Out of the long row of ‘tired’ potatoes (the potatoes that I grow in tires instead of hills) that I planted in the garden in the spring, finally the last few batches have been harvested. At the beginning of the row, I had harvested the russets and Yukon gold spuds. Now that I am at the end of the row I finishing up with the reds and blues or purple potatoes.
I try to save the purple ones for the end of harvest because I enjoy making potato salad for the fall and winter time with the deeply colored spuds. Boiling prior to making them into the salad changes the color from deep purple to more of a lighter blue color that stays true rather than coloring the white mayonnaise-based salad, unlike the red cabbage that turns coleslaw into a pink swirly concoction. Continue reading
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We are moving more toward winter with each passing day and the garden is showing a definite slow down. I just harvested the very last red cabbage that I had planted in the spring. The outer leaves had been frozen and thawed several times so they were mostly slime. I peeled away the ick and found the inside half of the cabbage sound, crisp and quite delicious.
The onions have been protected by the soil around them and are still firm although I will need to harvest the last half of row that is left in the garden before the ground gets muddy and stays muddy. The moisture can rot the bulbs if left in the ground.
The row of carrots are down to the last five feet or so, I have been using them as fast as I can in recipes, roasted in the oven for carrot fries, making carrot/raisin salad and for fresh eating. I have only about another week worth before they are all gone.
Kale has slowed considerably but I use the most tender leaves to make baked kale chips, a big hit for a snack or appetizer. Most of the apple trees are completely done for the year, only a few left from the very late HoneyCrisp and yellow delicious varieties. The cows are down to the last wheelbarrow loads of fruit for the year as we cut and dole them out a few at a time.
I have only four of the twenty four tires left in the potato row and they will be finished for the season. Most years I am able to put a few aside when I dig the last tire/mound, but we have been enjoying hashbrowns and potato soup a little more than normal and we are nearly out.
But never fear, I still have BEETS! I continue give them away to anyone that pulls into the driveway (I sure surprised the lost traveler asking for directions and the mail person when delivering a package) or when I go to meetings. I have made beet fries, beet salad (both cooked and raw), I mix them in with every pot of soup and dice them into casseroles. Pickled beets with carrots have been eaten freshly made with lots of jars canned and stored. Still I have more beets available.
Looking back at the beginning of this story, I had mentioned that the garden is dwindling which is true, but we are still getting a good amount of produce out of the relatively small space.
With the row of potato sets planted in the right side row, the tomatoes are the next to be planted.
A total of twelve tomatoes have survived and thrived in containers and it is well past time to get them into the garden where they will be able to stretch out their roots and their tops. About half of the plants already have tomatoes set on and hopefully they will not get too upset about this move which could cause the plants to drop the fruit rather than growing to the ripe stage.
As I was setting up the tires for as the framework for the row of potatoes, my feline supervisor tested each tire in the row. Momma Cat is the oldest and I believe wisest of the barn cats, she is also the friendliest (when she is not in a swiping kind of mood) and definitely the most curious of the gaggle.
I haven’t quite figured out her motives but suspect that she may be testing for balance to make sure each tire is firmly level on the ground, or if she is determining the sun intensity on each tire plot, or if she was just wanting to get her behind warmed as I plodded and placed tires along the string row marker.
Now that the front garden plot has been worked up with first the tractor then finely tilled with the walk behind rototiller, the row of tires has been placed one swath wide from the northern edge of the plot.
The row of tires are where I will plant my potatoes. The extra swath of dirt will be tilled weekly and the fine dirt will be used to cover the potatoes as they grow.
The vertical growing potatoes can have extra tires stacked on top, but only one or two more. If the stack gets higher than that the potato plants get choked out and the end result would be a pile of tires filled with dirt but no tubers (I learned the hard way).
There are several advantages to growing potatoes in tires, it makes weeding easier (this is very important to me). Also the plants and tubers are neatly contained so if someone wanted to help with weeding they would be less confused about the difference between spud and weed. The tires make a good barrier for those ground dwelling rodents that are attracted to the below ground goodies. And the best advantage is that for harvest, all one has to do is flip over a tire or two and the spuds are right there in the open instead of digging with a shovel and missing some good ones.
I have been working through the garden row of potatoes by digging one hill/tire at a time as we need them. The half of row that did not get enough water early in the season had good spuds but not very big or very many.
You may recall that these are the Yukon Gold variety, the flesh is yellow tinted and the skins are very thin. They have a buttery flavor.
Most of the time I don’t bother with peeling, just a quick vegetable brush over them. I am now working on the second half of the row, this is the area that did get enough water during the times the irrigation was on and the crop is much better.
The potatoes are bigger and more plentiful and we are enjoying hash browns, oven fries, and potato soup on a regular basis.
I had accidentally missed the corner of the garden during the last heat spell. The potatoes were overlooked. The irrigation is turned only when the stock tanks need to be filled and the error with the sprinklers caused the problem.
About half of the row are now shriveling and dying. No amount of water will turn around the inevitable.
I’ll give them as much time as possible, but will soon be harvesting the half row and will continue to check sprinklers during the times that I have the irrigation running. (PS as you can see, the pig weeds have no problem growing with or without water, maybe I’m growing the wrong crop)
I think a proper name for this dish is baked half potatoes but I like half baked better so here it is!
I had assumed that I was going to be digging baby red potatoes for and evening meal. I was surprised that the reds had grown almost to baking potato size and had to improvise my meal.
Instead of parsley-ed baby reds, I cut the large tubers in half and scored the cut edge.
In a large baking dish (this one was 13 x 11), I dribbled a little melted butter, crushed garlic, onion, parsley and some Parmesan cheese. You can easily add crumbled bacon and some sour cream if you wanted.
The potatoes are layered scored side down on the bottom layers of stuffing ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes when a fork can easily penetrate the spuds.
Each half baked potato comes out with its own toppings already baked into the scored surface and it takes less time than baking them whole.
I could not wait for the first potato plant to die before digging in for some baby red potatoes. This was the haul from one tire that surrounds and separates my potato hills.
Some of the potatoes are not so baby, I was surprised by just how much growth there was under a plant that was still trying to produce the underground tubers.
I had just harvested a head of broccoli that weighed about a pound and a half. Since it all headed out at the same time, I needed to come up with a meal that would use up the proliferation. This is where the garden and my freezer come in handy.
Large Crockpot Beef Broccoli
Overnight slow cook the toughest cut roast you can find in 1/2 c. soy sauce and 1 cup pulped Yellow Transparent Apple, garlic, onion.
Around noon, remove roast from crockpot and chop into bite size chunks
Reserve a cup of the meat juice from the pot and return chunked roast to crockpot still on low
! 1/2 hours before dinner, raid the garden
I added chopped potatoes, summer squash, kale, tomatoes, the whole pound and a half of broccoli and the handful of Chanterelle Mushrooms that I had left from my walk in the woods.
I mixed the reserved meat juice with 3 Tablespoons of Corn Starch for thickening, a splash of rice vinegar and added it to the crockpot.
Dinner was ready right on time, and my day was not spent in the kitchen.
Well, it’s not exactly the first, I have already harvested some mustard greens and spring onions that made it through the soggy winter. I had dug up a hill of potatoes and ate half of them, the other half is sprouting and they will be cut into ‘eyes’ and re-planted for the crop this fall. And the chives has been growing nicely, I snag a few stems every couple days. Continue reading