Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Canner

I bought this brand new canning pot with rack just for the rack.

My old rack was rusting and I got tired of scrubbing it before and after each water bath, along with the chunks it left in the water bath.  Not appetizing.

I could not find a rack in any store locally and I was surprised by the prices to buy one online.  It was actually cheaper to buy a new pot and rack set than to order just a canning rack.

Friday, July 27, 2012

London Olympics

I don't know what you will be doing tonight but we will be sitting on the couch watching the Olympic opening ceremonies.  We are Today Show and NBC News viewers so we have been watching the trials, commercials and hype that has been building for the last month.  During the games we will be making sure to catch track and field, swimming, gymnastics and doubles beach volleyball.  I'm not ashamed to admit that we are overly excited, like little kids at Christmas!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

We don't like cucumbers.  It might make you wonder why we grow them.  The reason is because we love pickles, especially refrigerator pickles.  Refrigerator pickles aren't too vinegary, are salty enough, have excellent fresh dill flavor and are wonderfully crisp.  I've tried canning dill pickles and they always seem too vinegary and are mushy.  If you've got a good dill pickle canning recipe send it my way otherwise for now I am sticking with refrigerator pickles.


You will need:
-3 cups of water
-3 TBS salt
-6 TBS vinegar
-sliced cucumbers
-a bunch of fresh dill
-a clove of minced garlic


Mix the salt, water and vinegar together and stir until the salt is dissolved.  I layer the cucumbers, dill and garlic into any nonreactive container.  I use as many cucumbers as I have on hand or will fit in the container.  Again I use as little or as much dill as I have on hand or based on how dilly I want the pickles to be.  You could also put more garlic in if you like, there is no wrong way.

Then pour the brine solution over them so that everything is submersed.  Put them in the fridge and let them sit for at least 48 hours or until they have soaked up enough brine and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The borage has just started to blossom.  It is much later than last year.  I'm not sure why it is so much later but I'm glad the blossoms have finally arrived because I was beginning to wonder.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yellowing Leaves

The leaves on my Amish Paste tomato plant are yellowing.  It doesn't look like a typical fungal issue where there are circular spots so I'm not quite sure what the issue is.  I have been cutting off the leaves as they yellow hoping to stop the spread but it just keeps spreading.  The plant has almost no leaves at this point.  Thankfully I have not seen anything similar on any of my other tomato plants.

Monday, July 23, 2012


 Those are the only carrots I got this year.

 The first wave of tomatoes has arrived!

Surprisingly the summer squash despite the SVB damage is putting out a few more squashes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


We spent the weekend up near Bowling Green, Ohio to visit my Dad.  So what do you do when you go to the country for a weekend?  You go shootin' in the field back yonder behind the house :)

I'd say from looks of this sign the city slickers did alright.

Andy even took a try at the crossbow too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Unique Color

This winter I received a bag of randomly mixed zinnia seed from my Dad's wife.  I mixed the bag up and hoped that when I planted the seed I would get a good mix of colors.  Most of them are pink, yellow, white and colors of zinnias I have seen before.  But this might be the prettiest zinnia color I have ever seen.  It's not pink, it's not red, it's for sure a color of zinnia I have never seen before.  I am definitely letting this one go to seed and saving the seed for future plantings.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Yogurt

I came across a recipe for slow cooker yogurt well over a year ago but didn't think much of it.  I like having yogurt for breakfast with cereal mixed in, especially in the summer with fresh berries.  But finding a yogurt I can feel good about eating that is affordable is difficult.  So I decided to give making it a try.

Most yogurts out there are made with milk (loaded with hormones), thickeners, artificial flavors and added sugars.  The yogurt I made contained milk (local and sustainably raised) and active live cultures.  You will need a half gallon of milk and half a cup plain yogurt with live active cultures.  I bought a large container because it was the only size organic plain yogurt with live cultures that I could find.  Since I wanted to make pure yogurt I wanted to use a starter without other crap in it.
I looked at many recipes and here is a compilation of a few that I think give the best directions.  I have now made it three times successfully this way.  Put the milk in the slow cooker on low and cook for 2.5 hours or until it reaches 180 degrees.  I check on it every now again, mix it and take the temp because you want to make sure it does not boil.  You want to kill off any bacteria so the live cultures can do their thing but if you get it too hot then the live cultures won't be able to thrive.

Then unplug the the crock pot and allow the milk to cool for 2-3 hours.  You want the milk to be between 110-120 degrees but I think between 110-115 is best.  When cool in a seperate bowl whisk 2 cups of the milk with the starter.  Then pour back into the slower cooker and mix.

Put the lid back on and wrap it up with a thick towel or two to incubate.  Leave it for 8 hours.  I normally make it so that the eight hours happens overnight. I have left it for a bit longer when I didn't get up in time and it worked out fine.

When you are done it will look like this with the whey at the top.  You have yogurt!  Mix it together, save a half cup for your next starter and then put it into a different container for storage and into the fridge to cool and eat. 

It will be thinner than a store bought yogurt that contains thickeners.  If you want a thicker yogurt then line a strainer with coffee filters or cheese cloth and leave in the fridge until enough whey has drained off for your desired thickness.

I really enjoy the plain yogurt.  It is actually less tart than the store bought kind and has a great mild taste that doesn't need flavorings.  Although it tastes wonderful with berries or sometimes a dollop of homemade jam mixed in.  The whey, if you strain it out, can be used in place of buttermilk in recipes so don't throw it out.  We used it in pancakes and it tasted the same as if buttermilk was used.


I took a picture of it raining in our garden from our back door.  We have been hit by the drought like everyone else and luckily we have now been hit by rain.  I hope you are also getting some much needed rain!

A Closer Look

The aerials give a good overview of the whole garden but from the window upstairs everything looks so much smaller than it does in person.  So here is a view around the garden (in the same order) but at ground level.
 Parsnips, snapdragons, kale, cabbages, cosmos and zinnias for cutting.

 Eggplant and potatoes are on the farthest left then followed by all the tomatoes.  The borage is on the edges of the bed and is much later than last year.

 An extra tomato that I had to plant that seems to be done growing.  I knew it was determinate but I thought it would get 5-6 feet tall not 1-2 feet tall.  Green and purple bush beans and then the replanted asparagus.

 My lettuces that refuse to grow no matter how much I water them, give them shade or the proper soil they just won't cooperate.

 The beehive with volunteer morning glories.

 In the front are onions that refuse to bulb and leeks that I have decided to let them do their own thing instead of blanching with more soil.  Behind are the summer squashes that seem to be recovering from SVB after spraying with neem oil but the zucchini to the right don't look as good.

 In the front are my herbs: oregano, chives, thyme and sage.  To the left in the open spot where the garlic was I have seeded more cilantro and dill.  I have been reseeding them all over the place but in the heat and drought they have not been growing.  I hope to get some soon since the cucumbers are coming!  Behind them are cucumbers that are really beginning to produce and KY Wonder pole beans that have vigorous vines but no beans.

In the front dill (that is drying out for seed), rosemary and basil round out my herbs followed by swiss chard.  Behind the chard were peas but now I am growing some new squash plants from seed since the others looked like they were going to fall to SVB.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


 On the left bed are the parsnips, then kale and cabbages under the tulle followed by my cutting flowers.  In the right bed are the tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes, all which look tiny from this far up.

 Then you have the bed with beans, asparagus and one overflow tomato.  Behind the beehive is the small lettuce bed which won't grow lettuces larger than an inch.

 In the in-ground garden there are summer squashes, cucumbers, pole beans, swiss chard, leeks, onions and all the herbs.  In the open spots from the peas and garlic I have planted new squash plants, more dill and cilantro seeds.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The garlic has finished curing, been trimmed and is stored away in a mesh bag.  I ended up with a bit over 2 pounds which is my best garlic harvest yet.  I have saved a couple of the largest bulbs for next year's seed and picked up a few more large bulbs of the same variety for seed at the farmers market.

Monday, July 16, 2012



 A mix of a little of this and that, including our first cucumber.

First bunch of kale.

Tomatoes that ripened on the windowsill.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Morning Glory

The volunteer morning glories on the hive's fence have started to bloom.


It was time for the basil's first major haircut which meant it was time for the first batch of pesto.  In the past I have bagged up different amounts and frozen it that way.  This year I tried putting it in an ice cube tray and freezing it then throwing them all in a bag once frozen.  The ice cube tray is easier.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Squash Vine Borers

As you can tell from the pictures the squash vine borers have gotten the best of my zucchini and summer squash plants.  I sprayed them with insecticidal soap hoping that would hold them off but obviously it didn't.  One plant has already died and the other five are on their way.

I rotate the plants into different beds each year hoping that would help but squash vine borers have killed off my plants three years in a row.  It seems I am going to have to resort to a neem oil product.  Neem oil can be used up to the day of harvest and does not affect most beneficial insects.  But they aren't sure if it is or is not harmful to bees.  Because of this I have refrained from using it.  But from what I can read as long as it is not sprayed while the bees are active in the area they should be fine.

I am hoping to get a few more squashes off the plants before they finally succumb.  Until then I have planted some more seeds in a different area hoping to get some new plants going.