Archive for the ‘kale’ Tag

08-10-2016 Journal – Garden Frustrations!   Leave a comment

As you all know I love gardening.  That doesn’t change the fact that at times it’s as  frustrating as hell.  Last year my garden problems concerned a number of God’s annoying little critters that insisted on attacking my garden.  Since I’m a problem solver I installed a fence around certain portions of the garden that they like to eat. Problem solved, right? No way.  The following photos were some of the items harvested so far this year in spite of the critters.

DSCN0463

The culprit from last years fiasco has since disappeared and we haven’t had one of his nightly visits this year. Unfortunately he has friends that were apparently given detailed directions to find us. This year for the first time in eight years we were visited by a big fat groundhog.  He was sitting right in the middle of the yard watching the house when I spotted him the first time.  He ran into a culvert to hide and I immediately dropped a couple of fire crackers in after him.  If it didn’t scare him, it certainly deafened him.  Problem solved, right! Not hardly.

DSCN0483

A week later he was back sitting in the same spot and it appeared he may have been taunting me a little. I couldn’t see all that clearly but I think he might have been giving me the finger as well.  It was time for the big guns.  With my handy pistol in hand I gave chase and took a shot at him. He was one helluva lot faster than he looked and escaped with his life.  Problem solved, Right!   No effing way.

DSCN0512

A few day later I discovered that someone had been eating my kale plants that were of course, not inside the damn fence.  It’s man against the critters once again.  I’ve never won any battles against them before but maybe this time I’ll have more luck.

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I HATE MOTHER NATURE

09-05-2015 Journal – Kale Day!   Leave a comment

I finally was able to motivate myself yesterday to begin the process of collecting and drying herbs from the garden. It’s one of the sadder things I have to do every year as Fall approaches.  I’m forced to admit to that Winter is closing in on us and that my garden is beginning to fade away.

My better-half has been threatening to restart her daily regime of drinking healthy but unappetizing smoothies and wants some of the ingredients fresh from the garden.  Today was kale day.

DSC_0005

I started out with a trip to the garden and harvested two large baskets of freshly cut leaves. I then spent almost an hour cleaning and cutting the leaves   and making sure no little critters were hanging around. We occasionally have slugs attacking some of the plants but I found only a few and they were disposed of (I hate slugs).

Then it was upstairs to wash the leaves, blanch them in boiling water, and then drop them into an ice bath.  This kills any bacteria and gives the leaves a vibrant green color.  Using a Salad Spinner I removed the excess water to prepare the leaves for dehydration.

DSC_0007

I spread the leaves on a series of shelves and placed them into the dehydrator for four hours at 140 degrees.

DSC_0010

‘In’

DSC_0012

‘Out’

After the dehydration was complete I removed the leaves from the shelves and ground them into a fine powder with an herb grinder.  Here’s the end result of all my efforts.  Approximately 3/4 of a cup of clean and healthy smoothie ingredients. Drop a half teaspoon of the kale into any smoothie and you’re good to go.

DSC_0013

‘Done’

I do have to admit I’m not a big fan of healthy smoothies. Give me a good old-fashioned, high calorie, sugar loaded, milkshake made with ice cream. You can bet I won’t be sprinkling kale on that.

thC9DW3OZB

‘Oh Yeah!’

0912-2014 Journal Entry – The First Fall Update!   Leave a comment

Today will be a general update on a few of the useless things I’ve been doing or trying to do.  I’m happy to report that the highchair restoration has been completed.  It was a relatively simple project that took only a week to accomplish.  The last posting on the chair had me sanding my heart out to remove the old layers of paint, stain, and shellac.  Once that was completed I then pulled out my handy-dandy Dremel tool and wire brushed all of the hinges and other hardware. Fortunately I was able to remove almost all of the corrosion.

DSC_0001

I discovered quite by accident that this highchair was made from an assortment of woods glued together and painted.  This made my staining job a bit more difficult but I persevered. The results were satisfactory but not as good as I’d hoped.  Once the stain was on then came three coats of a good polyurethane and a few days to let it dry. 

I installed the new modified safety straps which put me one step away from completion. The toughest part of the project was finding the proper decals for the chair.  The original had some sort of cutesy puppy on it which I immediately sanded away.  A little too lame for me or any kid who might eventually be using it. After visiting a few dozen websites and a few actual retail stores I found two  stickers that I felt were acceptable. I installed them yesterday and officially declared this project complete.

DSC_0025B

DSC_0027

DSC_0011

DSC_0027B

Now to the garden which is slowly coming to an end. I harvested the remainder of the kale yesterday.  I picked the plants, cut and cleaned the leaves which left me with a large bag full.  The process included washing the leaves twice, blanching them all in boiling water, dropping them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, and finally a last thorough washing.   A spin dry in the good old Salad Spinner and it’s into the vacuum bags and then the freezer. The process took a little longer than I liked but it’s important to keep the food as clean as possible at all times.

DSC_0025_edited-1

‘In the Garden’

DSC_0018B

‘In the Wash’

DSC_0022B
‘Into the Freezer’

Another week and I’ll start the final cleanup of the garden to get it ready for winter. That includes removing all of the fabric from the frames and composting the entire garden with three or four inches of prime compost.  Once that has been rototilled in I can concern myself with the remaining yard cleanup and storage of all lawn furniture and equipment for the winter.

Just another slowly fading Summer week here in Maine. 

08-29-2014 Journal Entry– More Garden News!   Leave a comment

As the summer continues to wind down we’re slowly preparing for the end of the garden and this years growing season.  We still have a few tasks that need to be completed before I take it down for the last time. We have what seems to be an endless supply of cherry tomatoes this year which we’ll be eating steadily until the first frost.  My better-half has taken steps to can a few quarts of those tomatoes and they’ll be delicious during the upcoming Maine winter. Even though they’re canned they taste better than those hot house selections available in the food stores.

DSC_0002_edited-1

This is the first year we’ve grown black beans and I have to say they grow fast and in great numbers.  We spent a hour yesterday shucking the beans and delivering them to the dehydrator.  We can store them for a longer period of time once they’ve been sufficiently dried.

DSC_0008B

 

DSC_0008B

We also planted three varieties of kale which are in need of processing in some fashion. Earlier in the summer we blanched a quantity which went directly into the freezer.  I harvested what I thought was a large quantity of kale leaves yesterday thinking I would dehydrate them and store them in jars much like dried parsley.  Then they could be used in soups or sprinkled on almost any food as a flavor enhancer.  I really do love the smell and taste of kale and look forward to using it as often as possible. Unfortunately once dried and crushed my large pile of leaves turned into a single quart jar full.

DSC_0001

‘Picked’

DSC_0004B

‘Blanched’

DSC_0005B

‘Iced’

DSC_0004

‘Finished Product’

I’ve been maintaining  a fairly accurate record of what our garden has produced thus far and I’ll be posting that list within a week or so.  I feel the need to brag a little because this garden has produced more than we could ever have hoped for.

DSC_0003

As you can see the concord grape wine has taken one more step towards final bottling.  It looks and smells wonderful and I managed to sneak a taste and it was excellent. A few more weeks and this batch will be finished and bottled.

05-07-2014. Journal Entry – Garden Update!   Leave a comment

DSC_0011
Needless to say the Spring garden work and yard cleanup continues apace. The only part of my body that’s not sore or aching is the tip of my nose. Everything else is shot to hell and letting me know about it every time I move the least little bit. Fortunately all of the hard work is finally paying off which is rather satisfying for so early in the year.  The better-half who is in charge of the flower gardens is already seeing amazing results as you can see by these pictures.

DSC_0015

DSC_0030

It occurs to me that the plants in Maine understand what a short growing season we have and make the most out of every minute with whatever rain and warmth they can find.  The grass can look like a field of dirty dead plants one day and within a week it turns into a lush green carpet that very quickly needs to be cut.  I added the first mowing of 2014 this week along with all of the other chores I had on my To-do list.

DSC_0033

The herb garden suffered a little more from the winter weather than I first thought.  The neighborhood cats will be highly upset when they discover the huge catnip plant has passed away. Our garden was a regular stop in their travels where they could roll around in and eat some catnip.  It was like the town’s feline opium den. I suppose I’ll be replanting it once again even though my cat  Stormy is unaffected by it’s influences.  I made enough room in the herb garden so that a larger than normal patch of parsley can be planted.  We use a great deal of parsley through the winter and we ran a little short this Spring.

DSC_0020

“Asparagus”

The asparagus roots have been planted and hopefully within the next two years we’ll have a thriving patch to harvest from.  I love it with my meals but it takes such a long time to establish before we can use it. It’s recommended that we don’t harvest from this planting until early in 2016. Patience for this I just don’t have.

The lettuces were planted yesterday as well.  I’ve put in three varieties this year along with spinach and two varieties of kale.  The kale is freezable and my better-half tells me that kale chips are in my future.  They don’t sound all that appetizing but I’ll withhold final judgment for now.

DSC_0019

“Spinach/Lettuce”

I’ll be waiting at least another week or two before putting in any plants that could be killed by a frost.  I’ve gotten ahead of myself in past years and been burned when a late frost wiped out a large number of my plants.  I guess gardening is a great way to learn patience but it’s not something I’m known for.

This garden is much smaller than most people think when they see the results each Fall.  The excellent level of production takes good planning, crop rotation, great compost, and plenty of good old sunshine and water. 

thXMTU06VI

I consider this a modern version of the old WW II Victory Garden. It takes a little hard work and investment of time but growing and eating your own crops makes sense to me. I know what I’m eating without fear of spoiled plants or diseases and it’s fresh and tasty. It hasn’t been sitting somewhere in the back of a truck or warehouse for weeks before the store displays it for sale. Enough of my preaching, it’s time for me to climb down off my soap box and go accomplish something.

Another week of this and I’ll be all out of a gardener’s best friend, Ben-gay.  I should start buying it by the case every Spring based entirely on how my butt and legs feel this morning.