Cold Frame Fun!

IMG_20160219_134124772_HDRIn fall 2014 we built our cold frames and had minimum success. I planted too late and it was too wet. There are no failures, simply lessons right? Some tweaks (and education) were needed!

I learned that I need 10 hours of daylight for germination and first growth. I learned that soil temps can’t barely be 40 and while damp is good, sopping soil is not. 🙂

IMG_20151026_172215996In Fall 2015 we adjusted the dates and did not plant in soil that was too cold and too wet! Those little adjustments have meant great success this year and we have had much fun eating fresh greens in Indiana throughout the winter!

Beautiful kale, spinach, chard, mizuna, beets, radishes and lettuce have been bountiful and we have benefited immensely on the dinner plate because of it!

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A couple of our boxes had such overwhelming growth that we added a second layer. Then they were still too short! Our spinach hit the glass and on some very, very cold days got frost bit under the glass and died. Honestly though, I cannot even see that as a failure— I mean having the spinach so out of control that it was bigger than a 12 inch high cold frame seems pretty awesome actually!

IMG_20160219_134117464_HDRToday was 60 degrees. We went out and gathered some kale and lettuce for dinner. What fun to do in February! While I was out there however in the warm temperatures I had an impulse… yep I had to plant some seeds! And I just happened to have some spinach seeds on me (don’t we all carry seeds in our pockets?)

So down I went and I pulled out of the soil the frost bitten spinach. The soil thermometer told me the soil was 45 degrees. I opened three of my spinach packs, drug my finger along to make a little trench and well… my first planting of the season!

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Well can you blame me? The previous spinach can decompose in the box and I am hoping I will be seeing some new growth here in the future!

Does the gardening bug have you?

Happy gardening!

FGU

Snow Fun!

IMG_20160215_093200287It snowed yesterday on Valentine’s Day which created a lovely, slow day at home. We ate good food, hung out together and just kept commenting on how pretty everything was with the snow. There is something so peaceful about watching the snow from the warmth of your home.

We were especially thankful that it did not hit hard until we returned home from church. The deck soon was covered.

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Jasmine hates the rain but she loves the snow. She digs her little nose in and comes up with snow all over her snout.

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Hubby needed to shovel our path to our office today. He thought about calling in and saying the commute was too tough today.

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Then he thought it would be mighty fun to build a snowman.

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It is about as tall as he is!

Are you frolicking in the snow or over it? I will admit I am not over it quite yet….

Happy Monday!

FGU

Happy New Year from Florida!

We typically visit St. Augustine, Florida after Christmas until the 2nd week of January (or so). The Festival of Lights remains up until the end of January so we just continue on in the holiday spirit. We are still listening to holiday music, looking at decorations and are taking a few vacation days to totally enjoy some down time.

Yesterday we ventured out in the opposite direction that is typical for us and we discovered a gem. The Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a beautiful state park that houses a formal garden and lots of coquina rock. The area was once owned by a distant relative of George Washington. More recently it was owned by Owen and Louise Young; he was the former Chairman of the Board of the General Electric Co. in 1922.  Louise Owen loved gardening. Following Mr. Owen’s death she donated the lovely property to the State of Florida; she requested that the gardens  be continued.

The entire setting is so lush along side some historic buildings. It was a wonderful find for us!

We wandered through and enjoyed the holiday spirit still alive and well at the park.

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Ornaments were hung from bushes and gazebos and poinsettias were everywhere!

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We even found Christmas trees tucked away in unexpected places.

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Reindeer were seen throughout and one even posed with hubby.

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In addition to that we saw some beautiful plants and flowers (even the roses were blooming!).

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Spanish moss was draped from the trees. Some trees are dated to over 500 years old in this park!

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Cute things like this rock fish would surprise you on a turn.

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Happy New Year from both hubby and I! We hope that where ever you celebrated (or are still celebrating like us) is joyous and peaceful.

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FGU

 

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #210

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Welcome to Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and welcome to December! Can you believe that it is December? Are you crafting, baking and fitting in some relax and enjoy time as well???

Deb is crafting! She is sharing such cute Canning Jar Lid ornaments with us today! You MUST head over and check them out!

AND congrats to Daisy of  Maple Hill Farm Blogspot! She won the note card giveaway! Way to go Daisy!

We are slimming down the Christmas decorating since we are kitchen remodeling- there are only so many hours in the day, right? We did get our tree however this week and I have a couple of Christmas favs around the house.

This weekend I am tiling in prep for the stove and that will be all the decoration I need if I am cooking up a storm on Christmas eve! Send good vibes out this way for that. 🙂

Deb did mention that we are still eating fresh tomatoes here! Can you believe it? She hinted about wanting a quiche recipe that I made this week. Well, I must confess that it is not my own, but it is AMAZING and you can get it here!  I did sub out the arugula for mizuna. I have them both growing in my cold frame and picked the wrong one so I used what I had. It was sooooo good!

Take a break from your holiday prep and share what you are up to!

Thanks, as always for joining in!

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #209 (and a giveaway!)

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Welcome to Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Deb has a great giveaway. Adorable Note cards!

Are they not the cutest? Head over, say Hi to Deb and see how to win. It is easy, peasy!

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Does your kitchen smell of freshly baked pumpkin pie? Are you planning wonderful side dishes? Do you raise your own turkey or do you get it from a farmer nearby?

Our kitchen is in prep mode, but not for Thanksgiving cooking…Do you see a fridge or stove?

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We are smack dab in the middle of our kitchen remodel and there are no appliances in sight. But sanding is going on tonight on our wood floors. They will be beautiful by the end of the weekend. IMG_20151120_173613272

Then we must leave for 7 days so they will cure. So we will head to my mom’s and dad’s for a lower key celebration and hopefully cook up a storm for Christmas!

Whatever you are doing have a blessed Thanksgiving. I hope you spend it with people you love and I hope you have much gratitude in your heart.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Now, go visit Deb, enter to win and join in the blog hop!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I love canning tomatoes. I love trying different things with them. I have several ways that are my “tried and true”. But Roasted Tomato Sauce is a favorite. Not just because of how it tastes but because it is EASY. AND easy is my friend this year. I have short periods of time that my stove is plugged in and available since floors and walls are being done in the kitchen. This past Sunday, with no construction folks around, I took to another round of canning. One thing I made was this sauce. Super easy! Here’s how you do it!

Half your tomatoes and pop them on a cookie sheet. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes on 375. No need to peel or season. Just roast.

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Note: These are Granderos which are a type of Roma. I highly recommend adding them to your garden. They just keep going and going and going. I am in Indiana and I just picked another 25 pounds yesterday! (yes on November 2). 

When they come out you can peel them. But like I said I do this because it is easy so for me that means NO PEELING. Yipee!! I throw them in the Vitamix and puree.

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That takes a few seconds. You can see how taxing this process is. 🙂

Then grab your strainer and pour that lovely sauce from the Vitamix into it. Turn your handle a few times and the seeds and remaining peels are removed. Since they have been roasted and pureed this is the easiest thing you will ever do in your strainer!

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Minimal waste. Below pic shows all the waste. AND this is not a large bowl, it is a little cereal bowl to give you some perspective. Easy and efficient. Even better huh?

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Pour the lovely sauce into a pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or longer for a thicker sauce. I do not season this sauce. I prefer the sauce plain to season as I use it.

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It is such beautiful sauce.

I add 1/4 tsp citric acid to each jar and add the sauce. I follow my water bath directions to a T. Mine said to process 35 minutes, lid off, wait 5 and remove jars. Follow your directions for safety!

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It is pretty, easy and delicious! If you still have some tomatoes to get through I would encourage you to try this.

Do you have a favorite canning recipe?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #208 and Happy Halloween!

apronFall is official with the coming of Halloween and turning back of the clocks this weekend. I will once again be tempted daily to put the jammies on at 5pm as the darkness approaches. Does the early darkness get to you too?

Deb’s been busy with company and viewing the most incredible fall landscapes out east. Be sure to stop by to see her pretty pictures.

We have been busy trying to extend our season (since it has been a slow one) and we are now reaping our summer harvest and canning in our kitchen that is really torn up. 

Looking outside today it truly looks like a fall day – clouds in the air, some trees still with colors and others have now dropped their leaves. I can tell that November is approaching. I truly love this time of year!

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Since the house is in remodel mode, my interior fall decor is not out, but I have added a couple fun things to look at right outside.

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I must try the canning the Seasoned Tomato sauce from Grow a Good Life that was shared last week. I still have ALOT of tomatoes this will get added to the repertoire.

And I am always a sucker for Mac and Cheese so I MUST try the Mac and Cheese with a kick. Thanks to My Maple Hill Farm for sharing. 

What are you up to? Halloween activities this weekend with family? Fall sightseeing like Deb? Stop by and share. We love reading!

Late Harvest

The weekend of the 17th and 18th was the first frost and hard freeze of the season. We had about 300 pounds of veggies still in the garden and we thought we would do our best to try to save stuff. We built a structure out of cages and PVC and started building.IMG_20151016_175041630

We draped with frost cloth and had our tent.

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The frost and freeze came. The plants looked rough but the veggies still looked great. We kept it covered through last week; Friday we removed it as we were expecting rain and the cold temps had left (for now).

Last night, I went out and harvested all of this!

Green tomatoes that will turn into beautiful slicers in a week or so.

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Bags of 3 kinds of lettuce, beets and radishes.

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A five gallon bucket was 1/2 filled with tomatillos. Roasted salsa verde is coming!

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Beautiful romas that will be canned today.

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Our cold frames not only survived but the stuff is so huge that we will be adding height to them this week before we need to cover them again.

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The best part was a delicious salad last night with the goodies topped with a vinaigrette and smoked mozzarella. Oh my goodness.

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IMG_20151026_200656292I am so glad we took the time to cover our stuff. The season has been an odd one and my summer garden still had work to do! We bought ourselves about 2 1/2 weeks more of harvest. We have now peaked 300 pounds of veggies picked and we have some still to go.

Are you still gardening or is your season totally at a close? Do you garden in cold frames or tunnels to extend your season?

Happy Unleashing today!

FGU

 

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #207

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Hi there and welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! I know it seems like a monthly hop instead of a weekly but Deb and I have been busy just like ya’ll with fall chores and wrapping up summer stuff. We rushed to cover tomatoes last week before the hard freeze and we were successful in saving them and buying ourselves another 10 days on the vine for them!

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Yesterday was my birthday and look at this lovely place hubby took me to for lunch.

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It is Stream Cliff Herb Farm and Winery. Their history dates back to 1821. They are Indiana’s oldest herb farm.

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It was beautiful, peaceful and oh so yummy. Best news is that it is only about 20 minutes from us so we will frequent again (and again…).

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The added bonus was their Bourbon Bread Pudding! We split it after lunch and we pretty much licked the bowl clean. It was amazing!

Later hubby made me spaghetti and meatballs, baked a cake and we just hung out at home (which was wonderful!)

Deb has been busy cooking up some fall fare. Her Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash with Craisins looks amazing. Some of our squash will finds its way to this! Be sure to visit and check it out! 

What have you been doing to enjoy fall, your kitchen or your garden? What things have to go on to prep for the colder months ahead?

Deb and I are looking forward to connecting again here this week. Thanks for stopping!

 

Patience is a Virtue (but a Challenge!)

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I finally was able to pick a BUNCH of veggies today. 15 pounds of summer squash, 5 pounds of green beans, alot of beets and greens, beautiful lettuce and a couple pounds of basil!

My hubby accused me of being an “impatient” gardener a couple of weeks ago. Honestly that is so true! And I am working on it… but fine tuning virtuous characteristics takes some time (there’s my impatience again!).

We planted late due to the rainy spring, one large garden was drown and killed and well… I still want to be harvesting like I did last year and on the same time frame.

So just like watching a pot of water and waiting for it to boil, I am watching and trying to hurry things along.

Today, I saw tomatoes turning red. The plants are gorgeous and have tons of tomatoes, green ones that is. But in the last couple of days red is appearing!

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My zucchini that was a goner (or so I thought) has made an amazing come back and is giving me lots of beautiful zucchini as a bumper crop!

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The squash that I planted very late in July, is thriving and has more yellow squash than I can eat! So freezing was the game today.

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Our garden that drown earlier in the year was the one with our beans. I had several varieties and none of them made it. I planted some bush beans in early August and I picked 5 pounds of them today!

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Lettuce and beets also filled my basket

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and we will be indulging in those tonight along with the pesto pizza which is courtesy of our basil that is happy and growing into bushes. I did have to fight our bees to get some today!

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I am so happy to be picking and eating from our gardens. It has been a wait this year! I am trying to be more patient and to be aware when my words and actions aren’t in line with that. The seasons have their own time frame. I need to enjoy and appreciate it.

I planted a cover crop on the washed out garden. It looks beautiful and is starting to come up.

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I think however that a winter cover crop is the ultimate in teaching me some patience as I won’t see the results of this until after the fall, after snow and after blooms in the spring begin. It will be some of our bee’s first food. We will all just wait until it is ready….

Happy Unleashing!

FGU