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Time for the countdown! Starting Seed Indoor?

It’s already here! Time to start thinking about what seed you will start indoors in the PacNW. Harvesting your own food; It’s not an off again, on again hobby. Our family recently finished butchering the elk my son harvested right before Christmas. We get to take January off! Only to start thinking seeds, starting late January, February.

If you are thinking of starting seeds, check out the seed savers exchange catalog. I received a membership from my husband for my birthday and the catalog has so many lovely heirloom choices!!! But, this year, I have so many leftovers – I doubt that I will order much, if any. Inventory any seeds you have and what you will need for starting seed indoor as well as your early spring plantings. And start making your garden plan for the year (as I will).
FEB-March – start seed indoors according to your last frost date.
Mid-March – Is timing to direct seed those early spring veggies, and if I am thinking correctly any started brocolli and plant potatoes and lettuces.

Note any big changes (here are a few of mine off the top of my head):

TOMATOES — One whole row devoted to tomatoes instead of the 5-6 plants. I notice that I use at least 1 quart jar of marinara sauce each month — and in addition, we use plenty of chopped tomatoes and sauce throughout the year. What I made this year will likely not last until next harvest.

PEPPERS – My 6 pepper plants were enough, I think – I still have a good frozen supply.

PEAS – shelling peas. I might plant more sugar peas and allow them to grow and shell OR plant specific shelling peas. The ones I shelled were the best peas I have ever eaten — so I’ll likely devote space for this purpose. AND the peas froze wonerfully!

CUCUMBERS – Might really try to plant pickling – depends on space.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in 2012 Garden, Canning/Preserving

 

Canning and Freezing accomplished this year

This year I canned chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, apple pie filling (to just dump in pie crust then bake), jams, turkey noodle soup from leftover thanksgiving turkey, dilled beans, green beans, wax beans.

I froze chopped bell peppers, corn and peas that I shelled. We have also been busy filling the freezer with the moose my husband hunted and the deer my son provided to feed us throughout the year. We are still working on filling the freezer for the year with additional game meat harvested and butchered by my family.

This “comprehensive list” of food items was grown by me or local grown (i.e. the turkey was grown organically on a local farm; the apples – someone at church brought a bunch of boxes and I took one), or harvested/hunted by my family.

Having these experiences with our food source keeps me (and my family) mindful of wastefulness, food quality, and propels me to think more and more outside of the box with reusing or repurposing other household items that would otherwise be considered waste. I am also proud of my overall success each year with my growing baby steps and being able to share these successes (along with the few failures)with my kids. It shows them visually that even though there might be several flops, overall, the harvest is truely bountiful.

 

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Christmas Gifts and Planning Ahead

Yes, I have been hibernating a little bit. I have also left debris in my garden that still needs to be cleaned out! With Chrismas around the corner, remember that if you canned anything this is a GREAT time to share your bounties with family, friends, teachers, coworkers and donating to fundraisers.

I gift canned goods each year to teachers. It is appreciated by them as well as their families and it doesn’t cause clutter in their lives. And let’s face it, in these tough times, food really hits the heart, soul and the stomach at a budget friendly cost.

I just got my seed savers exchange catalog for planning next year’s garden. ALREADY! So, NOW is the time to hit your library and check out all the books you can on growing vegetables and planning a garden for refreshing your mind and to help you plan out next year’s garden. Maybe you want to start a garden? add something or some space to an existing garden plan? Do it now because in late february you won’t be able to find these books (someone will have beaten you to it!). Besides you’ll want to know what seed you want to start indoors too – you will start this in february perhaps….

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden

 

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Seed Saving…..

It’s time to start thinking about shutting the garden down. This year I am going to try to save some seeds for next year’s garden. I picked up a magazine last year (heirloom gardening..or something to that effect) and there was an article on seed saving. I thought, I should be able to do this, after all the pioneers did!

Mainly, I am saving the beans and probably some tomatoes. Starting small……Really, maybe just the beans.

WAX Beans – leave unharvested beans on plant to dry for a good month. What I did was leave several wax beans on each plant behind during harvesting to “save” for seed saving. Most of those are now dry so I just plucked off these dried, withered bean pods and shelled them. The magazine said to make sure they are dry! That they should shatter with a hammer. I didn’t do this. They look pretty dry to me. I put them in paper envelopes and labeled them. We’ll see what happens next year.

GREEN Beans – well, surprisingly these are still growing. there were a few dried pods which I harvested the seeds and put in an envelope, but I still have to wait. IF these don’t dry before the first freeze (which is coming up FAST), it is suggested to pull the entire plant and hang in a garage to dry out. I don’t think I will get that far.

Tomatoes – Put the seeds (with pulp attached) into a cup and cover with water. Let sit and develop moldy film for 4 or so days then rinse in a fine mesh sieve and dry on wax paper. This process gets that pulp off and apparantly inhibits some bacterial growth…curious.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden

 

Another Great Meal – Get Creative, Don’t let the boredom get you.

Smoked Salmon Pasta w/ Garlic Cream Sauce, beans & cantelope


As we move foward into Fall, our family prepares for hunting and restocking the freezer. My reserves from last year are pretty much out; having had to purchase meat for the first time in a year the other week. We still have some Kokanee and smoked fish, and thankfully my husband returned from his Alaska hunting trip bearing gifts from friends while the moose is being processed and distributed amongst the hunting party. Gifts of Smoked Alaskan Salmon! However, after awhile, it can seem a little “boring” having the same thing to eat over and over (how spoiled are we?!) I bet the real pioneers never thought this way.

Anyway, I thawed a piece of that lovely Alaskan smoked Salmon out. HUGE, too much to eat in one night. The first night I served over greens (not very creative) with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes from the garden. I still had another couple pounds to use the next day, not wanting to waste it, I turned to a tried and true site:
http://www.food.com (formerly http://www.recipezaar.com). On this site you can do an “ingredient search” and then filter for what type of course – in my case a “main dish”. I turned out the above creation for dinner. Again, a fabulous, tasty meal where the main components were wild caught or grown. AND, the meal was not complicated to make; I detest dishes that require too much work in order for it to taste good. Don’t let boredom get to you!

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden, recipes

 

CORN! Don’t turn it down!

Okay, I don’t grow corn. However, a lot of people around here grow corn and end up with extra to share with others. I brought home a big bucket (you know the type they sell at walmart; the big plastic buckets with rope handles?) full of corn that someone brought to church. My plan: To bring it home and either freeze it or jar it. There was discussion and inquiries on how to best “save” it, so let me share.

The most important part of preserving corn is that you MUST BLANCH it 4-6 mins. before you move on to freeze or jar it. This destroys the enzymes that would otherwise breakdown the sugars and nutrients in the corn niblets. Here is a link you can refer to:
http://www.pickyourown.org/freezingcorn.htm

You can absolutely freeze it on the cob (you see it yourself in the freezer dept. of your grocery store). Or you can cut/shave it off the cob.

Basically you have your kids shuck the corn and then you blanch/boil whole or cut cobs for 4-6 mins then plunge into ice cold water to stop “cooking” as fast as possible then either freeze on the cob, or shave off and bag/jar it.

I chose shave it off and freeze it because for me this is such a “process” in it of itself that I just can’t wrap my head around putting it in the jars, filling with water and processing via pressure can only (although not that hard). I put into foodsaver bags (3 cups per bag for family of 5) and vacuumed sealed shut and stuck in freezer – SUPER EASY. This process took me approximately 1 1/2 hrs to freeze 22 cups of corn (after the kids shucked it which took them about an hour the night before – they goof off).

When I need to eat it I boil water and cut open bag and boil it up for another 6-10 minutes (until done) and butter, salt/pepper to taste and it is sooooo good! and crunchy still.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Canning/Preserving

 

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Too many onions?? What to do with Garden Mishaps

I planted lots of onions this year – and it was the first time…..Had a mishap; a couple of months ago a large board fell on top of many onions and knocked over their stems which stunted their growth. And instead of moving the board, I propped it up and it fell again several times over a series on months onto the onions. I was left with many small sized onions. And really, I just ended up letting the boys just harvest them all for the most part; they just love the harvesting part of gardening. So, I’ve got all these little onions that I don’t want to let stale; I’m still just learning on long storage for the larger onions. Right now I’ve got them braided in a bowl on the floor of the pantry with the potatoes.

The point is, how do I use these onions? and not waste them? I am making several large batches of stew; a few different types. Get that slow cooker out and make a double batch of old fashioned beef stew and use these little “pearl onions” in that. I am also planning on making a beef burgandy stew with these little “pearl onions” – ya know some are bigger than pearl size, but I’ll cut ’em in half. I am also going to make a beef, mushroom gravy-ish stew that will use some of the onions too. I will double batch all these recipes and then freeze half for future consumption. They likely won’t last through next month even. EASY TO DO! USE your slow cooker and throw the pearl onions, carrots, peas, potatoes in last (1hr or so before you plan to eat – you don’t want them overcooked).

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in 2011 Vegetable Garden