Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cleaning up drafts list

Today i went through my blog entries and found a few entries i thought i submitted but had remained as drafts.  I decided to post them because they had some info i wanted to remember- like my description about the results of the summer on my gardening.  I had done a roundup of tomatoes and root veggies and wrote up some research i did on the amole soap lily seeds i bought from Bountiful Gardens.  I don't know if some of them might have been rough drafts of other posts, but it doesn't look like it . I don't have much to write about today except that i got the sent confirmation on my order from Johnny's Selected Seeds yesterday.  My Oaxacan Green corn is in it as well as a type of white cucumber.  I intend to plant two types of non-sweet corn this year and i have 4 types of cukes this year.  I have three broccoli types and lots of assorted greens seeds.  In the Johnny's order i found some $1.00 a packet varieties on sale,  you can hardly beat a buck a pack for good Johnny's seed.

  I don't think i went too nuts on the tomatoes, four or 5 types should be plenty for fresh use and canning.

I'm going to try celeriac this year, its a good low carb root veggie that sounds tasty.

I have been messing with the planner for a few minutes at a time and i'm enjoying it.  But now i have things to clean and put away.

Perennial Vegetables *originally written July-8-10

I was buzzing around the Amazon bookstore hoping to find a decent priced copy of This Book (it is unavailable now but it was a book outlining the fallacy of invasive plant species, yes some plants do invade but letting nature work was the focus of the description. Supposedly the earth has gone through many changes in its existence why do we expect it to stay the same now, just because we decide its time to keep it the way it is?  I thought it was an interesting proposition considering my state's ridiculous restrictions on some plant species)
One of the recommendations listed along the page was a book on perennial veggies.  It sounded interesting so i went to the site. Here.  The site gives you a list of edibles that should be perennial in the area you choose from the left column, under the "Resources" heading.

Here is the list for my area:

 Cold Temperate
Cold Temperate: East, Midwest, and Mountain West

This is a large and highly populated region covering much the eastern and central United States, as well as much of the warmer parts of Canada. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 4–7, and Sunset Zones 2–4, 6, 11, and 32–43.

Perennial in all of the Cold Temperate zone:

Allium fistulosum Welsh onion-- have

Allium tricoccum ramps --plan to get

Allium tuberosum garlic chives

Apios americana groundnut

Aralia cordata udo

Asparagus officinalis asparagus --have

Bunias orientalis Turkish rocket

Camassia cusickii Cusick’s camass

Camassia leichtlinnii Leichtlin’s camass

Camassia quamash camass

Camassia scillioides wild hyacinth

Chenopodium bonus-henricus good king Henry

Cicorium intybus chicory

Crambe maritima sea kale  --have been looking for

Dioscorea japonica jinenjo

Dioscorea opposita Chinese yam

Helianthus tuberosa sunchoke  --have

Hemerocallis daylily

Laportaea canadensis wood nettle

Levisticum officinale lovage --have

Malva moschata musk mallow

Matteuccia struthiopteris ostrich fern  --have

Nasturtium officinale watercress

Oenanthe javanica water celery

Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel

Petasites japonicus fuki

Phytolacca americana pokeweed

Polygonatum biflorum canaliculatum giant Solomon’s seal

Rheum rubarbarum rhubarb --have

Rumex acetosa French sorrel

Rumex acetosa ‘Profusion’ sorrel

Rumex acetosella sheep sorrel

Rumex scutatus silver shield sorrel

Sagittaria latifolia arrowhead

Scorzonera hispanica scorzonera

Sium sisarum skirret

Stachys sieboldii Chinese artichoke

Taraxacum officinale dandelion -- who doesn't have this?

Tilia spp. linden

Urtica dioica nettles --have

Some of them i have, some of them sound interesting and some are...uh?  Like Linden. Flowers i understand are good for tea... but the nuts, i have never seen listed as edible.
I don't quite consider tea a vegetable.  Dandelion....  yes i know it is edible. I have eaten it and i would try making wine from the flowers if i dared to allow it to grow that far.  I have seen seeds for a garden type, the leaves are larger, more tender and less bitter, but i think hubby would call me crazy.

Amole- Soap Lily

Another interesting plant i got from Bountiful Gardens- (and they are the only seed source i have yet to find) is the Soap Lily.  At their site they list it as simply "Chorogalum spp".  But a bit of searching based on their somewhat basic description leads me to think that the seeds they sent me are for  C. pomeridianum since that is the type with the hairy bulb.

Ok,  its called a soap lily because the bulbs make a great soap substitute. Its different than the Saponaria flowers- aka Soapwort (though looking those up for comparison, i learned that soapwort s used in making Halva!)
The bulbs are also edible when cooked, raw they can be a soap. Apparently Native Americans used the leaves as fishing aids since they release a substance that stuns fish in the water .

I'm hoping to get some planted for summer 2011, but i'm not sure where they should go, maybe in the flower garden? Maybe they'd make a good container plant?

Using the dehydrator *Originally written late summer 2010*

So far i have dried about 4 pounds of frozen peas, 3 pounds of frozen corn and about 3 pounds of frozen, sliced carrots.  I really get a kick out of how much room it saves.  Each vegetable in quantity fits in a quart jar. The peas filled the jar completely, the corn only filled about half and the carrots shrunk so much they actually went in a pint jar.
I made some yogurt taffy yesterday afternoon. I simply took two containers of Yoplait yogurt and made dollops of it (like cookie dough) in the 2 Paraflexx sheets that the machine came with.  I think it dried for about 6 hours at around 115*.  My kids loved it.  The strawberry flavor seemed to dry faster than the blueberry flavor,  and the strawberry tasted better i am told.
So, now i know what to do with the yogurt that just sits in the fridge waiting to expire.  My kids love yogurt, and sometimes we go without it for quite a while, and then we buy it by the dozen....  at those times it will get eaten 3 cups a day for a few days,  then they tire of it for a bit and the last 5 or 6 containers linger on in the fridge and end up expired.  Other times we will try a different brand with a better price- but the texture on some of those is not too pleasant.  I think making them into a taffy seems like a great solution.

I was going to make jerky this weekend, but i have lots of tomatoes coming...  I have to use some to make fresh salsa, but i think i'll dry much of them that are left over from this.
Watching the Dehydrate2Store videos, i learned that you can dehydrate thin slices of tomato and then powder the slices in a food processor or blender, then use the powder to make a sort of instant tomato soup- herbs and spices added as well.
Speaking of herbs, i have basil, rosemary, peppermint and sage that need drying. So, there's plenty of things to be using the dehydrator for!

The dill and the cilantro i planted a couple weeks ago has come up nicely,  i don't know how fast they will grow.  The spinach seeds don't seem to have been viable,  at the very least i was able to eliminate another packet from my Ridiculously Large Seed Stash.

Tomatoes, tomatillos *Originally written fall of 2010*


Yikes in some ways good and in some ways not so good.
I got great yields.  I expected the most from the Romas, but was pleasantly surprised by the Pruden's Purple.  The Pruden's were juicy, sweet and firm in the right way. The vines behaved and though the ripening was on the late side it was well worth the wait.  It made some lovely- if a little watery- salsa.  I did counter the wateryness by draining it a bit and adding some of the dehydrated sweet corn i made and then let the salsa wait over night in the fridge. The dehydrated sweet corn reconstituted itself by drawing in much of the excess tomato juice and it added another sweet flavor to the recipe.

The two Roma plants produced enough to get almost a dozen pint jars in the pressure canner.

I didn't get the time or anything to get anything else canned, but i might experiment with some meats this winter...  another subject for later :0)

The 'yikes, not so good' was the absolutely insane growth of the yellow pear tomato plants.  Next year one will be more than enough. I had forgotten that cherry types are more like wild and crazy vining plants than anything else- though it produced lovely tasting yellow, pear-shaped fruit in avalanche-like abundance, it took over the space so much, i couldn't harvest half of its fruit or the fruit of the two types closest to it. So it really caused problems in the end.

The Siberia tomato was nothing special for me this year. I kept thinking it was Black From Tula and i mentioned that i was growing them a couple times here and there (even at Seed Saver's Exchange) but it turns out that those seeds didn't germinate and i just kept getting it mixed up in my mind.  Anyway, they didn't do well for me. They grew to the size and shape of an over sized salad tomato, they weren't particularly sweet and were rather acid, toughish skin and tended to go bad on the vine quickly...produced slow and the plant just barely got anywhere.  I think the seeds were too old and had suffered in a way that the plants that grew from them were lacking severely.

The Empire Hybrid were nice. It continued to produce and most of the green tomatoes i just picked were from the Empire.  Its not a bad tomato, not superb though. Sort of like grocery store fruit- only with a real garden fresh flavor instead.  If i have more seeds hanging around i'll plant some for next year, but if i don't wi won't order them in particular.  I have plenty of new tomato seeds for next year right now.

Polfast.  It just wasn't spectacular i guess.  I barely remember it doing much. I think it was supposed to be ready earlier than some other types, but i don't think it was anywhere near the first to ripen for me. I'll have to check back to be sure.  I guess it was kinda unremarkable in the end.

Tomatillos...  I had gotten the purple type and the seeds to my amazement, germinated after being stored for about 10 years. The plants did well, took their time to flower, then suddenly started taking off as if overnoght.  Right now the plants are still covered with numerous lantern-like fruit.  I have gotten a lot of what i think are ripe ones, at least one mixing bowl full.  I tasted one and it must not have been ready even though it was purple all over and the husk had split.  It was pretty astringent.  Maybe it was overripe?
I have grown these tomatillos before (the year i bought the seeds in the first place), but they produced so late all those years ago i never got to try them at all.  The green ones at the grocery aren't astringent and flavorless like this,  so i guess i'll have to look into what is up with these purples.

The other root veggies, 2010 *originally written fall of 2010*

Things like Burdock, parsnips, salsify, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes....

Well, for the most part its too early for most of these.  I did dig up the sweet potatoes out of curiosity, but we haven't tried eating any of them. They are kind of 'fingerling' size if you can call it that.

I pulled op a Jeruslaem artichoke stalk the other day and there were a couple medium sized roots attached,  it looked like Stampede.  The flowers on these plants are really quite nice. It was rumored that they may have a chocolatey scent, but i can't detect that at all when i tried. They are quite striking though, on stalks almost 10' high at the back of the garden.
I did taste the roots, they were crisp, somewhat like a water chestnut- as they are often compared to,  with the same earthy flavor of a raw potato.  I only ate the one root that was about radish sized.... actually i think the texture is more like a radish than a water chestnut now that i think of it. Maybe as the inulin changes over they get the water chestnut texture more.  But it had a crisp and bright flavor, and the skin was not thick at all, i wiped off and ate it whole within seconds of being pulled.

I yanked a salsify the other day, just to see what was up and i think there may be a problem. It had multiple thin roots instead of a single, thick taproot.  This might be because they were transplanted as seedlings. They may not be right for that method.  I didn't try eating it because the pencil-thick roots looked more stringy than tender.  I have read that they can be edible in the second year or allowed to go to seed....  i might let them go to seed and collect it and try again in 2012. The seed source for these has dried up and i don't know that i would consider these roots a priority for planting since they aren't expected to produce much.  The plants didn't get very big at any rate,  they weren't as interesting to look at as i had hoped.  There  isn't a whole lot of information out there for these plants, so troubleshooting best growing conditions might be harder to find. I might try again.

The Burdock i did pull one, but it wasn't big yet either.  I'll wait a bit longer before i check again.  Of course i did test-pull the smallest leafed plant in the group.

The leaves on the parsnip roots are filling out again. They had been nibbled by the last woodchuck and i guess parsnips don't like growing fast in warmer weather because they have grown more noticeably since it got cooler.  I won't even try a test-pull until well after first frost.