Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Garden Views

Here's a collage of the garden through the months. It begins and ends with snow, and in the middle is a sea of green. Click on it to view a larger version. Its has been a wonderful year in the garden. Here's hoping for another good year ahead! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Knitting & Quilting Round Up

Here is a collage of all the finished knitting and quilting projects from 2009. As you mouse over the image, most photos link to the blog post or to the ravelry link about that item. I completed my first sweater in January and since made 5 other sweater or vests for adults. There are also lots of baby items for friends and family this year. It has been a productive year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Harvest Totals 12/21/09

Early last week I took advantage of above freezing temperatures to harvest salad greens from the cold frame. I got a bit wet in the process as there is snow all around the cold frame and I had to get close to reach in to where the greens were. However, it was worth it for the fresh salad we had for dinner that night.

Pictured here clockwise from 12 are 1.5 oz of tatsoi from under the snow, 1 oz of arugula, a few leaves of mache, a few leaves of claytonia, .5 oz of mizuna, 1 oz of swiss chard and .25 oz of beet greens (center).

I also picked two kohlrabi, which together weighed 7 oz.
Together with the carrots from a previous week we had a nice salad from the garden in the middle of December. Since this harvest early last week, the temperatures have not ventured above freezing (even venturing into the below freezing range) so I'm not sure how things are doing. I'll be gone for the holidays but I'm hoping that I'll return to at least one harvest in the New Year!

You can find out what other gardeners are harvesting at Daphne's Dandelions.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cold Frame Update

Today the temperatures were above freezing so I went out to check on the cold frame and gather some greens for a dinner salad. It was different to see through the glass and not have ice on both sides. Almost everything had rebounded from the cold except, surprisingly, the italian chicory dandelion. I was under the impression that this was rather hardy but it was still limp. The carrot greens had browned a bit, but I've harvested the larger ones and those still in the ground are an experiment to see if they will survive colder temperatures.

Here's how things looked inside today. You can compare them to how things looked a little over a week ago on Dec 5th or way back in September.
The sorrel is doing fine taking up the middle of the first window, but I don't know what to do with it. We made a sorrel soup, but that was just so-so. Any suggestions? I harvested the largest kohlrabi in the back. Hopefully the others will size up. The mizuna at the bottom right is doing great. I took this photo after harvesting the larger chard leaves and arugula from the middle. The dark red leaves are beet greens. I don't think I'll get any beets, but we'll eat the leaves. There is some new tatsoi in the middle as well. Kale is in the back. I didn't pick any today.
More kale in the back, limp carrots and italian chicory in the middle with small mache under and small claytonia on the bottom left. Both claytonia and mache are supposed to be very hardy but I planted them late in shady spots and they haven't amounted to much yet. Maybe they will continue to grow as the winter marches on.

Next to the cold frame under the snow was some tatsoi. I dug it out to harvest two heads. Then I covered it back up with snow so that it will be protected from the harsh cold that's predicted for the rest of the week.
And here was one of tonight's salads with all home-grown ingredients. It certainly is a pleasure in December. More on the harvest next week.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Harvest Totals 12/14/09

This past week we got at least a foot more snow. My lacinato kale did not do well with being snow covered last year so when I saw that it was getting close, I harvested almost all of it. I had to be on snow shoes to do so. It totaled around 7 oz of kale. It was the sweetest we've had yet. I think this might be the last from these plants. Over the course of the season from May to December I've harvested over 4 pound of kale from these plants. A usual harvest would be around 3 to 4 oz for a meal, though there were larger harvests of 10 oz a couple of times this summer. Altogether a good showing for my six lacinato kale plants.

You can see what other gardeners are still harvesting at Daphne's Dandelions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Harvesting in the Snow

Winter has arrived in full force. I measured 13" of snow this afternoon. We went for a walk in snow shoes and I thought I'd better take a look at the garden while I could still get to it. I found that the Lacinato kale was close to being buried in the snow.

I returned to harvest it. It was the sweetest kale yet and we ate it all tonight. I left a few of the littlest leaves to see if they will continue to grow. Maybe I'll be able to dig some out after our next snow storm. More about the harvest on Monday.

I began to brush snow off the cold frame but then thought better of it as freezing rain was predicted for tonight. It will be a lot easier to get the ice off if it is on top of a foot of snow than if it is directly on the windows. I hope everything in there will be ok for a day or two since I won't be home during daylight tomorrow to go brush it off.

Sunrise on a Snowy Morn

Both photos are from the sunrise Sunday morning. We are getting more snow today but there is no sign of the sun.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Harvest 12/7/09

After the snow on Saturday I decided I should probably harvest some of the carrots before the ground freezes in the cold frame. So out we went Sunday afternoon. We found that though I swept the snow off the cold frame Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, the glass was still covered with ice. We didn't pick the spot for the garden, and the cold frame faces mostly west. With the angle of the sun right now, there wasn't much time for the sun to melt the ice on the glass. I hope things will continue to grow with the limited light.

However, we were able to harvest the largest of the carrots, most being short and stubby, about 4 " or so. I planted these carrots for fall on 6/25.
That was almost 6 months ago!! They were shaded early on by some of the surrounding greens but got more sun as earlier crops finished. We left the smaller ones in the ground. I'm not sure they are going to bulk up any time soon, but maybe come spring?? The total weight of today's harvest was 7 oz. They were so sweet and with no hint of bitterness so we decided to keep them for snacks rather than cook them for dinner.
You can see what other gardeners are harvesting at Daphne's Dandelions.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Snow!

This afternoon our first snow began. It was wet with big flakes.
I went out while it was still light to brush off the cold frame, though it was still snowing.
Here's what is still inside, looking a bit ragged. Please forgive the wet spot on the lens in the photos. Under the right window there is kohlrabi in the back, which has been mangled by the slugs. In the middle is sorrel and there is some arugula at the bottom.
In the middle section, there is winterbor kale at the back, arugula, tatsoi and beets in the middle, and chard and mizuna at the bottom.
Under the left window is more kale, carrots, italian dandelion, mache, and a bit of claytonia. Just outside the cold frame are two swiss chard plants. The snow on them will probably cause the end of them.
And here is my lacinato kale covered with snow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Harvests 11/30/09

It seems quite amazing that I can still run out to the garden on this last day of November when I need a little bit of green for a meal. You can see what other gardeners are still harvesting at Daphne's Dandelions.
This week I ran out for some arugula and mizuna to add to a breakfast of huevos ranchros on Saturday morning.
Here is the breakfast they contributed to.
Tonight I ran out in the dark for some greens for out tacos. I ended up with a few leaves of swiss chard which we chopped to use as one of our toppings.

Neither harvest amounts to much by weight but psychologically it is nice to know that I don't have to buy store-bought lettuce and I can provide the bits of green we need. I do wish that I had seeded some lettuce back at the end of August because we only have arugula and some regular lettuce would be nice. However, the Swiss Chard does alright as a stand in.

We still have some carrots and kohlrabi in the cold frame that I need to pick and the kale is plugging along quite well. Maybe we will get to the carrots this week.

P.S. Here's a funny photo of the squirrel that was licking the mat on my parents' porch in Maryland last week. Not sure what yummy substance he found on the mat there.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wedding Quilt #2

As I mentioned last month, I started two quilts in August for weddings this fall. I finished the second one last weekend and today we're headed to that wedding so I can show off the finished product.
This pattern is called Facets, and it is a random combination of squares made of two colored triangles. I used three green and three blue fabrics, with a light, medium, and dark of each color family. It was easy to piece the squares by sewing the two triangles together. The hard part was laying out the squares so that it looks random enough and that you don't get two triangles of the same color right next to each other. It is the kind of design that when your eye looks at it, you try to make out what the pattern is, but can't quite get it to work. There is lots of interest and movement in it. After the sharp geometric design top, I went with a more fluid paisley fabric that ties the colors together for the border and binding and backing.
I quilted lines along the inside of each square made of four triangles.
The finished quilt measures 63" by 52".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Harvests 11/23/09

A few warm days this week with temps in the 50s allowed me to prop the cold frame open to let out some of the moisture. This week I harvested winterbor kale from the cold frame. I tried to choose the leaves that were most getting in the way of the windows closing snug. This was picked at night and went into a yummy Barley-Tomato-Kale Soup from the Moosewood soups cookbook.
We also picked some tatsoi on Saturday to throw into a quick asian noodle soup. I love how it has formed beautiful rose shapes with the leaves. It is definitely doing better now than in the summer heat. I planted tatsoi in succession throughout the whole season, but the mid summer planting bolted very quickly. This last planting was horribly attacked by something eating its leaves in August, but has recovered nicely and is actually outside the cold frame. I have another harvest yet of it. I also have some seedlings of it in the cold frame so we'll see how it does at the temperature drops.
You can see what other gardeners are still harvesting at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Month of Harvests

I've been behind on posting my harvest photos for almost the past month. We've had about one harvest a week from the garden. Here they are, better late than never. You can see other gardener's harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

10/22 Lacinato Kale and 1 carrot. I was curious how the carrots were developing so I pulled one of the larger ones. It seems like they could be harvested any time now.
10/31 Arugula and Mizuna for a salad with pears and goat cheese. Yum!
11/4 This was my first harvest in the dark after the time change. The sun sets around 4:30 now so if I want to harvest for dinner I have to don the headlamp and head out into the darkness. I picked all the Broccoli Rabe. It seems like it needed more sun. There wasn't much to each plant. It did better in the spring. I also picked some of the Italian Dandelion Chicory to round out the Broccoli Rabe pasta dish I was making.
11/11 Another night time harvest: Lacinato Kale. We roasted this in the oven and it was very good.

We still have winterbor kale, carrots, arugula, kolhrabi, swiss chard, mizuna ,sorrel, claytonia, & mache in the cold frame along with a few stray beets. The biggest problem right now is the slugs which are feasting on the kohlrabi. It seems that I'm picking off slugs every time I go out. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to harvest well into December and see how things survive once the snow falls. Here's a photo of the mache which is supposed to be the hardiest of all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mini Sweater Ornament Pattern

After making mini mitten ornaments to go with our gifts to family last year, I decided I wanted to make something else this year. So I designed my own pattern for mini sweater ornaments with cables and two color designs. So far I've made 6 of them and I'm aiming to make more. In the mean time I decided to write up the pattern and publish it.

** Edit: I've moved my blog to my own host. Click here to find this post with the pattern link on my new site

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still Here

Just a note to say I'm still alive and around. I've been extra busy with teaching, travel, visiting friends, and trying to finish some sewing projects. The garden is still going, with harvests about once a week. I'm sure I'll update more once the dust settles, whenever that may be. In the mean time, here's a shot from early last month.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Canning Round Up 2009

In the photos below, if you hold the mouse over the photo it will tell you what it is. The photos are also linked to the posts from which they came.

This year I canned 66 half-pint jars of jellys, jams & preserves.

I canned 28 pint jars of pickles and beans.

I canned 4 quarts of blueberries and cherries.

That's a total of 34 1/2 quarts of preserved products.

My number of quarts and pints canned is down because I didn't process any tomatoes this year. It was a bad year for them and I didn't have the time to hunt down a bunch to make into sauce. My total pints are also down because I skipped canning corn. Frozen or store canned is easier and there isn't much difference in cost or flavor. Experiments and new recipes this year included mango preserves, cherry-currant jam, quince-apple butter, current jelly, peach salsa, currant jelly.

I wish we had a picturesque spot where all the jars were lined up to be stored, but they are currently in flats on top of a book case in our study because it stays cool and dark in the winter.