Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Tomato Trimming

Don't let any of the plant's precious last days of energy go to anything
but those final treasured tomatoes. 
It's gonna be a long, long winter, friends.
It always is.

Snip the vine just above the fruit,
leaving a leaf for good measure.

Be sure to leave no flowers.
They take energy that the last ripening tomato could be using.
Show no mercy.
Pinch it off.

It's a beautiful season, but choices need to be made.
One of these has to go.
There's no chance they'll both ripen this late in the year,
not without drastic measures.
Are you prepared for that?
Me neither.

These are the rare vegetation that should not be composted.
Tomatoes carry a fungus that harms next years harvest.
Trash them.

Remember all those green tomato recipes, friends!

Ripening Green Pumpkins

We had pests at the garden plot this year.
Lots and lots of pests.
We had a couple of scares from ol' Jacky Frost.
But the dead vines weren't from him.

It was this little fella.
and his plethora ravenous relations.
The adults eat the leaves, vines, and fruit.
The larvae feed on the roots.
Essentially, the whole pumpkin patch is their buffet.

These are bad guys.

What can an organic gardener can do?
There are Natural predators, including soldier beetles, tachinid flies,
 braconid wasps (no danger to people or pets) and certain nematodes.

(Soldier beetles are attracted to milkweed, goldenrod, hydrangea, catnip, sunflower, and yarrow.  Tachinid flies are attracted to parsley, tansy, lemon balm, pennyroyal, buckwheat, catnip, spearmint, dill, caraway, cilantro, and lavender.  Braconid wasps like
yarrow, dill, caraway, coriander, Queen Anne's lace, fennel, statice, butter and eggs, lobelia, allysum, lemon balm, pennyroyal, parsley, lemon gem marigold, tansy, zinnia Lilliput.)

braconid wasp parasitises an aphid

tachinid fly eggs on army worm catepillar

soldier beetle eats potato beetle larve

ladybud eating aphid

Try planting radish seeds right in the hills with the effected plants.

Also, chicken eat them!
But I'm not ready for chickens, yet.
Maybe just encourage the wild bird population.

For me, these are notes for next year.
My vines are goners.
So I harvested all my pumpkins and brought them home.

However, normally you want to leave your pumpkins on the vine.

It's also important to pull any vines and leaves away from the fruit.
You'll see in a couple of these photos a solar imprint of pumpkin leaves.
Interesting, but not what I'm going for.

Warmth is another factor.
In my photos the pumpkins set out on patio tables.
I think I'll go back to place them onto the soil
 in the my cleared gardens.
They'll be warmer there at night.

Don't forget to rotate them periodically.
Be sure the greenest side is facing the sun.

Don't forget that you can carve them,
even if there's still a bit of green!

Happy Autumn, friends!

Garlic Chive Vinegar, and Rosemary Vinegar

Garlic Chive Vinegar

4 cups cider vinegar
several stalks fresh garlic chives
2 small cloves garlic, peeled

In a stainless steel or enameled saucepan bring vinegar to a simmer.
Pour into a sterilized quart bottle/jar.
Add chives and garlic.
Store vinegar in a cool, dark place at least 2 weeks before serving.
Before presenting, strain and add fresh herbs.

~ ~ ~

This is a book I found at a thrift shop, or garage sale, or library book sale.
I never remember which.
But I never spend much, and they're always full of great ideas.
Someday ideas.
This is the year for Garlic Chive Vinegar.

Garlic chives are to late summer what their purple cousins are to the springtime.
The leaves are broad and flat with a distinctive garlicky flavor.
True to the reputation of the chive, it also is less intense.

I like to give homemade gifts, and also need to do so.
Finances are stretched as tight as an engorged, gluttonous dog tick.
I try hard to regard the recipient.
I make notes throughout the year, keeping lists as I pick up clues.

Some people are wonderfully easy and fun to give to!
You never lack for ideas, and your heart warms
each time they return an empty jar
or you see them washing up with one of your colorful knit dish cloths.

Most of the time it's hit or miss.
Some years we hit the mark right on with a perfect gift.
Other years we're a little off,
with plans to take better notes for the following season.

But there are inevitably loved ones who are difficult to figure.
My only advise here is that everyone like to eat.
However, I keep it to small quantities and wait for feedback.

Sampler packs may be a good idea.
I like the tiny 4 ounce jars for this.
If they like it and want more, you'll here about it.
They'll get a bigger size next season, and likely every year.
Otherwise, it's back to more guesswork.

Save your glass jars.
Clean off the labels with a hot water soak, dish detergent, Goo Gone.
It's a process.  Find what works for you.
If you find a good one, let me know!
I'd LOVE to hear about an easier way!
Finally, clean out the inside really good with a bleach solution.
Get some corks in different sizes.

Once you're ready to fill your bottle,
be sure to clean it again with a bleach solution.
Boil the cork you'll be using,
but be sure it fits first as it will take on a bit of water.
Once the cork is in nice and snug seal with parafin wax.
You may even add color if you wish.
Remember, it's important to label your product.

Rosemary Vinegar

1 quart white wine vinegar
1 to 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1 shallot, peeled and halved
6 black peppercorns

Directions are the same as for Garlic Chive Vinegar.

Happy giving, friends!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shel Silverstein's Birthday

Did you know that there's a Shel Silverstein website?  I discovered this as I was researching to write this post!  Oh, my kids are gonna love this!  Who doesn't have a favorite Silverstein poem?

1955, Pacific Stars and Stripes

Shel Silverstein was born today in 1930.  He began writing at age 12, as he wasn't athletic.  He was unfamiliar with classic poetry, so developed his own style.  While he served in the Korean War, he was a cartoonist for Pacific Stars and Stripes.  After his service he was a cartoonist for Playboy, until his success with writing for children.

Our long-time favorite, The Giving Tree was actually his second book, written in 1964.  (Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back was his first, in 1963.)  He had a difficult time getting it published.  It was too short, too sad, too in-between adult and children's literature.  Eventually, an editor at Harpor Children's Books allowed it, saying "because life, you know , has pretty sad endings."

He returned to humor and wrote many books throughout the 1960's, 70s and 80's.  He also began to write screenplays and lyrics and compose music, such as A Boy Named Sue in 1969, a number one hit for Johnny Cash. 

 I wrote my own little poem, vaguely resembling (tongue in cheek) Silverstein's Sarah Silvia Cinthia Stout about laundry.  It was fun and silly and something that I think would be a great creative writing exercise for kids.

I've bookmarked the website above and plan to share it with the kids.  I think it'll be a favorite for awhile.  Enjoy some Silverstein with the kids tonight, friends!

About Me

My photo
As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!