Saturday, October 18, 2014

Garden Summary for 2014

      I would consider this year's vegetable garden a big success. Due to time pressure in the spring (a very busy time at the bee store) I didn't get everything planted that I would have liked to have done.  However, most of what I planted did well. Let's all give a big cheer for global warming and the warmest summer we have experienced since moving to Snohomish County in 1993.   The tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, Jerusalem Artichokes, corn, and winter squash all did very well. We also had a great year for fruit.  I canned over 72 pints of green beans, several dozen pints of salsa, 19 quarts of apple sauce, 15 gallons of grape juice, and made a half gallon of raisins. I had more I needed to can than I had time to can, a sign of a very productive garden. I was very grateful that the corn and winter squash didn't require any immediate processing.
This represents about half of the 2014 winter squash harvest
     My squash crop consisted of the following, 17 red Kuri (the reddish squash in the photo), 5 Oregon Sweet Meat (the greenish blue squash on the left). I've got about twenty of the smooth pumpkin like squash on the left. That is over forty squash so I suspect we are pretty good on that portion of our years supply. I don't know what the pale  pumpkins will be like to cook as they all came from the same volunteer plant that grew amid the Reid's Yellow Dent corn in the garden area next to my bee yard.  I suspect they came from the composted horse manure I added to that area of the garden. I was amazed that one plant could produce that many pumpkins. I'm going to cook one today to see if the pumpkins are worth storing to eat, or if they should all be turned into jack o' lanterns.  If they don't make the culinary grade I will donate them all to the Trunk or Treat activity coming up at church right before Halloween.  So far, Red  Kuri has worked best for our climate of all the various types of winter squash I've grown.  I'm planning to just grow that one variety of winter squash next year and start saving seeds.

     On the list of things I didn't plant this year are garlic, carrots, cabbage, dry beans, peas, and potatoes. So many vegetables and so little time.  The problem with the garlic is that it needs to be planted in the fall, so if I don't get it done soon I won't have garlic next year, either  I've had a few learning experiences this year as well. I put clear plastic over the newly corn in order to warm the soil and help the corn to germinate better. The problem was that I left it on for two weeks and the young plants were overheated.  The portion of my corn patch which had been uncovered actually did better than the covered and I had to replant a portion of the patch. Next year if I use a clear plastic cover to help germinate the corn, I will only do it for about a week.  I also learned that onion sets do much better if they are planted very early (like late January or early February.  I planted some red onions at that time and they grew much better than they had in the past. Along with that I learned the necessity of pruning off the flowers just as they start to form causing the plants to grow larger bulbs.

     Reid's Yellow Dent corn is spectacular in that the stalks will grow 12 feet tall even in our "corn un-friendly" climate. It definitely isn't an appropriate choice for our climate as it still hasn't started to dry down and thus isn't ready to pick. If any of the seeds manage to dry down, I will be happy to give some to anyone who lives in a warmer climate than ours who would like to grow some monster corn.  The Painted Mountain flour corn has finished drying and is ready for me to shell with my new Fulton corn sheller. The sheller is new to be but is probably at least 100 years old. I've even pulled the corn stalks up in the front garden area.  Next year I plan to grow either Floriani Red Flint corn (perfect for polenta) or Mandan Red Clay corn for parching.

    So no sauerkraut making this year. That is ok as we still have some canned sauerkraut left over from two years ago.   I'm not sure when I would have had the time to make it anyway.  I was pleased with our efforts two years ago to store fresh sauerkraut in the fridge.  We purchased a few of those old fashioned canning jars with a glass lid, rubber gasket, and metal bail. They had a nice selection at IKEA.  That worked very well.  The sauerkraut lasted close to a year before Linda cooked it up with some sausages. The only downside is the limited storage space in our refrigerator. A friend told me about a way to make sauerkraut with little or no salt by fermenting it anaerobically using a gas escape like they do when making wine or mead. I look forward to trying that as my major objection to consuming lots of sauerkraut is the fact that its so darn salty.


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