Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and hope that 2013 will be a lot better than last, with gentle rain at night and pleasant sun during the day to keep everyone happy in the garden for the year. And of course for everyone to stay healthy and happy and may all your wishes come through.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday season is upon us so I wanted to wish everyone to have a Great Thanksgiving and remind that it's not material things that matter most - it's your friends and family that keep you happy. Today I'm thankful for my husband and my sister, my 3 adorable furbabies Midnight, Lipstic and Shadow, my friends and of course all those who come visit me on the blog.  Even though I haven't been posting much lately about the garden, it's still growing and we're still picking and I hope to do occasional posts until spring time. In the meanwhile, here are some shots of what is still growing around here, starting with some greens in hydroponic -  salads, bok choy and tatsoi. They are all different sizes because we keep picking and replanting continuously.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
In the garden we have carrots, salads, brussels sprouts, chard and kale still growing.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Inside the house one of my lemons finally has a baby lemon! and a pot with 3 bell peppers is trying to survive the winter - hopefully it will last so I can have earlier peppers next spring.
Photobucket Photobucket

Break in harvests

No more harvest post for a while. Last snow storm damaged my main hoophouse and before we were able to fix it cold air killed off all my peppers and beans. I still have some salads and carrots growing, some kale and swiss chard that are also being picked but for now I won't post any  pictures of these harvests. The smaller hoop house in the old garden is still standing and transplants of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages are doing pretty well but not producing yet. We're also using hydroponic greens for salads and sandwiches but I keep forgetting to record these pickings. I'm really starting to miss warmer season where I had all those cucumbers and tomatoes at my fingers. This week I will start two cherry tomato seedlings to see if I can get them to grow inside during winter. So far there is a long pot wit 3 bell peppers in the kitchen so we'll see how that will work out.

First snow storm

Mother Nature is definitely not happy with us this year - we got snow a lot sooner than our usual December or January. But it does look pretty and white covering my back yard.
 Unfortunately it also covered my front yard with my new garden  and collapsed the hoop house on two beds. I haven't been outside yet to see if anything under neath survived. We're expecting warmer temperatures in next two days so will fix it during weekend. Greens might be ok but I'm afraid my experiment with peppers is done.

Harvest Nov 5

Not much going on in the garden these days. The hoop house that was damaged in the small garden was repaired, and the one in the new garden also in place now. There are few peppers growing but I didn't need them this week so did not pick any. Today's harvest is greens - swiss chard, kale and parsley. A handful of beans that I used for my side dish was picked as well but not weighted.
Next few days will be in low 20's so not sure how my hoop house will protect them - will find out the hard way after hard freeze is over. I also planted a bed of garlic that is about 2" tall now so had to pile mulched leafs on top of it to protect it. Hope it will be ok as it has to make it through winter.

Sandy's aftermath

Sandy whirled through the southern portion of NJ so we were lucky - damage was minimal. Few branches knocked out, power was out from 8pm to just past Noon but we had generator so no big deal. Arbor got blown out but once the rain stops and wind calms down my hubby will fix it. Two of the new hoop houses were damaged so he'll repair them, but the first one on the long bed is still standing. Overall we really lucked out and it could have been much worse like for those who are near the coast.

End of October harvest

Garden is still chugging along and producing bits here and there. Most of it is under the hoop house covers so they get enough heat to keep growing. Pickings today were herbs, kale, chard, peppers and brussels sprouts. Surprise was my handful of bean bushes that were growing and last week they were blooming - they gave me quite a bit of beans! enough for a good side dish for two of us this weekend.

Edit: added parsley and sorrel that was picked from the small garden.
We have a storm moving in on us - Sandy currently Cat 1 hurricane. Last year we got pummeled by Irine - another storm that left us without power for a week, washed out roads and severe flooding. I really hope that Sandy will be nicer to us this time around, but we're not taking chances - food and water stocked, emergency generator is ready and we should be ok even if again we get stranded by destroyed roads. I hope the garden makes it through and the 3 hoop houses that we just put in place will remain there with all winter crops in tact. Good luck to everyone else on the east coast who will be affected!

Harvest Oct 21

No pictures today because I didn't get to the store to get fresh batteries for camera, but we did pick kale and swiss chard this week. It came out just under the pound total.

Not much going on in the garden - everything I planted for fall is growing VERY slow so not even sure if we'll have anything to pick before snow. I will set up additional hoophouse over two beds in the old garden and one more small over L shape in the new garden. Just need to get over the willies that been keeping me in bed lately and get some energy to get something done before winter.

Hoophouse experiment

This is our new experiment - we set up a miniature version of a greenhouse. Bent few pvc 1/2" pipes into semi-hoops and secured them to the wooden boards of the raised bed. Put a support for each with T-joint and draped heavy-duty plastic and secured it on the ends and in the middle of the bed.
As you can see inside there are few of my pepper plants trying to survive cold weather. Not really visible are carrot plantings, swiss chard, one eggplant, kale and few plants of beans. Don't know if it will work but we'll give a try. This weekend we'll build another bed to cover my brassicas in the old garden. So far they survived the frost so I hope they'll be ok and will produce something in few weeks.

Meal from a pantry

I know I usually don't do posts about my meals but today is exception. First it's because I used some of the winter stash already. It was also first time I tried to make "cheesy" dish. It's considered normal in american culture to make meals with melted cheese but it's most definitely not my cup of tea so I've never made anything like this before. This dish was a combination of near al dente penne pasta, jar of meat sauce, jar of tomato sauce and a cheese concoction - light brown roux from butter and flour, add a cup of heavy cream and cup of milk, two cups of mix of 4 cheeses and melt it. Layered pasta first, meat sauce on top, then cheese sauce. Repeat with pasta, tomato sauce and cheese. Baked for 20 min at 375 oven. This was the result.
 Hubby seemed to like it, but said it was too much cheese and not enough meat so next time will need to adjust it. He'll be eating this for lunch and dinner tomorrow and maybe friday.
And a while back we went apple picking and I forgot to show first apple pie of the season so here it is.
 And speaking of left over apples, I was making more apple sauce and had a lot of cuttings from skin and cores but it was too dark outside to get it the composter so I put it outside on the deck for morning. But our motion lights came on just a few min ago and a visitor got snapped on camera munching on those cores. I guess by morning there won't be much left to get to the composter after all. Oh well, he needs to eat too.

Hard frost and harvest

Friday night we got hit with heavy frost - it got down to 27 degrees and put an end to my happy days in the garden for this year. All beds that had uncovered peppers, beans, basil, eggplants are all dead. So I pulled out dead plants and harvested what was big enough - will make some kind of a dinner out of it. I didn't bother separating carrots, beans and radishes so weighted them all together and will add total to carrots. I also picked last of the radishes, few carrots that will be added to the meal, and whole lot more parsley. It's already been cleaned and put into a dehydrator.
So now we have some winter stuff still hanging around under plastic hoophouse. Let's see how the experiment will work. Plus I have greens growing in the hydroponic garden inside so that will provide me with salads for winter time.

New Pantry

We have new pantry! It's nearly complete now - just need to get covers to protect all canned jars from sunlight and it will be all set.
And I'd better get going on making more goodies - I've given away way too many jars, so need to get replacements and fill out all those empty spaces.

Preserving for winter

I've been busy preserving many things lately so here are samples of some of the goodies: Hot & Sweet pepper jelly, strawberry & lemon jam, pear jelly, hot pepper jam, apple jam, strawberry jelly.
On the savory side we made quite a bit chili, apple sauce and salsa. 
Now I just need to get all things labeled and stored properly so they won't go bad. Not in the pictures - green tomato salsa and jam but that's a post on it's own later.

More mushrooms for winter

On my way from work found another large Maitake - Grifola Frondosa - in it's prime, and less than 1/2 mile from house - a tree covered in young chicken mushrooms - sulphur shelf or Laetiporus sulphureus . I only picked a bag full because I didn't have other bags or baskets with me - but this is more than enough for us for winter now!

Sweet Potatoes and Radishes.

Picked today remaining sweet potatoes from old garden; few beans for dinner, found one purple potato hiding in the bed, and whole lot of radishes. Later picked more carrots that didn't make it into large picture but were weighted and used for dinner.

I used the bed that had sweet potatoes to plant a lot of garlic for next year. There were couple of heads of Elephant, German Porcelain, extra hardy german, and extra large NY variety.

First week of october harvest

This week very slim pickings - some of the last cabbages and beans, some kale and peppers for dinner and whole lot of herbs that will be dried for winter. We're expecting frost this weekend so might as well pick the herbs and dry them now instead of wasting.
These two didn't make into the general picture but they were picked at the same time.