Thursday, March 20, 2014

Potatoes And Jam Finished

The potatoes have cooled and we have them in the jars now.  The raspberry jam are all sealed and have their labels now and ready to go into the cabinet.

 We are dehydrating strawberries and raspberries today.  Jacob said he could only find 2 bags of strawberries, but I think there are a lot buried in the bottom, so we have about 7 pounds of strawberries and 2-1/2 pounds of raspberries.
Some of the raspberries have a lot of little pieces, so I am not sure how that is going to turn out. I read where one lady said that if her tomato slices were too small, she had a hard time scraping them off the liners. That does not sound too good.

I have more tomatoes coming up. The eggplant are coming up now. I am not sure about the peppers. I went to the store and bought some bell pepper seed. Seeds are going on sale now, so it is hard to resist. I am starting more even of eggplant. With this dehydrator, I feel like I should plant a lot. I hope I do not end up tilling up all the grass and expanding more! I don't think the kids would like that.

Raspberry Jam

While the potatoes were dehydrating, Rachel and I decided to make raspberry jam.  It has been several years since I have used the water bath canner. Andy started looking for all the supplies and has been bringing in different things that had to be washed. I went out to the garage and found a dozen brand new half pint jelly jars. They have the lids and bands. We could not find our magnet and the Ball Blue Book recipe I was going to use for the jam called for 1 pouch of liquid pectin. I have not used this before, but I wanted to follow the recipe. The box comes with 2 pouches. I found it at several stores and it can get a little expensive at some of the stores.

The recipe only uses a quart of raspberries, so we am going to have a lot of jam to make or dehydrate a lot of raspberries. We are using some for the kefir, so I will keep some frozen also.

I bought 25 pounds of cane sugar while I was out shopping. I am going to be needing a lot. I have blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, elderberries and rhubarb to use. Rachel was busy washing things and getting the kitchen ready while I was shopping.

We measured a quart of frozen raspberries and put them on the stove on warm to start to thaw. The recipes calls for mashed raspberries, so I mashed them.

  We had the canner filled and getting hot and the jars and bands washed and hot in another pot.

In another pan we had the clean lids and you cannot let these get too hot.

When I thought the water in the canner was getting close to being ready, we heated up the raspberries and when they were bubbling we added the sugar, all 6-1/2 cups of it!

After the sugar was dissolved, we added the liquid pectin and brought it to a boil and let it boil for a minute. We then filled the jars using the funnel, wiped the rims, put the lids and bands on, lowered down in the water and the recipe said to boil 10 minutes.

We took the jars out to cool and could hear them pinging. All 7 jars have sealed so far. I am a little worried about it, but it should be okay, but the lids are over 7 years old and have been stored in the garage. I am not even sure I bought them new. We had collected jars in 2007. Andy and I just went nuts looking for jars at thrift stores and gathered up probably 1000 jars or so, so I do not remember where they came from.  We had a neighbor who cleaned out her shed and gave us all her jars too and she had not canned for years.

This was a lot easier than the apple jelly and all the apple peeling we had to do. We are going to get an apple peeler/corer/slicer before we do that again, but as soon as I find apples at a decent price, we will make apple rings with the dehydrator and I will save the cores and peelings and make apple peeling jelly. I hope to find enough apples and make applesauce too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dehydrating Potatoes

The dehydrator arrived yesterday and today was the day for dehydrating.

 It comes with a manual and a dehydrating book. I am watching videos on different sites that really explain how to dehydrate and there is a lot of information, which makes this very easy. I think having the right equipment for slicing the food will be very important and make it where you have the time to actually do this.

We bought the 9-drawer model. I really have no place to put this.  It is sitting on the kitchen table.  It may stay there forever...

The first thing that we dehydrated was shredded potatoes for hash browns.  We boiled 10 pounds of potatoes with the peelings. They were still a little firm, but I think we did let them boil a little too long. 

We shredded the potatoes with a cheese grater and put them on the trays.  It did not take long at all.

The instructions say to dehydrate at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 to 8 hours. At 6 hours they were looking good. I let them go another hour and took them out, except there was enough for 2 trays that had some not quite done. I put those 2 trays in for another hour. I am going to let them cool overnight and I have jars washed that I want to make sure they are good and dry before I put the potatoes in. I will have the finished pictures of the potatoes in the jars tomorrow. I am trying to decide what to dehydrate next.

This was very easy. I am planning on just storing the potatoes in canning jars with the lids and bands on, but not sealed. I have read if they are dry that they should last a couple of years at least. I still have not made up my mind on exactly what I plan on doing.  I really do not want to use the mylar bags or a FoodSaver, but I may change my mind on this with more research.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

So Busy

A lot of the flooded cups did sprout. I am still confused on what most of them are,

From the flooded cups.

but they are outside in the sawhorse greenhouse. The onions, cabbage and bok-choy are out there too.
 The onions and bok-choy are growing, but the cabbage does not look so good.

On March 12, I also started basil and a lot of it is up already. I also started bok-choy again and eggplant and some of those are up. On March 12, I also started 55 tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.  There are 20 some of these up.  I also planted some more of the saved daisy and hollyhock seeds from 2 years ago.  I also started peppers, Lipstick, Garden Salsa, California Wonder, Carnival Mix, which is a bell mix, and only a couple of these have come up.  I planted some more kale too.
From the flooded cups

On March 14, I started some celery, thyme, parsley, Serrano peppers, and I also started some bell peppers called Green Juniper from 1997 seed. I want to see if they will come up. I did have some grow a few years ago.

Today, I started some heirloom tomatoes called Delicious. I also started more peppers, Cubanelle, Sweet Banana, Early Jalapeno, Ancho/Poblano, Thai Yellow Chili peppers that were free seeds, some more celery and parsley. 

The spinach in the milk jug is coming up and also spinach that I planted in a raised bed last fall is coming up.  

I am still making keifr. I am using frozen raspberries now and it is really good.  Jacob even thinks it is better than the store bought kind.

Andy ran the tiller over the ground for the new herb garden.  We will be working on that for the next few days.  I am going to plant the peas in the next day or so. 

We bought a dehydrator, the 9 tray Excalibur 3900.  I am going to be busy with this.  I hope to clean some of the freezers out and dehydrate squash and tomatoes.  I will dehydrate some of the fruit, but I also make to make jam and jelly too.  So, that is what I have been doing. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Rachel and I went out and started working in the garden. We have a lot of piles of rabbit bedding that we were hoping would compost down during the winter. I am not sure what we did wrong.  It worked last year.  Jacob was looking sad having to stay inside doing school work on a nice day, so I let him come outside and join in the fun, but really I was getting tired and needed some help. We worked for 5 hours and it was a nice day. We are all sore and tired now.

I hated to take all this nice compost material to the dump. We just do not have enough room. I put some of it along the edge of the garden and put compost on top. The kids would take most of the piles and I would come with the wheelbarrow and raked the bottom part of it up and put that on the compost bins.

I cleaned the hay and straw out of the hutch, so they are on wire and they have their board.  I cleaned the litter boxes too. If it gets into the 50s tomorrow, we may have to go ahead and open the sides of the hutch and take the cardboard down. They think they are cooking when it is 60 degrees outside.

Rachel and I decided we are going to have to move the herb garden. I am going to keep the pen for the rabbits and the 2 cats are going out now when we are outside and they are not trying to get out of the pen, but the rabbits will be using the herb garden for a litter box. There are 2 other 4 x 10 boxes that I used to plant greens in. I am going to take those out and all the dirt and move that to another area. We will plant grass where the boxes were. We are going to take out what herbs we want and leave some for the rabbits and leave the flowers.

The herb garden will be moved to the front on the west fence. This area gets a lot of sun and the only thing there is the neighbor's weed patch on the other side of the fence and our grass on our side. Rachel has decided it will not just be a straight line, but will have a design to it. We are going to till and then put down cardboard and use all the compost that has not finished, old bedding of straw, hay, wood shavings, rabbit manure and then probably go get some old cow manure or horse manure and then put a lot of compost on top of that and transplant the herbs into it. I wish we had done it last fall. I have read about lasagna gardening and I have read you can plant without waiting. I am not sure yet.

The rabbit fence will have things planted on the outside to make it look better. I am thinking of planting climbing roses. I am not sure where the strawberries will be moved too.  I still have to figure out how to get some of the rabbits out of the hutch without a big fight, especially Twinkie.

He just hates to be taken out of the hutch and he has started to get a little bit aggressive. It is because when he was sick and I had to syringe feed him and he thinks I am going to do that again and Bella is the same, but they love the pen. Lulu and Sunshine are hard to get out of the hutch and I do not want to scare them.

Hot Shot
Hot Shot almost jumps in your arms to go to the pen. He watches and knows what we are doing and looks sad when I pick a different rabbit to go play.

Andy finished the sawhorse greenhouse today. I will take the plants out of the greenhouse in the kitchen and put them outside tomorrow.  I have onions, cabbage, bok-choy, and then all the cups that are mixed up and I have no idea what they are yet. It looks like 29 of the 48 cups have sprouted. I know some of them are the hollyhocks and Love In A Mist flowers. I will look at the seedlings tomorrow and figure out whatever thing is.

My seeds from Park Seeds arrived today, but they are beans and I will not be planting those for awhile. I am waiting for tomatoes and peppers from Gurney and I have seeds coming from Baker Creek. I am going to Ace tomorrow and get hay for the rabbits and pick up a few things that I did not order. Baker Creek did not have the basil I wanted. They were sold out. I have noticed a lot of different things from all the seed companies sold out already. Maybe that means a lot of people are planting gardens. I hope so.

When I move the seedlings out of the greenhouse, I am going to start eggplant, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and basil. I will plant the other things when they get here. I am hoping Andy can turn the swing set into a greenhouse this year. He thinks it will be easy. He will be working on the fence this year and we will enclose the whole back with cedar fence. I had wanted wire and I go back and forth on it, but I think having our privacy would be better. I am worried how much shade it will cause though, so a lot of decisions to make. We are also thinking of not tilling this year and making the permanent beds.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Busy Week

I had a really busy week.  Jacob went to the testing for 3 mornings.  While I was there I did crochet 2 more dishcloths. 
It is getting easier now and less mistakes.  I followed a pattern for the first one and I thought it was too big when I was finished. 

I decided to make the next one smaller. 

I also started more seeds outside and I did it exactly like the first box.  This box was planted March 5. 
I planted bok-choy, blue curled Scotch kale, and another kale that is a dwarf blue Scotch.  I planted a little bit of sage, thyme, dill and oregano.  I planted some marigolds, Petite Orange, Lemon Drop, and Crackerjack.  I also decided to plant some marigold seed that I have saved since 2011.  I am not sure what kind it is.  It is either Lemon Drop or Crackerjack.  I marked the sack yellow marigold.  I also planted some
Shasta Daisy seed that I saved in 2011 from the daisy in the herb garden.

I then planted a milk jug with Bloomsdale spinach.  The jug is sitting in a compost bin and looks nice and warm. 
After I went through all this trouble and I marked everything down in my Garden Notebook and I knew which rows had what planted, I went out and checked the boxes.  The plastic had leaked and the cups were sitting in water.  I took them out of the big box, put the cups in seed trays and put them in the greenhouse to dry out. Some of the seeds are coming up today, but I have no idea what they are yet.  All the cups are moved around, so now I will have to just wait and see what they are.  I will not know what kind of marigolds they are until they come up, but the seed I had saved, I should know that cup because I put a lot more in the cup since I was not sure if the seed is good.  The other marigolds were planted 5 in a cup, one in each corner and one in the middle.

I made the seed orders and I am going to start planting more seed tomorrow.  Andy is going to start on the little greenhouse on the patio for me, so I can put the cabbage and onions outside.  He is also talking about turning the old swing set into a greenhouse. 

I worked in the garden for awhile the other day.  I worked on a compost bin and I moved some old straw in the garden and underneath the strawberries are coming alive.  I cannot see any garlic coming up yet, but the chives are coming up and a few dandelions are appearing.  Spring is on the way! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sunshine Award

Thank you Rachel from for nominating me for the Sunshine Award! A very cute idea. I am not sure where it started from. We are to answer 10 questions of the nominators choice. Here are the 10 questions I am to answer. 

1) One state you'd like to visit, but never have?
I would choose Maine because I have never been to that part of the country. It is very pretty. It has moose like Idaho, but it is also on the ocean. 

2) Your earliest memory?
I can remember walking behind my mother and her mother when I was about 3 years old.  They were walking arm-in-arm. My grandmother had brought tricycles for us. She gave my brother a red one and she gave me a blue one that was bigger than his.  I have another memory of my brother getting out of the fence and going in the street. I remember going out in the street to get him and bringing him back. He seemed to be younger than 2, so I would have been 3.
3) Your favorite memory?
There are a lot of things you can put. I almost have to say the birth of my children, but the actual day of the birth is not such a favorite memory. I liked being pregnant and the day they come home from the hospital is special. When I thought about this question, a memory of when I was about 9 came to mind.  We went to see my other grandmother, my dad's mother.  She lived in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, right on Lake Spavinaw in a cabin. We got to sleep on the screened in porch. I remember swimming with my dad and my brother. The water was clear and you could see the bottom.  The water was cold and it was so much cooler and prettier compared to southern Oklahoma where I lived.  
  4) What are you doing this weekend?
I will be working and planting more seeds.
5) Something you could eat your weight in?
I wish I would say salad, but it is ice cream.
6) Is that glass really half empty or half full?
It is half full. I am the optimist of all omptimists. 
7) Favorite Bible verse?

Matthew 5:2 "And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,"
Matthew 5:3 ""Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted,"
Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."
Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall called the children of God."
Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
Matthew 5:12 "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."


Zechariah 13:9 "And I will bring a third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God."


Zechariah 14:16 "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles."
Zechariah 14:17 "And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
Zechariah 14:18 "And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."
Zechariah 14:19 "This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."
Zechariah 14:20 "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar."


I Chronicles 14:14 "Therefore David enquired again of God; and God said unto him, "Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees."
I Chronicles 14:15 "And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines."  

8) Snow or Rain? 
It is rain.  Rain makes your garden grow better.  It means it is warm out. It smells good. I like to hear rain fall and I like thunder and lightening than can come with it.  I eagerly look forward to the first rain in the spring because I know winter is over.   I am blessed that I do not have to pray for rain where I live.
9) Worst injury?
I have never had a broken bone.  When I was 13, I was sitting on a stand that the air conditioner had been on.  The boards came loose and I fell straight down and hit my back.  It did not hurt bad, but may have caused some rib and back trouble later.
10) Next thing you're most excited for?
The return of Jesus Christ, but until then, I am always excited about gardening and what to plant.

So now I am to nominate a blog and I nominate Sue at The Little Acre That Could. It is a really nice blog that I follow. You can read about food storage, which is a subject I am going to start focusing more on than I have been in the last year or so. 

My 10 questions are?

1. Do you grow a garden and if you do, what is your favorite thing to grow?

 2. Do you plant flowers and if you do, what is your favorite flower to grow?

3. Rain or snow?

4. Do you enjoy blogging?

5. What was your favorite book to read as a child?

6. Do you have a favorite quote?

7. What is your favorite meal, breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

8. When you were in the first grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?

9. What is your favorite season, spring, summer, winter or fall?

10. Where is the most interesting place you have visited?
 Start a new blog post.

Upload an image of your choice.

Answer my 10 questions above.

Then make up 10 new questions.

Nominate some bloggers.
Look forward to reading your answers!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winter Sowing

I tried the milk jugs last year and I had some pale broccoli and some nice spinach. I planted it in December. I think that was just a bit early. I decided to wait until now. The weather is going to start warming up. I do not see how it would benefit the seeds to be out there in December compared to March, but anyway I got a big plastic box and I put 24 cups in there and I planted 4 cups of Red Giant Mustard. I sprinkled it in each cup. I am not sure how many or how close they will be. I will try to transplant them and separate them then. I planted 4 cups of kale, the black dinosaur kale and did the same sprinkling in each cup. I planted 4 cups of Coreopsis, 4 cups of Delphinium, 4 cups of Love In The Mist and 4 cups of hollyhocks.
I put one in each corner of the cups. These are seeds saved from my big hollyhock in 2010. I started these hollyhocks from seed in 2009. They are Summer Carnival Mix. I have a lot of other kinds of hollyhocks, but these are my favorite. I have hollyhocks coming up everywhere, but this spot here is a low spot and is usually moist and the coneflowers come up with the hollyhocks and also bee balm.

 I watered the cups and then I had some clear bubble wrap and I used that to cover the box and tied a string around it.

 I put it in the wheelbarrow for now. There is some old hay and straw bedding from the rabbits. I can move the wheelbarrow to find the sun and the hay and straw will keep them warmer.

Andy will probably need the wheelbarrow, so I am going to have to think of a new place and I
will start a couple more boxes tomorrow. I need to get some more potting soil. I transplanted one of my broccoli plants and a bok-choy plant that I have in the greenhouse in the kitchen. The plants seem too leggy to me, but they always do. I saw some roots when I took them out of their pots.  I planted them deeper and put their cups closer to the light.  I just want to see how they do.  I could have put everything closer to the light and I should have.  I have read it really does not benefit to transplant them deeper, but I am still looking into that. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Waiting For The Snow To Melt

Not a lot has been going on. We have more snow, but today it is in the 30s and starting to melt. We have warmer temperatures in the forecast.

I started some more onion seed today. I planted Brunswick and Jaune Paille Des Vertus. The other onions are growing and I just thought I might not have enough. LOL.
The second planting of onions

The first planting of onions
I started some Red Acre cabbage seed and some Snowball cauliflower and Violetta Italia cauliflower, which is purple. I am not happy with the cabbage and bok-choy that I have already started.  I think they are getting too leggy, but I always do think that.  I am going to start some Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage tomorrow.  The sweet potato vines are still growing.

We take Jacob tomorrow for testing that we go to each year. It is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the homeschool group go together on this. It starts in the third grade. Jacob has been going every year since the third grade and he is in the ninth grade this year. Rachel went from third through the twelfth grade. I am going to take some yarn and crochet needles and work on something. I am not sure right now. I did make another dishcloth, this was a round one.  I changed colors for the first time.  I made a lot of mistakes in it. I may try to make another one like it - only without the mistakes. It was suppose to look like an egg. I think I will use different colors or maybe just a solid color. I did not see the mistakes in the yellow until after I had started on the white or I would have fixed the worst part of it.

The sauerkraut is done and tastes pretty good. I am going to do it a different way the next time. We made raspberry kefir for the next quart. I will get some more raw milk tomorrow when I am in town and start another half gallon of kefir.

I made an order for seeds today. I ordered Jade bush beans, Rocdor beans, which are a yellow bush bean, and Cobra pole beans, Cocozelle heirloom squash, and Muncher cucumbers.  I am pretty much going by my list I made on the blog back in January.  A few things are different. I decided to grow celery for the first time. I am not sure about potatoes yet, and I ordered Tall Telephone Pea seed and I already have Little Marvel, so I will be planting more peas than I had thought and cauliflower, I don't think that was on the list. The Muncher cucumbers are not on the list, but I grew them last year and they were really good. I have a few different peppers on a couple of other seed orders I am thinking of trying. I will make up my mind Saturday and order the last of the seeds.

I am going to start some winter sowing tomorrow. I am going to plant things in a milk jug and put cups in a clear box and put plastic over the top because I don't think I have the lids to the boxes, but these will be cold hardy things like spinach and some flowers. I am going to have to get a greenhouse one of these days soon so I can do this right. I have a hard time hardening plants and I do not have enough room for all that I do plant. We are going to finish the fence this year, so maybe next year I can plan on a greenhouse.

As for weight loss, I did not post my weight the last week of Feb. I did weigh and was down 0.8, but still up from my low. I have not been feeling well for a few days and just have not cared much about weighing. I can tell that if I want to lose weight that I will have to make major changes and when it is snowing and single digits outside, a salad just does not cut it. I did make chicken noodle soup. I ate that for supper, lunch the next day and supper that night, and still did not lose. I think that salt is part of the problem.  I will weigh Wednesday and see how it goes. Even the rabbits are tired of the snow.

Hot Shot