Garden Explosions

It’s a little like herding cats around here. While I have been busy processing loads and loads of figs before they spoil, the rest of the garden has been exploding.

overgrown cabbage in the gardenThis head of cabbage split right in two, it just could not contain the exuberant growth within its outside leaves for one second longer. I was just about to cut it to take into the house when it popped right in front of me.

The head is still delicious and I did harvest it  right away, but the leaves will not be able to used for cabbage rolls as I had planned since they are torn asunder. This is a very large cabbage, it will take a while to use it up and I hope the other heads don’t blow up before I can get to them. Continue reading

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In The Mood For Baby Beets

I was in the mood for baby beets for dinner this evening, but I had a little trouble out in the garden. All I could find were monster-sized beets.

Large beetsSo instead of baby beets pan fried in butter with garlic and chives (a delightful way to enjoy beets and one of my favorite side dishes) I needed to come up with a new plan.

Some of these giants will be diced and boiled until soft (NOT MUSHY) and the water drained out of them. Once cold. they make a great addition to a green salad of lettuce, green onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and toasted walnuts. I have also been known to eat boiled beets for breakfast mixed with a little sour cream, but that is another story.

The rest of the beets today will be sliced into french fry size and roasted. I like to sprinkle them with olive oil and sea salt before roasting at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the oven is up to temperature before putting in roasting pan and leave room on the pan for each piece without competing with each other. A non-stick cookie sheet works well. Delish!

Some people like to roast carrots, potatoes, parsnips and onions at the same time, but for me today I’m just going to stick with the beets. I would love to hear your favorite ways of eating beets.

 

Hitched

Summer time is busy with many projects around the farm. It seems like the back of the Gator is never empty. Since we are constantly going up hill into the woods, the mandatory fire equipment, saws, clippers, bee spray, and assorted tools are carried in the Gator. That means whenever I want to work with firewood that has to be hauled to and fro from where I cut it to where I split and stack, the process of cleaning out the back of the Gator has to be done before I can haul a load. Plus, I need to put it all back before it is time to go back up into the woods again.

a trailer that can be pulled behing the GatorI have a new trailer that can be attached to the back of the Gator. Well, its new to me. My brothers who procure broken riding lawn mowers and fix them back up to running (this is their hobby, just a little something to keep them busy) happened to come upon a garden trailer while purchasing a mower.

With a little adapting to be able to connect a ball hitch, the metal 14 cubic foot trailer can be hooked and unhooked from the Gator easily. Or I should say its easy when it is not full. Right now the trailer is full of kindling that I split up the other day. The loaded trailer is sitting in the barn next to the wrapping machine and I need to get out there to process the loose kindling into bundles so they are ready to sell and the trailer will then be empty to haul another day.

Surprising Yellow Growth

A yellow fungus at the base of a tree We were driving the Gator up the skid road into the forest and saw a yellow clump at the bottom on a large Douglas Fir tree.  It was as big around as a baseball. The clump had not been there twelve hours earlier when we were traveling the road.

This fungus appeared and blossomed overnight into a wet, gloppy ooze. I touched it and the surface clung to my finger like whip cream, it smelled like a mushroom. The spot where I touched it immediately turned from bright yellow to a burnt orange color.

close up of fungusThe next day, the growth was not the bright yellow color anymore and did not look as wet, yet when touched it still clung to my finger like the day before. The top coating that came off showed black underneath where the day before showed burnt orange.

I have not seen this particular kind of growth before so will be monitoring the spot to see how long it hangs around and if it is a precursor signaling an issue with the ninety year old tree. Up until this time, the Doug Fir has looked happy and healthy even though we did disturb the ground around the upper hillside of the tree to put in the road last year.

Gettin’ Figgy With It

containers of green figsThe season has come on strong and it seems that all those fig growers out there are having their own emergency trying to get the ripe ones picked before the birds, wasps and bees come on in full force.

I picked these four containers (plus as many as I could eat) in less than ten minutes. The trees are loaded with fruit. Figs tend to grow two crops a year, evidence of the second crop are only about the size of marbles and they will be ripe at the end of September or early October, unless there is a freeze. If a freeze happens, the fruit will drop before ripening. It is unusual to get a second season crop around here.

Even with picking this many figs, the neighbor called three days later and complained that I did not pick enough. Since I had the last of this batch in the dehydrator and I had all my containers empty, I hauled myself back over there and picked an even bigger supply. I’m handing them out as fast as I can between rounds of filling the dehydrator.

Moving Wood Production

While we are gearing up firewood production for our own winter use, we are also ramping up production for the bundle project. Moving outdoors while the weather is holding clear and dry for a couple of days will speed up the process.

Splitter with stacks and crib of firewoodWe have moved the portable Super Splitter out of the production area of the barn so it is closer to the log landing.

While one person is cutting the wood into 16 inch pieces, another one can be chopping the larger pieces into halves or quarters with the wedges and sledgehammer in order to make the heavy pieces light enough to lift up onto the platform table of the splitter. Quarters can still weigh too much to lift and will be split smaller if needed. Continue reading

Seeing Evidence Of Dry Conditions

Even though we have seen storms roll in throughout the summer, we are noticing that we are below average for our overall precipitation for the rain year that began in October. We can see it in the water level in the river, we can see it in the stress showing up in the fir trees, in the hard-packed dirt in swampy areas that should be moist, and we are starting to see it in the vine maples that are growing at the edge of the forest land.

A vine maple getting red leaves at the edge of the forestWhile driving the clearing between the planted patches of forest, I noticed this vine maple at the edge of the woods. The leaves are already starting to turn red as a result of the dry conditions. Vine maples show brilliant red color as the seasons change.

The leaf color stands out from an area that should be lush with multi-hues of green at least for another couple of weeks. The color change is signaling that the deciduous tree is beginning to go into fall mode, taking the nutrients usually used to keep the leaves plumped with moisture and using the reserves inside the core of the tree and down in the roots.

It is also a good reminder for us that the summer season of bounty is fleeting and to begin the preparations for the fall season. It will be upon us soon.