Harvesting Underway

The garden is really enjoying all the hot and steamy weather we’ve been having. Most of the garden anyway. So far this June I’ve harvested radishes and peas. For more pictures check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener.

Neither harvest lasted very long once picked, but they were sumptuous.

DSCF4653The two rows of radishes I planted all came in at once, so I only planted one row to replace them and waited another couple of weeks before planting the second.

As for the peas, well the first harvest wasn’t very big.

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Once shelled I only had about a cup, just enough for Hubby and I to eat for dinner.

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They were so sweet and flavorful though, I really hope to get a lot more so I’ll have some to freeze for winter.

For now that’s all we’ve been able to harvest, but more radishes are on the way and tons of peas are on the fences plumping up for picking, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

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Sunday Harvest

Our internet was down yesterday, but this was our harvest for Sunday.

Grace and I picked 2 1/2 pounds of beans.

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We also picked 1 pound of pea pods and a pound of early peas.

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The remainder of our beets – now I can replant for a fall harvest.

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The last of the turnips.

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And slow but sure the cucumbers are starting to come in. We picked numbers 7 and 8.

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The garden is booming and it’s still early in the summer. Tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, potatoes, parsnips, and peppers are still to come. A wonderful bounty, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Cheddar & Ham Vegetable Chowder

I know, I know, it’s hot, muggy, and definitely not the best time to be stuck in the kitchen slaving away over a hot stove, but dinner’s not going to make itself and around here, dinner isn’t an option — it’s the rule. Still, why in the world would I chose to make a new chowder of all things?

For one, with all the wonderful vegetables coming out of the garden, I had to find a way to use them other than just as a side dish. I know I’ll have frozen vegetables to enjoy this winter, but putting the fresh, just-picked ones right in the pot is more fulfilling than I can possibly explain.

This chowder is thick, rich, and more filling than any soup I make. Hubby was only able to eat one bowl and two pieces of crusty bread. The rest of us barely finished a smaller serving and one piece of bread.

Cheddar & Ham Vegetable Chowder

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6 Slices Thick Cut Bacon, diced

1 Large Onion Chopped

1 Cup Diced Carrots

1/2 Cup Chopped Scallions

5 Tbsp. Flour

4 Cups Milk, divided

1 1/2 Cups Water

3 Cups Cubed Potatoes

1 Cup Corn

3/4 Cup Fresh Peas

3 tsp. Vegetable or Chicken Bouillon

3 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

2 Cups Cubed Fully Cooked Ham

  • Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towel. Add onion, carrots, and scallions to bacon fat in pan and saute until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add 3 cups milk and stir until thick. Stir in water and again stir until thickened.
  • Transfer flour and milk mixture to a stock pot and bring to boil. Add potatoes, corn, peas, bouillon, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Be careful to keep an eye on this so it does not burn.
  • When potatoes are tender, add cheese and ham. Stir constantly until cheese is melted. Stir in bacon and serve.

This soup was a real hit! Even Grace’s boyfriend, who happened to stop by after work right around the dinner hour loved it. He told Grace he could have eaten the entire pot — now that would have been something to see.

The carrots, peas, and scallions from the garden, as well as the corn that I took from the last bag of Michigan corn I froze last fall, really made this chowder pop. I might even try omitting the ham next time and just enjoy the vegetable medley. Definitely a meal in itself, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Tuesday Morning Harvest

Heading out to the root garden this morning I was faced with a jungle of weeds intertwined with beets, carrots, turnips, and parsnips.

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By the time I was done weeding and picking, things were a bit more manageable.

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Now I have long, round and yellow beets to can.

We also have a bunch of turnips to figure out what to do with. I’m not sure I’ll plant as many turnips next year, as we cannot seem to eat them as fast as they ripen, and none of us care for them cooked. That’s okay, at least they were a successful crop and now that we’ve tasted home-grown turnips, I doubt we’ll ever eat the store-bought versions again.

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Besides the root garden, I also spent a little time in the pea garden picking early peas. After I can the beets, I’m going to shell these and freeze them, unless I figure out something for dinner that they’ll make a good accompaniment for.

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Getting out in the garden nice and early to beat the sun and heat, as well as harvest fresh vegetables to can later in the day, is a great way to start the day, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Teaching My Peas To Climb Fences

Over the weekend I decided something had to be done to tame the out-of-control pea plants in the garden. They were laying on the ground, weighed down by their height and all the peas. Only one section of the pea pods had a fence, made from an old crib section, to climb, leaving the rest of the garden free to grow wild.

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Having some scrap wood lying around I built a fence to hold up one of the rows.

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Seeing how well this worked, it was off to Lowe’s for some 1 x 2’s. Two hours later, the garden was under control and ready for picking.

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Now that the pea plants are tied to their fences and off the ground, I’m hoping to get even more pea pods and peas for freezing. Already the plants have begun to cling to the new fences and more flowers are beginning to form. Next it will be time to harvest the Early Peas and begin shelling them.

Gardening is more rewarding than I ever imagined, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Harvesting Peas – Freezing For Later

The other day I picked more than 2 1/2 pounds of fresh pea pods.

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Actually I was supposed to be picking pea pods and snow peas, but all of my snow peas which are supposed to be puffy, were flat as well, so I picked them right along with the pods.

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It’s possible the seeds got mixed up, because when I checked online as to why they would be flat and very large, there was no explanation.

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My conclusion was then that either the seed packet was mismarked or I planted the wrong seeds. Chances are I screwed up, but in any case, the pods are sweet and tasty and now frozen for use later in the year when the garden shrivels and dies.

I had never frozen pea pods before, but it was very easy and pretty quick.

First, start with your freshly picked pea pods.

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Next trim off the ends and pull of any stringy seams. While working, set a large stock pot full of water on the stove and bring to boil.DSCF9656

Once prepared, drop the pea pods in batches into the boiling water and boil covered for two minutes.

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Immediately remove from boiling water and immerse in bowl full of cold water and ice for 3 minutes.

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Spread pods out on paper towels to dry.

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Then all you have to do is pack them in freezer bags or bowls, label, and freeze.

I have three quart size bags full of pods in the freezer and can’t wait to pull them out come winter. For now I’m enjoying eating more fresh pods daily. We’ve had three meals with fresh pods, using at least another pound. Can’t wait to see how many pounds the garden ends up yielding.

Even if I didn’t get the snow peas I was hoping for, I will take the pea pods any day of the week. They can be added to any dish I would have used the snow peas in, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Welcome Back Harvest!

Before we left for our vacation about a week and a half ago I weeded all the gardens, fed all the plants, staked what needed staking, and hoped for rain while we were gone. You know the saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for?”  Well, when we got back, I couldn’t believe what I found.

The turnips were bursting from the ground, begging to be pulled.

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The scallions were practically uprooting themselves, ready for eating.

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And the peas!  Well, before we left the plants were doing pretty good, with just a few flowers.

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When we got back, the plants were double if not triple the size, toppled over on the ground from the weight of all the peas, and spreading everywhere.

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This is after I tied the pea pods to the make-shift trellis.

This is after I tied the pea pods to the make-shift trellis.

So far we’ve enjoyed eating the turnips raw and using some pea pods and scallions in a stir fry.

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By the end of the week I’ll have to pick more pea pods, freeze them and start preparing the snow peas and others for canning or freezing.

I’ve only pulled five turnips so far, but the entire row is ready for harvest. Anybody want some fresh turnips? They’re super tasty.

While we were gone my neighbors told me it rained every afternoon, was humid, and the sun came out every chance it could between showers.  Since our return we’ve had one day of rain and the rest have been humid and sunny. Perfect for the garden and perfect timing so I can water when needed and pull out all the weeds that seem to be outgrowing the plants 3 to 1.

Coming home to a garden full of fresh vegetables waiting to be picked is a great way to end a vacation, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Peas A Poppin’

It has taken over three weeks, but finally when I went out to the pea garden today, I found signs of life!

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I cannot believe how long it took these babies to start popping up, but am keeping my fingers crossed they continue to do so.  Only a few in each row have broken through so far, which would probably only produce enough for a meal or two.  I’m hoping to be able to freeze peas for the coming winter.

The garden has three types of peas:

Sugar Pods

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Snow Peas

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And Early Peas.

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The early peas are the only ones I’m not sure if it’s a pea plant or a weed, because it looks different from the other two.  Time will tell.

It is such a relief that there is some visible proof that just maybe we’ll get some peas this year.  I was beginning to wonder if the pea seeds I used were duds. Still, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.  They have a long way to go before they’ll actually have any peas for picking.  For now, I’m just thrilled that they’re a poppin’, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Clearing A Garden For Peas

Yesterday as I was catching up on a few blogs, I happened to read a post from Mary’s Veggie Garden called It’s Planting Time.  Mary shared that she had already planted some peas, radishes, and spinach.  I was immediately filled with dread.  Was I already behind in my planting?

Mary lives in New York, where the weather is similar if not more vicious than Michigan and I hadn’t even begun to turn over my gardens.  I might use the excuse that we just had snow again last week, but the picture Mary had up showed that there was still snow on the ground when she planted!

Not sure how peas work, as I just planted a trial batch last summer in a patio pot, I asked Mary for some guidance. She was very gracious in telling me that I could most definitely plant my peas without worrying about hard frosts or snow.  Hurray!  As soon as I read that, I headed out to the garden.

By the end of the harvest season last year, I was too busy with other things to clear out any of the gardens, so they are just as I left them albeit a bit less green.

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It took me about two hours to clear and turn the garden and then the fun began.

Before I could plant, I wanted to dig a trench for a make-shift trellis for the peas.  A good friend of mine saw this in someone’s trash and immediately thought of me.  When she called and told me about it I knew right away where it was going. Thanks Suzanne!

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After I got the new trellis up, I measured out the rows, put stakes at either end and began running the twine so I could keep my rows straight.

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I got one row of snow peas in and then the rain hit.  I guess I should be grateful I got as far as I did because rain was predicted for today as well as the next three days.

I have been blogging for just over a year and have met some really great people and learned so much from their posts I can’t begin to thank all of them for all their hard work.  Today I have to say I am Simply Grateful for Mary’s post and the information she shared in her response to my questions.  Thanks Mary, hopefully the rest of my peas will get planted by the weekend and then I’ll start thinking about radishes.

Garden Update August 1, 2014

It has been a crazy couple of days for me.  The end of the month is the busiest for me because I actually have a job other than housewife that brings in extra income for the household.  I work from home, which at times can be challenging with all the canning, cooking, cleaning, parenting, and other housewife-type duties that hover over me 24/7, but I love the freedom of being able to work when I want.  Plus, I don’t have to get out of my pajamas, comb my hair, or put on make-up when I mosey into the office to sit at the computer.

Being that I’m self-employed and work from home, there are really no set hours that I have to work.  There is always work, but my boss gives me the freedom to work when I want and trusts that I will get done what needs to get done.  Typically I try to work at least an hour a day, a few extra on the weekends, totaling between 30 and 40 hours per month.  This helps me keep up my part of the household bills — the grocery bills.  Of course, with all the canning and gardening I’ve been doing, as of three days ago I had barely 12 hours of work for the month.  This meant a rush to put in some hours and get some work done and by midnight July 31st I had an additional 34 hours bringing my monthly total hours to 46.

Whew!  That was close.  I don’t mind working, the only problem is that I don’t have the time for it.  Once I start working though, it is just as hard for me to stop as it is for me to start.  That’s why today I spent another 9 hours working — a jump-start for August’s bill.  Of course this means that everything else suffers.  Time management is really not that difficult for me, I just don’t like to do it.  When I start working on one thing, be it canning, gardening, or work, I just want to do that.  Splitting my time between activities usually ends up being more counterproductive than productive.

Tomorrow I have my to do list filled with canning, housework, and gardening — no work.  Maybe I’ll put in a few hours on Sunday or maybe I’ll just wait until the first of the week.  See how this procrastinating can just weasel its way into my plans?

In spite of all the work I’ve been doing, I did manage to take an hour yesterday to transplant my beet seedlings into the freshly cleaned out beet portion of the garden.  I think they look pretty good.

The freshly planted beet garden.

The freshly planted beet garden.

The newly transplanted beet seedlings.

The newly transplanted beet seedlings.

These are the beets from the first crop that I replanted because they were mere slivers.

These are the beets from the first crop that I replanted because they were mere slivers.

This morning they hadn’t wilted, and were perky and healthy.  So in 40-50 days I will hopefully be harvesting more beets to can for the pantry and the long winter months ahead.

Besides transplanting the beets, I also picked a few cherry tomatoes.  They are beautiful this year and it looks like we are going to get a lot of them.  Hubby tells me that cherry tomatoes are his favorite.  Good thing, I think we have at least five of those plants.

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A little over a week ago, I finally had a female and a male flower on my zucchini plant blooming at the same time.  For the past several weeks I have had either male or female, but never both at the same time.  When I saw the two open at the same time, I immediately got my paint brush and pollinated.  Waiting to see if a bee found them in time was too risky for my tastes.  I took matters into my own hands.  A week later here is what my one zucchini looks like:

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The only other real change in my garden is that the peas are flowering.  I’ve never grown peas, but I’m hopeful I’ll at least get a few pods.  I only planted a few plants because this is a trial to see if I want to do more next year.  I don’t expect much in the way of a harvest, but learning how the plants grow, when they bloom, and what mother nature will throw at me to make this more challenging for next year should be helpful.

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My mind is still racing with thoughts of work, but slowly I am calming down and preparing for a wonderful day of “getting back to what I love.”  The night should clear my head and help me focus on making the most of the upcoming weekend, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.