Friday, April 17, 2015

The New Garden Is Well Started!

You wouldn't think that one shelving unit of plant starts would fill an entire 26 by 96 foot high tunnel, but with the inclusion of a few other "straight from seed" plants like beans, it sure does!  

This is my plant growing shelving that we built last year.  I absolutely love its simplicity!  

We built it from very inexpensive shelving and plant and aquarium lights purchased at Walmart.  We drilled some holes and added some small "s" hooks and chains to make the lighting adjustable, then attached an outlet (I put a timer on it) and it is lightweight and easy to use!  At the end of the seed starting season I can pick up the whole thing and move it into the basement and at the beginning I just carry it back up.

This is such an improvement on the improvised lighting set up I'd had in the past with wood and concrete blocks, etc!  

What am I planting this year?  My dad got me started with a lot of organic seeds from Johnnyseeds.  Here's this year's garden listing: 

Beans: Fresh Pick, Yellow Wax, Royal Purple, Dragon
Broccoli: Early Green, Belstar, DiCiccio
Cabbage: Red Express, Farao
Swiss Chard: Flamingo, Ruby Red, Red and White Mix

Here's the BIG list!
Tomatoes: Black Cherry Tomato, Super Sweet 100, Sweet Olive, Smarty, Brandywine, Striped German, Green Zebra, Granadero, Black Prince, Big Boy, Beefsteak, Roma, Yellow Pear, And San Marzano

Peppers: Yankee Bell, Early JalapeƱo, Pepperoncini, California Wonder
Cucumbers: Corinto, Salt and Pepper, Pickle Bush
Summer Squash: Fordhook, Straightneck Yellow, Black Beauty, Lemon Squash
Onions: Ruby Ring, Copra, Cortland
Parsley: Curly and Flat
Pumpkins: Kakai, Small Sugar, Jackolantern,
Squash: Butternut
Eggplant: Black Beauty, Early Long Purple
Corn: Who Get's Kissed?
Peas: Sugar Snap, Lincoln

As well as Potatoes, Garlic, Jeruselem Artichoke, Horseradish, Dill, Radishes, Lettuces, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Nasturtium, Basil, Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, and lots and lots of flowers!

Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. 
It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart.
- Karel Capek

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Maple Season: Short And Sweet

We've reached the end of our maple season.  It's been a wonky one with temperatures see sawing, but now it looks like we're staying consistently above freezing.  So that ends the season because the sap gets "funky".  There's a kind of slimy-ness to it.  

Pennsylvania has gone to a new maple syrup grading system.  Instead of Grade A Light, Grade A Medium, Grade A Dark, and Grade B, we now have "A" Golden Delicate, "A" Amber Rich, and "A" Dark Robust 

We ended up with a lot of Grade B syrup.  My favorite!  In the new Pennsylvania grading system it is labeled as "Dark Robust".  I like that.  I felt that "Grade B" made the syrup sound like it was inferior and oh boy it certainly is not!  "Dark Robust" definitely gives a better definition of this wonderfully rich-flavored syrup! 

I bottled some of our syrup last night. We put it into the bottles piping hot and turn the bottles on their side to cool.  This creates a vacuum seal inside the bottle.  

This is pint and quart jugs of Robust maple syrup (and one one-gallon jug).

We also have some Medium Amber syrup to bottle.  This is know as Amber Rich now.  Some people don't care for the richness of the Dark Robust and like a more mild maple flavor.  I don't get it, but everyone has their own tastes.  I find cilantro to be disgusting and other people love it.  Anyway, Amber Rich will suit people who like a more delicate maple flavor.  

Next. using lots of very, very hot water, we'll clean and then wrap all of our equipment in plastic until next year's season.  We'll pull the taps out of the trees and bring our tanks out of the forests and clean and seal them.  Another maple season will be over.   

Next up - beekeeping and gardens!   

Monday, April 6, 2015

And Happily, One Week Later......

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, the deer are browsing, and we're hoping for a high temperature of 63-degrees today!

Can you see the deer?

Spring, maybe?