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  •  I planted carrot seedlings yesterday (5+ / 0-)

    But they're just a few feet from the rain barrel, and there's only a few of them.

    Love one another

    by davehouck on Sat May 11, 2013 at 09:22:34 AM PDT

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    •  Break now after turning the edges (5+ / 0-)

      of pepper patch. Sited it right in the middle of my giant 4-leaf clover patch (good nitrogen). Shrunk the garden by 3 terraces this year, I'm getting way too old for keeping actual crop-crops. Planted peas, celeriac, carrots and onions in boxes on the front deck this year, they always get lost amongst the weeds if out in the garden (I grow spectacular weeds!). Just trying to arrange things so I can actually mow around or next to plots, that'll keep those derned morning glories down.

      Have friends down in the valley who grow really nice corn, okra, pumpkins, paste tomatoes, and even wheat, 'taters if I need more than I've got. We trade out, or they just bring stuff by because they got sick of canning (or ran out of jars again). I dehydrate everything in my nifty solar unit now, only can pickles and apple/pear/berry butters. Will let them with actual machinery do the hardest work now that I'm too old to dig that much. Can't use a tractor or smaller tractor-type machine on my acreage or I'd end up about 200 feet down the mountain! Do have my bean plot almost ready, with support - gimme pole beans every time! Just have to add the compost from where daughter moved the bin uphill yesterday...

      •  Essentially, I live in the woods ... (5+ / 0-)

        ... and there's very little area that gets any sunlight; so my "garden" space is very small, and my gardening is essentially educational in nature (although my tomatoes did well last year, and I cooked and froze enough to keep me in tomato sauce through the winter).  I do plan to sell this place eventually and find something with more garden space.

        And yes, one of the things I read last fall was that clover was a very good winter crop for fixing nitrogen to the soil.  And in the hole I dug yesterday for the carrots, I did turn over the clover that covered the spot.

        My onion seeds failed to germinate; I think it was too cold in the house, and I didn't use a heating pad under them.

        You dehydrate everything?  Interesting; more stuff to learn, must consult the google.

        I have a manual (ie solar) herb dryer that I've never used, but keep on intending to try.  I was visiting a friends house a couple weeks ago, and she had an electric food dryer.

        Love one another

        by davehouck on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:04:25 AM PDT

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        •  Maybe I'll bring mine (5+ / 0-)

          if we have an outdoor gathering in July, show how easy it is to make and show off some of the goodies too. A learning experience! Do sometimes have to finish things in the oven due to the fact that it rains an inch a day here all summer. What I get for being on the south slope of the Blacks (Mt. Mitchell & ridge), where clouds come to dump.

          Apples are wonderful dried. Still have a little water content so would spoil if not kept refrigerated, but they never last that long around my place - kids eat 'em for snacks. Dried tomatoes of course have their nice uses, you can keep them in olive oil for ages and they're still great on pasta or pizza. The rest I dry very hard, then freeze, then grind into powder. I have discovered that 16 pounds of tomatoes makes a good-sized herb bottle full. You can mix it with salt, herbs, garlic powder and such, use as a very nice table salt. Or mix with powdered greens, beets, leeks, celery, etc. for a fine broth powder for soups and sauces. Do have some grape tomato weeds that got away from me a few years ago, they grow in odd places and I let them. I dry those into "tomaisins," and the grandkids love those more than anything.

          Best part is no sterilizing of jars and no buying lids. So I'm a dedicated saver of containers suitable for dry stuff. Still have half a container of kale flakes from last year. Crunch 'em up and toss into soups, onto salads, etc. They keep their vitamins better too!

          •  Great idea for the meetup! (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, SteelerGrrl, randallt, DawnN

            Learning experiences are very good!

            Do you peel the tomatoes before drying?

            Love one another

            by davehouck on Sat May 11, 2013 at 10:27:31 AM PDT

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            •  Nope. Do that for canning (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SteelerGrrl, davehouck, randallt, DawnN

              (and for making fresh 'mater pie), but no need for drying. The chewy toughness of dried and packed in oil is kinda what you're looking for on antipasto. If you're grinding into powder you want all of it because skins are part just like everything else. Except the seeds/gel, just scoop those out with a thumb when cutting into quarters.

              That's actually the best thing about drying - nothing goes to waste. When drying scallions, leeks and garlic, I go ahead and dry the greens too. Same with onions. Once it's ground, it all tastes good. The tops of celery too, the greens of beets (if you don't cook 'em for dinner separately), even the tough central ribs of kale, collards and chard.

              It's also fun to play with drying. Like half-dry something, then re-hydrate in a marinade or flavored sauce, then dry again. Get some very interesting tastes out of that.

          •  I'd love to see it (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            davehouck, randallt, Joieau, DawnN

            Drying is my favorite way to preserve tomatoes, and I've got several varieties of heirloom seedlings ready to go in the ground. "Tomaisins" are awesome!

             I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine.     -- Kurt Vonnegut

            by SteelerGrrl on Sat May 11, 2013 at 12:10:37 PM PDT

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        •  You grow tomatoes in the woods? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Our tomatoes haven't ever done very well and we've got at least "partial" sunlight. How do you do it?

          When lots of people show up to vote, Democrats tend to win.

          by Audri on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:14:07 AM PDT

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          •  Well, the "garden" is a small "cleared" area ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... and does get some sun.  Last year I apparently did a much better job at preparing the soil and keeping the plants watered but not overwatered.  Because of the lack of sun, the tomato vines were "stretching" and got very long.  I built a rather elaborate lattice of tree branches to prop up the vines, and kept adding to the lattice as they got longer.  Right now, it's a quarter past twelve and the sun has yet to clear the trees enough to get to the plants.

            I am concerned that the forecast for tonight is 34 degrees.  I guess I should cover the plants with something.

            Love one another

            by davehouck on Sun May 12, 2013 at 09:16:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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