Category Archives: garden

Onion Confusion

I planted onions in the spring…

So apparently I’ve been having a blond moment for the last several weeks now. I’ve been excited to collect seed from whatever garden plants I can. My onions sent up nice big flowers that now have thousands of seeds in them. I thought great, yippee, I get to save some onion seed. Ummm, no. Well, yes, I get some onion seeds. But no freakin’ onions!! I pulled them up today and the aren’t much bigger than the sets I planted.
Duh, I guess I should have thought about that. Apparently onions are not supposed to flower in their first year and if they do the bulbs will be very small. The bulbs also won’t store well since they have been pierced where the flower stalk pushed up. The only explanation I can find for this is extreme temperature fluctuations during the growing seasons. Yep, we’ve got that going on here in Michigan.
So what do you think? Has this happened to you? Am I missing something? Is this more likely to happen when you grow from onion sets? I’m so bummed.


Today’s To-Do List

Monday is my day off and I’m staying super busy! This is more for my purposes but in case you’re interested, here’s what is on my agenda:

-Can more green beans (they’re on the stove now)
-Bake bread
-Call the builder
-Call the plumber
-Call on prices for an automatic cattle waterer
-Balance the checkbook/pay bills
-Find the title for a trailer we’re selling
-Call the orchard to order peaches (Mmmm!)
-Scope out vacation destinations online (this is coming up fast!)
-Make the weekly menu plan
-Make granola bars if time allows
-Finish knitted baby shower gift and make progress on wedding gift

The bathroom needs to be painted and the landscape worked on but it is incredibly hot and humid/sticky so I won’t be doing either of those things today. I’m hoping to bust through the rest of the list so I can just knit and work on the bread.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing today! 🙂

Pressure Canning Green Beans

I spent the day with my Mom yesterday and she taught me how to pressure can for the first time ever. I went in to this completely blind and was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. Now I have a new skill to add to my list! Yay! Thanks Mom!

While this is in no way meant to be a guide to pressure canning I’ll share a few pics and the basic process. That way if you find someone to teach you it won’t be so mystifying.

The black pot has a strainer in it and boiling water. The silver one is the pressure canner with a few inches of water in the bottom. We snapped the beans in 2-3 inch pieces and removed the ends. Next, we rinsed them under cool water and put them in the black pot of boiling water. Once the water comes back to a boil they stay in for 5 minutes. At that point we pulled out the strainer, allowed the water to drain back in to the pot, and poured the beans in to the plastic strainer in the sink.

Then it is time to put the beans in the jars. I used the end of a wooden spoon to arrange them and filled them almost to the neck of the jar. The jars will get very HOT. Duh, but I’m a little slow.

You use the liquid from the black pot to fill the jars. Leave about 1 inch of headspace. Wipe the rim clean, then place the lids and rings on as usual.

Here’s the fun part!! Put them in the pressure canner and secure the lid. We used the canner’s owner’s manual and the Ball canning book to figure out the specifics. For our canner we need moderate steam coming out of the little hole on top for 7-10 minutes. At that point we put the little weight on top of that hole. Stick with me here… each recipe calls for certain pounds of pressure. For our canner the piece with the black top equals 5 pounds and each silver ring is five additional pounds. So we put one ring on the black piece and set that over the steam hole. When the pressure reaches 10 pounds the steam comes out forcefully enough to rock the little weight back and forth. Once the weight starts rocking your processing time begins. I set the timer for 25 minutes.

When the time is up you just turn off the burner and wait. There is a little button thing on top of the canner that sticks up as long as it is holding pressure. When the button drops the pressure is gone. Then you can tip the weight sideways to check it. If no steam comes out it is safe to remove the lid. It took a very long time for the jars to cool, much longer than jam from what I remember. Therefore it also took a long time for them to seal.

By the way, 5# of grean beans from my garden = 4 full quarts. Not bad! 🙂

Do you pressure can? Isn’t it fun!? What is your favorite food to pressure can?

Herbs and Our Front Porch

I picked up some herbs from two different places lately and finally planted them today. The planter boxes are something that my Dad was getting rid of. I think he made them from old deck lumber. I painted over the brown paint so they now match our porch. There were already drain holes drilled in the bottoms. I added some hay and then a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.

From left to right we have Peppermint, Thyme, and Lavender. If the plants do well I expect the Peppermint and Lavender to fill in the box.

Here from left to right is Curly Parsley, Rosemary, Basil, and more Curly Parsley.

We were just talking about how much we enjoy our porch so I thought I’d share a few more pictures. A passerby during early evening might find us sipping iced tea in our Adirondack chairs. We found this table in the garage when we moved in so I painted it to match.

Of course the dogs are never far away. I’m really surprised that Maci hasn’t chewed up or otherwise damaged those citronella pots yet. I picked them up on clearance years ago for 10 cents each and just got them out the other day.

The iced tea is cold, won’t you join us for a glass!?

P.S. I’ve finally replied to the comments from the last 3 posts so if you had left a comment you may want to check back there. Sorry I’ve been slacking lately! 🙂

Growing Challenge Check-In: Planting

My garden isn’t small but I didn’t have any room to plant corn. Our neighbor Jeff was kind enough to come by with his tractor and rototiller and make the above long strip of garden for me. It is between the pasture fence and the road. We had to put the fence far off the road to make room for snow in the winter but can still use the space all summer.

I planted 5 different kinds of corn the first day. I still had some room so in went 2 packets of sunflowers, hopefully to use in granola bars this fall. Well, there was still a ton of room left so I just kept planting. All the peas and beans went in. Then watermelon, zucchini, and squash. There is still room so I added eggplant seeds and may stick in some eggplant seedlings to fill it up. I’m trying to plant less valuable crops there since I wouldn’t put it past some idiot to drive through it or pick from it. The tomatoes and other crops will stay in the main garden. Plus, now there is room in the main garden for pumpkins!!

Here’s the complete running list, new additions in bold, the rest are updated.

Seedlings still under light (they really need to get outside but the weather is poor):
Amish Paste Tomatoes
Green Zebra Tomatoes
Waltham 29 Broccoli
Ping Tung Eggplant
Long Purple Eggplant

In the main garden:
Red pioneer potatoes- 10# – growing well, need straw
Red onions – 8-10″ tall
Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas (hybrid) – 1 20′ row – 8″ tall
Asparagus – mostly gone to seed, some still coming up
Black seeded simpson lettuce – 1 20′ row – up
Black seeded simpson lettuce – 1 20′ row planted 4/27 – up
Sugar Ann snap pea – 1 20′ row planted 4/27 – 4″ tall
Victoria Rhubarb – approx. 25 seeds planted 4/27 – didn’t come up, disappeared!
Amish Paste Tomato seedlings – 10 planted out 5/25 – 2 died, others holding on

In the long garden:
Country Gentleman sweet corn – 1 packet – planted 5/25
Golden Bantam 8-Row sweet corn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Carousel mini ornamental corn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Strawberry popcorn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Japanese White Hull-less popcorn – 1 pkt. – planted 5/25
Mammoth Grey sunflowers – 1 pkt. – planted 5/30
Buff Valentine (Contender) bush bean – 3 pkts. – planted 5/31
Sugar Ann snap peas – remainder of 1 pkt. – 5/31
Laxton’s Progress 9 garden pea – 3 pkts. – 5/31
Tall Telephone garden pea – 1 pkt. – 5/31
Blacktail Mountain watermelon – 1 pkt. = 5 hills – 5/31
Butternut Roosa squash – partial pkt. = 2 hills – 5/31
Black Beauty zucchini – partial pkt. = 2 hills – 5/31
Ping Tung eggplant – partial pkt. = 2 hlls – 5/31

Around the farm:
Heritage Raspberry – 4 canes planted 4/26 – doing great
Strawberries – a few blossoms, only half dozen plants survived winter without mulch
Gooseberry and Currants – 2 of each – planted last year – huge w/ small berries forming!
2 Red Haven Peach trees – planted – all fruit trees are healthy and green
1 Harrow pear tree – planted last year – only tree with blossoms
1 Bartlett pear tree – planted
1 Montmorency Cherry tree – planted
1 Gala apple tree – planted
1 Golden Delicious apple tree – planted
4 blueberry bushes – planted last year – greening up
Mature apple trees – small apples forming!

Here’s a pic I snapped from where I sat planting the endless patch.

Also, this is the broken hoe that I’ve repurposed to help me plant. It makes a great little tool to cut rows in the soil. Then I just drop the seeds in and pat over them with my hand.

I’ve enjoy reading many of your garden updates and how everyone’s plant are flourishing. What’s your favorite garden tool? How do you plant your seeds?

Sewing with Mom

My Mom was nice enough to drive out for a visit on Sunday. We spent the day sewing a new scrub top for me. I bought the pattern and the fabric a while ago but wasn’t sure how to cut out the pieces. I have made curtains and even pajamas but this top was by far the hardest thing yet. My Mom is an excellent seamstress. She even made my bridesmaids’ dresses for the wedding so I knew this top would be a breeze for her. It turned out pretty good. Thanks Mom!

Today is the start of my new work schedule. I only have to work Tuesday – Friday this summer. Yay! That means more free time for all the projects around here. I wanted to spend this first day off out in the garden finishing the planting (expect an update soon). However, Mother Nature decided rain/storms sounded good today. I actually planned ahead and went to Jo-Ann Fabrics yesterday to stock up on supplies for today. On the agenda: cut out a second scrub top and work on curtains for the living room. Those who follow the Git ‘Er Done posts will appreciate that once curtains are done the living room will be finished besides rewiring!

I have a couple other things up my sleeve for today as well so if I get that far I’ll let you know. I’ve had a sore throat since about 10:30 PM last night so I’m going to take it easy and see how things go. I’ve taken some vitamins and will fight my urge to garden in the rain. How are you spending your day? Is it raining? Do you sew much? Any sewing projects you recommend?

Sunday Stroll: Garden Update

I have been taking a stroll around my yard every morning and evening lately. There is a lot of activity to keep up with! All of these pictures are from the garden today. I thought I would combine the garden update and Sunday Stroll this week to keep things simple. Plus, I have a lot of other things to post about this coming week.

Potatoes are finally up! Yay!!

I have picked and picked, eaten and shared, and yet till – the asparagus is going to seed.

The first row of peas is really growing. The second row is up and about 1-2″ tall.

My little bitty lettuce. This was one of the first things I planted. It is growing very slowly but I’m just glad it lived.

The onions have doing great all along.

The garlic is huge!

I saved the best for last. Check out the blossoms on our new pear tree! This is the one that I just planted a few weeks ago. The pear tree that I planted last year has a lot more leaves but no blossoms yet. I can see this little blossoming tree from my window.

See who else is strolling on Sunday over at Quiet Country House.