September 30, 2012 - The End of September Garden

 The east garden, with carrots, cabbages and peas.  All of the bush beans have been harvested, and the plants pulled.

 The remaining cabbages are so chewed up, I doubt they'll ever see a harvest.  None of the other cabbages were damaged like this, even those in the row on the other side of these carrots were perfect. 

Most of the good  cabbages have been harvested, I think there might be two small ones left.  I cut some of them off rather than pulling them out.  If you do this, leaving a few of the bottom leaves on the plant, they will grow a bunch of mini-heads!  This one has developed about six little heads in the 2-3 weeks since it was cut.  Each head is about golf ball sized so far.

 The first blossom on the fall peas.  My fingers are crossed that I'll get even a small harvest from them.

 The Brussels sprouts plants are 3-4' tall, but the sprouts are tiny.  About the size of a pencil eraser!  Grandpa Ott morning glories have nearly obliterated the bench.  They don't blossom as well in the kennel garden as they do behind the garden shed.  I think it's just too shady for them.   Nasturtiums and alyssum carpet the inside, barely leaving me enough room to walk back to the bench.

 The last planting of Fortex pole beans climbs the outside of the kennel fence.  That's a pot of oregano in the foreground.  I never did pick any of it, I just let the bees enjoy it all summer.  I actually picked so few herbs this year, I stopped keeping a weight tally early on.  I still had several jars of dried herbs from last year, so I only used a few sprigs of fresh parsley, basil and chives as needed for cooking this year.

 YUK!  Bermuda grass has grown where the squash vines once lived.  I have a lot of digging to do before it takes over the entire garden!

 Speaking of digging, look at this broccoli stump I'll be digging out.  That was the plant that was giving me most of those broccoli side shoots, right up until I chopped it down.  It was almost five feet high!

 Not much going on in the north garden now.  Peppers, a few tomato plants, a stray celery or two, and the strawberry bed.  Even the marigolds are looking worn out.

This volunteer Cherokee Purple tomato plant has been our main source of slicing tomatoes this year.

 The zucchini plants are covered with powdery mildew, but still blossoming and fruiting.  The ladder is finally free of its cantaloupe vines.  A few pots of peppers are still alive and blooming, but not very productive.

 The volunteer cosmos were very well behaved this year, unlike the ugly "trees" I grew last year.  They were probably the prettiest flower in the garden.

Mr. Granny's favorite was Grandpa Ott morning glory.  This one, behind the garden shed, blossoms most of the day.  This photo was taken around 3:30 in the afternoon!

Our first frost will probably happen in about two weeks, so I'd like to get as much garden cleanup done as possible before the weather gets cold.  It's always sad to see the end of the gardening season approaching, but I think I'm just about ready for a long winter's rest!

September 29, 2012 - I've Been Squashed

I pulled out the squash vines yesterday.  Really, 56 butternut squash and at least 20 acorn squash (I lost count) are more than enough for our needs for the next year!

When I pulled the vines, I harvested all of these (and the final two cucumbers when I pulled those, too), and another small butternut that wasn't yet ripe (not pictured).  That big one in the back weighed 7 pounds!

It's a long as my hand and forearm!  

I still have these left in the garden.  The upper two are still attached to their vine, but the others aren't.  If I use these immature squash, I will have harvested a total of  56 butternuts this year.

I peeled and steamed the small immature butternut and tasted it.  It wasn't bad, but lacked the sweetness, richness and flavor of a fully mature squash.  I really hate to see these young ones go to waste.  The two that are on the vine may have time to ripen, but I doubt if the others will ripen off the vine.  I decided, since I have so many ripe ones stored,  to mix them up a bit.

I steamed a ripe squash and added it to the immature squash in the food processor.  You can really see the difference in the colors!

The resulting puree looked and tasted just like pumpkin, so it was frozen to use in pies, breads and cookies.  I got four cups from this first batch, enough for two pumpkin pies. 

I'll leave the others in the garden until a frost is imminent, then bring them in and combine them with ripe butternuts to freeze as "pumpkin".

September 27, 2012 - Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

Yes, it's still Thursday here in the Northwest!  I know I'm late, but....better late than never?

Really, not much has been happening around here about which to blog.  We were expecting to be busy watching our new doors and windows being installed on Monday and Tuesday.  The glass company truck rolled into the driveway bright and early Monday morning, and two workers got busy double checking all of the measurements.  They were just about ready to remove the first of the three large living room windows, when I happened to notice the doors and windows in the back of the truck.  "They look awfully white", said I.  "They are white", said he.  "But....", said I, "I ordered almond frames".  The worker grabbed the order sheet and said "It says white on the order".  He flipped to an inside (original order) page.  Hmmmm.  It said Color: almond.  Next page....Color: almond.  Third page....Color: almond.  Somebody had messed up royally!  Worker made a call to the office, then informed me the white doors and windows would be returned, and a rush order put in for the almond ones.  It's now late Thursday, I've heard nothing more from the company, so we have no idea when we will, if ever, get them installed.  Since I've already paid for half of the total cost, I'm hoping it will be soon.

In the meantime, we removed the pet door insert from our dining room sliding glass door, and had son John over to help with the installation of a new "in the wall" unit.  Mr. Granny and I had built new steps for the outside.  We couldn't have Annie and Otto flying through the door and out into open space!  We built the steps extra wide, not knowing yet just exactly where the new opening would be situated.  As it turned out, the new door is way off center, but I have plans for a little wall hanging (dog bone name plates on rope) next to it.  That should center everything nicely.

 The new doggy door had two clear flaps, but Otto was afraid of them so we removed the inside flap temporarily, hoping he'll get used to it at a later time.  He was so funny!  There was no way he was going through this thing, even though it's exactly the same size opening as the old door, and situated just a few inches to the right.  Annie went right through, with no hesitation.  We coaxed and pleaded with Otto, but he just cowered and ran to the kitchen door.  I finally picked him up and pushed him through the doggy door.   Mr. Granny grabbed him and pushed him back out.  Didn't work, Otto was still cowering in fear of that door!  Just then, Annie came out through the door, down the steps and gave Otto a poke with her nose.  She turned around and went back inside through the new door, and Otto timidly followed her!  I was absolutely flabbergasted!  I know she was showing him what to do.  Shortly afterward,  Annie went back out through the door and Otto followed her.  Today he has used it several times, but he usually waits for her to go through it first.

Their new carpeted steps are just an extension of the concrete steps they were using before.  Once I get their name plates on the wall next to the doggy door, and we get the new patio door installed, and I get the patio steps painted....*sigh* thing always leads to another, doesn't it.  I'm afraid the door installers are going to have a difficult time adding the 2" brick molding trim around the new door now.  John should have installed the doggy door a bit farther to the left.  Oh wells, too late now.

But I digress.  It's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard, and I have done a small amount of preserving.  I canned 5 half pints and two pints of sweet chili sauce last week.  Today I froze 3 pounds of green beans and three pounds of green bell pepper strips, and canned 4-1/2 pints of ketchup.

Gallon bags filled with green pepper strips and Velour green beans.

Today's batch of ketchup gives me 7-1/2 pints total for the season, which should probably be enough to last us for an entire year.

Join Robin and others for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard!

September 24, 2012 - Harvest Monday

Due to my spending two days in bed with the flu this week, the harvest was rather limited, but thanks to five more butternut squash, the total weight was pretty high.  

Tomatoes, pole beans, a few sweet peppers and a cucumber.  The cucumber vine looks horrid, but it continues to fruit so it stays.

I pulled the last of the beets, just over 4 1/2 pounds after they were cleaned.  Tops are not eaten, so were not counted in the weight.  I pulled some of the newer carrots, which are the loveliest of the year and nice and sweet.  Three cucumbers from the half dead vines, a few pole beans, tomatoes very first sweet potato!  I was digging around with my hands, and it was right at the surface, so I pulled it out.  A perfect size at just over 8 ounces.  I have it curing in the warmest, darkest place I could find, next to the water heater.  I put it in a plastic bag, slightly opened, to keep the humidity in.  I hope it works!

More broccoli!  I did cut back two of the four trees plants, as they were keeping the sprinkler from hitting too much of the garden....and Mr. Granny is refusing to eat one more bite of broccoli!  This was all given to our youngest son.  I also pulled the last crookneck squash plant and cut back quite a few butternut squash vines.  All but the last planting of pole beans were removed.  The garden still looks full!  I'm finally getting a few larger tomatoes, but many of them have been squirrel bitten or are cracking open.  The best have been from the volunteer Cherokee Purple plant.

Four for the day, making five for the week and 46 butternuts picked so far this year.  Yes, there are still a few more out in the garden that should ripen before frost.

Harvest for the Week of  9/17 - 9/23

Beans, pole - 27.4 ounces  (1.71 pounds)
Beets - 73.7 ounces (4.61 pounds)
Broccoli - 8.3 ounces
Carrots - 11.8 ounces
Cucumbers - 27.4 ounces  (1.71 pounds)
Peppers, sweet - 17.6  ounces (1.1 pounds)
Peppers, hot - 0.5 ounce
Potatoes, sweet - 8.3 ounces 
Squash, summer - 25.9 ounces  (1.62 pounds)
Squash, winter - 328.3 ounces  (20.52 pounds)
Tomatoes - 236.8 ounces  (14.8 pounds)

Total for the week:  47.88 pounds
Total year to date:  867.35 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

September 17, 2012 - Harvest Monday

This week the garden passed the 800 pound mark.  That's still just slightly (about 20 pounds) behind my 2009 garden, but well ahead of the 2010 garden and nearly doubling the 2011 garden total for mid September.

 I'm finally getting a few larger tomatoes.  Although the cherry and small salad sized tomatoes have been quite prolific, the regular/large ones have been very slow to ripen.  I found one last small cantaloupe, hiding under the ladder.  It had harvested itself,  I don't know how I missed it earlier.

 The broccoli side shoots just keep on coming.  I don't know how many bags I have in the freezer by now, but certainly enough to last us most of the winter.  The Fortex beans are beginning to produce again, the yellow crookneck has never stopped producing.  The squash went to my son, as we are quite tired of them, and I have enough in the freezer for our future needs.  Peppers are still slow to turn color, but there are lots of green ones in the garden.

 Beans, beans and more beans.  I thought the zucchini had given up and quit producing, but now it has several small fruits forming.  The first of the four large cantaloupe was finally ready to pick.  It was beautiful, and perfectly ripe, but lacked the sweetness of the smaller melons.  I wonder if it was because of our much cooler nights.  We actually had near freezing temperatures for two nights in a row, which broke the record low for September.

 What it lacked in flavor, it made up for in size.  At nearly 6 pounds, it was the biggest one I've ever grown.  Here it is, sitting on a Good Housekeeping magazine for size comparison.

 It wasn't long before two more large melons were ready to pick.  They went to daughter Amy on Sunday, so I haven't yet heard whether they were flavorful or not.  Another large picking of beans gave me two gallons for the freezer this week.  More broccoli, and it looks as though I'll be getting lots more.  More crookneck squash, but at least there was only one.  Five acorn squash, one was served for dinner and it was very good.  Butternuts are still my favorites, but the acorns are a close second.

On Sunday, the last of the melons was brought in.  I may have nudged the stem a little too hard, it probably could have stayed on the vine for another day or two.  Son Scott has asked for this one, and I'm such a pushover, he'll probably get it.  Total melon weight for the week was nearly 20 pounds, and nearly 53 pounds were harvested in total this year!  Yes, that's one lone tomato from the volunteer unknown plant, and one lone zucchini which is just plenty for Mr. Granny's next meal of fried zucchini.

Harvest for the Week of  9/10 - 9/16

Beans, bush - 30.3 ounces  (1.89 pounds)
Beans, pole - 53.5 ounces  (3.34 pounds)
Broccoli - 25.9 ounces  (1.62 pounds)
Cucumbers - 13 ounces
Melons - 307.6 ounces  (19.23 pounds)
Peppers, sweet - 14.7 ounces
Squash, summer - 54.9 ounces  (3.43 pounds)
Squash, winter - 108.8 ounces  (6.8 pounds)
Tomatoes - 245.9 ounces  (15.37 pounds)

Week's total - 69.6 pounds
Year to date - 819.48 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

September 11, 2012 - House Painting Days 8 and 9

We did it!

We finished the final side of the house today, with the help of son-in-law Bryan, who painted the high peak for us.  I still have a bit of brown trim and the propane tank left to do, but it's at the point where once we get new rain gutters installed and painted, I won't worry about rushing into anything else.  I'm glad it got this far, because I.AM.TIRED!!!!

Now we are all ready for the new vinyl  windows and sliding glass doors that will replace the old aluminum framed doors and windows.  That should help keep the house much warmer this winter, especially those two sliding glass doors.  It is always cold sitting near them.

September 10, 2012 - Harvest Monday

These were the best carrots of the season, even though the harvest was really small.  This was the last small cantaloupe, but there are still four really big ones that are not yet ripe.  Zucchini is producing a couple a week now, which is just about right for our needs.  The one pot of three cucumber plants has also been just perfect for what Mr. Granny can eat, producing about a half dozen a week.

 I pulled the last of the carrots from one of the beds.  I wanted to get some spinach planted there, but time is running short for me.  The bush beans are beginning to give me some big pickings.  We had the butternut squash for dinner, along with a big pot of beans, carrots and summer squash.  The volunteer Cherokee Purple tomato plant has given us several nice slicers.

The broccoli are still giving me a good harvest of side shoots, and the sweet peppers are finally beginning to turn color.  My youngest son is taking the sweet peppers home with him as fast as I can grow them.  Eating them raw, with ranch dip, is his new passion.   I won't let him have those super sweet orange Happy Yummy peppers though.  Those are strictly mine, for adding to sandwiches and coleslaw.

I'm still not getting very many tomatoes, other than the small salad and cherry types.  Luckily the small tomatoes have been prolific enough to make a few batches of sauce, ketchup and sweet chili sauce.  Those pink tomatoes in the bottom photo are from a volunteer plant.  The only variety I've ever grown that were that color, was Clear Pink Early.  

A really large haul for one day, 56 pounds of produce.  Of course the butternut squash added a lot to that total, weighing in at 42 pounds.  I've already harvested a total of 111 pounds ( a new record for me) of winter squash, and there are still several large butternuts and quite a few small acorn squash in the garden that are close to ripening.  The summer squash also broke a weight record this year, producing over 87 pounds so far, and still going strong.

Harvest for the Week of  9/03-9/09

Beans, bush - 74 ounces (4.63 pounds)
Beans, pole - 24  ounces (1.5 pounds)
Broccoli - 14.2 ounces
Cabbage -  70.4 ounces (4.4 pounds)
Carrots - 63 ounces (3.94 pounds)
Cucumbers - 50.6 ounces (3.16 pounds)
Melons - 19.5 ounces (1.22 pounds)
Peppers, sweet - 43.4 ounces (2.71 pounds)
Squash, summer - 66.3 ounces (4.14 pounds)
Squash, winter - 710.3 ounces (44.39 pounds)
Tomatoes - 189.1 ounces (11.82 pounds)

Week's total - 82.8 pounds
Year to date - 766 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

September 9, 2012 - Here a Squash, There a Squash, Everywhere a Squash-squash!

I've picked 30 butternut squashes so far.  We've eaten two, I've given away two, and must find room to store all of these (and several more that are still to be harvested) for the winter.  The smallest weighed 1-1/2 pounds, the largest weighed 6 pounds.  All together, so far, 111 pounds have been harvested.

As I was setting these up on the patio table to photograph, one squash tipped over and, just like dominoes, they all went over!  Luckily only one went off the table, and it landed in a chair.

September 6, 2012 - House Painting Days 6 and 7

The back of the house is finished!  That means just one side left to paint, and that's the smallest and least fussy area of all.  Much of that side is taken up by the fireplace brick, and there are no windows or doors.  It does have a peak to paint, but son-in-law Bryan has promised to tackle that for me.

Of course, I still have some facia boards to sand down and paint in the front, then new rain gutters and downspouts will also need a couple of coats of paint before they are installed, but at least the main part of the house is nearly finished, the end is in sight and it's all ready for the new sliding patio doors and windows.

September 6, 2012 - Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I've got nuthin' for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard, just a paintbrush in my hand.  I did make Mr. Granny a lovely dinner last night, with freshly picked mixed vegetables (beans, carrots and crookneck squash), a big sliced Cherokee Purple tomato and a huge helping of fresh zucchini, fried up nice and crispy.  I was too tired to eat, so I had a bowl of Cheerios at bedtime.

I'm on the home stretch with the house painting, and the back of the house will be finished today.  That leaves me with just the west side, which is the smallest of all the areas to paint, and some touch up areas on the trim and patio railings.

The back of the house was a beotch to paint.  (I just had to throw that in, as Kris and 1st. Man get such a kick out of Granny saying "beotch").   The back is where all the TV wires, electrical conduits, various metal and plastic poles and receptacles reside.  Everything that takes forever to either paint or to avoid painting.  There are big shrubs that poke one in various places and make setting up a ladder most difficult.   Mr. Granny decided to help and used a small roller to apply the paint.  He rolled the paint on so thinly, I had to go back over everything with the brush.  He also painted the trim on the one window that's not going to be replaced.  I have no idea how I'm going to rectify that mess.  Thank heavens it's in the back, and on the side not visible from the patio.  The man is not a painter!

The garden is producing quite well yet, and I put another full gallon of green beans in the freezer.  The tomatoes are still taking their time, but I expect they will be forthcoming around the same time as I finish the house painting, so that will be great timing.  I had to clip the ties holding up some of them, so I can paint nearby, and as the vines fell forward they exposed a lot of fruits that weren't even visible before.  I'm thinking of clipping all of the support ties on Tomato Alley once I get that side of the house painted, and will not have to maneuver around them to work.  The sun has shifted slightly to the south now, so the plants aren't getting the light and warmth they've had in past months.  Sprawling on the ground would be messy, but they'd have greater light exposure and, hopefully, a better chance of ripening.

I might have little or nothing to show off for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard, but others do.  Run on over to Robin's place and see what everyone else is putting into their pantries and garden meals!

September 4, 2012 - Erin's Challenge

Erin, from Garden Now, Think Later, threw out the challenge...."I know I'm the last person to be issuing demands and challenges since I've been such a bad blogger lately, but since I put up the kitchen photo and it is that time of year, how 'bout you share a photo of where you do your canning and a photo of what you have stashed away so far?  I'll call this the "Medicine Cabinet" challenge, because you have to admit that for us like minded folks looking at photos of other's canning spaces and under-bed storage pantries is like other peoples' fascination with medicine cabinets!"

To which I commented "I'm waiting for Mr. Granny to cover my wire shelves with some paneling, because the jars tip on the wires. I've moved the (former) grow shelves into a large spare closet, and someday, when Mr. G gets his act together, I'll be moving all of my canned goods in there and out of the laundry room. I promise there will be a picture if it ever happens!"

I admit that put me at a slight advantage, because I immediately informed Mr. Granny that he'd been promising to cover those shelves for me for over a month now, so I was just going to have to use layers of old newspaper and then blog bad things about  him again  ;-)

Of course, Mr. Granny, not wanting bad things being blogged about him, jumped right up from his recliner and headed for the garage to find some sheets of paneling he had in there somewhere.  Within the hour, I had the wire shelves covered with paneling, and I even got some shelf paper covering a couple of them.  I spent the afternoon moving all of the home canned foods and canning equipment and a few of my jars into the new area.  That done, I tackled the laundry room to take advantage of all the new found space.  Funny thing is, after I rearranged everything, the shelves and cupboards that had previously held the jars of canned goods were once more full.

To meet Erin's challenge, here are the pictures.  Ha-ha, Erin and Robin, I got it all cleaned up before I took the photos!

This is my canning area.  I debated over getting a ceramic cooktop, but other than being a beotch to clean, it's worked out quite well with my flat bottomed canner.  It does have one double cooking ring just for large pots and canners, and after a couple of uses, I had it figured out.  I like my kitchen cooking area, because I'm a bit of a TV fanatic, as well as a computer fanatic, and both are handy.

Here are the shelves, in an unused closet, with all of this year's canned goods and pickles from 2010.  We'll never get all those pickles eaten!  It sure doesn't look like much, but the tomatoes haven't been very forthcoming this summer, and most of the garden harvest has been put into the freezer.  I'll probably bring the remaining empty jars in from the garage, just to keep all the canning supplies in one place.  Yes, I only have five pint jars left.  My children need to return their empties!!!!  Anyway, the shelves hold pints five deep, so there are really quite a few jars of food there.

My laundry room still serves as a pantry and storage area.  Even with the jars of food and canning supplies removed it's quite full.  

I do have a much neater shelf above the washer and dryer, as many of the things (light bulbs, boxes of ZipLoc bags, etc) got moved to a cupboard.  Now only cleaning supplies and a couple of toxic chemicals occupy the high shelf.  Toxic like Goo Gone and Silicone remover.

The shelves and cupboards on the right are where the home canned foods used to be stored.  Now I have room for some of the larger things that have been taking up space in my kitchen cupboards. Things like bags of flour and sugar, crackers, cake mixes and just lots of miscellaneous stuff.  The cupboards hold my laundry supplies, rags, and the aforementioned light bulbs and ZipLocs.

To the left of the entry door, this shelf unit now holds canned goods, large jugs of vinegar, garbage bags and dog food.

To the right of the door is a spot to hang my broom, mop and dustpan.  It seems so well organized now!  I give it a week at most.

Just look at the extra space I gained in this cupboard under the kitchen counter!  This is where I had the canning jars stored, but now that they've been moved I can probably utilize this space for storing seldom used small appliances or maybe my big cookie sheets and baking pans.   That means I get to clean kitchen cupboards now.  Why does one job always lead to another?  LOL!!!!