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WELCOME FARM GIRLS!
This week has been crazy around our little suburban farm.
I am back in school again, veggie crop production (my last class) graduation next May. I worked hard at the school farm yesterday. The class will be planting two separate fields: one conventional (utilizing current commercial technology ie: herbicide and insecticide) and one organic (using only organic methods of IPM). I am anxious to see the result; although I already know from experience that the conventional field will yield a larger volume of crops, but they will be contaminated just like the ones at the supermarket...
Anyway, it got up to 108 degrees in the field as we manually mixed in 7.5 tons of organic compost into the organic field (it was a 50/50 blend of steer manure and composted green waste) followed by 90 units (lbs) of an organic fertilizer made from composted chicken manure and blood meal. Then, we spread ninety units (lbs) of Triple Fifteen fertilizer (15-15-15 blend of N-P-K) into the conventional field. We filled up 5 gallon buckets of each amendment and spread it ourselves by hand. I woke up today with aching forearms and shoulders. I guess at my age I should have taken it easier, but I resent the idea that I can't keep up with the teenagers, fooey. (I forgot my camera, but I will take it next week when we start inserting transplant plugs)
We don't yet know what kind of vegetable we'll be planting, the professor says it's early for our region so he will have to take whatever he can get. I was hoping to get to plant something that I have had trouble with in my home garden in the past. That way, I might learn something. I know it will be fun, whatever we plant. Our school is great. At harvest time, they let us dig the crops and donate them to organizations that feed local families. I have helped others dig their crops before and it's a fun day.
Here at home, I have been finishing up a few small creative projects for my son Jon's wedding that is now just a week away. Almost done. Whew! He took a load of stuff up yesterday. I will have the last few done before tomorrow, then on to my last project, his wedding cake. I am making a modest tier wedding cake for the kids. I will post pictures and the recipes as I go along this week.
Less than an hour ago, I finished up a batch of homemade tomato sauce. It was my second batch, but the first one I canned. I canned about 20 tomatoes and got 3 quart jars. By the time it cooks down, there's not a lot left, haha. So much water in tomatoes, I guess. Anyway, the hubby LOVES it. It's my own recipe (though I confess, I got the basic instruction and how to from several of you in blogland) and it's very simple.
I blanch my tomatoes in boiling water for 3-5 minutes (depending on the variety- some separate from their skins faster) and take them immediately from the boiling water to ice water. Next, I remove their skins completely, core and quarter the tomatoes, and puree them in a food processor until super fine, and then pour them into my tall, large stockpot to cook down.
To the stockpot I add cleaned, chopped, and pureed garlic, celery, onion, fresh basil, and sometimes bell pepper. I let it cook down, stirring regularly as it boils. Once it has cooked down measurably, I add about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar of Modena, a 1/16-1/8 cup brown sugar, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure it has cooked down before you add the seasonings otherwise, you might accidentally end up with a sauce that's too salty or too sweet. I began this last batch with 25 cups of tomato puree and ended up after cooking down with 3 quarts full and just enough to cover two plates of pasta and veggies for me and the hubby for lunch, so I'd say the liquid cooks down about half. To can it, I just poured it into hot, sterile prepared canning jars, placed my lids finger tight, and water boiled it for ten minutes. No pressure canning for these jars today. Had I added meat to the sauce, would have required pressure canning with meat canning requirements. I'd rather add fresh meat when I prepare it later.
My garden is still putting out the produce. Everyone else I have talked to have told me that their squash and zucchini are slowing down, but mine have heated back up again. My cucumbers have slowed production this week. Good thing too, my refrigerator is still full of all those lacto-fermented pickles.
I picked all my corn ( a small 4x4 plot and followed my BFF Michelle's recipe to dehydrate the kernels and it worked like a charm.
I have been dehydrating this summer, more than in the last 5 years combined. ( I blame this on the heat) This season, I have dehydrated nectarine, peach, apple, corn, carrots, eggplant, zukes and yellow squash, potatoes (thought I do not like how they look, too dark), and celery and celery leaf. Today, I ground up dried celery leaf into salt to make my own celery salt. It's pretty and very fragrant.
I plan to make my first batch of homemade yogurt cheese this week, I hope it turns out...
I hope you Farm Girls have a great week on your Farms!