Monday, November 23, 2009

The Fall Garden

The garden plot continues to be quite exciting at our house. It just doesn't look like much. We've suffered major setbacks this time around. There's the Japanese beetle larvae that like to eat the roots of the newly formed plants. We also have a mystery pest nibbling the lettuce leaves faster than they can grow. On top of that there was this crazy gardener who tripped over the fence because she was too lazy to open the "gate" and fell quite spectacularly on multiple young plants.*

The surprise harvest of the year came from our pumpkin plants. They actually became infested by the squash vine borer which basically eats the plant from the inside out. I think they infested our zucchini plants as well which would explain why they died suddenly. Somehow the plants survived and produced a pumpkin and amazingly the bug didn't get it. It wasn't in time for Halloween, but I will roast it up and make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. There is a second pumpkin growing now that will hopefully be ready for Christmas.

This is also the first year we've had oranges on our tree. This orange tree was planted in the Fall of 2007. In 2008 we picked the young fruit off to let the plant grow. This year we should have freshly picked oranges for the Christmas stockings. Mr. S loves to touch them and loudly shout "ball." He has been good about not picking them, mostly because they don't come off easily. The tomato balls haven't been so lucky.

Speaking of tomatoes, did you know you can prune back your spring tomato plants in August and they will produce another round of tomatoes in November? The harvest hasn't been as good as the Spring, but that probably has something to do with the birds and the toddler discovering the fruit.

So far we've been trying hard not to use any pesticides in the garden which has definitely effected the amount we can grow. In the spring we'll be planting in a new spot, and hopefully with a little more research into organic pest control we can have more success.

*Fortunately I didn't knock over the sunflower, as Chad has warned me was going to happen if I kept hopping the fence. This incident goes down as one of the more annoying I told you so moments in our marriage. I really wished I could have gotten away with not telling him what had happened. I just didn't think the large knee and hand prints in the carrot and lettuce beds could be passed off as giant raccoon tracks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Apples. Apples. Everywhere.

Last weekend I took Kiwi to can apples with my mother, father, sister in law Lacy, and brother Paul. Lacy and Paul live in a small town with their son.

It's so funny to see the life of a small town. There's not a lot to do, but you don't have to worry about crime. They don't lock their doors and don't even own keys to their house. The people before them couldn't find the keys because they never locked the doors either. Being a city girl, that's weird to me. Petty crime is just a way of life in the city. You get used to it and expect it to happen at some point.

Back to the apples. We canned 168 pounds of apples. We made applesauce, apple pie filling, apple butter, dried apples and even canned plain unsweetened sliced apples. It was fun. My mother and I did it last year on our own without any help while I was trying to nurse a baby. That was hard work.

It was so nice to have the help of Lacy, my dad and brother (at least on Saturday because Friday they went golfing) and to have two of my three kids back home with dad. Chad was so wonderful to take a few days off so I didn't have to take all the kids. We discovered taking Kiwi out of the equation made for a more tranquil home. Also, Kiwi all on her own is a very pleasant girl. It seems that Kiwi plus either one of her brothers leads to conflict. I don't know if it's a girl thing or a middle child thing. I'm guessing the latter. I'm a middle child and I think I definitely liked to tick off my brothers just for the fun of it when we were younger.

I think we're going to make it an annual tradition. Next year we may try something different like peaches, vegetables (pressure canning, scary!), meat, and beans. I love to fill my pantry and I love to spend the time having some great conversation with my family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween 2009

With three kids we go for the hand me down Halloween around here: Harry Potter was once worn by G's older cousin. Kiwi's costume was borrowed from a friend.

Mr. S was wearing the costume G wore when he was a year. And he also wore it last year. I paid $20 dollars for that costume. I'm glad we have a second boy to put a little more use into it. As I get more kids it seems crazy to spend $20 on a costume that is only worn once. If regular clothes were of the same quality as Halloween costumes, they would be sold at the dollar store. It drives me nuts that costumes are so expensive. Unfortunately I don't have the drive or sewing skills to make my own. At least that's what I tell myself.

Also this year the kids took a more active role in carving the pumpkin. Maybe by next year they'll be able to do it all on their own.