Summer Vegitables

canned

So you are all probably thinking “Uh huh, he said he would update once a week, yeah right.” LOL. Well, I try, but am only getting time about every other week. Last weekend we had our Annual Helmig Farms BBQ competiton so we were a bit busy.  Every year we host a large event (about 60 people this year here at our farm, where locals get together and compete in BBQ’ing in four catagories :Chicken, brisket, ribs, and pork.  Medals and trophies are awarded,  food and drink provided for every one, and a great time had by all. Alot of visitors seemed to gravitate towards the vegitable garden and asking different questions. As for our summer garden update, we took our last picking of green beans and wax beans on Tuesday night. I still need to pull up the plants as they are all done just have not had the time.  We were able to can 27 pints of green beans out of the deal, so that will be nice this winter. When canning, the wife did her batches just plain beans and some homemade bacon that I butchered and cured last fall. The batches i did i added the same homemade bacon, but also through in some homegrown chopped up white onion.  The peas are also all done, we ended up with 4 gallons of peas frozen.  They take up alot of room in the garden but are sure yummy, and for pea lovers they are a wonderful treat in the wintertime in casseroles, on salads, etc.  The pea plants are already all ripped up. Later this weekend my Dutch Flat Head cabbage is ready, so i will need to shred it and ferment it for sour Krout. Recipes are on the internet as for recipes, it takes about a week or maybe a little more depending on volume, temp, etc. Also i notice my onions have fallen over.  Stalks have not turned yellow yet, but will today or tomorrow I am assuming. So i will need to pull them as well, bunch them, and hang them. Hang onions in a cold dry place for maximum keep time. Depending on the species you can keep for example yellow onions almost into next planting season. My white onions for example, or red onions, or walla walla’s will not keep near that long due to their sugar content. You can still hang them, but they will spoil fairly quick. Debating trying some shredding and freezing methods this year for longer keep time on the white onions.  Tomatoes are doing wonderful, growing like weeds, and fruiting, but are not yet ripe. Zucchinnis have had one massive picking already. We canned 18 jars of Zuch-relish, and I gave about a dozen Zuch’s away to my mother as she likes making Zuchinni sweet pickles. She wanted to trade me a few jars in trade for the produce, but I don’t much care for sweet pickles, so politely refused. There are about another 50 lbs of Zuchinni that are still growing but not yet ready for harvest. My garlic never did all that great, as they were from 2 year old cloves, but i will take the ones I can and hang for drying to use for re-planting stock next year. Carrots are also all ready for harvest, and are very large. I added some sand into the carrot area before I tilled it this year, and they grew a world better! Much larger in diameter and length. Will probably get 10 pints or so out of the carrots.  Peppers are also doing well, jalepenos and bells, and have been being used through out the summer for cooking. I didn’t plant a whole bunch of peppers this year as i still have loads of them in the freezer from years before.  On a side note “Sammy” our Yorkshire pig is fattening up nice also, and loving the canning season! Sammy gets all the scraps from canning, and plants i yank up, etc on top of her feed ration. So she is a happy camper, and will be more than ready to butcher in fall. Butcher time is strictly dependent upon pigs weight, and cool weather. I wait till the weather is cold so i can hang the pig and age it for a few days, but not totally cold enough to freeze, as frozen animals are a PAIN to cut up and process. usually October is prime butchering season. 

Catching Rain

I am sitting in my comfortable recliner, some annoying cartoon on tv that my 3 year old is watching, the fire next to me roasty and toasty, and on the window panes the rain beats hard. The past week or so it has been half way decent weather out, but here in early spring with fresh new fruit trees in the ground, seeds planted in the garden, we need a rain. Which brings me to my topic of the day. Catching, and using rain to our benefit, not work against us, and here in western Oregon we get TONS of rain! Lets start off by first mentioning that in spring, rain is needed to help growing trees and shrubs establish root systems, and provide water for the growing plant to begin structural growth, bud development, and over all cell structure. With out the rain, plants would just wither away and die. Same for seeds planted in gardens or flowerbeds. The rain is needed to keep these seeds moist and germinate so they can sprout and grow up through the earth. One way of harnessing rain that some may not think of, is i store rain water. I have rain collection units around teh farm here, from 5-gallon buckets at the bottom of gutter down spouts, to rubber maid tubs catching rain off the wood shed roof. Why would I collect rain water you ask? Well, if I was in the city the use of rain water for plants would be super beneficial due to city water containing so much cholorine and flouride and such and would provide the plants with a more pure and nitrogen enriched source of water. However, we do have a well here on the farm, so the purity of the water is not an issue. Mostly i use the collected water for animals. The rabbits and the chickens both live off the collected rain water (except in the summer, then it is well water). Its also handy sometimes having some easily accesible water for washing off farm or garden tools, rinsing off eggs, washing off dirty hands what ever. Rain is our friend, not our enemy, and has a million uses. As the years progress I intend on expanding my rain catching system to something a little more substantial, but in the mean time what i have will have to work. Happy rain catching every one.

Rock Bed Herb Garden

So it always seems like our farm produces more rocks and boulders than it does crops and livestock! No, actually things grow great here, but when we excavated the land when i was building the house i now have an overwelming stockpile or rocks and boulders. I definately bought a rocky piece of ground. However, instead of letting it get me down, I figured out a way to make the rocks work for me instead of against me.

Image

Between my pump house and an electrical tranformer (which i had already built a rock wall around to hide the ugly electrical box) I built a large rock garden bed, filled it with dirt, and it will be our “Herb Garden.”

It is still a bit early in the spring (3-11-13) to be planting alot of the herbs yet, but when the weather warms up i will plant all the seeds into the ground and let her grow. I have a fairly large collection of seeds from last spring that i purchased, with ambition of making some kind of herb growing bed. However, every day farm work, kids, and our jobs (wife is a Nurse, i am a Logger), getting an herb bed just never got done. So now, this year the bed is all done, the seeds are waiting, and we will be cooking and BBQ’ing with fresh herbs all summer! Yummy!

My design and construction of the bed may not be perfect, was just my thoughts, reasons, and materials i had at that given time, and is as fallows:

 The bed is placed on a natural ditch and water flowing line (was excavated for water and power lines to the house, so water kinda naturally flows in that area in heavy rains). To avoid over saturation of the soil and herbs, I shallowly dug up any grass in that general area. I then went into the field and packed every single rock by hand over and tossed over the fence landing next to the work area. Once i had a good supply of rocks, I started lining them up and setting them all in place so that they would not only hold in the soil, but also look halfway pleasing to the eye. Once the bed was all shaped i then used a five gallon bucket and a shovel, and placed in Approx. 2 inches of gravel in the bottom of the bed. I did this in thoughts of it will give good drainage for the herbs, but also as a water and drainage barrier for heavy springtime rains and the water that flows underneath the bed. This way the water should have a place to still flow, but not flood out my herb garden, making it a big swampy soupy mess. Any ways, once I smoothed all the gravel out i then used the tractor and got some extra soil i have piled up in numerous places around the farm and dumped it into the herb garden, smooting it out and plucking rocks sticks and weeds by hand. then Voila! Rock bed herb garden complete.

As far as the herbs i will be planting in there they include: Mint (already planted in there now), Rosemary, Chives, Basil, Horse raddish (have it growing in a pot, need to plant it in my new herb bed), Cilantro/Corriander, Stevia, Dill, Thyme, Terragon, Oregano, Sage, and i am wanting to also pick up some spearmint when ever the local store starts stocking the plants. I was thinking maybe some Lavander also since i know it is edible just to add a little color to the bed, but i may try cooking with it a bit and dabble with it before i  plant any.

While i was making the rock bed herb garden I also built along side the drive way a rock bed flower and shrub bed. I currently have some small trees in there and some flowers and shrubs, but the trees will be removed and transplanted to a different location once they are bigger and a little more mature and stable.074

I am using it for kind of an incubation/baby nursing bed for the young trees, giving them a place for them to grow a bit, establish a good root system, get used to the soil, etc. The trees that are there now but will be removed in a year or two and placed in a final location include: Oriental Spruce, Colorado Blue spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, White Fir (also known as a Piss Fir), a Willow tree, and a Golden rain tree. As far as decorative things that will stay are Forsynthias and Tulips, and will let the wife add what ever flowers she would like to add color. This smaller rock bed is purely decorative, basically just some eye candy along side the drive way (placed it up against a rock jack i build for the fence) as we/people travel up and down the driveway.