelly. I actually did 10, but lost a lid during processing on one, so it ended up being a fridge jar instead of a shelf stable jar.

5/28- canned up 7 half pints of roselle jelly. It's beautiful, a lovely red color. Bottled up a 24 oz bottle of sage blossom simple syrup.

6/6- two half pints of pectin free yellow nectarine jam. It was an experiment in doing pectin free, so it has the skins on. Tasted good, and set perfectly. Also IQF two pounds of whole strawberries.

6/9-  7 half pints of white nectarine and lemon verbena preserves. A different style of canning than the pectin free jam, but still has no additional pectin in it because the skins are kept on. It's even tastier than the pectin free, but kind of sweet. 
Also made up three batches of tofu jerky- killed my dehydrator.

6/10- 4 wide mouth pints of garlic scapes. One raised bed of garlic makes about 2 pints. Since I still have one raised bed that the scapes aren't ready to go on yet, I should be making another 2 pints soon.

6/12- 2 pounds each of white and yellow nectarines sliced, and IQF- now in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer.

6/17-  one pint and a half of garlic scapes pickled. I did them up fridge pickle style using a different recipe than the canned ones. All the garlic scapes are now out of the garden. Most of the scapes were smaller, more delicate than the first batch, and I reserved the stems for cooking with instead of packing up.

6/19- Two quarts of fridge pickled mushrooms. Hardings had six of the tiny baby button mushroom boxes on clearance for 99 cents each, and three fit perfectly into one quart jar. I took it as I was meant to make pickled mushrooms, lol. I am dead out of allspice berries, so instead I used some pickling spice, and a pinch of whole cloves, with a shake each of cinnamon and nutmeg to make up for it. They tasted really good, and smelled really good, here's hoping my substitution was a good idea :) 

6/22- dehydrated up a pint or so jar of savory. Still have a bunch of sage and oregano on the box fan drying out. It sure is a PITA not to have a proper dehydrator anymore, but it is handy to use the trays I have on the box fan to at least get some herbs set up. Picking time in now, and we do need to stock up on a bunch of herbs. Pickled two pints of brussels sprouts, using Food in Jars recipe.

7/5- pickled 4 pints of brussels sprouts- one didn't take the seal, and went into the fridge.

7/8- pickled 3 12 oz jars of spicy wax beans- first decent crop from the garden!

7/13- pickled up 3 pints of dilly beans, again from the garden, yum!!!

7/17- pickled up 3 pints of dilly beans

7/25- pickled 6 12 oz jars of spicy wax beans, 2 pints of mixed pepper rings, 2 pints of pickled summer squash, one quart of regular pickle mix fridge pickled summer squash, and one quart of lime and garlic and lime basil fridge pickled summer squash. Vacuum sealed for the freezer 2 one pound packages of smoked pork roast, and 1 two pound, 2 one pound packages of smoked ham.

Eating notes.. the fridge pickled garlic scapes were utterly delish!! But the canned ones were a bit better, because they were a little bit softer due to the canning process. The fridge brussels sprouts and another jar have been demolished- apparently those are the only way my sister will now eat her hated brussels sprouts, lol.

8/4- 15 half pints of pickled cubed zucchini.  I used the recipe from the ball book, but left out the sugar and added garlic. We shall see if that was good or not.

8/5- 7 pints of dilly beans, 4 pints of spicy mixed pepper rings. Set up one quart of lacto-fermented zucchini chips. Froze two bags of garlic roasted zucchini, and one big bag of mixed beans. Shredded up five quarts of zucchini and vacuum sealed it for when the dehydrator comes in in a few days. Got a bundle each of oregano, thyme, and sage off their drying hooks and into jars.

8/12- catch up post. Got a dehydrator last week Friday!!! Happy birthday shipment from my hubby. Of course I've been drying every day since then. Sooo.. ..
5 quarts of shredded zukes dried down to 1 quart. 3 bundles of celery dried down to a pint and a half jar. 6 pounds of mushrooms dried down into 3 quart jars. One dozen half pint jars of pickled mushrooms. Got 5 pounds of blueberries and 4 pounds got IQF and in a freezer bag, the other quart given to sis for fresh eating. 3 full sized casserole bags of raw zuke slices vacuum sealed in the freezer. 3 quart and 1 pint of pork stock in the freezer.

8/17- got another round of herbs done up. Sage, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. A round of tomatoes dehydrated- a mix of Wild Fred, Tumbling Tom, Beaver Lodge, and Yellow in Red out. And eight pints of white tomato product canned up early this morning- 1 gallon pitcher of diced tomatoes makes 8 wide mouth pints.

8/19- one quart of dehydrated corn and two quarts of dehydrated mixed veggies done up and put away.

8/22- got three quarts and one pint of Italian tomatoes made up in the crockpot. It's going into the fridge for now, not sure if it will be frozen off or canned up yet. I got a goodly couple gallons of tomatoes to can up first. I also have a heap of various peppers and a bunch of Wild Fred tomatoes in the smoker.. we shall see if those are going to end up in the freezer, fridge, or right into the dehydrator overnight or not, depends on how they turn out after I pull them out of the smoker in a few hours. But at the end of the whole shebang, they will get dehydrated.

8/27- another catch up listing, lol. I got the peppers and tomatoes off the smoker, one quart of smoked wax and banana peppers, partial pint and a half jars of hot peppers, sweet peppers, and tomatoes that I need to fill the smoker again to top those jars off. Got another quart of tomato slices dried. Six 12 ounce jars of Habanero beans pickled up, one quart of regular fridge pickled beans, one large pint of pickled garlic tucked away in the back of the fridge. Eight more pints of tomato product canned up.

8/30- Got a smoker full of tomatoes smoked up and are now in the dehydrator. Got four pints and 6 half pints of white tomato juice canned, and four pints and five half pints of white and copper tomato juice canned. Got another couple gallons worth of tomatoes into the freezer for later canning, I now have three gallon batches in the freezer that will need attending to sooner rather than later. I am now a full blown convert of freezing to remove tomato skins rather than blanch and shock.

9/3- four quarts of Italian stewed tomatoes and five pints of spicy enchilada sauce cooked up and into the fridge under vacuum seal- might not have the time to get them into the freezer proper tomorrow, but under seal it will keep in the fridge for weeks if needed. Two quarts of chicken stock into the freezer.

9/4- one quart of yellow tomatoes dehydrated and packed up. Got called off work so was able to get canning done today. The five pints of enchilada sauce and eight pints of stewed tomatoes are now canned up and shelf stable instead of needing to go into the freezer :)

9/9- been crockpot and canning today... So cooling down right now is 12- 8 oz jars and 5- 4 oz jars of white hot fatali salsa. Four pints and one half pint of enchilada sauce. Almost four quarts of sloppy joe mix up for canning tomorrow, got a crockpot of mild enchilada sauce set up. Vacuum sealed up and put into the pantry a pint and a half of dried radish greens, and white tomato sticks.

9/10- Four pints of mild enchilada sauce canned, seven pints of sloppy joe mix.

9/16- twelve 8 oz jars of "not so hot garlic" salsa.

9/18- Seven pints of enchilada sauce canned- have already cracked open the first can, very tasty :)

9/30- catch up listing... 9 pints of enchilada sauce, 9 pints of smokey enchilada sauce, ten 8 oz jars of smokey enchilada sauce, 1 quart of dehydrated white tomato sticks, 1 quart of dehydrated anhiem peppers, two pint and a half jars of smoked tomatoes, two quart jars of smoked and dehydrated inferno banana peppers, one pint of smoked and dehydrated chinese 5 color peppers, 8 oz of smoked and dehydrated aji lemon peppers, two trays of clarified tomato juice concentrate cubes in the freezer, one half tray of smoked ham reduction in the freezer. Seven pint and a half of lemony cauliflower, 4 pints of tomato sauce, and six 8 oz jars of tomato sauce.

10/2- two quarts of dehydrated onions- one is already filling the stove jar, the other on the shelf. Only a couple more quarts worth to go, lol.

10/3- seven pint and a half jars of lemony cauliflower, one quart of holy shit hot pepper rings.

10/5- another quart of dehydrated onions.

10/6- a dozen half pints of pickled mushrooms, a half dozen pints of rotel style tomatoes, five 8 oz jars of creole sauce, ten 8 oz jars of chili sauce, and five pint jars of Indian tomato chutney.

10/12- six pints of tomato puree, one quart of dehydrated onions

10/16- 6 bags of jiffy mix, 10 bags of six muffin mix, one olive jar size of veggie stock powder made.

12/30. Been eating the hell out of everything. Need to can more tomatoes for sure next year. Pickled brussels have been an unexpected hit. Lacto-fermented green cherry tomatoes were a fail, but the pickled ones were good.
Looking forward to preserving a lot more in the new year :)