Saturday, September 24, 2016

Making Use of Extra Tomatoes. Tomato Sauce. 9.24.16

Tomatoes Harvested 9.24.16

SunnyBoy Tomatoes Chopped and Korean Red Pepper Added.  9.24.16
 I continue learning how to do things that turn out to be very simple.  Then I wonder, why did it take me so long?

This time it was tomato sauce.  After waiting all summer long for a taste of home grown tomatoes, there are now too many to eat fresh.  With considerable inspiration from my friend Rich, I decided to make tomato sauce.

This is simple.  Other than some peppers from the kitchen garden, nothing was added.  I will add garlic, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper to taste when I use the sauce.

The tomatoes were chopped.  Ditto for a few peppers.  In this case a Korean hot pepper.

Place in pan.  Heat to gentle boil.  The cell walls break down quickly, and gradually the tomatoes break down leaving a thick juice  and skins.  Simmer until volume decreases by about half.

I cooled a little, then poured into food processor to puree the skins along with the remaining tomato flesh.

About 15 Minutes into the Simmering.  9.24.16

Tomatoes and Home Made Tomato Sauce.  9.24.16
Then poured into jar to cool.  When cool, I transferred into freezer baggies to freeze.  Some went into the fridge to use in a couple of days.

I don't know yet how to can, and prefer to avoid botulism so may never can.  But freezing works well for a lot of foods, and gives us some summer sun during the gloomy rainy days of winter.

Friday, September 23, 2016

First Persimmons, "Nikita's Gift". 9.23.16

Persimmons "Nikita's Gift".  9.23.16
These are the first of the "Nikita's Gift" hybrid Asian-American persimmons.  A few fell from the tree, these are the best of those.  Most remain on the tree and are still unripe.

I'm leaving them in a bag with apples for a few days, to ripen.  There was a fourth persimmon, drier and more wrinkly, that I opened and spooned out the soft inner fruit, non-astringent and sweet but dry, probably because it fell prematurely from the tree and ripened on the ground, in the sun.

Saijo persimmons are also beginning to show ripe color.  It's a gradual start, but after 4 years of growth and nurturing, it appears that persimmons can be grown and produce fruit in this area.  Very rewarding.

Transplanting Milkweed Plants. Asclepias syriaca. 9.23.16

Milkweed Asclepius syriaca.  7.4.16
Asclepias syriaca is a fragrant native flower that goes by the names, common milkweed, butterfly flower, silkweed, among others.   Honeybees love them, as do many other pollenizing and nectar collecting insects.  They are fragrant and have distinctive balls of soft pink flowers on a tropical, rubber-tree looking perennial plant.  They are native to prairies, and considered weedy by some but attractive to others. 

These plants were grown from seeds, planted in early 2015 and planted in my fig tree row.  Some bloomed this year, especially the ones in sunnier locations.  I wanted to plant a few in the rock garden border, which is very sunny and will show them off better.

Milkweed Asclepius syriaca.  7.4.16
 Most of the web info states that milkweed is not transplantable.  They need to be grown from seeds, or in containers to be planted when small.  However, these plants were not in an ideal location, and were too close together.  This may be a good time to transplant, now that they have finished growing for the year, have collected their nutrients and stored them in the rhizomatous roots, and the hottest parts of summer are long gone.

A few hours ahead of digging, I watered generously to loosen up the dry soil.  Then I cut a wide circle under the plant, and dug under it, lifting it out carefully.  The soil fell away, leaving healthy-looking roots.
Milkweed Asclepius syriaca.  7.4.16

The pictured roots were the best looking of the three plants that I moved.  The other two had much less root mass.  I quickly re-planted and watered them in, and mulched.  They are tied so that they don't fall over and pull the roots out of the soft soil

They don't look like much.  It will be interesting to see if they grow next year.  I think they will be OK.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Update. 9.21.16

Buffalo Grape.  9.21.16

Rock Garden Perennial Border.  9.21.16
 I've been trying to work through some hardware issues, which resulted in decreased posting.  I don't usually carry my good camera around while working in the garden, because I tend to damage delicate equipment.  The Apple equipment is a few years old (I-phone and I-pad) and I've found that Apple equipment does not age well.  In addition, back-compatibility of program updates is poor, and Apple inc is too overbearing with their treatment of users, so I've been de-appling my computer life. 

Things are starting to come together again, on my old Windows-based laptop.  Meanwhile, I've been removing hardscaping from the old place in prep for eventual sale, mainly a koi pond that presented a child hazard.  I'm not a young man any more, so hauling wheel barrows of rocks has taken a month, and it's not done yet.

With cooler weather, I renovated the worst of the house perennial borders at the Battleground house.
Border, with labels.  9.21.16

 That renovation involved - removal of thistles and wild mustard, both of which have been tenacious and invasive.  I laid down newspaper or cardboard, torn such that water can seep through, but hoping that weeds and grasses will mostly be smothered.  I removed most of the bearded irises  - ugly about 90% of the year, and too welcoming to grass weeds.  I planted divided sedums, sempervivums that I had been growing in old iris beds as a ground cover, kept daylilies and divided some, kept helleborus and some sedum in place, planted crocosmia that I divided from the old place, moved poppy roots, with dormant top, and added lambs ears - Stachys byzantina, and echinacea varieties, both of which were on the almost-dead table at Fred Meyer and Home depot, on deep sale.  These were root bound, so I cut off the winding roots, cut slits into the root ball, planted and watered in.  They perked up and look much better now.  I deep-mulched with tree arborist chips.   The border still needs some river-rock for the edge / pathway, but is almost done.

The goal is a bed with very reduced maintenance, mostly drought tolerant plants but that respond to some care, mostly deer and rabbit tolerant plants, at a very low cost.  The only new plants were deep sale with some need for TLC.

Sourdough Pizza with peppers, cayennes, and onions.  9.21.16
Meanwhile, with so many tomatoes and peppers, I've been trying to find ways to eat them.  This sourdough pizza came out pretty good.   The sourdough crust used my usual starter, with just flour, water, and salt, no other additives.  These are Nikita peppers (green) and cayennes (red) - really tasty.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Late Summer in the Kitchen Garden, 9.3.16



Lots of Peppers, tomatoes, and some okra.  Very happy with the yields this season.

Radishes, Chinese Cabbage, Daikon and Chinese Radishes.  Planted late July in space left when storage onions and potatoes were harvested.

Turnips, radishes, broccoli, and kohlrabi.  These need thinning now.


Okra plants still looking good.  Yield is not high, but a lot better than nothing.

Perennial Seedlings. 9.3.16

So far, we have germination of most of the hibiscus, a few Echinacea, and a few Asclepius.  Lychnis and Rudbeckia may have some germinating seeds, or they may be weeds.  Interesting to watch.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Pumpkins, Squashes, Indian Corn. 9.2.16

Fall rains have started, so  I a starting to harvest winter squashes,pumpkins, and Indian corn
The squashes in top photo are Spaghetti squash, 

The yellow squash is a spaghetti squash.  There are any more.  The pink warty pumpkins are Galeux D'Eysines.  The small orange one is the smallest of Rouge Vif D'Etampes


Some of the painted Mountain Indian Corn.  So beautiful.

The big pumpkin is Golias.  there is also a smaller one.



One of the Pink Banana squashes and one of the Rouge Vif D'Etampes pumpkins.  The stems are not yet woody so I didn't harvest yet.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Resurrected Chinese Beans. 8.28.16

 We've had sveral meals from these Cinese bean seeds that I resurrected from packets in the 6 to 10 year old range, maybe older.  There seem to be 3 types.  The wider ones were what we remembered from the past.  Wuote delicious, stir fried i  the Northeast Chinese way with potatoes.  Tradition calls for pork but I am vegetarian, and I think their flavor as is, is great

The intent is to save pods from each type.  Beans normally pollinate within the flower, so may grow true.  I would not be surprised, if they dont.  I will label plants of each type for sed saving, so that I can segregate them next year.  Red/pale, Red/green, and Black/green.

Not bad.  Even though initial germination of tne old seeds was only about 20%, we got a lot of beans in the end, and vigor, for most, was great.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

You CAN Grow Okra in Southwest Washington State. 8.27.16

Top photo is today, lower photo is yesterday.   The short fat pods are the Star of David cultivar.  The longer, thinner pods are the Baby Bubba hybrid.

It's true, this Spring was unusually hot.  I didn't think they would grow and did not invest much effort in these at first - planted in ground, in rows.  When they started growing, I became more interested, thinned the plants, provided fencing for animal predation protection.  

My failures this year, were okra plants that I grew indoors and set out in the garden. They failed to thrive, and died - I think it was too early, and on top of that rabbits ate them  .

In the top photo, thete are 3 large pods and one small malformed pod.  The top three were hand pollinated, using a paintbrush.  i left the flower for the other one, to its own devices and local insects.  I dont think the insects here are pollenizers for okra.  The only flowers that have formed pods, are ones that I pollinated.

There are lots more flower buds.  Cool weather ahead may limit bearing, but at the moment i'm very happy.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Late Summer Planting Perennial Seeds. 8.21.26

These are perennals for next year if they grow.  I bought seeds for Echinacea - both the wildflower species and the hybrid "Warm summer".  The hybrid had all of 10 seeds in the packet, but I don't need more than that anyway.  There is also hybrid  Lychnis, unnamed Rudbeckia species, Asclepias tuberosa, and a hybrid perennial hibiscus.

I could have planted these in the garden row, but containers give me something to putter with, and I don't have to decide whether germinating seedlings are weeds vs. ornamentals.   The seedling medium is old but hopefully sterile.

Most of these should germinate in 2 to 4 weeks.  It's warm to hot outside, so not using a warming mat.