Monday, July 28, 2008

Harvest Season

Why wait until fall? Let's celebrate the harvest season now. Locally grown produce is highlighted in the following account of my harvest to date.

Already harvested
I can't keep up with the green beans. I am filling the freezer with parboiled tender beans but I had a lot of big tough beans. Yesterday I decided to make soup stock with the beans. I added the squash clubs, tomatoes and cabbage given to me by my father-in-law, some aging celery and carrots from the fridge, an onion, and garlic. Steve suggested I throw in some beef so in went two neck bones from the beef we purchased last winter. I ended up having to use two large soup pots. I cooked it down overnight and this morning removed the solids and am now boiling down the stock to freeze for soup base next winter.

Last week, my son, his girlfriend and I picked 15 pounds of blueberries. I flash froze them and now they are in the freezer waiting for me to make blueberry pancakes, blueberry cobbler and add to my breakfast yogurt.

My father-in-law gave me 6 green peppers from his garden. We don't eat a lot of green peppers, except as flavoring. So these have been chopped, flash frozen and put in little baggies for future use.

My squash and zucchini plants didn't make it. They just withered away. But don't fear, I have a bounty of zucchini from family and friends. They are piled up in the fridge and I suppose I will make zucchini bread, which my husband likes so much.

Going back to the spring crops, I have enough chopped rhubarb frozen for two pies and several bags of spinach.

Soon to be harvested
Early this spring, there was a garden blogger challenge to plant something new in our vegetable gardens. I didn't respond, but it did give me the courage to plant five 12-foot rows of sweet corn. The silks are turning brown and soon I will be awash in fresh corn.

For some reason, I planted 12 Roma tomato plants. Oh, I remember, I was going to make sauce. Other green tomatoes waiting to be harvested in include pink brandywine, volunteer cherry tomatoes and a heirloom green striped tomato. The last tomato was from seeds I saved last year, another first for this new vegetable gardener.

I have 6 cucumber vines and have harvested four cukes already. When these start coming on fast, I want to make bread-and-butter pickles again. My family loved them last year.

I'm hoping the red peppers mature with the Roma tomatoes so I can add them to the sauce.

I have six red potato plants in tubs. I'm adding soil and waiting for new potatoes. Aren't they suppose to ripen with green beans so I can make my mother's German potato salad?

The blackberries are starting to ripen and within the week I should either freeze them or make jam. I'm also checking on the grapes. There are large clumps but still a solid shade of green. I planted red raspberries this spring and one is forming berries. I suspect all that I will harvest will be eaten as they are picked.

I think that is it. I should be busy this next month or so, but will enjoy the fruits (literally) of my labor all winter long.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Canoe in progress

I'm not documenting this canoe building very well, but here are the pictures after all the strips were laid and the staples removed. Since these pictures, Steve did a lot of detailed work on the stems and laid the outer stems. I think sanding, sanding and more sanding is next. He will be doing most of that by hand.

This shows the "swoop" of the stern. The bow is more pronounced.

The "football keel" has been integrated.

Here he is sanding the end of the strips level with the inner stem. End grain is tough and no one will ever see it, but it has to be perfectly aligned so the outer stem will fit flush.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Graduation Time

Ricky is graduating this summer. He was three credits short, but wanted so bad to graduate with his class and HAVE A PARTY. So he took three classes this summer, because we refused to have a graduation party without, you know, him actually graduating. He finished his English class a few weeks ago and finished his health class tonight. That just leaves Economics, which should be done tomorrow night.

The party is August 2 and he just asked me, "Mom, you'll make me a scrapbook, right?" Yikes! I've tried scrapping and even attended a scrapbook night at church once. Five hours later, the other women had completed numerous pages and I completed just one. I dinked around with the design and then had to write a narrative, while they just slapped the pictures on the page with one or two words. To complicate matters, I've printed very few pictures the last two years. I think I'll put the recent pictures into a digital frame and then make posters of the major events and perhaps make a few scrapbook pages. Probably in desperation I will just throw the rest of the pictures in an album.

His cousin, who graduated in the same class, took these pictures of Ricky for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Since I created a new tag called Projects for the bridge and canoe projects, I had to share some of my projects. No, not the apron. It's still uncut, but not forgotten. My great niece has an apron in a similar style which I plan to use to resize the Grandma's pattern.

One project was arranging the planting of over 100 trees at The Third Place this spring. It was an intergenerational event. They posted pictures on the church website and I especially like the one of the girls right in the hole they dug. These same girls, not 30 minutes earlier, said they didn't want to get dirty. We've had lots of rain this summer, which is a good thing since there is no way we can water the trees on the far end of 30 acres.

With Steve teaching and not "studenting," we've added another dimension to our wardrobe, necessitating giving up part of our bedroom for a larger closet. Steve's portion of this project is almost complete and now I need to start painting. We are painting the bedroom four different colors. I hope it works. I have also been hunting for new curtains, without any luck.

Of course, there are always numerous garden projects in various stages. Ron dug out some overgrown shrubs by the back deck and now I need to decide what to plant there. I've planted an even bigger veggie garden and this is the first year I've grown corn. I created a new bed in my front yard and planted it. But these are all normal garden activities for me. My project involves my growing interest in native plants.

We have always let our pond edges grow naturally, resulting in volunteers of cattails, sedges, Queen Anne's Lace, milkweed, black-eyed susans, and even Joe Pye Weed. We did plant blue flags many years ago and they have claimed a large portion of the north end of the pond. Last year I planted three starts of yellow flags. However, the shallow end of the pond is sawgrass and cattails. It is also the first thing you see after crossing the stone bridge. Last fall I collected seeds from swamp hibiscus, pink turtlehead and cardinal flowers, all plants that love their feed wet. At the encouragement of Kylee, I winter sowed the seeds and they grew! So I've been hacking away at the growth to plant them on the shallow end of the pond. Let me tell you, removing turf and amending clay soil is easy compared to sinking in muck and getting scratched by the grasses to battle swamp weeds. In addition to the plants I started from seed, I planted Queen of the Prairie. If this works out, it will be breathtakingly beautiful.

A sassafras strip canoe

My brother is not the only craftsman at work around my home. My husband has started his second strip canoe. I gave him the plans and forms for a Voyager canoe for Christmas. He decided to make his own strips from sassafras, a traditional wood for canoes. He started by cutting the planks into strips, planing and sanding them and then he put beads and coves on every strip.

The next step was to set up the forms on the strongback and then mold the inner and outer stems.

Here he is applying the first strip to the form. He staples the strips to the form and glues between the strips.

After laying about four strips on each side, he laid the "football" on the keel. This makes the keel stronger; otherwise, he would have numerous strips ending at the keel line due to the shape of the canoe.

The next strips on the side will have a walnut inlay and he cut the design into the next three strips.

Then comes a tricky part. He had to add tapered strips to each end. You can see one of the tapers in this photo, the second strip down. I think of these as reverse darts. He's out in the shop now laying on more strips and more tapers.

Building Bridges

The third tier of rocks have been lain. This is the north wall of the bridge.

And this is the south wall. My brother John is wrestling a large rock in place. He placed flat rocks at each end of the arched walls for seats and this seat will have a backrest.

That boy sure is strong, always was. I can't believe the way he lifts and places those large stones. Before I took this picture, I asked him if I could help and he just gave me a look. John is two years younger than me and the oldest of my three younger brothers. I remember walking to the house from the school bus and turning around to punch him as hard as I could in the belly when we were both in middle school. He just looked at me (probably the same look as he gave me today) as I rubbed my hurt hand. I clearly remember thinking, "Time to change strategies, Martha."