Let the season begin

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Goodbye relaxing nights and those extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.  You are being replaced with garden “engineering” which includes layout, planning, planting, weeding, working, and non-stop love and care!

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Today’s project was getting some of our late producing vegetables planted.  We did pumpkins, butternut squash, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and peas.  The kids love to help with this and the tween queen planted a container of Morning Glory, Cosmos and Zinnia.

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And of course there’s always a jokester in the group!!  I knew something was up when the giggling was getting out of control.

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If you saw my garden tip on Facebook, these are the little cups I save throughout the winter to use as planters.  These are lemon ice and yogurt containers.  Poke a few holes in the bottom and they are perfect for starting plants.

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You can store these on a tray with sides and fill with water from the bottom so it hits the roots and nourishes the plant and you don’t have to water each one individually or with a sprayer.  This is a HUGE time saver!

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And now they are gently covered with the sunlight hitting them to begin their growing process.  Fingers crossed they all produce.

Last Harvest of 2014

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Yesterday was the official closing of our 2014 vegetable garden.  This is the latest that I can ever remember harvesting.  We have had some cold days here and there and a few inches of snow on and off but the cold weather vegetables (brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli), have continued to grow and ripen.  We are due for some snow and the sun is not making many appearances so I finally gave in and pulled the last of the “goods”.

I had 6 brussel sprout plants full of baby size brussel sprouts which is exactly how we like them!  The greens have all been washed and are stored to feed the bunnies, goats and chickens over the next few weeks.

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The last broccoli bunch is blanched and frozen and the cabbage is stored with the potatoes in the back door of the cellar to keep it cold and fresh.

It seems like just yesterday I was sharing with you how we prepared the garden this spring…Preparing the Gardens

Butternut Squash

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I LOVE butternut squash.  It’s such a rich vegetable so filling and creamy when you whip it.  It’s loaded with vitamins and so good for you.

Tonight’s project was processing our squash to freeze.

You can see how I prepare our squash and freeze it for the year on my Facebook page here:  Butternut Squash

Apple Juice (make it yourself!!)

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During apple season, I hate to waste anything.  When making apple bread, sauce, or pies I take the peels and cores and boil them to make apple juice.  There is nothing like homemade apple juice!!  It is delicious.

Depending on the type of apples you use, the color is always different but the flavor and health benefit is a plus!!  You can sweeten it with sugar, honey or agave.

You can find my recipe on my facebook page here:  Apple Juice homemade

Fall Gardening

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Certain items do so well in the fall.  The temps here are around 55 – 65 during the day and 39-45 at  night.

Right now our Celery is thriving.  I have 6 bunches growing and they are all perfect just like the one above.

Brussel Sprouts are another fall item here.  They take a looong time to produce and ours are starting to produce finally now.  I have 12 plants and they all have nice little “babies” forming.  We harvest them on the small side as we prefer them that way when we cook them.  These plants have about another 10 – 12 days before we will harvest.

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These little hardy Cherry Tomatoes are still hanging in there.  They are a great snack at night or for lunch!!

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And it’s nice to be greeted by the zinnia still in bloom when entering the garden!!

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Sharing the tradition

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These beautiful mums on our kitchen table were a thank you gift from a young friend of mine.  (Lulu’s Musings should be proud of my decorated table inspired by her posts!!)   She had asked me to teach her how to can.  She made apple butter and brought it over to can at our house.

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Canning gets such a bad rap.  I hear all the time about why people don’t can because it’s so much work.  The truth is canning is not the work, it’s preparing what is going into the jars that is SO much work.

When we were finished, which took all of 25 minutes as the apple butter had been prepared ahead of time, she was pleasantly surprised how easy canning truly is.  She is going to make another batch for Christmas gifts and can them on her own.

And another canner is born 🙂

Grape Juice

This is the best grape juice you can have.  All natural, naturally sweet and full of the health benefits of purple grapes.

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To make our grape juice I use 12 cups of grape juice extracted (see how to do that here.)

12 cups pure grape juice

3 cups water

1 cup sugar (adjust to your taste if your grapes are sweet or tart)  There is no exact measurement as each batch of juice is different depending on the grapes.  I don’t even use sugar half of the time as the grapes are so sweet themselves.

Bring all to a boil and place into prepared jars.  Process for 10 minutes and store in dark cool place after cooled for up to 10 months (it won’t last that long 🙂 )

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Yearly Stock Pile

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This is how we prepare for the winter months in our house.  I like to have the pantry in the basement packed full of homegrown veggies, fruits, homemade soups, chicken stock, potatoes and meat.

Years ago a stock pile was the only way to survive the winter months as you could not get to the local merchant.  Generation to generation the stock pile need has become a thing of the past.  I do not want my children to rely solely on stores and buying food they truly have no idea of the ingredients.  I want them to have the life skills to pass on to the next generation.  That is all part of my reason for continuing traditions from my past.

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Both sides of the pantry are packed and we have some other staples we keep also.

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The freezer is loaded with homemade soups, chicken stock, flash frozen tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherry pies, blueberry pies, and meat from the butcher.  In the next few weeks applesauce, apple pies, cranberry sauce, peas and brussel sprouts will be added as well as a string of homegrown onions.

This is what living this life is all about.  Keeping the traditions and sharing them with the next generation of our family 🙂