Spring Update…we got some stuff done

The tomatoes are out the tomatoes are out!!! After we brought the planters in last Sunday, they started slowly but surely to pop out one by one.  Once we noticed the little plants we moved them back under the fish tank into the garden hoping to get them nice and hardy and fully exposed to the sun.  It’s amazing how well the planters with the piece of yarn work.  The soil is perfectly moist! The best part is that we repurposed 2 litter water bottles for such cool planters and we did not have to buy anything additional in supplies. The tomatoes are looking good but still quite pitiful, especially comparing to the starts we saw at Carpenito’s. We are a month behind but we have hope for these guys. If all fails, we will just buy the starts but there would be so much more satisfaction knowing that the tomatoes we will eat came from our sprouted plants…we are keeping our fingers crossed!

Our other major production this weekend was to put our potatoes in their cages.  In previous years, we grew our potatoes in the main garden bed. Potatoes take a lot of room and we are limited on our space so this year we decided to go vertical gardening instead. Paul made cages out of wire fencing and filled them with straw, compost and soil and planted the potatoes.  As the potatoes start to come out, we will keep adding soil on top to encourage more potato production.  All the reading I have done promises great things from growing potatoes in cages, emphasizing the space issue and promising a ridiculous amount of potatoes per cage (30-40lbs). We will chronicle our journey and of course weigh the outcomes in late August when we harvest our crops.

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I am super excited about the cages because not only will we get potatoes out of the cages but we also planted our peas around the potatoes. The peas will use the cage to climb and spread while fixing nitrogen for the potatoes. We wanted to make sure that peas and potatoes are good companion growers and after a literature search we concluded that as long they are early season potatoes, there should be no problem in cohabiting the two veggies together. Further literature search confirmed my definition of “early season potatoes” as potatoes you grow during the early season of vegetable gardening. Hopefully we will have plenty of peas for our eldest daughter and hopefully the little one to devour.

One other potted tuber we planted this year is the Jerusalem artichokes. The name has no relation to Jerusalem nor is it an artichoke, I am not sure how the name came about and here is a link to the Wikipedia article. We got the tubers from my sister and planted them in a large pot. If allowed, it can and would take over the garden. The plants grow very tall and resemble sunflowers. I have personally not eaten this tuber but I am curious to try them. I guess you treat them as potatoes even though they are not starchy. Paul says that since they contain lots of inulin, many permies have dubbed them “fartichokes”. Be careful if you are especially sensitive to inulin, as they may cause discomfort.

So, remember how we talked about building a new chicken coop in the front yard?  Yeah, scratch that! While discussing the design of the new coop–I had what I consider, a brilliant idea! Let’s keep the coop the way it is, tear down one section of the fence down and build a run that would go from the coop to the front yard.  This will allow us to save around $500 plus Paul’s time, allow us to focus on the fence and of course, get the garden planted before baby boy comes.

Through the week, we hope to have a quote for wood and materials for the chicken run. The chickens have no shame and have been roaming the streets, even more! So, their safety and our desire to keep the neighbors happy are on high priority right now. On the happier note, with the gals being “free range” even more, their yolks are getting more deep orange from all the weeds and bugs they consume! We will also be yanking our two hydrangeas out and giving them to our sister and prepping a strawberry patch in our front yard. Our kids are obsessed with berries off the vine/bush.

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Success in the kitchen last Saturday…awesome hash browns! As I have mentioned in the previous posts, I suck at making hash browns, so after trying a gazillion recipes, I finally lumped them all together and made my personal best hash browns. I first brought the potatoes to a slight boil, taking them off the heat as soon as I saw the first bubble form, then I shredded them and squeezed the heck out of them to get as much water out as I could and finally, cooking them on a griddle (spread out as thin as possible) with browned butter (not oil). Four and a half years into our marriage, I think Paul genuinely enjoyed the starchy part of his breakfast and boy did it go well with a few fresh fried eggs. Let’s just say my breakfast got me the superstar status from the family that that day, even for just a day, I’ll take it.

One additional note, in regards our pantry of stored foods, we have depleted our last can of canned tomatoes and have only one more can of beans to go. It’s kind of bitter sweet really. I’m proud to say that our efforts paid off and we have been eating our tomatoes and beans since August until last week, so about eight months, but I am saddened that we are all out and will have to wait on the tomatoes and resort to our frozen and dry beans for the tacos that we love oh so much. The plan for this year is to double if not triple our canned tomato products. More salsa, more pasta/pizza sauce and tomato juice! As for the beans, we will can as much as we can, but I think we can also dry them, which is less effort, and later can them when time becomes more available. One other depleted source for us was our last onion. We got our storage share of onions last year from our CSA (10lbs) and used pantyhose to preserve them. It worked great!!! I only partially lost one red onion. Basically, I put a single onion at a time and knotted the hose until both legs were full of onions.

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I went through two pairs for 10lbs. We hung the onion legs in our garage, the coolest part of the house. They have lasted us since late September until now. We don’t however use a lot of onion. If it was for my Mom, we would have to preserve about 50 pounds. We hope to repeat this method with our own onions and the CSA onions this year.

We will keep you updated on our journey—thanks for reading! Stay tuned, exciting things are coming soon!

 

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