Real Time Web Analytics Stoney Acres | Aiming for Self-Sufficency in an Urban Setting

Monday Harvest Report – Still harvesting tomatoes!!

Wow!  I mean WOW!!!  The weather last week was absolutely perfect!!  Sunny and in the low to mid 70’s all week with overnight lows in the 50’s.  You just don’t get any better than that!  And here it is October 20th and we still haven’t had our first frost!  That is so unusual for us.  There have been years when we have had snow by this point in October.

IMG_0300

The main advantage of no frost is this!  We are still picking ripe tomatoes at a pretty good rate.  This plants are still looking pretty good for this late in the year, and despite a aphid infestation they are still producing strong.

IMG_0295

Here’s the big picking for the week which came on Friday evening.  14 pounds in this box.  Combined with a few from the borrowed garden we had 20 pounds again.  That was more than enough for another batch of tomatoes but we are out of bottles so instead this box is going to be used fresh all week in a bunch of yummy soups!!

IMG_0325

I was ripping out the last of the pumpkin vines on Saturday when I came across this little surprise.  I had totally forgotten that back in July I planted a small hill of zucchini in a empty spot.  This was an experiment to see how late I could plant zucchini and still get fruit.  I planted this on on July 23rd.  Only a few weeks later the pumpkin vines over ran this section of the garden and I promptly forgot this plant was even there!  Well it turns out you can get fruit planting that late.  There is one nice sized fruit that I picked Saturday and another is set and should develop as long as this weather holds.

IMG_0328

The kids were excited to see the zucchini and they all begged Valerie to make the chocolate zucchini bread recipe that she discovered last week.  Okay lets face it, this recipe isn’t really healthy but it sure is delicious, I will have to get her to post the recipe soon.

IMG_0311

The warm weather is also helping our very late planted lettuce crop.  All of these plants are finally well established and starting to grow again but all the rainy weather in August and September really set back our fall garden and I’m afraid it is going to turn into a spring garden instead.  We’ll see, but our window for growth is really getting small.  I think I may end up overwintering all these plants instead of harvesting them this fall.

IMG_0319

We had a nice little picking of strawberries again this week.  I think we may have one more picking at the end of the week and then they will be done for the year.  The patch is in a spot where it doesn’t get much sun this time of year so  they are really slowing down.

IMG_0306

I also noticed that the fall broccoli is starting to head up.  Now we need a good frost to sweeten it up and kill all the dang aphids that are attacking the plants!!

Not pictured are another zucchini and a few cucumbers that were picked throughout the week.

Here’s this weeks totals:

Borrowed Garden
Tomatoes – 6 lbs

Home Garden
Zucchini – 3 lbs
Tomatoes – 16 lbs
Strawberries – .75 lbs
Cucumbers – 1.25 lbs
Total – 21 lbs

Our total for the home garden is now a respectable 618 pounds which really is pretty good considering we didn’t get any melons this year from the home garden.  The other big news is that our tomato total reached 157 pounds.  That exceeds last years total by a pound and gives us our biggest tomato harvest ever!!  And we will really shatter the record because I’m sure we will get at least 10 to 15 more pounds this week!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

 

Monday Harvest Report – Winding down for the year

Wow I sure love this time of year!! The weather is perfect! We had mid 70’s all week long with nice cool but not cold nights. I’m starting to see the leaves turn here in the valley. The mountains are about done, I can still see the yellow Aspens but most of the other colors are gone. Down here in the valley we are starting to see lots of red, yellows and orange!
IMG_0272
I brought this box of tomatoes in on Wednesday and Valerie just sighed!

IMG_0287

When I brought this box in on Saturday she just about cried!! We are kind of “tomatoed” out at the moment!! We have canned 55 quarts so far this year and these two boxes will give us another batch of 7. I think we will try to do this one last batch and then any others we get will either be eaten fresh or given to neighbors. I spent some time in the garden Saturday cleaning up for the fall and there are still quite a few tomatoes that are close to ripe. The weather is looking cooler for the coming week but not so cold that we have to worry about frost, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see another 20 pounds of tomatoes.

IMG_0285

Here’s our pitiful celery harvest for the year. We only had 4 plants to begin with but for some reason 3 of the plants bolted to seed early in August, long before they were ready to harvest. So this is what we got from the only one that didn’t bolt. 1.25 pounds of very small stalks. i think the celery really suffered from our crappy clay soil. Next year I’m going to try some fresh seed and a spot with a lot of compost!!

We had a few cucumbers and one zucchini. The cucumbers are pretty much done for the year. There are 4 or 5 more small ones on the vines that I will leave an see if they get any bigger, but the cool weather pretty much put an end to them. The zucchini on the other had still seems to want to produce. There is one other fruit that is about ready to harvest and I noticed a couple more that have set!

IMG_0273

We finally were able to harvest a few Crenshaw melons from the borrowed garden. 7 this week. Ripeness is questionable on these. Most of them still have a lot of green on them. But they are soft on the blossom end (which is how you pick a Crenshaw) so we have been picking them.

IMG_0291

We are letting them sit in the garage for a few days before we open them and I’m not counting them in my totals unless they are use-able when we open them up. So far we have cut up 3 and given away another 2 and they were all great!!

IMG_0275

Here’s the fun harvest for the week! We picked a total of 70 ears of popcorn! Our youngest daughter and I sat out on the patio on Saturday morning and shucked all of them. Of the 70 ears more than 50 of them are really good sized. They weighed in at about 1/3 pounds each. The other 20 or so were smaller but still great!

IMG_0277

Since there is not rain in the forecast for the week we are going to leave them out on the patio in the sun to help them cure. I’m actually really excited that we were able to get such a good harvest. Of course we will use most of this for popping, but you can actually use pop corn as a grain. You can just grind it up in your flour mill and use it as corn meal. I kind of like knowing that. If the zombie apocalypse ever happens at least I know we can grow a grain crop in our garden!! :)

We also had a few small hand-fulls of raspberries and about 1/2 pound of strawberries this week.

Here’s this weeks totals:

Home Garden
Zucchini – 1.75 lbs
Tomatoes  – 18.50 lbs
Strawberries – .40 lbs
Cucumbers – .50 lbs
Celery – 1.25 lbs
Peppers – .25 lbs
Popcorn – 17
Total – 39.65 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Tomatoes – 6.50 lbs
Crenshaw Melon – 35 lbs
Total  – 41.50 lbs

That brings our Annual total in the home garden to 597 pounds and 610 pounds at the borrowed garden.  1,207 pounds is just crazy!  Of course almost 400 pounds of that are melons the bulk of which were sold.  But still 1200 pounds!!  What a great year!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Chip Dilemma – Making your own Homemade Tortilla Chips

Chip Dilemma

Homemade salsa…ahhhhhhh….. need I say more.  It is one of my favorites!!  We just can’t wait until those first few tomatoes start to ripen so we can make homemade salsa.  It is so yummy when it comes from your own garden tomatoes.  It has so much more flavor!   The only problem with salsa is what to eat it with?   My kids love chips and so do I, but have you ever looked at the ingredients list???

We have started to eat real food now and so I wanted to find a way to make my own chips.  I wanted to still get the yummy, salty, crunchy goodness like the ones from the store.  I looked around on the internet for some ideas and came up with a recipe.   I even tested it out on our extended family.  We had a birthday party at our home and I had chips and salsa as a snack.  No one could believe that these were homemade chips.  They thought for sure they were store bought.  I even had chips from the store that I put out just in case no one liked them.  Everyone ate up the homemade chips and left the chips from the store alone.   They really liked them too!!  It is so super easy!     I had no idea how simple it was, otherwise I would have been making them all the time.

 

Homemade whole wheat tortilla chips

8 whole wheat tortillas- I roll them out pretty thin. (We use our Homemade Tortilla’s)

IMG_9901

Spray tortillas with olive oil spray or brush on

IMG_9904

Layer 4 tortillas on top of each other and cut in triangles with a pizza cutter.

IMG_9905

Arrange single layer of tortillas on cookie sheet.   I end up using 3 cookie sheets.

Shake some sea salt on them.   Cook at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, remove the tray from oven and turn the Homemade chips over and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.  You will need to watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Once they are done let them cool, they will crisp up as they cool.  And voila you have your own yummy homemade chips to snack on.   I don’t even feel that guilty eating them because they only have 4 ingredients and are so much healthier for you than those greasy gross chips from the store.  So go ahead and indulge and enjoy that salsa and homemade chips!!!

IMG_9908

We will be sharing this post on several blog hops this week including:

The Yuck Stops Here

The Real Housewives of Riverton

Foodie Fridays

 

 

Monday Harvest Report – The last of the Fall and Winter planting

IMG_0237 copy

What a beautiful week!!  Temps were in the low 70’s all week.  It was just perfect fall weather!  I sure do love this time of year.  The warmer weather helped to finally dry things out enough to get the last of our fall planting done.  We got this tray of lettuce in on Saturday.  They are 2 weeks behind schedule because of all the wacky weather we have been having.

IMG_0262

I went a head and put out a cold frame before we planted these.  We have had a couple nights where the temps were low enough that we were worried about frost.  We lucked out both nights but the first frost could come any time now!!  Like I said we are about 2 weeks behind in getting these lettuce starts out.  That has me worried that they won’t mature before the really cold weather sets in.  I’m going to try and off set that by watering them with fish emulsion several times over the next few weeks.  I’m hoping the extra nitrogen will hurry them along!!

IMG_0259

Our harvest totals from the home garden were huge!!  It was our biggest one week total from here at home, with over 100 pounds.  Most of that came from the pumpkin harvest!  The two smaller came from last week but the 5 big ones were all harvested on Thursday.  78 pounds of pumpkins for the week!  They are all perfect jack-o-lantern size so the kids are excited!  There are still 2 more in the garden that are not quite ripe so if the frost holds off we should have another 20 or so pounds!

IMG_0233

We had another nice picking of tomatoes on Tuesday.  There was a pretty big chance of frost that night so I brought in all the tomatoes I could.  There were another 20 pounds here so we got another 7 quarts of tomatoes which we canned on Saturday.  There is one more box of tomatoes left in the kitchen, we will do those tonight and then I think we will be done canning for the year.  The few tomatoes that do ripen before the first frost will just go to fresh eating and salsa!

IMG_0266

I noticed the popcorn was getting ripe so I picked a few ears over the weekend.

IMG_0261

Valerie saw then and immediately had to have them for her Halloween decorations!  With the nice weather forecast for the week I think I will try leaving the rest on stalks for another week.  Then I will bring them all in and they will need to cure in the garage or house for a few weeks before they are ready to take off the cob.  Just out of curiosity I counted all the ears left on the stalks.  We will end up with around 60 ears of popcorn of various size, but most are nice big cobs like the ones above!  That will make for a very nice popcorn harvest, probably 4 times the amount of the first year we tried!!

I was terrible about taking pictures this week, but we also harvested some cucumbers, a bunch of green peppers and a pound of strawberries.

IMG_0267

While I was helping family do some moving on Saturday, Valerie got busy in the yard and cleaned up the front flower bed.  Everything was looking very spent and the zinnias and 4 O clocks had really over grown and were looking scraggly!  So now this bed is pretty much ready for winter, other than it could use a top coat of compost!

IMG_0253

Cleaning up the beds revealed these beautiful geraniums that we had almost forgotten were there!

IMG_0257

Look at this crazy color.  It’s beautiful, but almost doesn’t seem real.  Like one of the kids when crazy with a highlighter!!

Here’s this weeks harvest totals:

Home Garden
Tomatoes – 21 lbs
Pumpkins – 78 lbs
Peppers – 4.25 lbs
Cucumbers – 2.80 lbs
Strawberries – 1.25 lbs
Total – 107.30 lbs
Leo’s Garden
Tomatoes – 2 lbs

That’s a weekly total of 109 pounds and brings the home garden total to 558 pounds.  With the few summer crops left to harvest (pumpkins, popcorn, tomatoes) I think we will break the 600 pound mark pretty easy.  But that is well short of my goal of 775 pounds.  The fall and winter gardens aren’t going to contribute much this year, we have had a huge aphid infestation that has ruined all of our kale and maybe our broccoli.  And leaf miners have really hurt our fall spinach and chard crops.  So I think I will be tickled if our annual home total reaches 625.  Not too bad for the first year in the new garden, it matches what we had most years at our old place

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Harvest Report – Rain & Tomatoes

Monday Harvest Report

Well after stubbornly resisting for over a week, fall has finally arrived.  And with it came a bunch of rain!  We had temps as high as 90 degrees all week but late Friday night the first of a series of storms came in that has broken the back of summer and launched us into fall.  The forecast has the highs in the 60’s and low 70’s for the coming week with quite a bit of rain expected!

IMG_0031

But here’s the good news.  Finally we got some tomatoes to ripen!  We had two big pickings of tomatoes this week.  The first was on Tuesday and came in at 21 pounds.

IMG_0198

The second came on Saturday, and was a nice 11 pounds.

IMG_0010

These two pickings combined with a small box from Valerie’s folks meant we spent a lot of time in the kitchen canning!  We were able to can over 20 quarts this week so our winter supply is looking much better!  We are now sitting at 40 quarts.  I’m hoping for a couple more batches, then we would have at least one quart per week.

IMG_0197

Our Brandywine tomatoes are also starting to produce.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that this is the first year we have ever grown a Heirloom tomato.  We have always just gone with the standards, celebrity, early girl and beef steak.  But we will be keeping Brandywine in our rotation!!  The are definitely not very pretty but they are sure tasty!!

IMG_0027

We also had a great all green basket early in the week.  Cucumbers and peppers!!  Both are winding down for the year, we should have about another week of cucumbers.

IMG_0028

Another nice basket of strawberries, with plenty of blossoms still coming.  I think we will still have another month of berries unless we get an early really hard freeze.

IMG_0030

This was the last big picking of cantaloupe and only about half of them were really worth eating.  This time of year these later setting fruit that ripen in the cooler weather never seem to taste as good.

IMG_0203

I think these will be the last zucchini.  They were all picked in the rain on Saturday morning.  There are a few more blossoms but with this cooler weather I doubt they will develop.  Also this is the first Crenshaw melon of the year.  It’s a very small one and it came from the home garden.  It will need to sit on the counter for a few days and we will see how it tastes!

IMG_0201

These are the first of the pumpkins!  These two are pretty small, both came in around 6 pounds.  We will use them to decorate around the house for a few months and them cut them up for there seeds some time in November.  They have 6 big brothers that will be ready next week and there may even be 2 or 3 more if they end up ripening.

Here’s the totals for the week:

Home Garden
Pumpkin – 11.50 lbs
Crenshaw – 2.50 lbs
Zucchini – 4.75 lbs
Tomatoes – 32.50 lbs
Cucumbers – 4.75 lbs
Peppers – 2.33 lbs
Strawberries – 1.50 lbs
Raspberries – .17 lbs
Totals – 60 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Tomatoes – 1.75 lbs
Cantaloupe – 7.25 lbs
Totals – 9 lbs

That brings our annual total in the home garden to 450 lbs.  The borrowed garden total is 566 lbs.  Our combined total topped 1000 pounds this week!!

Thanks so much for reading our blog!  I’d like to encourage you to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our news letter!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

 

 

5 reasons why you should plant a garden next year

5 Reasons

As a master gardener I have the opportunity to teach gardening classes quite often.  There are always a few folks that come to my beginning gardening classes that are skeptics.  Maybe they are only there because their spouse forced them or maybe they have always thought about a garden but were never really willing to commit a piece of their lawn.  Inevitably they will ask me why I grow a garden?  Over the years I have thought a lot about it and I’ve come up with a pretty long list of reasons why I garden.  So here for you today is my top 5 reason why I think you (and everyone) should plant a garden next year!

1 Self Sufficency 1

We have a pretty decent sized garden (just under 1200 square feet)  On an average year we will grow around 700 pounds of veggies and fruits.  As our yard and garden mature and our fruit trees come into full production that total will reach more than 1000 pounds.

That represents a large portion of the food our family eats.  I’m not one of those dooms day “prepper” types that is worried about the world food system collapsing.  But it is good to know that I can provide food for my family at any time.  I am also a year round gardener and there are very few days in the year when we don’t eat at least one thing that I grew myself.  It is hard to describe the satisfaction I get from knowing that my family is eating food that I grew myself.

2 Freshness

This morning we had raspberries on our cereal that were picked last night.  For lunch my wife and I will share the cantaloupe we picked yesterday afternoon.  And tonight for dinner we will have a delicious casserole made from potatoes dug only 3 days ago and a side dish of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini that we will pick tonight 10 minutes before dinner!  Talk about fresh food.  None of the produce we eat from about mid May until late in October is more than a day old.  Compare that to the produce you get from the grocery store.  It is usually at least a week old and often weeks or even months old before you buy it.

3 taste

I’ve seen arguments between commercial and organic growers.  The commercial growers say their produce tastes just as good as organic.  Organic growers always argue that their growing practices make their produce taste better.  Tons of taste tests have proven about nothing really.  BUT, if you come to my garden and pick a tomato that is at the peak of ripeness and compare it to anything (commercial or organic) that you buy at a store you will never buy a store bought tomato again.  Strawberries are a whole different fruit when you eat them fresh picked from the garden, so sweet and soft, not hard and tasteless.

Potatoes fresh dug from the garden just melt in your mouth when you have them with your Sunday roast.  Home grown melons are worth the extras space they require because they taste better than any other melon you have ever eaten.  Carrots, lettuce, peas, cucumbers, peppers, and onions the list goes on and on!  Have I made myself clear yet?  Home grown produce, grown in well cared for organic soil tastes so much better than the two week old “Franken-veggies” you get from the store.  The varieties and quality of the produce you grow at home will always beat store bought for taste.  Even if you are preserving your home grown veggies by canning or freezing you will find the finished product tastes better because of the high quality ingredients you’re using.  Enough said, garden produce just tastes WAY better!

4 Cost

Let’s take my garden for an example of cost.  We will grow close to 700 pounds of produce by the time the year is over.  This is super high quality 100% organic produce we are talking about.  Even if we were to assume only $2.00 a pound that is $1,400 in produce.  We will spend between $100 and $200 per year on seeds, compost and other supplies.  So we have saved $1,200 a year on our grocery budget.

But we grow a lot, what about someone like you who just wants a small garden?  Let’s look at a few very common easy to grow plants and see how much you could save by growing them yourself.  (Wow, my inner accountant is really coming out, isn’t he?)

Strawberries are a good example.  A nice 4 x 8 bed of strawberries will produce around 25 pounds of strawberries in a year.  I’ve never seen organic strawberries for cheaper than 4.99 a pound.  So that little patch in one year grew $125.00 in strawberries.  The cost to set that bed up would have been less than $30.00 and that patch will produce for 3 or 4 years before it needs to be replanted.  See how the math works?

Tomatoes are another great example.  Commercially grown vine ripened tomatoes sell for about $3.00 a pound.  A little 4 x8 bed with 8 tomato plants can produce 75 to 100 pounds in a year.  That’s $300 in tomatoes with only $30 in expenses.  Again, a great deal!

Growing our own food allows us to eat better quality organic fruits and veggies at a fraction of the cost.  I will be honest, if we were trying to run our grocery budget without a garden and buying organic produce, we would never eat as well as we do with the garden.

5 Organic

Many organizations publish annual lists of the “dirty dozen”.  This list changes a little each year but it includes produce that are the worst for chemical contamination.  This year’s list includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas and potatoes.  These are the worst of the worst when it comes to the amounts of pesticides and herbicides contaminating the produce.  Basically you should avoid all of these items if they are commercially grown and opt for organic instead.

But my argument is why buy organic when you can grow it yourself?  Nearly every item on the dirty dozen can be easily grown at home.  Apple, peach and nectarine trees come in dwarf varieties and a small but mature tree can produce well over a bushel each year.  Grapes are fairly low maintenance plants that can be grown as decorative vines in your yard.  Strawberries make a beautiful and productive ground cover.  You can get two good crops of spinach and snap peas each year.  And cucumbers, peppers and cherry tomatoes are simple to grow in a small grow box garden.  The only two on the list that a small gardener might have problems growing are celery and potatoes.  Celery depending on were you live is a little temperamental to grow, and potatoes although easy to grow do take up a lot of space

So there you have it.  The five reasons why I think you should plant a garden next year.  So next month I’m going to take it a little farther and we will talk about a good “starter” garden.  We will cover size, location and what you should grow in your first little garden!!

This post was featured first on Bakerette.com.  Thanks again to Jeni for allowing me to guest post!

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

 

IMG_9895 copy

When I was growing up, I could count on my Mom making tacos at least once a week!!  I looked forward to that dinner each week.  I love tacos, they are so easy to make and you can pack them full of healthy food!!!    Then I got married and it all ended….because Rick did not like tacos. :(

After years of marriage he has been enduring them during the summer, and I have loved them but only once a month.  I then started looking at the labels on the tortillas you buy in the store…yikes!!  I couldn’t pronounce half of the ingredients.

I started my search for a homemade wheat tortilla recipe.  I tried and failed a couple of times and then I found the recipe below on Lean Green Bean.  They are sooooo good!!   I did love tacos, but now I can’t get enough of these.  I have them as tacos, quesadillas, breakfast burritos, and enchiladas.  They have so much more flavor then store bought ones.   Rick says every time we have them, (and the kids groan) “You could put dirt in these homemade tortillas and they would still taste good.”  Hmmm, maybe I will try that one time for him and see what he thinks… Ha! Ha! JK honey!!!   I feel better feeding my family these tortillas because they only have four ingredients!!

They are really easy to make, but they do take extra time, maybe about 20 min…but it is totally worth it!!  I will sometimes make them in the morning if I have a busy evening and then all I have to do is get the fixings ready.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp salt
2/3 c. warm water

In a bowl, mix together flour, salt, and oil.  Slowly add the warm water.  Knead the dough for 2 minutes.  Divide the dough into 8 balls and let it sit for 20 minutes. (If I’m in a hurry I just skip letting them sit and go straight to rolling out)

IMG_9873

I don’t fuss too much about making them a perfect circle…they usually end up square or odd shaped…..its okay, they are homemade and taste the same even if they are not round.

IMG_9875

I take the ball out  and push it down in a circle with my hand and then I just start rolling it.  I roll it a couple of times on one side, and then turn it over to the other side.  I keep doing this until I have the right thickness.

IMG_9878

Rick likes them thin so I roll them out really thin, but you can make them however you like them.

IMG_9876

I then put them on the griddle to cook at about 350 degrees.  When they start to form bubbles, turn them over and cook on the other side.  I like my tortillas soft so I don’t cook them that long.   I don’t really time them…I did at first and you can do it 1 min on each side.  I just roll out one tortilla while two are cooking and then flip them and then I roll out another tortilla and when I’m done, I take those two off and start cooking the ones I just rolled out.

IMG_9895

When they are done, fill them with whatever you can find in your garden or farmer’s market.  I make homemade refried beans and taco seasoning (recipes to come in a later post) which makes tacos so much better according to Rick.  We stuff our tacos with, garden tomatoes, cucumbers, or zucchini.

Ya hoo!!!  Finally, I can have tacos  more than once a month!!!  I hope you and your family enjoy these homemade tortillas as much as we do!

We will be sharing this post on several blog hops this week including:

The Yuck Stops Here

The Real Housewives of Riverton

Foodie Fridays

1 2 3 4 54