Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday August 18, 2011

      Today was another whirlwind of a day! Because it was raining,we started by sorting a variety of plastic containers that had been donated to the garden. Tamara and Carly made a special birthday zucchini bread for Colin who turned 18 today. Then we went out to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. After that we bagged some (cooked & cooled) apples from Monday and put them in the freezer, along with the tomatoes we roasted on Monday. Then we started right in on another batch of tomatoes - slicing, salting and roasting until fragrant and delicious. We also added more cucumbers to our bucket pickles, managed to grate several gallons of yellow squash for freezing and sliced and froze two trays of hot peppers. Today was Julia's last day with us as she is getting ready to go away to Juniata College. I will really miss everything that she has contributed to the garden, not just this summer, but many years past.
      After our regular hours, Julia, Carly and Raina stayed to help with some before-school-starts cleaning and organizing. Raina and Julia totally reorganized the shed while Carly and I took everything out of the  kitchen cabinets and reorganized those as well. It was an amazing transformation in both cases. Thank you Julia, Carly and Raina!!!!!!                           -Celia

Mitchell, Pio and Willie harvest tomatoes
Is Pio juggling them?

Raw tomatoes, red and gold
Celia scoops out cooked tomatoes
Julia, Raina, Pio, Willie and Mitchell slice up hot peppers.
Note that they are wearing gloves to protect their hands

Beazy, the garden cat, in the Tithonia
Cards for Colin for his birthday and Julia on her last day
Carly made these beautiful creations
Colin with his birthday zucchini bread, freshly made, still warm!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, August 15th, 2011

      Today we did not turn on the irrigation when we arrived. Usually, the first person to arrive feeds the cat, opens the doors and turns on the irrigation. The four- plus inches of rain we got yesterday gave the garden a deep soaking and the entire garden had a robust and healthy feeling this morning. Our visitor today was Pio who is already working on the 20 hours of community service needed as a ninth grader this year. We enjoyed working with him and I think he had a good time too. ("This was more fun than I thought it would be!" -Pio)
     We started by harvesting lots of tomatoes, hot peppers, cucmbers, raspberries and a few summer squash, which are starting to really slow down, thank goodness. The tomatoes and apples are taking so much of our time that we don't have time to chop and blanch the squash. We worked on slicing apples for another batch of applesauce and also slicing tomatoes and cooking them down for tomato sauce. The cucumbers were added to the "bucket pickles" that we started last week and the raspberries were frozen for jam-making in the future. The hot peppers went into the refrigerator and will either be dried for hot pepper flakes or will be incorporated into our extraordinary hot 'n sweet pepper relish. But for Wednesday, it will be corn, corn, corn. We will be receiving 500 ears of sweet corn which we will peel, blanch, cut, bag and freeze. If you'd like to join us for this community-wide event, please do! We will start at 8am this Wednesday in front of the gym. See you there!                   -Celia

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Willie cores tomatoes to be cooked down for sauce

Beautiful tomatoes!

Mitchell, Pio, Carly and Julia slice up apples to be made into applesauce

Pio helps with the slicin' and dicin'

Red hot peppers

Colin and Tamara harvest raspberries

The garden cat loves Tamara

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Another whirlwind of a day! We were all over the garden doing everything from harvesting to fertilizing to watering. We are definitely in harvesting and preserving mode. We sliced, cooked down and bagged eight huge trays of tomatoes. Once we tasted them, we couldn't stop eating them - we even drank the juice which tastes like a power-shot of nutrition and good health. Yum! We also grated and froze 5 gallons of yellow squash and picked up apples from the ground to be made into applesauce next week. Mitchell and Shay spent most of the time burning our brush pile which contained mostly apple prunings. It was a huge job but now the area looks neat and clean. We even started a new batch of fermented pickles with extra garlic and dill because we have eaten almost all of the previous batch. And those three dehydrators full of Holy Basil from yesterday? They are now dried and bagged and ready for tea.          -Celia

A tray of tomatoes ready for roasting

After roasting - delicious!

Sunflower heads are drying

Cucumbers, dill and garlic from the garden are combined
in a new batch of fermented pickles

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

      Today was a bit crazy here in the garden. We started by harvesting squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and raspberries and while the numbers of squash and cucumbers has decreased, the tomatoes are ripening like crazy! We were visited today by Shay Inkpen who helped us to harvest three huge baskets of tomatoes. Tomatoes are great for soups and sauces so we slice them, roast them in the oven and then freeze them. If you put the roasted tomatoes in the blender, they make a wonderful sauce! Karen and I have one concern - what are we going to do when we run out of freezer space?! We are getting really excited about the amounts of vegetables we have been able to "put up' so far and the garden is still producing an abundance of many kinds of fruits, veggies and herbs.
      We also harvested some Holy Basil today and now have three dehydrators full. While we plucked the aromatic leaves from the stems, we sipped the Holy Basil, lemongrass and mint iced tea from yesterday's tea party. We also feasted on squash bread and cucumber sandwhiches-a suitable feast for gardeners - and it really kept us going. By the end of our work day we had only made it through half of the tomatoes, so we know what we'll be doing tomorrow.
      We put the honey we harvested a few weeks ago into jars today. Over 40 half pint jars!! Each person was allowed to take one home in appreciation for all the hard work. They really deserve that sweet reward. And thank you to Carly who remembered to collect the calendula flowers at the end of the day. We will be making a wonderful, healing cream from the blossoms.
      Today was Megan's last day with us. It was sad to see her go but we were all so glad to get to know her so well. What an inspiration she has been - smart, kind, generous and hard-working. Megan has a positive attitude that will serve her well in life. We all wish her the best of luck in her first year of college.   -Celia

Shay, Mitchell and Tamara have fun picking tomatoes

Megan plucking Holy Basil leaves

Mitchell and Shay have a great conversation while helping with the basil

Willie really concentrates on slicing the tomatoes

Karen is pleased by the amount of food we are preserving for the lunch program

Trinity holds her jar of honey
She designed the label herself!

There is no such thing as too many tomatoes!
(or is there?)

Celia enjoys the aroma while plucking leaves

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Today we made another delicious batch of applesauce, grated and froze two huge baskets of yellow squash, and harvested three large baskets of tomatoes. We also weeded, watered and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned! Tomorrow there will be a Ladies Tea here in the garden for women who are involved in gardening and agriculture. It will be a time to share stories and resources and for all of us to get to know each other better. The menu comes directly from the garden: applesauce, yogurt with raspberry sauce, zucchini bread, herb tea both hot and cold, tomatoes with cheese and basil and maybe some pickles. (for breakfast!?) And the tables will be decorated with fresh flowers from the garden too. Did I mention our own honey in the tea? It promises to be a wonderful event!     -Celia

The garden building is ready

Fine china

We removed everything from the patio and then swept

Carley hoses out below the sink

Mitchell cleans the outside sink

Nice work Mitchell!

Bill mows the grass
Nothing makes the garden look nicer than mowing!
Thank you Bill!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

       Gardeners always seem to acquire lots of extra fencing, posts and hoses that can be unsightly when not in use. We have a beautiful shed to hold all of our tools and other supplies but the fencing and posts never fit inside it. Instead, they are stacked behind it and I have to admit, it's not very pretty. So today we decided to create a willow screen to help to block the view of our little "junkyard". Mitchell, Megan, Colin and Julia took a few 1" X 1" posts, some willow from the garden and a few nails and created a beautifully rustic screen. See photos below.
      We also did a bit of succession planting today. We planted buckwheat for the bees where the onions once grew and carrots replaced the parsley that never really grew. We also had time for some weeding, garden clean-up and harvesting, of course.   - Celia

Mitchell working on the willow screen

Megan selects a willow whip

The screen is complete

Mitchell, Colin, Julia and Megan with the completed and installed willow screen

Julia braided some onions

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Today we quickly went about some basic garden maintenance like harvesting vegetables and apples, turning on and checking the irrigation, emptying the dehydrator of peppers, putting compost on the raspberry beds and tidying up the herb circle so that we could start the honey harvesting! Although we only had nine frames of honey to harvest, everyone really enjoyed the experience. Mitchell demonstrated how to use the hot knife to uncap the cells and Megan was in charge of loading the frames into the extractor. After everyone uncapped at least one full frame, the extractor was full and Colin, Megan and Tamara took turns cranking it. We watched as the honey was thrown from the frames onto the inside of the barrel and then slowly dripped down to the bottom. We then opened the "honey gate" at the bottom and let the thick honey flow through a sieve to separate out pieces of wax. Julia and Raina squeezed honey out of the cappings with their bare hands.  After a sticky clean-up, we had about 10 quarts of honey, which is about 30 pounds.

Mitchell demonstrates while Tamara tastes

The hot knife neatly uncaps the cells

Carly uncaps a frame



This is old hat for Julia

Colin and Megan open the honey gate and let it flow!

Julia and Raina squeeze honey out of the cappings

Sticky hands


Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday, August 1st, 2011

      Today we harvested, blanched and bagged summer squash for freezing as we do every day. Even though we are getting tired of squash, we know that we will be grateful for it later. The freezer is really filling up! We also harvested cucumbers and tomatoes -  and finished the second half of the row of basil that we worked on last week. It took most of us over two hours to strip the basil off the stems and bag them for the freezer. Mitchell dragged the hose out and watered the raspberries which don't seem to be doing well due to the lack of rain. We made raspberry jam and boy does it taste good!
      We were visited by the Wiedmann family today plus my daughter Raina. Claire, Jason, Lucas, Anna, Mark and Raina helped by watering the "third grade garden" where we have cucumbers, parsley and strawberries. Jason was in third grade last year so he remembered eating those strawberries with yogurt on the last day of gardening class. Then they helped to collect calendula flowers and put them in the jar of olive oil that is then warmed by the sun. The warmth of the sun infuses the healing essences of the calendula into the oil, which can then be made into a healing calendula cream.
      Wednesday will be a special day because we will be harvesting honey!! If anyone reading this blog would like to come and help, we are starting at 8:15 am. Please feel free to join us. It is fun, educational and tasty!

Hot peppers going to be dehydrated and made into hot pepper flakes

Jam makers

Stirring the hot jam

Basil again?!?!

Onions curing

Anna, Lucas and Jason collect calendula flowers

A calendula flower floating in the olive oil

Claire, Mark, Lucas, Anna, Jason and Raina water the 3rd grade garden

Anna waters strawberry plants