Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today's harvest, plus apple butter!

Yesterday we harvested our first corn of the season, Peaches & Cream, and it was so delicious.  I couldn't take time for any pictures, but today I thought I'd share a few pics.  Here are 2 German Pink tomatoes and some cucumbers that I picked when getting the corn.

These are the first "good tomatoes" I've had.  The others have been huge & beautiful until you pull them & realize they are rotten on the bottom, totally unusable.  Also, it has been so hot that some of the tomatoes on the upper portion of the plants have gotten sunburned.  I'll just have to wait & see how they make it by the time they get ripe.  Everything is growing really well and I'm a SFG convert for life.

Don't even think about an early cabbage crop. Cabbage loopers made lace of them. They were so bad I don't think even B.t. would have helped.

Don't plant carrots in adjacent squares around squash. They were too shaded and foilage rotted.

Heirloom tomatoes grow REALLY tall. Buy taller fence posts for staking next year. I thought about topping some of them, but I just couldn't cut off all those blooms. So far they are gracefully curving back toward the ground, I don't think they will break when the fruit gets larger.

My cucumber trellises are 6' high. Cukes are 12+ feet long. They have grown up the trellis, across the top, back down & out into the path. They will get trimmed tonight. But I've made a bunch of pickles.

Roma bush beans are more like a half-runner bean, at least in the Mel's mix. I won't plant them as close next year. The center ones didn't get enough sun & didn't produce much.

Don't alternate squares with tomato/pepper/tomato..... I'll leave one blank square between each tomato & plant peppers side by side in another section.

I love not having to weed. Even with composted manure from a dairy, I have had very few weeds & it's wonderful.

I'll put in a drip irrigation system before next season. It has been horribly hot here & I have to water daily & with the plants so big it does take a while to get it all finished.

I planted one entire 4 x 12 bed with October beans (a dried bean, aka Horticultural bean) that you plant & leave all season til they dry up before picking. Now I've thought of so many other things I would like to have put there & it seems such a waste of space. I'll just buy them from the grocery store next year.

Plant cilantro every other week. Even with cutting daily it still bolted.

I'll never go back to row gardening.

The forum at Square Foot Gardening is addictive & I love it.  I have learned so much from the friendly folks there.

I planted 4 x 4 squares of corn - I will stake/tie the area when they are about shoulder high so the wind won't blow them over when it storms.

DH has been out of homemade apple butter for a while, so I thought I would be extra nice (especially since I'm begging him to build me a chicken tractor).   I never use fresh apples any more because it is so time-consuming - I use unsweetened applesauce from the grocery store and my crockpot.

I don't have an official recipe, but I put two of the 50 oz jars of unsweetened applesauce in my large crock pot, add sugar & spices. I only use cinnamon and allspice and we like it spicy. ( I don't measure mine, I just dump in a lot of sugar, add spices and a little bit of lemon juice, then check occasionally and add more sugar & spices if I think it is needed.)   I put my crockpot on high, leave it uncovered  & stir occasionally.  I occasionally taste & adjust spices & sugar. If it hasn't cooked down enough by bedtime I turn it on low, then the next morning turn it back up on high until it has cooked down quite a bit.  To test for doneness I put a spoonful on a saucer & cool to see if it is thick enough.   This year I added a bit too much sugar & had to add another jar of applesauce & adjust from that, but I ended up with 8 pints & it sure is good.

Now, back to pestering for my chicken tractor.

Speaking of chickens, I only lost 1 of the 20 chicks I posted about earlier this Spring and out of the 19 it looks like I only have 4 roosters.  I already had 2 black sex link hens & 5 red comet laying hens when I got my 20 chicks. 3 weeks ago I noticed one of the black hens going broody, so I went ahead & marked 8 eggs & let her set.  Then 2 weeks ago the other black sex link went broody too.  A friend from church has regular Americauna's with the cute muffs, so I got a dozen fertile eggs from him & put under the other hen.  Today I heard little "peeps" coming from the first nest & they have started hatching out.  I'll keep you posted on how many chicks I have from that batch.  If I have a good hatch from the dozen Americauna's, I guess I better buy stock in a poultry feed manufacturer.

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