Real Time Web Analytics Stoney Acres | Aiming for Self-Sufficency in an Urban Setting - Part 2

Monday Harvest Report – August 4, 2014

Whew, it was a busy weekend, I was off with the scouts for most of the weekend fishing and boating!  It was a nice break but then I had to come home to the HOT weather again.  But we did have nice rain storm last Monday and it has been raining on and off for the last 24 hours.  Best of all the temperatures are forecast to be down in the 80′s and very low 90′s for the next 7 days!!

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Harvests for the week were pretty good.  We saw the first 3 cucumbers, Mrs. Stoney and the kids are happy about that, they love cucumbers!!

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The strawberries just went crazy this week.  Over 5 pounds in a week!  That doesn’t even count the ones that didn’t make it out of the garden.  This is why we grow ever bearing strawberries.  I know they yield smaller berries but it is so nice to have a constant flow of fresh fruit almost all summer long.  After this weeks big surge we will continue to have a slow trickle of juicy berries all the way up until it starts snowing in late October or early November!!  When we have harvests this big we usually put half of them in the freezer.  We already have almost 2 gallon bags full!

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Mid week the tomatoes started to kick in.  This was the first day we harvested more than one tomato at a time.

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Saturdays harvest saw more strawberries, a couple of perfect sized zucchini and the first really good picking of tomatoes.  We should start having real consistent pickings from the tomatoes. These were all still early girls but I’ve noticed some of the others are starting to size up as well.  Another few weeks and we will have enough to start canning.  Right now we are just enjoying eating all of these fresh!

Maybe by the end of the week we might have the first ears of corn from the borrowed garden.  I walked through the patch yesterday and just did a quick count of ears forming.  I only counted one row and came up with 40 ears already developing and that was the shortest row.   We have 3 total rows of corn so I’m thinking we could have as many as 12 dozen ears of corn!

Also we might see the first of the cantaloupe this week.  They are starting to get “netting” and are sizing up but really they will probably be another 10 days or so.

Here’s this weeks totals:

Cucumbers – .75 lbs

Tomatoes – 4.05 lbs

Zucchini – 3.50 lbs

Strawberries – 5.33 lbs

Broccoli – .33 lbs

Kale – .25 lbs

Total – 14.21 lbs

This week puts us over the 150 pound mark for the year a total of 151.79 pounds!  We are now at 20% of our annual goal.

Check back later this week for more fun garden posts!  I promised Mrs. Stoney’s whole wheat taco recipe last week but we weren’t able to get around to it.  This week for sure on Saturday!  Also Friday I will do a tutorial on our PVC drip irrigation system now that it is back up and 100% running on the new garden.

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!

 

DIY Friday – Simple Cucumber Trellis

I love to have some structures in the garden.  Not only are they handy to use but they add interest and character to the look of your garden.

Cucumbers are one of those garden plants that really begs for a trellis!  Many plants will grow on a trellis but in my opinion cucumbers need a trellis to reach their full production potential.  A big sprawl of cucumber vines with the fruit growing on the grown will never be as productive as vines growing vertically.

A trellis for cucumbers need to be sturdy and move-able.  You shouldn’t grow cucumbers in the same spot year after year, to help prevent pest and disease problems you need to put them in a different spot each year.  So a few years back I came up with this simple, cheap trellis.

Here’s all you need to build it:

18 feet of 2 x 2 lumber

4 heavy deck screws 2 1/2 inches long

12 to 20 – 1 1/8 inch eye hooks

Some garden twine (or in my case baling twine)

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The lumber is the cost variable on this project.  If you use redwood or cedar it will last longer but cost a lot more.  Pine or fir will be 1/4 the cost but may not last as many years.  Also you can by 2 x 2′s in pine but if you want to use any other type of lumber you will most likely buy 2 x 4′s and have to rip them on a table saw.

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We chose to use Douglas Fir 2 x 4′s which we quickly ripped in half on the table saw.  We then cut 3 of the resulting 2 x 2′s to 6 feet in length and cut a 45 degree angle on the bottom of 2 of the boards.  The Douglas Fir should easily last 6 years, more likely 8.

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These eye hooks are simple to use and should outlive the lumber and can be reused if you ever have to rebuild.

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Drill a small pilot hole and then screw in the hooks by hand.  We chose to put hooks on the sides of the trellis every 10 inches and along the top rail as well.

Now head out to the garden with your drill and deck screws.  Drive the two side posts into the ground about 1 foot deep.  We were lucky to have a post driver to do this, but if you don’t have a post driver you can use a heavy mallet or even a hammer.

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Once the side posts are in, place your top rail on the posts and secure  with a couple of deck screws on each side.

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Now simply string your twine between the hooks in what ever pattern you like.

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I have found that cucumbers need a little extra support at the bottom so I wrap an extra piece of twine around the posts at about 12 inches.  This gives a spot for the cucumbers to climb through when they are still small.  They don’t really start putting out runners and “grabbing” onto the twine with tendrils until they are about 12 inches tall.  If you give them this first row to go through the plants are supported on both sides at the bottom.

 

When the season is over you can just cut off the twine (that brown garden twine usually only lasts 1 season).  Then back out the screws at the top, pull the side posts out of the ground and bring the whole thing indoors to your garage or garden shed for the winter (this will help the wood last longer).

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And there you go!  A simple, sturdy trellis for your cucumbers (of course you can use this trellis for just about any climbing veggie or melon).  The trellis keeps the fruit out of the dirt, the leaves and vines have much better air circulation and it’s easier for you to find the fruit and the bee’s to find the flowers.

What other simple garden structures do you use in your garden?

Canning Pickled Beets

So as an after thought as I was planting the garden I put in about a 12 foot row of beets on the south side of the tomato/pepper bed.  I usually don’t have a ton of luck with beets but I thought I’d try them again this year.  Mrs. Stoney loves to have have pickled beets with her salads so I thought it would be nice for her to not have to eat store bought beets this year.  Well the beet crop actually turned out really well.  We got almost 20 pounds of beets from that one row!  So now I had to get busy!

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After consulting with both our mom’s (who have done beets many times) we came up with the following recipe:

7 pounds of beets (about 2 1/2 inch round)

4 cups of vinegar (5%)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1 tablespoon whole allspice

8 pint bottles (or 4 quart)

Mrs. Stoney was busy with a church meeting the night I decided to do these so I was on my own, and it turns out that they are pretty easy to make. So here are the steps:

1.  Be sure to sterilize all of your bottles, lids and rings.  We do this by putting everything in the canner and heating the water to 180 degrees.

2.  Trim the tops off your beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem and 1 inch of root (my mother-in-law stressed how important this was to help the beets keep their color).  Scrub the beets clean.

3.  Cook the beets in boiling water until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes).  When done drain off the water and discard.  Let the beets cool a bit.

4.  Trim off the stems and roots then slip the skin off.  Some of the skin might be a bit stubborn so you kind of have to scrub at them a bit.

5.  Cut larger beets into 1/4 inch pieces the shape of your choice.  We started off with rounds but changed our minds half way through and just did sticks for the rest.

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6.  Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and water in a large pot.  Add spice to a bag if you don’t want it to be part of the finished product, or add directly if you want the whole spices to be in the bottles.  Bring this mixture to a boil.  Then add the beets, bring it back to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove spice bag.

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7.  Fill the jars with beets leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Then pour in the hot liquid again leaving 1/2 head space.  Be careful not to spill, there should be just enough liquid to fill each jar.

8.  Process in a boiling water canner.  The time is based on your altitude 0 to 1000 feet – 30 minutes; 1000 to 3000 feet – 35 minutes; 3000 to 6000 feet 40 minutes; above 6000 feet – 45 minutes

Pickled Beets

And that’s it!!  It really was pretty easy and can be a one person job.  Mrs. Stoney helped me for a few minutes while I was peeling and cutting but for the most part I didn’t it on my own.  The whole process took me about 2 hours, including the processing time.  Keep in mind that beets can be pretty messy!  And that nice red/purple color can leave a lot of stains so have some rags ready to wipe up any spills and don’t wear and clothes you care about keeping nice!

There are some variations of the recipe out there.  I have seen some that add a couple of cinnamon sticks and others that put pickling spices in the spice bag.  We don’t eat these like crazy so I think these 8 jars should easily last us until next garden season.

Any time we talk about preserving food here on Stoney Acres I always add this little disclaimer.  You shouldn’t just take our word for it!  Our advise can never replace the professional advice you will receive from a recent preserving guide book (like the Ball Blue Book) or from your local state university extension agency.  Please seek out one of these sources for additional information.  Food preserving guidelines are constantly changing and it is important to stay up to date on the information. Another great source is the National Center for Home Food Preservation the web site is http://nchfp.uga.edu/.

 

A late July Garden Tour

I know that I always rave about how much I like winter gardening, but really let’s face it, late July and August (at least for us) is really my favorite time in the garden.  The 6 to 8 weeks starting about July 25th is by far the most productive time for any North American garden.  Tomatoes, beans, squashes, corn, melons, potatoes!  I mean come on!  What a great time of year.  Over the next 8 weeks our garden will produce nearly 70% of our annual total.  Now is just a bountiful time in the garden!

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So let’s take a tour of Stoney Acres and see what growing in both the home and borrowed garden!  Let’s start things out at the borrowed garden.  Really only 4 crops growing here, corn, potatoes, melons and a few tomato plants.

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The melons are going crazy!  Here’s a shot of one of the many watermelons already growing, the kids and I walked through over the weekend and counted 37 melons that were in some stage of growth.  Now you always have some aborted fruit but even if we had 25 that would be a ton!  Three different types of melons in this patch, crimson sweet, moons & stars & sugar babies.

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The cantaloupes are also also going nuts.  We count about 35 set fruit on these plants as well with a million more blossoms covered in bees!

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The Crenshaw Melons are slower to develop, but even these plants each have a couple fruit set!

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Two types of potatoes growing here, some russets and red Pontiac’s.  We are hoping for about 150 pounds from these 3 rows.

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The sweet corn is tasseling, that means fresh corn on the cob is only a few weeks away!

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We also have 8 tomato plants here.  These were planted late so they really won’t start bearing fruit for a few more weeks!  We don’t expect much from these plants, the owner of the property had some extra starts about 3 weeks ago and we had extra cages so we threw them in.

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Here’s the home garden.  I’m really happy with the way it looks!  It makes the yard feel really cozy and productive.

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Our popcorn experiment is going well.  The plants look good and should be tasseling soon.

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The zucchini and pumpkin plants are struggling a bit.  They seem to have some kind of infection that is killing some of the leaves.

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You can see the difference a couple of weeks makes in melon patches.  These plants here at home went in about 10 days later than the borrowed garden and they are just starting to bloom, no fruit yet.

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We planted potatoes here at home as well.  A much smaller patch and much closer together, this was an experiment.  We will see how the production is with the plants spaced this closely.  Also you can see some of our mammoth sunflowers, we grow these for the seeds and also a little for the novelty of their huge flowers, which are just starting to bloom.

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The tomatoes are thriving, especially the Early Girls here in front.  They got a little too much water early in the season and have really taken over.  But they have a lot of fruit set on them so I guess it will work out!

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Peppers, kale and summer lettuce along with the cucumber trellis are all doing well.

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Here’s the first cucumber of the season.  It will be ready to eat tomorrow!

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This bed is just kind of a mish-mash of different plants, pumpkins, the last of the spring potatoes, beans, kale, broccoli & cauliflower.  The empty spots in the bed have just been replanted with bush beans that should be sprouting soon.

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The onions have fallen over and are starting to yellow.  The ones on the left are Candy and I will probably pull them this week as they are done growing.  The right ones are Copra and will be a few more weeks before they are ready.

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And of course the fruit trees are all looking good!  They all seem to be taking hold and adding growth.  But sadly it will be several years before we see any fruit!

There you have it, the Stoney Acres garden in Late July, just bursting with potential waiting for that big mid August rush of harvesting!!

 

 

The last harvest report for July 2014

The HOT weather continues here in Northern Utah.  Every day this week was over 90 and we had one day over 100!  The worst part about these hot spells is that it doesn’t cool off much at night.  We don’t run the A/C at night and this time of year it seems like the bedrooms are never cool!!  But the heat is doing wonders for both the home and borrowed gardens.  The tomatoes are growing like crazy, the first of the cucumbers are on the way and the melon plants are blooming.  In fact the melons at the borrowed garden which are about 2 weeks ahead of the home garden are already setting fruit!  The kids and I went through the watermelon and cantaloupe patches on Saturday and counted no less that 80 total fruit already set!!

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We also had a fantastic harvest week!  It was past time to get the beets harvested!  I was amazed at how many beets we ended up with.  The row of beets was just an after thought, I just kind of threw them in on the south side of the tomato bed.  I’ve never really had much luck with beets but they sure did well this year!  What I thought would be just a small amount for a few cans of pickled beets ended up being almost 20 pounds!  That’s way more than we can eat ourselves.  We ended up canning about 1/2 of them.  We saved a few pounds for ourselves to eat fresh and gave the rest to a few neighbors!  Next year I will only plant a 6 foot row!

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Also fresh from the garden this week we had a huge picking of strawberries and a couple more early girl tomatoes.  The ever-bearing strawberries are a little early with their second crop this year!  Not that I’m complaining but they usually don’t start producing again until early August.  I think the difference is that here at the new place the berries get more overall sun then they did at the old place.

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Later in the week we had more strawberries and another great picking of side shoots from the broccoli.  The broccoli plants have been giving us about 1/2 pound of side shoots per week!  Another week or so like this and the side shoots will have out produced the main heads.

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Also ready to clean up and weigh this week was our garlic.  Overall a pretty small harvest this year, just under 2 pounds but the heads are beautiful!  A couple of these heads will go back into the garden this fall, the rest will flavor our dinners!!  We are going to look for another tasty variety of garlic at the farmers markets this year and plant about two or three times as much this fall.  I think if we could come in with about 5 pounds total we would have enough to last all winter long.

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Saturday brought lots more beets!

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And another 5 pounds of cold frame potatoes.

Here’s this weeks total:

Beets – 19.25 lbs

Potatoes – 5 lbs

Broccoli – .50 lbs

Strawberries – 2.65 lbs

Garlic – 1.75 lbs

Beet Tops – .35 lbs

Tomatoes – .50 lbs

Total – 30 lbs

30 pounds makes this the biggest harvest week of the year so far, by almost double!  Our annual total now stands at 137.50 pounds 18% of our goal of 775 pounds.

Here’s a few things to look forward to this week at Stoney Acres,  Wednesday I will take you on a little tour of the gardens, Thursday will be a little tutorial on making pickled beets, Friday we will look at one of the simple garden structures we have in our garden, our cucumber trellis, and give you some instructions on how to build it.  And Saturday expect another recipe from Mrs. Stoney this time she is going to give you her recipe for homemade, 100% whole wheat taco shells!

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!

The first tomato sandwich of 2014!!

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home grown tomato. – Lewis Grizzard

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I’m not sure who Lewis Grizzard is but he’s right!  Nothing but happy thoughts earlier this week when I ate my first Grilled tomato and cheese sandwich!

 

Have a great Sunday!

 

Harvest Monday – July 21, 2014

The weather can be summed up in one word.  HOT!  High 90′s all week with one day over 100.  We may not be loving it, but the tomatoes and melons are just soaking it in.  I swear they have both added 2 feet of growth in the last 7 days!  I will try to get out and do a tour of the garden later in the week but things are looking fantastic.  I noticed some little baby cucumbers and peppers today!

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The first photo I need to show is of the garlic!  I keep forgetting to mention that I harvested my garlic about 10 days ago.  It’s been sitting in the garage drying.  This was a pretty small crop this year.  I don’t even know the variety, it was some garlic we picked up at the farmers market last year and liked.  It was all we had around in October so I put in a few cloves.  Only 12 bulbs total but they are all healthy and large.  Next year we will try to get about twice as much as this.

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We had the first of the real summer crops this week.  Our black beauty Zucchini had the first two fruit ready on the 16th.  That is only 54 days from the seeds going into the ground!  The seeds went in May 22nd.  I’m sure everyone has them that quick but if you think about it that’s pretty amazing from seed to harvest in less than 60 day!!  One more reason I love gardening.

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Here’s another reason!  It’s moving into the time of year when the harvest no longer fits in the basket and we have to move to a box!!  Broccoli, Strawberries, the first two real tomatoes, the last kohlrabi and potatoes.  Look at that big potato.  It weighed in at a full pound!!  We chopped them up with some sausage, onions and peppers, put them in some foil and grilled them for 40 minutes.  Oh man they were fantastic!!  So fresh and moist they didn’t even need ketchup!

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The one of the zucchini was sliced up and grilled to go along with the Sunday potatoes!! Yum!

This weeks harvest included the following:

Strawberries – 1 lbs

Green Onions – .25 lbs

Kohlrabi – .75 lbs

Potatoes – 4.50 lbs

Broccoli – .50 lbs

Tomatoes – .50 lbs

Zucchini – 2.35 lbs

Total – 9.85 lbs

Just under 10 pounds puts us over the 100 pound mark this year!  Our annual total is 107.58 pounds.  Here’s the funny thing.  It has taken us 6 1/2 months of the year to get to 100 pounds.  In the next 3 months we will harvest another 400 to 600 pounds!!

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!