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

wp-image-1321768642jpg.jpeg

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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

 

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

 

 

Starting Seeds Week #1

Every year I start my seeds, indoors, about 6-8 weeks before the plants go into the ground outside.

Last year was the first year I tried starting my seeds in a pop bottle. Sound kinda weird? Not really if you think about it. A pop bottle is just like a mini greenhouse. It keeps the warm sunlight in and the cold temperatures out. Even in my cool basement the seeds are warm and snug in their individual little bottle greenhouses. The results I got were fantastic! I grew things like never before. Cilantro, basil, celery, and watermelon just to name a few.

Baby basil plant from 2016

I don’t have expensive lights to grow my seedlings under and I don’t have tons of space either. What I do have is a sunny 8′ basement potting bench that has 6 hours of direct sunlight a day and a bottle garden works perfectly in this scenario.

For the next 6 to 8 weeks I will report back each week on how the seeds are germinating and let you take a look inside the bottles to prove that you don’t need expensive lights and fancy heating mats to grow strong, healthy seedlings.

Here are the steps to start using a 2 liter plastic pop bottle for a mini greenhouse.

Step #1

Cut two clean 2 liter pop bottles in half with a sharp knife by poking the tip of the knife into the sides of one of the bottles and slicing around the side of it until it is in two pieces.

Each “greenhouse” uses 3 pieces of bottle to create a complete unit.

Step #2

When you have the first bottle in 2 pieces invert the top half, which has the cap, upside down into the bottom half of the bottle. Now you are ready to plant some seeds in it!

Step #3

Fill the top about half way full with starter soil, which is lighter than traditional potting soil. Drop a few seeds on top of the soil of whatever you are planting such as pepper seeds and cover them with more soil to finish. Water well until the water runs out the bottom. Note: if there is water in the bottom after a day or so dump it out because it will start to mold and could kill any plants starting.

Step #4

Finish the greenhouse by putting another half of the second bottle on top. If you have the cap, put it on. If not, cover it up with a piece of plastic or tin foil.

Step #5

Put the bottle into a sunny window and see what grows! Once the seeds germinate and start to grow into plants, take the cap or plastic off to get some air into the bottle.

Let me know what you think. Have you ever tried growing in a pop bottle? -MM

 

 

 

Parsley and Sage

Historically herbs have been used not only to add flavor to food but also to preserve and for medicinal purposes. Another passion of mine is the use of herbs. I have started to research the use of herbs for digestion and anxiety and cold and flu. I struggled this summer to find herb plants to purchase locally for my garden so for next summer I will either grow the plants I want from seed myself or buy them organically online from a reputable grower.

We had a fantastic year in our herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow plus animals leave them alone and they are virtually unaffected by insects.

Last week I cut a huge amount of parsley, sage and celery from the garden. I don’t really consider celery an herb but this variety produces more leaves than stalk so I dry and grind the leaves into a powder and use the powder to flavor all kinds of dishes including soups.

Take a look at my 6 foot island covered in what I cut. Keep in mind the amount of sage I cut was from one single plant and the celery and parsley were from only 6 plants. Wow huh?!

20161101_154120

It took me several hours to carefully look all the leaves over and remove them from the stems and clean them. About 6 hours in fact. But I enjoyed watching “Hot in Cleveland” on my phone while I picked.

20161103_20275920161103_205117

After the drying process in my dehydrators I ran all of the dried leaves through my mini chopper and got an entire quart of parsley and more than a pint of sage. I still haven’t finished the celery.

20161113_183108

I know you’re thinking I could have purchased dried parsley and sage from the grocery store and saved myself a lot of time and they wouldn’t have cost that much. Yep I could have. However those herbs wouldn’t be as fresh and Lord knows where those herbs are grown or under what conditions. I don’t mind the work. I enjoy it and other than the initial cost of a few bucks they are free. Also keep in mind I have been cutting the herbs all Spring, Summer and Fall and the sage is a perennial and the parsley reseeds itself. It’s definitely the gifts that keeps on giving.

For me this is “Old Ways meets New Ways” because I produced my own herbs (old) and entertained myself watching “Hot in Cleveland” (new). I love Betty White.

Do you preserve your own herbs?

-MM

 

My Gardening and Preserving Goals for 2016

In past years when it comes to my gardening and preserving goals I tend to just wing it. Whatever canning recipe sounds good I’ll try. Whatever new plant or seed looks colorful and fun I’ll grow it. Unfortunately this leaves me by the end of the growing season with canned goods I will never use and produce that’s not very practical for our needs.pretty cabbages

This year I want to have a plan in place to eliminate the guess work. In a journal I have written a carefully researched list of herbs that I want grow for their medicinal and culinary purposes. I have also thoughtfully picked out the veggies/fruits I will need for the preserving recipes I want to try and I have listed the goods I want to get preserved

This is a VERY high achieving list. I am realistic in saying I probably will not do all of this this year but it is a goal of mine and now I will have a place to look for inspiration when I need motivation.

Okey Doke! Here we go!

I spent a while researching these herbs, plants and flowers and what they are used for. Many make good companion plants to certain veggies in the garden so I will most likely add those plants to the garden beds to enrich the soil and to aid its companion buddy.

  1. Yarrow (can be invasive so it will have it’s own bed)
  2. Anise Hyssop
  3. Garlic
  4. Chives (Companion for Carrots) (I grow now)
  5. Aloe Vera
  6. Lemon Verbena
  7. Dill
  8. Chervil
  9. Horseradish Companion for Potatoes)
  10. Artemisia
  11. Tarragon (Companion for Eggplant and Peppers)
  12. Borage
  13. Calendula
  14. Caraway (Companion for Peas)
  15. Bachelor Button
  16. Chamomile  (Companion for Cabbages and Onions)
  17. Cilantro
  18. Lemongrass
  19. Dianthus Clove Pink
  20. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  21. Fennel
  22. Sweet Woodruff
  23. Lavender (I grow now)
  24. Lemon Balm (I grow now)
  25. Mint (I grow now)
  26. Catnip (grows wild around here)
  27. Basil (annual that I start from seed)
  28. Oregano
  29. Parsley (I grow now)
  30. Anise
  31. Purslane (Grows wild here and considered a weed)
  32. Rosemary
  33. Sage (I grow now)
  34. Dandelion (Also a common weed)
  35. Thyme
  36. Nasturtium
  37. Valerian
  38. Violet (Grows wild here)
  39. Pansy
  40. Eucalyptus

wpid-20150824_180737.jpg

For our vegetable garden I selected plants  based on what I needed for my canning recipes and what I would use fresh.

  1. Asparagus (will not produce until year 3)
  2. Strawberries (will produce better the second year)
  3. Rhubarb (will plant this year and harvest will begin next year)
  4. Corn
  5. Popcorn
  6. Sweet Peppers
  7. Banana Peppers
  8. Eggplant
  9. Onions (My #1 priority every year for storage)
  10. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  11. Snap Bean Pole
  12. Dry Beans
  13. Peas
  14. Spinach
  15. Lettuce
  16. Cabbage
  17. Swiss Chard
  18. Beets
  19. Radish
  20. Carrots
  21. Cucumbers
  22. Pumpkins
  23. Gourds
  24. Winter Squash
  25. Zucchini
  26. Yellow Squash
  27. Cantaloupes
  28. Water Melon
  29. Sunflowers
  30. Tomatoes
  31. Celery
  32. Broccoli
  33. Potatoes
  34. Jalapenos
  35. Yellow Tomatoes
  36. Paste Tomatoeswpid-20151014_132108.jpg

And finally the preserving list. It’s even longer than the other two. I know, I know. It’s a lofty goal but it’s something I will try my best at accomplishing. And if I get it all done we won’t have to go to the grocery store until Spring. (Just kidding).

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

wpid-20151014_080650.jpg

I will also be drying the herbs and many fruits and veggies in our 2 dehydrators.

What I haven’t mentioned is that we have 3 apple, 2 sweet cherry, 1 sour cherry, 2 pear, 2 peach and 1 apricot (1 died) and a hazelnut (1 of these died also). Plus blackberry, red raspberry, black raspberry, and blueberry bushes.

fruit1

So these are the goals. Am I missing anything? Am I nuts? We will find out! -MM