Saturday, January 13, 2018

To Do List for January 2018

A gardener's work is never done.  Every time I go out to the Back Forty, I moan and groan looking at the work that is grabbing my attention.  As soon as it gets warmer, I will grab the hoe fork, the rake, the shovel, and ,,,,

Here is my To Do list for January 2018 that is going by rather fast:

1.  For starters, this is a good time to transplant trees, bushes, and plants only to prune diseased or dead material.  Do not fertilize at this time; however, watering is of utmost importance--moist, but not soaking wet.

2. Use horticultural oil spray for citrus and woody ornamental trees/bushes, if scale problems exist. Follow label directions.

3. Do prune roses and remove leaves on the ground and strip leaves from plant (unless green) to reduce disease problems.

4. This is also the time to plant seeds indoors or in a green house for March plantings of peppers and tomatoes.  It takes four to five weeks to grow small transplants.

5. Water lawns, if necessary.  In my zone 9 area, 3/4 of an inch every 10 to 14 days should suffice.

6.  It is never too early to start raking leaves and pine needles to add to the compost pile.

Keep warm.
Keep Green.
Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Haricot Verts aka Green Beans

The other day it was Herbes de Provence and today it is Haricots Verts which is a fancy French word for thin green beans.  Some time ago I sowed too old green beans too late in the season.  Yes, the plants grew and bloomed but the beans looked pitiful.  The freeze took care of the vines and that was the end of the beans.  So I thought.

I was out in the garden this morning and to my amazement found almost too large beans and too frozen.  I picked them and cut them up for cooking.  Would it make any difference to the beans if they were frozen in or outside the freezer?

I thought that I would take extra care to treat this surprise.  I salted the water in a large pot and let it come to a boil and then gently transferred the beans from a bowl to the pot.

While the beans were boiling gently, I fried bacon to season the beans,  thinly diced a bit of red onion, made zest from a lemon and mixed them together to add to the beans after they finished cooking and were plated

The large green beans turned out very well and we will enjoy eating them for many a days next week.

We will be ready to start planting green beans in March (zone 9) for a bountiful harvest in about 2 months later.

Keep it Green!
Keep warm!
Thank you for visiting.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Herbes de Provence at my Back Forty

It was a clear and sunny day with no clouds in the sky but the freeze was predicted for the evening.  We had covered up the one and only plant and lit a couple of lights under the tarp.  The greens, the broccoli, and the cabbage will do fine and perhaps acquiring a sweeter taste with the nip of frost.

I ventured out to snip most of the aromatic herbs from the garden by the very cold summer kitchen.  I made a bouquet or two of Herbes de Provence and hang them up to dry.  The dried Herbes de Provence is typical of the south east region of France.  Don't worry, I haven't gone too fancy--I can't even pronounce the name.

I made a small bouquet of parsley that I have plenty of and rosemary, tarragon or marjoram (can't tell the difference between these two), sage, wispy dill, and sweet basil from a pot in the kitchen.  I hung this little bouquet up to dry above the stove.

I chopped and minced the rest of stems and leaves of the common but sweet smelling herbs, added fennel seeds and put them on a cake plate to dry in the warm oven.

I found out that dried herbs keep their flavor when cooking whereas fresh herbs lose their flavor after 20 minutes of cooking.  A dried bouquet of Herbes de Provence in a pot of stew will look good and it is easy to remove.  I've got to get out of the kitchen.

Keep warm!
Go Green!
Start planning your spring garden
Thank you for visiting.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pickled Greens

I must give The Chef and The Farmer credit for showing on her PBS program the use of stems of the broccoli, collards, and the mustard greens by removing the thick ribs from the greenery and cutting the stems up into bite size pieces and pickling them.

It's good timing because I am out of water melon rind pickles and I don't like eating the cooked greens without pickles.  Hm!  I am also just about out of jars--I have to get out of the kitchen!

At dawn's early light, I headed out to the garden and picked collard cabbage greens as well as a handful of mustard greens to add to the broccoli stems I cut up yesterday.  I still find it easier to blanch the greenery, let 'em cool under running water, bag and label, and put the bag(s) into the freezer.

To prepare the broccoli stems for pickling, I cut off most of the outer layer of the stems and cut them into pieces and set them aside while I prepared the brine.

Brine:  Bring  the following to a boil:  1 cup of water, 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 tbs sea salt or Kosher salt, garlic cloves, and finely diced red onions.  I even added an orange Bell pepper for color.

Spice and Herbs:  About six garlic cloves, sliced or smashed, 2 tbs mustard seeds, 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, and a couple of whole Bay leaves.  How about a few pepper corns too?  I added a few sprigs of dill from my herb garden too.  What else?  Try fresh cut up pine apple pieces!

Direction:  When the brine has come to a boil, add the vegetable stems and the spice/herbs.  Let it boil/simmer for about 5 minutes and then remove from the heat, put a lid on the pot, and let the goodies steep. Fill jars with the stems (and fresh cut up pine apple), pour the hot/warn brine over the stems and put the screw tops on.  Hold on now!

Water Bath: To be sure that the pickles will last over the winter and long into the spring, play it is safe by giving the jars with the vegetables in it a water bath.  I use my large stockpot filled with water about an inch over the jar tops.  I usually put a small cloth on the bottom to keep the jars from rattling.  I let it simmer for about 10 minutes and cool in the pot.

Pickling the greenery:  I never thought about pickling the greenery but why not.  After the stems have been removed, roll up the collard cabbage like a big fat cigar and thinly slice.  Cook the greens for about 5 minutes.  Drain.  Put in jars and give them a bath.

Go Green!

A Gardeners Work is Never Done.
Thank you for visiting.  Come again.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018

I lost my long list with New Year's resolutions but I remember one important resolution for me:
Be kind to your fellowman and woman.  So many many people have been so kind to me this past year when my husband and I have had trials and tribulation.  People have been nice.  Period. 

The second resolution of mine is to be kind to the environment:  Carry my own bags to the grocery store and forego the plastic as much as possible.  Some stores will recycle the plastics and that's where I will take my saved plastic.

Do I have third one?  Oh, yes!  Eat healthier.  Grow the garden for the healthy and nutritious produce.  Even if the garden is small, it will produce.

My wishes for the New Year is to stay healthy and I wish the same for you.

Image result for happy new year

Happy New Year!
Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Go Green

So far, I've had the most wonderful Holiday with family and friends.  Even our cat enjoyed her toys with a sprinkling of catnip.  I've had a sugar high caused by too many cookies from our dear neighbor's baking.  Furthermore, I've been in the kitchen cooking, tasting, and sampling.  Something has got to give!


The New Year's Eve is coming up in just a few days and with the  new beginning in sight, it is also time for the resolutions.  Let's be reasonable and make a few that we might be able to keep.

My one and only resolution is to Go Green.  OK, throw in a little color too.  The Back Forty garden was covered with weeds but my husband and I cleaned out the established weeds and it wasn't long thereafter when new weeds started a vigorous growth.

I decided that it would only be feasible to weed out and prepare the rows that were needed.  It turned out surprisingly well.  Now we weed as we go along, leave the weeds between the rows and use it as green manure.  Voila!

Our harvest is a continuation of pf Green Mustard and also the Red Mustard.  They are so easy to grow and these greens are so nutritious.  They are loaded with vitamin K and that is what we need the most.  A serving a day helps our blood from clotting and flow properly.  They are the most welcome vegetables in our garden and our cardiologist agrees.  Eat more leafy greens, he says.


On Christmas Day, we ended up harvesting some of our broccoli before it would burst out in blooms.  I have yet to cut this up into nice florets, blanch them, cool them, bag them, and put them in the freezer for later.

All I can say is that God has been good to us for letting us have a most giving and nutritious garden.
Let us be better stewards in the coming year.  Hmm!  Another resolution to keep.

Blessings and Healthy Eating for the New Year.
Go Green!
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017

This Sunday we take the time out to light all four candles in The Advent Season and to reflect on our  faith in God.

We put the final touches to the presents that we are to give and we give thanks for the presents, cards and letters, and support that we receive--not just this Sunday but throughout the year.

"This week we reflect upon Mary's example of faith and obedience to God, traits which permitted her to receive the Angel's message that God's Son would be born as a human, as one of us."  (from Sunday Connection"

We here at the Back Forty do wish you all a Blessed Christmas.