A Break in the Heat for the Start of the Apple Harvest

The heat in Oklahoma appears to have broken.  I’m glad this has happen as all the plants in my garden have stopped fruiting.  No beans.  No tomatoes.  Now that we are back down into the high 90s, the tomatoes are starting to flower again.  We even got a quarter inch of rain yesterday.

Half a bucket of apples. Like just about everything else that came with the house, don’t know variety. McIntosh, perhaps?

Also, this week, the apples are ripening, which means harvest time and a scramble to preserve as much as I can for when the harvest is over.  I’ve been a bit confused as to when the apples are ready, mainly because this is the first time I’ve dealt with apples that I’ve picked off a tree and partly because I don’t know what they are supposed to look like when they are ready to pick.  I am already starting to preserve some of the apples by drying them into apple chips.  I also intend to try making apple sauce and apple butter.  I’m also saving the peals and cores to attempt extracting pectin so that I don’t have to buy pre-packaged pectin when making jellies.

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My First Zucchini!

My first zucchini. This is the heirloom “Black Beauty” variety.

This morning, I was out in the garden checking on things.  The tomatoes are still growing and at last count there was thirty-seven tomatoes visible without looking up into the withering flowers, but none of the tomatoes are turning red yet.  The big surprise today was that I finally have a zucchini growing.  I’ve been awaiting this for the past month or so, especially after the tomatoes and beans started coming in.  I have a few more zucchini other than the obvious one.  A little bit disconcerting was that one of the other zucchini plants was pretty much covered in small stink bugs.  I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes removing them from existence.  I am glad that I have yet to use any synthetic chemicals on my garden.  I can’t claim I haven’t used any chemicals at all, because even water is a “chemical”.  But I know I haven’t used any industrially manufactured chemicals.

Apricots in syrup before being placed in the hot water bath for canning.

I got a handful of apricots from my neighbor a couple of days ago and I was starting to worry that I would not be eating them before they went bad, so I canned them.  I definitely see an apricot tree in my future.  They were a dream to prepare for canning compared to the cherries.  Add to that the fact they taste pretty good, and it makes for a good fruit to can and eat.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had almost two inches of rain here.  I am very grateful for the rain.  Hopefully the rain continues to come regularly and keeps us out of drought this year.  It makes me happy to have full rain barrels and being able to skip manually watering the plants.

Pole Beans? Onion Seeds?

Storm clouds right before some much-needed rain.

This last week has had quite a bit happen.  I finally have a fully functional riding lawn mower and it only took me six months.  Mowing an acre and a quarter with a push mower takes a little more than a day.  The week also gave us just over an inch and a half of rain.  I am very grateful for this as it gave me a bit of a reprieve from watering the garden manually and it also refilled my rain barrels.

Turns out the pinto beans are pole beans.

Well, it turns out that the pinto beans I got from the whole foods store in town ended up being pole beans. Growing these beans has been rather interesting as the source of these was a package labeled for food purposes and not seed. No instructions or information about the pinto beans.  Within the past two or three weeks, the bean plants have put on flowers, started making bean pods and started growing vines out the top of the plants.  The last part caught me off guard as I only had a handful of bamboo stakes to use as poles for the beans.  Thankfully, the tree in my back yard where I keep the dogs likes to grow somewhat straight branches which I helped myself to.

A line of small pinto bean plants.

This past week, I also planted the last of the beans I will be starting this year for food.  If I end up planting any more beans, it will be as a green manure cover crop to provide fertilizer for next year.  Unlike all my previous pinto bean plants, these were planted directly into the garden rather than be started in the greenhouse.  It has gotten so hot in the greenhouse, up to 113 degrees farenheit.  The seeds don’t like it that much and are not germinating very well.  Because of this, I have stopped using the greenhouse for germinating seed and have put everything away until the fall if I decide to try some fall crops, or next year if not.

An onion seed head. Perhaps I will have better luck with these than I did with the packet I found in the shed.

The previous owner of my house left a lot of things here when he left. Among them was an onion in a plastic pot sitting next to the greenhouse.  I haven’t paid much attention to this plant until recently when it flowered and then formed a seed head.  I believe this is a yellow onion, but I will be waiting to check this until after I have collected the seeds to use for next year.

It’s a Rainy Day

A very wet day.

Not much is going on today, nor will it: all day today, it has been raining. I don’t enjoy being stuck inside. Well, hopefully it will only last today. Yesterday, I started a new batch of charcoal. The last batch cooked very unevenly because there was a very large difference between the thinnest piece of wood and the largest. This time, I used a hatchet I found in the garage to split the wood before putting it in the paint can. Hopefully this works out better and I can get down to only two times cooking it.