Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 30, 2008

Where has the year gone?  It's almost September. That's what everyone keeps saying at work.  I could say the same thing about my garden.  Where has the summer gone?  My plants echo that sentiment.  The weather turned back to a plesant 70 degrees, so I finally got the back yard mowed, but since the weather has been so awful, the grass hasn't grown much so it still didn't look so bad, except the few weeds I haven't had a chance to keep up with and the various varieties of grass that grow while the rest of my lawn didn't.  But now it looks good, and the front yard looks green again where the the city had messed up the natural grass that was drought resistant and stayed green year round without any water from me, fed by the high water table.  When you mess that up, you get brown grass.  Funny to see a swath where they took out the natural grass all down the street, it's all been brown when it used to be green.  Ah well, now the kids have sidewalks, so it's not all bad.

I digress. I also dug up my compost and fixed it with the grass clippings and kitchen compost and some more of my mom's shredded bills.  But to save you thinking I just recycled the countless pictures I took of the process I go through to fold and fluff my compost, here is a picture of the finished product, it's getting really huge, though the pile had shrunk by half since the last time I fluffed it.

Anyway, the cool weather has definitely helped my cool-weather crops.  My lettuce's sprouted, both seeds I put in each hole. I hate doing that but since the last planting didn't work I didn't want to take chances.  Now I have to catch a tiger by the toe and pull one.  I also have to do that considerably with my carrots after I sprinkled tons over the area where I got shoddy germination.  Now it seems everything germinated.  That's the upshot of the poor weather for you.  And the odd thing is that the cukes and tomatoes haven't seemed to be bothered by the cool weather. I think I've got a handful of new pickling cukes ready in the next few days. 

Speaking of that, we were rushing around all day so I didn't start my pickles marinating.  Tomorrow my mom's coming over and we're starting it out.  We're using her crock pot liner and she's bringing over the stuff for the pickling spices.  Seems you can buy them premade from McCormicks, but what's the fun in that?  Between our three families we should have most all the spices that go into it.  Anyway, my wife isn't  happy about making pickle chips or slices.  She likes the hole pickles.  I explained to her that we only have about a dozen or two pickles a season from these 6 plants. Did she want 24 pickles or a several pints of pickle chips because I let the cukes get much bigger than a regular pickle?  I'm not sure she's convinced, but tough.  I told her next year I may not do corn and then I could do tons of cucumber plants.

As for preserving the beans, alright folks, thanks for you comments. I will boil the heck out of them.  Hehe, I've got it in me that the less cooking the better the veggies are for you, but I'll try the boiling technique for the Blue Lake beans.  I guess some nutrition from actually eating them is better than none from not eating them at all.  I'm also going to preserve them so I can pull a pint from the cupboard rather than grabbing a can opener for Del Monte or Dole.

My mom also had me check to see if the blackberries were ready to harvest.  She, like me, has heard tons of people saying they've been harvesting for a month now.  But ours aren't ready. They don't get full full sun, but close.  I don't know what to think, and I sure hope they do eventually ripen. If not, that would NOT be good.  We rely on them for three families worth of blackberry jelly, which is a family favorite.  The irony was not lost on me that I have hardly ever tasted store-bought jams and jellies in my entire life.  We've always had home made.  So come on weather, come on blackberries!  At least the plums are almost ready. They're purple and big, just not squishy at all.  Close though.  So at least we'll have plum jelly. hehe Not the same.

I also want to install the brackets for my hoop covers.  You never know if this weekend will be our last good weather weekend of the year.  It would suck if it was, but I don't want to be setting it up in the freezing rain like last time.  I want to be able to throw up the covers all by myself in 5 minutes like I can the completed bed #1.

Lastly, for those of you that care about my sourdough starter.  Last night after I finished posting to my blog, I finished off the starter recipe!  And if you recall, I had dutifully been going through the steps of the recipe without hardly anything happening in the way of bubbles.  Still on Eric at Breadtopia's say so, I kept moving on.  So what made me know I'd arrived last night was this when I opened the margarine container to mix it for the last time that day...

Now THAT'S frothy!  And when I stirred it, there were bubbles like that throughout the mixture.  Not only that but it was as sticky as taffy, but came right off the spoon, exactly how it was supposed to.  So I decided to move on to the final step and transfer it to the final container...

Don't mind the fork, my 2 year old put it there, he calls them three horns (he loves the Land Before Time videos), or Cera (Sarah) who is the triceratops.  Funny huh? I thought you'd like that aside.  Well, I was pretty loopy by that wee hour of the morning so I went to bed.  The instructions say that after you transfer it wait an hour and the bubbles should be back.  Well I was asleep by then.  So this morning I took this picture and emailed it to my mom, who promptly wanted her starter, hehe.

So today I also pulled out a tablespoon of the starter and put it back into the margarine container.  This time I fed it with white flour since she didn't want my wheat variety.  According to Breadtopia, you can make a different variety simply by using a tablespoon of your wheat and feeding it exclusively with white or rye.  After twice daily feedings of 1/4th cup of white it'll be 99% white starter with no dicernable trace of wheat. 

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to use as a proofing basket when I make my no-kneed bread.  What a problem to have, huh?

Enjoy your garden!


  1. Sinfonian - thanks for visiting my blog. It made me happy, to know that you went there. I'll be updating it daily, jumping ahead 2 weeks at a time until it's to current events. It's very cool that you and your family make jellies, and stuff like that. It's just so much better than store bought. My wife makes bread, as well. We love it! Anyway, hope your plums and berries do well for you.


  2. Wow, I have got to try the starter myself now, way cool. To be honest I was waiting to make sure it worked for you, before I did that, hehe. Well good job!

    Cute to hear about the three horn, it's fun to have little ones around to give a home that kind of color and animation...

    I'll have to look up EG's blog, I love being the voyeur.

  3. You are one busy person !!
    Bet you love it.

  4. Oh, you might like this...
    Hope you can link on my husbands page.
    I see a common interest. And time on your hands.

  5. EG: You've got a cool blog. I'll be back regularly.

    Susan: Chicken! Yeah it works. I'm going to bake some bread tomorrow.

    Patsi: I checked out your blog and added it to my blog favorites. I'll be back. And I don't feel busy, I feel kind of lazy. hehe

  6. LOL, ok, you're right. I really need to buck up and make it...hehe.

  7. Fun to watch the starter progress along. I am counting on you to show us the finished product as well (too bad we don't have "smell-o-vision" internet sites! The smell of fresh baked sour dough bread would bring vast crowds to your website!

    Had to chuckle about three horns... when my daughter was small she was an avid watcher of the "Land Before Time" videos. Those days are long behind us (she is driving and doing college prep) but they were sure fun times.

    And... is there such a thing as store bought jam?!? LOL! Wouldn't know 'cause it is homemade here or nothing at all! Just so you don't worry too much - almost all berries and produce are running about two to three weeks behind normal this year - everything - so blackberries are just now coming on for most of us and usually we are about done by now.