Tuesday, September 23, 2008

progress update: weeds and seeds

Okay. Just a quick update. It's fall, things happen around here in the fall. Some good things, some not so awesome.

The garden is wildly overgrown. I did some mildly drunken weeding a couple of nights ago while fishy and I and some friends hung out on the porch. Despite the rum and coke, the weeding actually made a positive difference. Or perhaps because of it...

The carrots, which seemed like they were going to disappoint at the beginning of the summer, have turned out fantastic. I am probably going to plant another two rows next year. I don't even really like carrots, but aside from the butterfly factor there's also the fact that I really do like growing things that make me feel like I know what I'm doing. Hence, garlic and carrots and herbs.

We pulled off the cilantro seeds, or a large portion of them, so now we have our own home-grown coriander seeds. I am quite pleased. I was a little concerned that there didn't seem to be a lot, but then I realized how often we used coriander seeds -- which is not often at all. So for our needs, there is really quite enough.

I'm going to try to save some of the beefsteak tomato seeds, since they're a heritage plant. The way they grew in the garden this year suggests to me that they'll be an ideal container tomato, which is really all I need. I'm the only one in the house who eats tomatoes, and while sauce remains an option, I suspect that one container of tomatoes will likely be just enough.

Friday, September 12, 2008

sauce: the conclusion

I survived the tomato canning. Other than the frustration of being up until after midnight to put tomato sauce in jars, the other frustration?

3kg of tomatoes = 1 L of sauce


That is two 500 mL jars, if anyone is counting. 'Cause I am.

We go through tomato sauces at a rate of at least two jars every couple of weeks to a month. So, this tomato sauce isn't going to last long.

The good news? It tasted pretty good, and it smelled delicious, and it sealed just perfectly. So, that is good. But I'm thinking, maybe it is too much work to grow all those tomatoes for TWO JARS of sauce.

As fishy said, it's a good thing we are not pioneers. We'd definitely starve.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

progress update: thicken, damn you tomatoes!

So, update on the canning. Because I know everyone is waiting with baited breath.

Let's see, it's 10:45pm and... the freaking tomato mix isn't ready to go in the jars yet. And there is a 35 minute processing period after the tomato mix is in the jars. And the mix has to be strained prior to going into the jars.

The recipe said 1.25 hours for the tomato mixture to come to the proper thickness, and we're going on 2.25 and we're still not there yet. I guess it makes sense that my tomatoes are really watery given all the rain this summer, but it's hell on the thickening.

The good news is that I did, in fact, have enough tomatoes right out of the garden for the complete and full recipe, so I am very pleased with that. There are even enough left over to make bbq sauce! And probably something else, too. Also, the sauce smells really good. It's a very basic tomato sauce, with oregano, bay leaf, garlic, onion and a whack of roma tomatoes. It's going to be made with my very own tomatoes and my very own garlic, so that makes me happy.

However, I must say, we will not be making the bbq sauce tonight. That will be an effort for tomorrow. Or possibly Friday. Or Saturday. Sometime before Monday, anyway. Really.

fall planning and canning

So, nothing big for 50, I decided. Too much pressure.

Speaking of pressure, tonight fishy and I are going to try some canning. We have made jellies successfully, both sweet and hot, and now we're going to attempt a tomato sauce, with any of the good roma tomatoes that are left in the garden. According to the recipe I have I need 6kg of romas. I am thinking I might halve everything. I know you're not supposed to fiddle with the ingredients of preserved foods, but the ratios will all stay the same...

That is our task for tonight. This coming weekend is going to be a major garden cleaning blitz. I am going to order some garlic from Veseys again, because I was thrilled with the way the garlic grew this summer and I'd love to have more next summer -- I ordered 1lb of bulbs last year and I think I'm going to go for 3lbs this year. Yes, that will be a lot of garlic. But the amount we have in storage now is not going to last us the winter, and if I can avoid buying garlic from China I will. Nothing against China, but it seriously chafes me to buy a little bulb of garlic flown all the freaking way from the opposite side of the world (you can't get much further away) when it is something that grows in Canada perfectly well.

So, I will grow my own. And lots of it. The other thing is, the garlic made me feel good about my gardening skills. Such as they are...