Monday, December 6, 2010

First real snow of the year.

I had planned on posting many times over the past few weeks.....erm...months.  I wrote up a few drafts to fill with pictures later and then post, but never actually did it. I might do it later still.
Of course this time of year is hectic for everyone.  We pretty  much have everything under control here but life itself is busy in its own right these days.

So the last few things i did with the garden was to remove all the hoops and the sockets.  The sockets were easier to pull up than i had expected.  I had a medium size pair of pliers to grip the pvc sockets and pulled.  The hoops stayed in their partly bent shape and i just stacked them one by one against the shed, the sockets went into some plastic totes i had. The tomato cages had to be cut from the deceased vines and stacked then set aside for next year.

One cool thing i noticed is that late planted dill and cilantro is much hardier than i expected. I was out the day before Thanksgiving to look and despite a number of hard frosts, the cilantro and dill (though short and compact) were still green and very much usable. I haven't been out to look recently nd we had some sleet and freezing rain  the day after Thanksgiving, but i wonder if the herbs are still kicking.

The brussels sprouts did try to bud up, but i know i planted them rather late in the spring and they got woodchuck damage which set them back, but i have left them where they are and stripped the leaves to see where they would get- that was the same day i last checked the  dill and cilantro.

ABout a week before that i had dug up my rosemary and set it in a medium sized black tub i found at the Dollar Tree, about a 3 gallon.  I put all the plants that 'looked' good so there's probably a good dozen going on.  So far they have done well indoors and they smell delightful when brushed.

My Meyer Lemon bloomed impressively, i think it still has one bloom that is maybe only a day old, but it had fresh blossoms from early November until right about now. I used a small paintbrush to distribute pollen, but i don't think it is self-fertile- no fruit has set this time around. It was a real treat to sniff the blooms whenever i wanted.... The Venous Orange is looking good too, the fig looks confused. I think it is normal for it to drop all its leaves, but it has a few clinging yet. Its not dead but i think it can't decide if it wants to put out more leaves or take a nap.  The only plant that bit the dust was the Key Lime...  it was guaranteed for a year so i might request a replacement from Henry Field's.  It croaked about midsummer when the other plants were thriving under the same conditions.

Oh, that gets me to the grapes, the ones that came to (way late) had done their best to catch up i'm not sure if they  got themselves ready for winter well enough to survive until spring, but we will see.  I was fascinated how quickly a moderate frost affects grapes. It just wipes the leaves right out. From lush and mostly still green one day to brown and gone with the wind the next!
The blueberry plantlets put on a little red showing for fall and i cannot wait to see how much growth they put on this spring.

I never got to the flower beds along the front of the house.  Its been a painful season for me.

I did manage to dig up the parsnips i planted. I got a few nice and large roots and a number of rather small ones. I roasted them up with a bunch of other root veggies (including my Jerusalem artichokes- more on those later) beneath a whole chicken, seasoned with herbes de provence, olive oil and salt & pepper.  Then i used the veggies and drippings in a uniquely seasoned vegetable soup.  The soup is inspired by a local restaurant called The Sedgley Place, theirs is a creamy soup full of various veggies. They key seasoning is white pepper, cumin and tarragon.  When we go to the restaurant, its a given that i order that soup. Their French Onion is divine as well, but i absolutely crave the veggie soup.  I don't have a real recipe for it, i go by taste, available ingredients and tweak it to my liking. Its always just a bit different. Ok, so that was a real treat to have and i admit i cheated on my normal eating plan to allow myself to indulge in something worthwhile!

The Jerusalem artichokes-  i didn't get to harvest them all- too challenging for me- but i did get plenty to sample and make the decision that they are well worth the space they use. As a 'famine food' i think that they would be more than welcome at the spartan table.  There is a noticeable difference between the varieties i planted.  The stampede type bakes up like a creamy dumpling. I didn't have to peel any of them, just scrubbed them well and baked. The fuseaus are more dense and retain the water chestnut like texture when cooked along with the stampede, the red rover has a stronger flavor than the others- more earthy but pleasant. I didn't harvest the whole row so i didn't get to taste all the types i had. The stampede did give me one gigantic tuber, bigger than my open hand, i was going to photo it, but my hands were too muddy and cold to play around. But it was impressive and had to be cut into chunks beofre cleaning.  I can't comment on the gassiness of the food that sunchokes have a reputation for. Any time i stray from my chosen dietary plan i experience bloating and.....toots.... so i couldn't blame it entirely on the 'chokes.

The rutabagas did well, i got a number of huge roots and plenty of small ones. I made a delicious rutabaga mash out of some of them. The rest were roasted or simmered with beef.

I did dig up the salsify and the burdock, but not being quite sure what to do with them, and not having the time, they got shrively  and put into the compost.

I have been using the dehydrator quite a bit. I was able to get out to the grocery store a few weeks ago and i found a stack of strawberries in boxes for $1 a pound.  I bought up all the ones that looked good, got them home and sat down with my huller and knife. They were sliced and placed in the Excalibur.  I think i bought 10#, got 8# after trimming and cleaning.
I had also gotten some cheap mushrooms at the same time, those were processed after the strawberries were finished- later that night.
I also peeled, sliced, blanched and dehydrated a couple of my Carnival squash, the flakes have been used in a few soups as well.

SO, the dehydrator has been awesome- i make the rollups out of yogurt quite often and i have made jerky more than a few times- i even used chicken tenderloin hubby found on sale- it came out very well.

Well that is it for now, i have a few garden related emails that i have neglected to reply to- to my shame because i was very interested in answering to them....

oh, i have also begun getting seed catalogs in the mail. Pinetree Garden seeds was first and One Green Earth came just days ago. I have them set aside for later perusal.  I still have my copy of  "A Countryman's Year" waiting to be read when spring fever becomes acute.  I have so many seeds right now i don't think i could need any more- but i know i will conveniently forget that my garden is only about 30x30' and that i cannot physically do all the things i cook up for myself to do even if i didn't have a bad

So that is it for now!