My Gardening and Preserving Goals 2017


Each year I try to garden with a goal in mind. My goal is always to produce and preserve as much food as we need to get us through the winter and to help me spend as little as possible at the grocery store.

Last year I had some pretty lofty goals and fell completely flat on my face. It was a horrible growing season in 2016. Heat and drought took it’s toll on the garden and a late frost killed all of the blossoms on the fruit trees. I have never seen anything like it really.

I revisited my goals from last year and chopped some of the harder to reach goals out.

Here is a list of my family’s 2017 Gardening and Preserving Goals.

Herbs:

  1. Garlic
  2. Chives
  3. Aloe Vera
  4. Dill
  5. Artemisia
  6. Calendula
  7. Chamomile
  8. Cilantro
  9. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  10. Sweet Woodruff
  11. Lavender
  12. Lemon Balm
  13. Mint
  14. Catnip
  15. Basil
  16. Oregano
  17. Parsley
  18. Anise
  19. Rosemary
  20. Sage
  21. Dandelion
  22. Thyme
  23. Nasturtium
  24. Valerian

Crops:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Strawberries
  3. Raspberries
  4. Blackberries
  5. Cherries Sweet
  6. Cherries Sour
  7. Pears
  8. Peaches
  9. Grapes
  10. Rhubarb
  11. Sweet Peppers
  12. Banana Peppers
  13. Eggplant
  14. Onions
  15. Shallots
  16. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  17. Snap Bean Pole
  18. Peas
  19. Spinach
  20. Lettuce
  21. Cabbage
  22. Swiss Chard
  23. Beets
  24. Radish
  25. Carrots
  26. Cucumbers
  27. Pumpkins
  28. Gourds
  29. Winter Squash
  30. Zucchini
  31. Yellow Squash
  32. Cantaloupes
  33. Water Melon
  34. Sunflowers
  35. Tomatoes
  36. Celery
  37. Broccoli
  38. Potatoes
  39. Yellow Tomatoes
  40. Paste Tomatoes

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Preserving:

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Peach Jam
  6. Pear Jelly
  7. Apple Jelly
  8. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  9. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  10. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  11. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  12. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  13. Apple Sauce
  14. Grape Juice
  15. Pear Juice
  16. Tart Cherry Juice
  17. Pickled Beets
  18. Canned Beets
  19. Vegetable Stock
  20. Vegetable Soup
  21. Tomato Sauce
  22. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  23. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  24. Bread and Butter Pickles
  25. Frozen Corn
  26. Frozen Peppers
  27. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  28. Red Root Relish
  29. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  30.  Dilly Deans
  31. Pickled Hot Peppers
  32. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  33.  Crushed Tomatoes
  34. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  35.  Canned Green Beans
  36. Frozen Peas
  37. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  38. Chili
  39. Stuffed Hot Peppers
  40. Stuffed Sweet Peppers

 

So far, we are already doing mighty fine with our 2017 gardening goals and we have had plenty of rain too. Yippee!

This last weekend we added 3 more raised veggie beds which brings my planting area to about 200 sq. ft. of space to work with. Yippee! Thank you Mr. Ripley for working so hard. (He said it was my Mother’s Day present).

To date we have planted carrots, peas, radish, and lettuce but much more will be planted by the end of this week.


How will I keep track of all of this? My journal. And lists. LOTS of lists. Should be interesting! Wish me luck and I will keep you updated. -MM

 

 

 

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SAL Project Peacock #3

Boy 3 weeks goes by fast! Time for another SAL (Stitch A Long) post. Mr. Peacock now has a name, Salvador (Sal for short) I think Avis suggested the name so thank you Avis!

At this point, progress on Sal’s tail is slow going and giving me a bit of an eye twitch.

Here is Sal three weeks ago.

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And here is Sal now.


Not bad considering I have been busy with Easter and gardening and a sick child all week.

I did have to rip out part of the tree trunk on the right side if you notice from the last photo. I was off by one row. Most times I will work around a mistake but I just couldn’t get it to line up correctly so I ripped part of it out. What a pain!

We will see where I am in another three weeks.

Please check out the other SAL member’s blogs by clicking on the links below. They are doing some fantastic work! If you are interested in joining the group please contact Avis who is the very first link.
Avis
ClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusanKathyMargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherineWendyMary MargaretTimothy

Easter Fun

Easter and Spring are such fun when it comes to crafts and baking. I love bright spring colors of greens, blues, yellows, pinks and lavenders after the dark colors of winter like reds, blacks, navy and grays.

Even though Doug is 15 he still likes to craft (once in a while) so I bring out the pot and we make homemade play dough. Ever make it yourself? It’s super easy and inexpensive. Really…I wouldn’t lie to ya.

Here’s the recipe:

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/4 Cup Salt

2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 Cup Water

Food Coloring

Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar together in a medium sized saucepan to combine. Add water, oil and food coloring to it. Turn on the heat to medium and stir. It will get harder to stir and it will act like it is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Just keep stirring and scraping until the liquid is all gone and what’s left is a sticky mass of dough. It will not be neat but dump the ball out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times to get the remainder of any wetness out. It will be HOT so knead carefully not to burn your hands. You will have to soak the pan for a few minutes to clean it but it will be so worth it!

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Repeat as much as you like to get as many colors as you want. It makes a pound of play dough each batch (yes I weighed it) which is about 4 times what you get in those little plastic containers of the real stuff. Plus who knows what goes into the stuff you buy at the store.

Doug and I played with our homemade dough for 2 hours on Saturday night. We had a blast!

Store the dough in the fridge. It will last a few months or until the point where you get sick of it rolling around in there and you finally throw it out. 🙂

We also love to color eggs. Hey it’s not just for little guys ya know!

One thing I don’t do is boil them first. That may seem weird but as long as the eggs are not cracked I die them raw. I love to dye dozens of eggs but I can’t eat 5 dozen hard boiled eggs in a week. I like eggs, but not THAT much.

If we dye them raw I can have the pleasure of using the eggs for a month long and enjoy the pretty colors each time I bake something. See what I mean?

The eggs in the photo below are dyed brown eggs. You can use the same egg dying kits that you typically use for white eggs for brown eggs too. I like the rich colors better with the brown eggs.

eggs

I make cutout cookies for Easter, which are almost as fun as Christmas cutouts but without the added stress Christmas and the holidays bring. See, aren’t they super cute?

easter cutouts

Now that I have a teenager I don’t have a need for fun paper crafts and cotton ball bunny tails but maybe grand kids some day right?

What kinds of crafts do you do for Easter?  Have a wonderful and blessed week and Easter Holiday. -MM

Weeks 3 and 4 Pop Bottles Meet Disaster

Mr. Gray is in trouble. BIG trouble. We have 2 kittens we adopted in October of this last year. I was seriously worried about my seedlings getting damaged by the cats since it is an open space in our basement that I grow my plants in. Our beloved cat Bernie, who died suddenly this fall was completely trained to not go near the “kids”.

Oh yes, it happened in the middle of the night, a crash in the basement and a scampering of feet tearing down the hallway past our bedroom door. I knew what the sound was and I just sighed and fell back asleep. I would survey the damage in the morning.

Sure enough Mr. Gray, yes I know it was him, dumped the whole rack of shelves. Nine pop bottles were scattered across the floor in all sorts of disarray. I didn’t have time to do anything with them because I needed to get to the bakery. I would work on the mess when I got home.

Nothing, unfortunately was salvageable. The second set of shelving was still upright so I hadn’t lost everything, but the basil, lemon balm, cilantro, onions, catnip, and others were crushed.

Today I did get 28 pepper plants and 4 watermelon plants transplanted into their own, larger spaces. They are doing well and hopefully Mr. Gray will not get into any more mischief with these guys. Now if we could just get some sun here in Western NY that would really, really help. -MM

 

Project Peacock SAL Update 2

It’s been three weeks since my last post on my Peacock friend and also since I joined a lovely group of ladies (and gentleman :)) in their Stitch-A-Long Group (SAL).

I have gotten a lot done mostly on its tail feathers but also some on the side branches.

Here is a photo of the last time I posted:
peacock sal 1

And here is a photo of what I have completed as of yesterday:

 The top has not changed so I concentrated on showing you the bottom. I still don’t know if this peacock is a boy or girl. Aren’t the boys the pretty ones and the girls the plain ones so they don’t draw attention from predators? I need some help on this.

See you in three weeks!

Please check out the other SAL member’s blogs by clicking on the links below. They are doing some fantastic work! If you are interested in joining the group please contact Avis who is the very first link.


Avis
ClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusanKathyMargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherineWendyMary MargaretTimothy

Dandelion Jelly-You Gotta Try It!

Last season I decided to try making dandelion jelly. I read people’s comments on how good it was and many of them said they would be making a double batch next year. So I figured, what the heck, why not?

I love trying things made from foraging. We don’t spray our yard (though my husband hates dandelions) and sitting in a grassy field of yellow flowers sounded heavenly.

 

Making the jelly is pretty simple. Certainly easier than making grape jelly.

What you need to do is go out and pick lots of dandelion flowers about 10 cups or so. Just the flowers. No stems or leaves and no flowers that have gone to seed. You need the yellow petals only which I used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off from their green base. Just a straight cut right across. It’s ok if you have some green bits of leaf in there too but not too much. You will need 4 cups of petals.

Put the cut off petals in a large bowl and cover the petals with boiling water. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. You are basically making a dandelion tea and while in the fridge the petals will steep and draw the color and flavor of the dandelion out. This tea is very nutrient rich and you can drink it if you like, but I prefer the strong taste be turned into a sweet, mild jelly.

The next day strain the petal “soup” through clean cheesecloth over another bowl and save the liquid and discard the dandelion petals. What you will have left is dandelion tea which is what is used to make the jelly. You will need 3 cups of the tea. If the liquid doesn’t measure 3 cups, add enough water to the tea to bring it up to the 3 cups needed.

Pour the tea into a heavy bottom pot and add one package of powdered pectin and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to it. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently, then add 4-1/2 cups of granulated white sugar to it. Stir to dissolve the sugar and once again bring everything up to a full rolling boil that cannot be knocked down when stirring it. Skim off any foam. In the photo below you can see the pectin is setting up nicely in the jelly and it’s ready to can up.

Pour the hot jelly, leaving a 1/2 inch of head space, into hot sterilized jars and with hot sterilized lids, screw the bands on. I processed them for about 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

After the jars have cooled, label and store in a cool pantry. How pretty are these? I love the golden color!

You might ask what dandelion jelly tastes like? Honey. Seriously, I think it tastes like honey. It’s very mild and a tiny bit earthy but I love this jelly and the main ingredient, the dandelions are FREE! I will be making a double, maybe even a triple batch of this golden goodness this year.

It will be a couple of months before the weather in western, NY will be warm enough for dandelions to bloom, but when they do you will see me sitting out there in the yard collecting them. Hope you try it! -MM

Here are the ingredients in recipe form again.

3 Cups dandelion tea

4 1/2 Cups sugar

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 box powdered pectin

Combine dandelion tea, lemon juice and pectin into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Add your sugar and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and fill jars. Process 10 minutes in a boiling hot water bath. Cool, label and enjoy on a slice of homemade bread!

Week 1-2 Pop Bottle Garden


It has been a heck of a few weeks since I started the seeds for our 2017 garden. Here in Western, NY we had 80+ mile an hour winds which knocked our power out for well over 24 hours and closed school for two days. Then less than a week later we had a two day blizzard that closed schools again for two days and brought our lives to a grinding halt while we waited it out. Crazy weather I tell ya!

However, while all that crazy weather was going on outside, my little pop bottle garden and its contents were snug and warm and working away for me.

This year I planted peppers, both sweet and hot, celery, cilantro, dill, watermelon, basil, 3 kinds of onions, catnip and lemon balm. The only thing I have not gotten in yet are the tomatoes and I am getting a little nervous about it but I will get them started don’t worry.

Below are a couple of photos of what has been happening inside the bottles these past two weeks. Pretty cool huh? See you next week with another update! -MM