Potatoe Planting Time!

June is a good time to start potatoes in the garden here in the desert foothills. While I really should have bought certified seed potatoes, I just went ahead and planted the sprouting spuds growing in my kitchen. some purple/blue ones, some with red skin and white meat and a few regular russet bakers.

I have also written an article about potatoes, Growing Potatoes.

seed potatoes

sprouting potatoes

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Potatoe Time

June is a good time to plant potatoes here in the desert foothills. I had a few purple and red potatoes sprouting in the kitchen so got them put in today. I’ll be writing an article about planting potatoes and will let you know when it’s published!

HOME GROWN FOOD SECURITY

Some of my family & friends do not understand my passion for my garden and canning and preserving the food I grow. To me this is my own form of  Social Security. If things go to pot me and mine will be provided for. If, when I retire, the system doesn’t give me enough money to live on, I will be fine, because I have taken on the responsibility of providing for myself.  Some object that it is cheaper to buy things at the store. That could be, in some cases, modern agriculture and mass production have given us cheap food and goods. However, cheaper is not necessarily better. Some of these systems are actually making us sick! Look at Mad Cow disease, swine flu, bird flu. There is evidence that genetically modified foods are very bad for us [and, if given a choice between natural and GM grain, animals will eat the first and refuse the second! Lets be as smart as the animals!] Besides all these reasons, I enjoy what I do. It gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment to look at the shelves in my kitchen, bursting with food I put there myself. Besides which, there are many things I can make at home that you cannot possibly buy at any price.

gardenoctt09 009Bean soup, potatoe soup, dilly beans, green beans, pickled peppers, tomato sauce, pickled eggs… there’s more you can’t see, blueberries, apple sauce, jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, marinades. This year not everything was grown at home. I took advantage of terrific sales and the farmer’s market. But next year most of the cupboards will be filled with home grown goodness.  Also not in this picture are the things that I’ve dried, plums, apples, raisins, tomatoes, jerky, herbs for seasoning and tea.

Tally HO! And in the Kitchen

WOWSERS! The tally for July is in and a big surprise!

Eggs, 102, which is down a bit from previous months. That isn’t really a surprise, since it has been so hot, the hens have been in a bit of a moult, which always lowers production.

alfalfa & comfrey, which I grow for the rabbits and chickens: 4.8 pounds

Produce: 101.75 That is the big surprise. The bulk of the poundage has been potatoes, tomatoes and onions, but includes strawberries, several kinds of beans, swiss chard, tomatillos, peppers, cucumbers, Tromboccino squash, eggplant, basil, apples, watermelon, mesquite beans [which will be ground into a flour when really crispy dry,  high in protien with a sweet lemon taste] and baby corn.

And there is more to come. It has been too hot for the lima beans to set pods, but as soon as it cools off a bit I think we’ll have lots, the cukes and yard long beans are just now hitting their stride. The baby corn is just coming in, to the girls delight [they’ve been waiting all summer for baby corn and are eating it raw!] The Kabocha squash will probably tote up a lot of poundage, there’s the yellow Moon & Stars and the Jubilee watermelons, the cantaloupes, a couple of kinds of pole beans, peppers and eggplants, to say nothing of the fact that there are still potatoes in their pots.  While it’s been too hot for the large paste tomatoes to set new fruit, once the daytime temps stay under 90, they should set a lot.

So it is quite possible for Aug and Sept to show even more poundage than July.

Each time I go to the grocery store my list gets shorter and shorter, partly due to the produce coming in from the garden. Part of it is because I am making more and more things from scratch at home. For instance milk was very cheap when I went shopping yesterday so I picked up an extra gallon and it is ‘ripening’ right now to make cottage cheese. I have found a really delicious brand of yogurt and while I am also going to begin making my own, especially when milk is cheap, it was on sale too so I got extra. The extra carton is now draining to make ‘yogurt cheese’. This is a soft and creamy spreadable ‘cheese’ to which I will add fresh herbs and eat on crackers.

Peelings, cores and bruised bits of apples sit in a gallon jar becoming vinegar. The cucumber crop is in various jars becoming fermented dill pickles. Scott eats tons of mayo so that is another one I’ll start making at home. He also loves garlic and I have a garlic mayo recipe to try out on him.

I’ve really been disappointed with BBQ sauce and salad dressings since I started really reading labels. Also with ketchup. They all have tons of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup in them along with chemicals I can’t pronounce.  This makes most of them way too sweet and of course any non organic corn product is likely to be genetically modified, something I don’t want to eat. So I have been experimenting with making my own sauces. One really good one has been garlic & ginger. When I get it tweaked just right I’ll post it here.

Tally Ho! June 2009

I forgot to post the harvest numbers for June, so here they are:

Eggs: 104

Produce 24.37 pounds, lots of the small fruited tomatoes like Imur Prior Beta, Princepe Borhese, Yellow Marble, Snow White, Red Currant and Yellow Pear, some potatoes, Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian, Red LaSoda. Green onions, lambs quarters, chard, a pound of wheat, some purple beans, some herbs of different sorts, a couple of Black Beauty eggplants.

Alfalfa & Comfrey for the rabbits and chickens, 2.3 pounds fresh wet weight.

Just a glance at the numbers for July, I think we are already close to the total for June, so the total should be a lot bigger this month. While the small fruited tomatoes continue to come in, the big paste tomatoes are coloring up. I’ve harvested the white storage onions, and they are curing now. There’s more potatoes to come and more little purple and yellow beans coming on. Oh and don’t forget the cukes! They are just getting started.

Even though it’s 100+ degrees this week, it’s time to start thinking about the fall garden and what we want to grow during the cool season. I’ve already made a list and soon it will be time to start the seeds.

So How’s your garden growing? Are you free of the grocery store yet? Beat the high price of food by growing your own!

Wow, it’s July Already!

My how time has flown this year. I can’t believe it is already July, so much has been going on around here! With hotter weather and especially warmer nights things have really been putting on some growth.

gardenJuly09 001This squash started out innocently enough, just a little sprout in the compost in the corner of the greenhouse bed…..I now believe it is an alien bent on taking over the garden!

gardenJuly09 002Liberty said we had to grow pickles and so we are, here’s a couple still on the vine 😉

gardenJuly09 009Here’s the greenhouse from the other side. The big bushy plants in the tubs are huckleberries. I haven’t grown them before but they are doing very well, loaded with flowers and green fruit.

gardenJuly09 010I just finished potting on some eggplants and peppers into these 2 1/2 gallon containers. The peppers are Rio Grande. The large leaved plant just behind the peppers is my little fig tree, growing from a cutting I took last fall. Behind everything are some of the potted potatoes.

gardenJuly09 014A Delicata squash grown in a large tub. I love these little winter squash, they are very sweet and tasty. Much better than any acorn I’ve ever tried.

gardenJuly09 015Purple de Milpa, a purple tomatillo from the Seed Saver’s Exchange.

gardenJuly09 016On the patio the Trombocinno is taking off and so are the yard long beans.

gardenJuly09 017A young Trombocinno squash

gardenJuly09 019these “Snow White” tomatoes are certainly misnamed, tho they are sweet and juicy.

gardenJuly09 020The Jicama have finally quit pouting and started growing now that is warmer.

gardenJuly09 022The grey water filter tub is growing a good crop too. Kabocha squash, Elephant ears, canna lilly

gardenJuly09 023A Moon & stars Heirloom watermelon seedling. This time of year nothing is safe from the birds and every little seedling has to be caged to keep them from being ripped up and eaten.

gardenJuly09 025The King of the Garden Lima beans are still going at it. They are now 11 FEET tall!

gardenJuly09 026Bloody Butcher corn is doing well. some of the popping sorghum and broom corn were wiped out in an afternoon when the chickens got loose, but there are still some plants left.

gardenJuly09 028Looking along the driveway from the front steps, the bergamot is blooming, the grape vine thinks that everything is there just for it to climb on, like the apple tree.

gardenJuly09 029This is a Blacktail Mountain watermelon. It’s one of the ones growing on the compost pile out back.

gardenJuly09 030Here’s another little watermelon along with a cantaloupe. We would be much closer to eating cantaloupes except for the darn rodents that ate every single developing fruit! as well as munching on the vines. They are making a comeback now though.

gardenJuly09 032Baby Blue Hubbard squash on their compost pile. They look a bit sad because I forgot to water them one day and when I got to them they were badly wilted. They are doing fine now though, with several small squash coming on.

gardenJuly09 035Here’s one of those Baby Blues, next to the compost thermometer, which still registers 140 degrees. It actually went down to 130 but a good watering and it went up to 150, but has settled back down to 140 again.

gardenJuly09 039We had a nice thunderstorm this evening and I spied this double rainbow when I went outside after the rain.

Tomatoes are a comin’ on!

Well, we’ve been picking and eating tomatoes for a week or two now, just a trickle of ripe ones. If Harmony has her way they disappear nearly as fast as I can pick them.

gardenJune09 007These are the Princepe Borghese tomatoes. I’m afraid the blue jays have discovered them though. Now I have to buy more bird netting.

gardenJune09 006The west side of the patio is beginning to look like a jungle, potted potatoes on the left, tomatoes on the right. More potatoes in the background. The orange pots have pepper plants in them. They are sitting on the 55 gal drum which is the sand filter for the grey water from the washing machine.

gardenJune09 005Here’s a new compost pile. It is built over several tree stumps that I’m trying to get rid of. I’ve managed to kill an oleander by building a hot compost pile on top of the stump. This pile was built of horse manure and sawdust, topped off with some leaf litter, then some finished compost on top of that. I’ll be planting watermelons on it soon.

gardenJune09 004The Kabocha squash in the grey water tub is going strong. On the right is a canna lilly.

gardenJune09 001King of the Garden Lima beans on the arch trellis. The tallest one has hit 5’6″ and still climbing.

gardenJune09 003The new garden beds out front, with Bloody Butcher corn, popping sorghum, broom corn and quinoa. In the foreground are some madder plants.

gardenJune09 008The trombocino squash has hit the roof and started sideways.

gardenJune09 009The greenhouse looking from the outside in. The sugar snap peas have been pulled out and replaced with various beans. A volunteer squash plant is taking over the corner. You can’t see them in the pic but lots of Malabar spinach in there too. Left side of the pic you can just see part of Miracle’s sunflower and the bed of baby corn.

gardenJune09 011Another view of the greenhouse. Looks like I need to do a little housekeeping in there! The big green bushes are the huckleberries I grew from seed. They are beginning to bloom. I’ve never grown them before, but they are supposed to taste like blueberries.

gardenJune09 010On the right are large paste tomatoes. On the left Burgandy Okra. Some of the okra seedlings didn’t make it and were replaced with my 6 Beauregard sweet potatoe plants.

TALLY HO! MAY 2009

Being the last day of May I’ve tallied the harvest, 125 eggs, 31 pounds of produce and 17.6 pounds of rabbit meat.  Most of this months harvest was snap peas and spinach type greens. But we also got 5# of regular garlic and 4# of Elephant garlic. Totals do  not include grazing by small children, nor the single red currant tomato that was the size of a pea or a couple of strawberries that I snuck.

I also have a lot of seeds drying off, but won’t know their actual weight until they dry out and I get them cleaned up. I’m hoping June’s numbers will be at least double that, tho it could be much better, since the potatoes should be done in June.

Busy Busy

Well it’s really busy around here, just not enough hours in a day to keep up with everything!

gardenapril09 001The Maxi Golt peas were done for, so out they came, to be replaced by Burgandy okra and several inches of sawdust mulch

gardenapril09 004Some of the Sugar Snap peas come out and are placed by Double Yield cucumbers [thanks! http://www.freedomseeds.com] and Kentucky Wonder pole beans

gardenapril09 005Chires Baby Corn seedlings. These are the little baby corns in Chinese cooking, or left to mature they make popcorn.

gardenapril09 006The strawberry bed is interplanted with purple bush beans.

gardenapril09 007The Elephant Garlic is blooming. We got almost 5 pounds!

gardenapril09 008A spell of cool rainy weather gave the Blueshokker peas a new lease on life.

gardenapril09 010A Grimes Golden apple grows with Mammoth sunflowers, asparagus, Swiss chard, cosmos and nasturtiums.

gardenapril09 011Super Italian Paste tomatoes in large cages. Despite a wind storm knocking them over and breaking some branches, they are doing ok.

gardenapril09 012A Lemon Gem marigold. It really does smell and taste of citrus.

gardenapril09 013On the patio looking down the SW side of the house. The big green bushes in front are some of the potted potatoes.

gardenapril09 014This sad looking Red Currant tomato nealy drowned. It’s planted in an old ice chest and I didn’t realize the drain plug got closed up. But it’s making a come back and even delivered up our first taste of homegrown tomatoes.

gardenapril09 015Yard long bean seedlings in a planter by the house. They’ll grow up to shade the laundry room windows.

gardenapril09 016The trombocino squash is taking off.

gardenapril09 017On the patio tomatoes grow in old ice chests and peppers in the orange pots.

gardenapril09 018!st big red tomato, an Imur Prior Beta, it weighed 1 1/2 ounces and tasted delicious.

gardenapril09 020The Kabocha squash was rudely pruned by a pack rat

gardenapril09 021The buckwheat is blooming. mmmm buckwheat pancakes, coming up!
gardenapril09 022The chickens enjoy scratching in their new spot.

gardenapril09 023A wild sunflower with very tiny seeds volunteers in the raspberry bed.

gardenapril09 025The Baba raspberries are showing some color.

gardenapril09 026The new garden area: paths laid, beds made, planted with popping sorghum, quinoa and Bloody Butcher corn.

gardenapril09 027Potatoes in the ground out front aren’t as big and lush as the potted ones on the patio, but doing ok under 6 inches of sawdust mulch.

gardenapril09 028Bloody Butcher corn seedlings. The sticks along the edge of the bed are guides to keep small children on the path.

gardenapril09 030King of the Garden Lima beans are taking off up their trellis.

gardenapril09 031Pencil pod yellow wax beans await transplanting.

gardenapril09 032Poppies and wildflowers bloom along the driveway.

gardenapril09 033A strong smelling sage blooms

gardenapril09 034WOW! look at those melons taking off.

gardenapril09 035Yippee! A baby watermelon

gardenapril09 036The Baby Blue Hubbards are blooming. That compost pile is still hot, 138 degrees!

gardenapril09 037More wild flowers, poppies, a corn flower and a baby apple along the drive way

gardenapril09 038A bee buzzes a bright red poppy full of pollen.