Monday, September 28, 2009

Reflections on the Summer Garden

With summer coming to an end and the last of the summer produce coming out of the garden I thought it might be time for some reflection. This year was a learning experience. In terms of the garden itself, it still needs work. The weeds were nearly impossible to control. The nice hot summer meant not only good production in terms of fruits and veggies but the weeds just went nuts. I think we are going to mulch the hell out of it over the winter and just not give the weeds a chance to really take hold and hopefully next summer they won't be so bad.
The sand was a fabulous idea. Just about everything we planted loved the sand (especially the radishes and carrots). The side garden didn't get any sand and it did horribly so before anything else goes in there it's going to need some sand.
Like I said we had a very productive year for fruits and veggies. Almost everything I planted took. But after some reflection I think we are not going to plant corn again or amaranth. The corn just didn't do well at my location and the amaranth wasn't very useful since I don't have a grain mill. The anticipation of bad growth made me plant more seeds that it said to in case thing didn't take. That was a big mistake, everything was so crowded.
We will plant less english peas, zucchini, green beans, radishes and pumpkins. We will plant more raspberries, carrots, cauliflower, onions and soy beans. Some things that didn't take but I would like to try again are rhubarb, butternut squash and watermelon. And finally some things that I will plant again but maybe try a different variety of are broccoli and beets.
Overall the best producers were the pole beans, zucchini, english peas, lettuce, radishes, pears and tomatoes. Considering I went into this expecting the soil to be bad and the summer to be too hot, I'm really happy with how the garden turned out. My goals for next years garden are to space better, mulch more, practice better organic weed and pest control, sprout more thing inside then transplant and stagger planting for continual harvest.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canning Like Crazy

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, we have a surplus of produce this season. As a result, I have been trying to save as much as possible by preserving. At first I was freezing the leftovers but now my freezer is full (a delivery of organic beef didn't help the freezer problem either). So I have been doing a lot of canning. Aside from the stuff I canned previously (see earlier post) I've been canning something every night. All-in-all the menu of canned goods looks like this:
- Garlic Dill Pickles
- Crushed and Diced Tomatoes
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Applesauce
- Tomato Chili Chutney
- Strawberry Jam
- Blackberry Jam
- Triple Berry Sauce
- Spiced Pear Sauce
- Vanilla Pears
- Curried Apple Chutney
- Butterscotch Peach Jam
- Apple Mint Jelly
- Apple Butter
- Plum Butter
- Gingered Pear Jam

In addition to all that I have a few more things I need to make to use up the leftover fruit and veggies. So coming soon is:
- Plum Jam
- Plum Chutney
- Gingered Apple Preserve
- Jalapeno Jelly
- Chili Sauce
- Ketchup
- Salsa
- Apple Chutney

And continuing on with the preserving, I am trying to dry the rest of my summer herbs. I have a ton of rosemary to dry, some mint, some chamomile, a little basil, a tiny bit of sage and a little bit of lavender. I'm already looking forward to winter. Not only so I don't have to do all this anymore but also so I can enjoy the fruits of my labour. If you are interested in any recipes let me know and I can post them for you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recipe: Zucchini Dippers

As you may have seen in my previous posts I have been trying to use up all the zucchini that has come out of my garden (and that is a lot). My freezer is getting full so I'm trying to be creative. This recipe was an idea I had as an alternative to fries when we had friends over for a burger night.
I'll post it in two parts. One is the dippers and one is the sauce (though you could use any sauce you wanted, this one is just low fat and really tasty).

For the dippers you will need:
1-2 zucchinis, sliced into rounds
1-2 eggs (depending on how much zucchini you use)
2 tsp water
1-2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
a pinch of ground black pepper

For the sauce you will need:
3-5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp yellow or Dijon mustard
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with a little oil and set aside. Slice zucchini and set aside. In a small dish whisk together the egg(s) and the water and set aside. Then in a medium dish mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Dip the zucchini slices in the egg, then in the bread crumbs. Really cover then with the crumbs, that's what gives them a nice crunch. Lay the breaded zucchini slices on the baking sheet. Continue until all the zucchini has been breaded. Bake for about 20 minutes per side or until they look golden crisp.
In another bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, olive oil, chili powder, black pepper and garlic powder. Try and continue to season until it is to your own taste. Serve with the zucchini immediately.
If you are still trying to use up all your zucchini try some of these other recipes. Chocolate Zucchini Bread, my Lasagna, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Labourous Labour Day

I spent my Labour Day long weekend canning. Canning is a lot of work. I love my garden but I'm getting really tired of preserving. I know I will really appreciate all the hard work I did this summer when its snowing and I'm eating yummy organic produce from the garden but right now I'm really sick of it.Here is what I accomplished in the afternoon. I made strawberry jam, blackberry jam, vanilla pears, crushed tomatoes and pureed pumpkin. After this photo I made more vanilla pears, tomato chutney and I sliced up some more zucchini for freezing. It may not look like a lot but it took up most of my day. Everything had to be picked from the garden, washed, peeled, blanched, boiled, baked, pureed, sterilized, canned, sealed, etc. Phew, next year I'll plant a little less ;)

Harvests and an Update

My apologies for the lack of blogging, I've been having computer issues so I haven't had a chance to post. Not much has been happening since my last post. I began a new job (same type of work just at a new place), I've been preserving like a fiend and I got a haircut. Wow, the excitement never ends.
My garden however is coming to an end. I still have a few things and I'm still trying to deal with the glut of tomatoes and pears. I still have apples, pumpkins and strawberries and I might have an eggplant.

My attempt at soy beans actually turned out ok. I think I might plant even more next year.

My strawberries have put out a second crop and it's better then the first round. These ones are so juicy and I'm having trouble eating them all (so I made jam!).

I have had so many tomatoes, I'm swimming in them. I got this idea from the "Slice of Organic Life" book. It's oven dried tomatoes with garlic and thyme. They are actually quite yummy. I also used another recipe from that book to make Tomato-Chili Chutney with more of the tomatoes.