Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Urban foraging

For the past four years I have been riding by this tree on my way to and from work along the South Platte River Trail.  This is the first year I have seen apples.  I saw it yesterday, covered with red fruit - well the bottom was picked clean to about 6 feet up - but Chris and I went Friday morning and filled a wagon full.  The next day, while I made pickles, he took Rhiannon.  Between our fruit picker and Rhiannon in the tree they filled another wagon.  They gave fruit to everyone that passes and Chris was interviewed by a man doing an article on urban foraging.  They came home for lunch and then the 3 off us went back out with a sign saying "Free Apples" to lean up against the wagon as we filled it.  Most people let their kids have one, but did not take any themselves.  A few people just looked at us funny, but 2 women were thrilled.  They filled their t-shirts and their empty Starbucks coffee cups and posted their excitement on Facebook.

And in the end we have yet another bathtub of  apples.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

An unwelcome guest

Snow.

Well not yet.  The forecast for the over night low has been fluctuating between 32° and 38°F.  The meteorologists have agreed on 70% chance of precipitation, but not on what form.

Prepare for the worst, right?

We picked all tomatoes that looked 1/2 way ripe.  All the green bell peppers.  A dozen medium sized Trombetta Squash.  All the cucumbers.

The popcorn is not ready, nor is the Golden Bantam sweet corn.  Nothing we can do about that.  If we lose those crops it will be silage for the hens.  The pole beans are going to seed, but they will have the same fate if they are not fully formed.

But the purple tomatillos (I am dying to make purple salsa with them and the similarly colored bell peppers) and the chilies.  The other non bell peppers.  The melons.  These we covered.

Savers yielded us 7 flat sheets to make tents of sorts for these plants.  Also the cucumbers and a volunteer winter squash (a hubbard type I think) that sprouted in the Blue Jade corn patch.

But still I am thrilled with this year's garden.  Chris and I have have been more serious about growing than any other year.  Even if the bush beans I planted as part of a fall garden die, this is the first year we have planted a fall garden (also carrots, turnips, cabbage and spinach which may do fine)

Our pantry will be filled with homemade pasta sauce and tomato soup.  Applesauce and apple rings.  Apple cider.  There is tomato paste in the freezer along with bell peppers and corn.  And we have pickles of cucumber, bean and cauliflower.

In fact, I will use the last of my canning jars this weekend.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall approaches

French Charentais Cantaloupe under row covers.
It is predicted to hit a low of 50° tonight.  We just got our first rope cantaloupe yesterday with a dozen or so still on the vine.  So from today forward all the melons will get tucked in for the night.
I am not ready for fall.  With all the rain we have gotten this summer the temperatures have rarely gone above the mid 80's.  I have been thrilled with the rain, but everything is growing so slowly.  Only two bel peppers have turned red and none of the tomatillos are even close to ready.   I figure that we will have every horizontal surface of the studio covered with slowly ripening tomatoes.
But this year I pickled both cucumbers and beans.  And enough corn and beans to freeze.  We got heads of red iceberg lettuce.  All of these are firsts, so I can't really complain.
Rhiannon next to the covered "Honey Do" melon and
Icebox Watermelon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Making cider

My husband knows me well.

For an early anniversary present he purchased a small (4 gallon) cider press.  With the bathtub of apples we needed it.

The crusher to go with it was currently out of stock, so in a great blend of old and new technology we used a food processor to chop the fruit up.

It did not, however, work very well.

The apples are dry, picked a little early at the behest of two of our neighbors.  A five gallon bucket of whole apples yielded less than a gallon of juice.

Well, at least the hens were happy when I brought out the leftovers.  They were barely crushed.

So the Cuisinart was washed and put away and the juicer brought out in its place.  After juicing, the mash was placed in the press.  This came close to doubling the cider extracted.  4 five gallon buckets yielded 5 gallons of cider.

One carboy is full, bubbling away in the downstairs shower (in case of minor eruptions)  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Apples Apples Apples

Chris and I spent the day picking apples from 2 different neighbors.  3/4 is a Delicious of some sort and the remainder are Jongold.  There is applesauce in our future.