Friday, August 28, 2015

It's a Jungle out there

Its a jungle out there! No I'm not really referring to life in general , but more my garden. Over the past month ( just like every year) Canning, Soap making , filling honey jars , and everything else that comes along with having a small farm/homestead, has  taken a majority of my time.

I'm not complaining! Honey and Soap sales have been amazing and its kept me on my toes, printing labels, filling honey jars, taking care of online sales, and making soap.

Our harvest this year has been outstanding, so the kitchen has been an all to familiar place for me,, canning and putting up the years harvest ( oh so worth it come winter!)

 Robb has been attending the farmers market every week to give me time to catch up on canning. But I did get to attend the Howard Street Exchange Fair. Depsite some showers, it was a great turn out , and sales were good!

and here I am,, with a goofy look.. I think I may have been mid blink ;)

 So anyway....This morning I found time to walk out and face the inevitable , my back garden. once a sight to behold, now looked overgrown and somewhat  well, errr,.....abandoned.


And Pretty embarrassing , I know.......

Now if I want to plant a fall garden , I need to do it soon. So the first step, before I even swoon over some heirloom seed catalogs ,  was getting in there and pulling out  spent plants, wrestling tomato plants from their cages, and weeding weeding weeding.. It was an absolute gorgeous 70 degree morning and cloudy.,a gardeners perfect weather! It felt so good to get my hands in the earth again and reclaim my space as I pulled each weed from the dirt!

A couple of hours later and bit of sweat n elbow grease and Ive made a substantial amount of room for some fall planting.

and I even got some goodies outta the deal ;)

and made a friend :)

 I picked a good amount of Basil for more pesto ( see recipe Below) and then Ill pull the rest of the plants. While I hate to do it, I just don't need anymore basil and need to make room for some cool weathers.

And back to the house to make more Homemade Pesto and freeze some basil for wintertime seasoning....

We use pesto for Pasta ( obviously), Fajitas, Pizzas, and its makes an outstanding topping on your favorite cracker combo!

Pesto Recipe

4 Cups Basil leaves ( packed
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup Pine Nuts ( I use almond slivers, you can use any nut really :)
1 Cup parmesan cheese ( you can add this now or later, If I am out, I just mark the bags to remind myself to add it once thawed.)

Stick all of it in a blender and blend.....

I pour mine into ice cube trays,, and them throw in the freezer, once frozen pop them out and put them in quart freezer bags. Be sure to suck the air out of the bag with a straw so they don't get freezer burn. ( I put a straw in the corner of the bag , suck the air out and quickly remove straw and seal.) I put about 4-5 per bag for a serving.

Freezing Basil on its own......

Want some fresh basil in the middle of winter??Just remove leaves from stem, toss in olive oil and freeze!! Voila!

Next up... The Greenhouse........... Like I said.. It's a Jungle out there ;)


The Cools

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Second Bloom


We came home from a week on vacation, to see the Japanese Knotweed in Full Bloom.. AGAIN!
Typically, from what I Have read, Japanese Knotweed is a fall bloomer.  It has always bloomed here in June/July and then would be done for the season..
I drove our 12 miles of gravel yesterday to see it in full Bloom throughout the entire Forest for a SECOND TIME! This is a  major Honey source for us( and the bees) here in the Pisgah National Forest.

Does this mean another Honey flow for us?? We will have to wait and see until this weekend when my husband gets into the hives...if nothing else, its more nectar for the bees!!

The Cools

Friday, August 7, 2015

Year of The Tomato

Ok, So I consider myself a pretty good gardener. Ive learned so much since planting my first garden in 1999 (16 yrs ago) and can identify most any  garden bug or fungus. I know how to fertilize organically, keep bugs at bay, and reduce the chance of fungal disease ..

I can grow almost anything with success...

Except a Tomato.. The prize of Summer.

Now when I lived in the Midwest, growing a tomato seemed so easy, you threw the plant in the ground, pretty much ignored it, and then went out and picked TONS of tomatoes.

And then I moved here. For 9 years I have been trying to grow tomatoes with very little success.. Between minimal sunlight ( we live in a holler between 2 ridges so get about 6 hours of full sun, the minimum for gardening), the humidity, and giant downpours in the summer months, My plants either just didn't put on fruit or died quickly from some type of blight. I tried every year. One year I planted around 80 plants, and I don't remember how many I picked, but trust me it was nothing to write home about.

This year I picked a new location. It was totally last minute. I had Robb till 3 strips about 20 ft long. put down some weed barrier, and planted about 35 tomato plants. I noticed this area did get quite a bit of sun compared to my other locations,,about 7 hours.
The soil in this location is awful. It is extremely acidic, rocky, and in need of some serious amending. I did add a little chicken manure and compost.

Add , to the sunny location, and very very hot and Extremely DRY summer...and that is the equation for TOMATOES!!! I have no other explanation. This location only gets about an hour more of sun. I do think it being so dry ( we have had pretty much no rain this summer) has helped  too.

               I even picked a 2 pounder, Biggest Tomato I've grown yet!

I can't tell you how many I picked, a couple hundred pounds atleast. I was picking near 20 lbs every other day at one point.
I've been canning up Salsa and Tomatoes non stop. What a treat it will be once the Snow flies!

My husband and I have been having tomato tastings ( kinda like wine tasting, where you try it and talk about the flavor, except we are usually barefoot and wearing  overalls ,haha)
Because If you haven't had an heirloom tomato, you just haven't experienced  the amazing flavor a Tomato can offer.. really, I'm serious.

Our favorites???

 From Left to right: black Vernassiage, Wagner Blue, Solar Flare, Indigo Apple, Natures Riddle, Cherokee Purple, PorkChop

I believe Robb really liked the Solar Flare Tomato. I vote On Indigo Apple, the flavor is like NO OTHER, and the yield is awesome

What's your Favorite Heirloom Tomato??

The Cool Family