Thursday, September 22, 2011

Doing some good for the community

I know I haven't updated in a while.The last post I wrote,wouldn't post due to some malfunction with Blogger,and it got lost in cyber space somewhere.

Since then,we have signed up to help the local food bank rescue harvests that would otherwise go to waste.Groups of volunteers go out and pick vegetables,fruit,etc that would otherwise just sit in the field and rot.Tuesday was our first day,and boy oh boy do they move just under 3 hours the group harvested more than 300 boxes of apples.

We were going to go back and help this morning,but I woke up with a very stiff and sore back,so probably should not be doing a lot of bending/stooping today.Otherwise we would be on our way there right now to help harvest squash and cabbage this morning.

What I did not expect when we got there Tuesday was to come home a about 40 pounds of apples that we were given.

When we got to the orchard,the guy in charge pointed to one row of trees and told us we could pick and keep all the fruit from that row.YEAH! We got about 10 pounds of apples,nice little bonus!

In my email it said to bring your own buckets,bags,etc to pick into,so I took three bus tubs with me.We picked into those and then dumped them into the boxes gently.

As we were picking,we learned that we could also pick some for ourselves as long as we weighed it and logged it on the sign in sheet by our names,ok,sounds good,so when we ran out of boxes to fill,I filled a tub to take home,and that weighed in at 20 pounds,I logged it on the sheet as directed and put it in the car.

After more boxes arrived,and we were done clearing off the trees,the guy said anyone that wanted to walk back through and pick up apples that had been dropped or fallen from the trees could take all they wanted.I thought,cool,and filled up the other two tubs I had brought with us.So we came home with a grocery bag and three bus tubs full of apples.I shared some with a friend,and took some to my Mom on the way to work yesterday,and I think today I will start drying some for treats later.I love cinnamon covered dried apple slices to snack on.

I really like that fact that this program saves food that would otherwise go to waste,and it gets given to those in need.I didn't expect to come home with so mush for ourselves,but it was a nice little bonus.From what I understand you don't always get to bring some home,but when there is an abundance like with the apples,they are very generous.

I would encourage anyone who reads this,to try and take some time in one way or another to help your local community.In today's world,there are more and more people in need than every before.

So if you can help by doing something like this,of working a few hours in a soup kitchen,or even work with people directly and help to teach them to grow some of their own food,any way that you can help,will be a bigger help than you might think.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Successes and failures

So those who've been following the blog know that this spring we did two potato experiments.The first one,we built potato "condos" or towers...the idea is that you can grow up to 100 lbs of potatoes in a small area,by adding layers to the tower as the plants grow,adding more soil or growing media,and continuing on until the thing is about 4 foot tall. was harvest day as the tops have died back,so no more potato growth would be expected.So we started removing the layers,and dead plants,and....another layer...and another.....Well,we had stopped well short of the four feet in height,stopping at about 3 feet...we didn't find any potatoes until we got down to the original bottom layer where we started....only then did we come up with roughly 5-7 pounds of potatoes in each of the two towers.....100lbs eh?

What we found here is that the potatoes did not form any higher in the soil than the seed potatoes were planted...

THEN experiment number 2....growing potatoes above the ground in straw.Well,we had to stop due to light loss and mosquitoes,but 5 feet down the row,we've come up with only about 2 pounds of potatoes....What we did find was a LOT of pests....bugs,mice,etc had eaten a lot of the crop,and a large portion of what we did dig up had been damaged in one form or another.I'm guessing right now that we'll end up with less than 10 pounds worth of potatoes in the entire 20 foot row.

All in all I would say both experiments failed drastically,and that most likely to get a dependable harvest,one should probably stick to the old fashioned way,dig a trench,plant them,and then hill around them only once or twice at the most...

But for our time and effort,it's not going to be worth it for us to continue to try and grow potatoes here.The time and energy will be better spent on something that we know will give us a good return.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stocking the pantry with goodness

OK,so Blogger is still messed up and won't let me post pictures,so I'll add a link to my list of links on the right side of this blog page so you can click on it anytime and see updated photos of what's happening around here.Just click on the top link,that's the one to my photobucket garden album,it will keep you up to date as far as photos go.

My pantry shelves are filling quickly with home canned goodies,and I just know that this winter we will have no worries about running out of some things.From the mountains of tomatoes we have been blessed with this year,I've made everything from chili base to pizza sauce...salsa,and pasta sauce,we will need none of those items for at least a year.YEAH!

My goals for the gardens are to eventually grow enough food to support us for the better part a of a year by canning,freezing and drying the foods that we grow.

Although 65 tomato plants is still WAY more than we needed,about 1/2 that I think would be enough to provide us with a year's supply of tomato based foods.

I haven't dug the potatoes yet,but plan on it sometime this week,the tops are starting to die off,so that tells me,whatever crop is there,that's all we're going to get.

I can leave the carrots where they are until the ground gets too cold,but I will probably have already pulled and frozen them by then.

Of the many things we grew as a first this year,the Kale went nuts....and I don't even like Kale,but the rabbits seem to enjoy it.So if it gets planted again next year it will be strictly as rabbit treats.

The winter squash is about done too,I don't think we have the soil just right for it,as it only grew a few,and then died off quickly.Oh well,live and learn,and try again next year.

The popcorn is trying,the stalks have been knocked down twice by storms,but there are a few ears forming,so we may at least get a small sampling of it.It needs a long growing season,so next year,if I plant it again,it will have to be one of the first things planted in the spring.What we have out there did not get planted until it was nearly July,or it may have been during the first week of July,I'm not sure.

The broccoli could have done better,but I think to get enough to make it worth freezing,we would need to plant about 8-10 plants rather than just the four we did this year.

The cabbage has done well,but I don't think we will be planting that again,as the only way we really eat it is in the form of cole slaw,and you can only make so much of it,and it does not keep.So I think that space would be better used on another crop.

This coming week we are going to be able to start pulling up the plants that are done producing,and they will be run through the shredder and added to the compost pile.

Once we start getting the garden beds cleaned out we can start adding the shredded leaves,compost,plant matter and rabbit manure/straw/shavings to the beds and let it sit all winter,tilling it in early next spring.

We are going to leave one bed empty next year,and that will be the base of our crop rotation/sheet composting project,leaving one bed empty every year,to use as a place for compost making,and then rotating them around so that every year one will not be planted,allowing the soil to rebuild.This way each bed will go three years without having the same crops planted in it,hopefully helping to prevent any plant diseases from taking hold in the gardens.