Monday, May 16, 2016

Potatoes and Canning Beans

We planted potatoes yesterday. I'm grateful for a strong husband. This year we're using the Kennebec variety. Last year, even though we harvested a whopping 450 pounds, some of the larger potatoes had hollow hearts. My organic gardening book tells me that it indicates a shortage of phosphorous which can be alleviated for the long term with the application of granite meal. These seed potatoes indicated they were "hollow heart exempt" so we'll see if we can eliminate the issue. We may do the granite meal also.

We planted 15 pounds of seed potatoes into 6 forty-five foot trenches so we're hoping for another bumper crop like last year.

We replanted our Kelvedon Wonder peas as the first planting mostly failed. I did not soak the peas that time and we were hit with a very long cold rainy week. So we're trying again. We also planted 90 feet of onion sets on  Friday. They are a yellow onion, bulk purchased but I do not know the variety.

I canned up 14 quarts of dried beans this weekend. The varieties I canned are some we grew and dried in the last two years, and some were purchased through Azure Standard. I used my tattler re-usable lids with 100% success this time. There is a bit of a learning curve with these lids, but once you understand what's required it's as easy as the single-use lids.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Blossoms and Sheep

I love apple blossom time. The smell is pure delight. This one is a "Sweet Sixteen", a prolific bearer of sweet juicy apples. They are great for juicing or for applesauce. 

The blush white apples and

the pink crabapples. This beauty (Spring Glory) is gearing up for a huge crop this year. We use the juice from these as well. The red cherry-sized apples from this one are so beautiful it is hard to harvest them and lose the view.  

 The "President Lincoln" lilac rarely fails to perform. It is the most beautiful lavender blue and has a wonderful lilac fragrance. I bought it several years ago from a roadside stand. I wasn't sure if it would survive, it was so pathetic looking. But wow, it turned into a treasure!
Aunt Bea and Mavis were sheared today. Tom did the job for me as I was having trouble getting a shearer to come out. It was not a professional job by any means, but the sheep are much more comfortable and I am relieved. They are much blacker underneath than I thought they would be, and I'm happy about that.

They produced a LOT of wool. Most of it is really not suitable for spinning this time, but they will do much better on these warm days.

The rhubarb harvest is going great. This is only the second year for this new patch, a split into 12 from 3 very small plants. I've picked 3 times so far and already made a quart of concentrated juice, 2 desserts, and frozen 8 quarts raw.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dandelions and Sugar Maples

It's early spring in central Minnesota and gardens are only beginning to be planted with the earliest crops like peas, radishes, lettuce, and cole plants. Cheerful dandelions have sprung into bloom and the little plum trees as well. This is such a satisfying time of year as we re-energize with the now stronger sun. We love the useful dandelions that provide early pollen for the bees, blossoms for wine, leaves for salads, and roots for teas and tinctures.  

We planted Sugar Maples along the east side of the driveway this week. There are 25 of them, planted 30 feet apart and 3 feet in from the existing pasture fence. I've always admired Sugar Maples and am excited to see a line of them finally planted the way I envisioned it 20 years ago when I was buying this land. This planting is also a gift to the future owner of this home who will have an easy row of trees to tap for syrup, as well as a glorious fall display.