Homestead Diary Week Ending May 13thPosted: May 13, 2016
Saturday the kids and I got out to the farmer’s market. Besides buying the season’s first asparagus and rhubarb (our asparagus needs one more year to establish and our better-established rhubarb isn’t ready for harvest yet) they helped me pick out some annuals to add a shot of color to the garden perimeter. They had a lot of fun getting involved, and helped me layout the design when we got home too.
I also bought some herbs: peppermint, chocolate mint, oregano, lemon balm, thyme. I started our basil a little late but it will be ready to transplant in a few weeks.
On Sunday morning before the Mother’s Day brunch my sister hosted I went through my tomato seedlings and picked out a few I thought were worth transplanting. I did a really bad job managing the transition from indoor to outdoor growing and killed 2/3 of my seedlings, and many of the rest aren’t in great condition. I’m hoping the strongest survivors will make it but they’re definitely behind where you want seedlings to be at this time of the year here.
The light Sunday morning was ideal for photography so I snapped quite a few shots. I brought out the SLR but knocked image size down a bit so I don’t have to deal with the labor of resizing images before posting. The files are still big but hopefully not so big that I run up my storage allowance too quickly.
Wednesday we went up to the same farm we get strawberries, apples, and pears from to buy some plants from their greenhouse. I got a few tomatoes, peppers, and then some more perennials. Before we left we spotted something that made me very happy.
Thursday became a cooking day. I made a cherry galette. My replacement grain mill grinds corn much better than the original design so I made my first batch of skillet cornbread in quite some time. I’m experimenting with granola bars again in an effort to mostly eliminate commercial snacks (and go through the obscene number of oats we have in inventory).
My last cooking experiment was making sauce from dried tomatoes. I used up the last jar of canned tomatoes this week and needed to move on to the 26 quarts of dried tomatoes we have. I rehydrated the tomatoes 1:1 in hot water, first bringing it to a boil then keeping it on medium low until the tomatoes looked plump. I ran them through our Squeezo food mill and then seasoned the sauce the way I always do:
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp dry minced onion
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dry basil
- 1/2 tsp dry oregano
- scant 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
The sauce only needed a little extra reduction (much of it provided by the onions rehydrating) before it was ready to jar up and put in the fridge. My plan, now that I have a good sense of the method, is to make it in several quart batches and then freeze in freezer-safe deli containers. Yield was about 75% of the water I started with so I have enough tomatoes left in the pantry to make about 17 quarts of sauce. At 1-2 quarts a week that should get us through until they’re back in season again.
Thursday night we spotted something very cool. My rabbit-proof fence must not have been very rabbit proof because I found a rabbit nest in one of our strawberry beds. The babies are about three weeks old: eyes open, full fur coats, and erect ears. They’ll be leaving the nest any day but for now their momma will return at dawn and dusk to nurse. I think I know where she was getting in and have fixed it but I’m leaving the gate open until the babies are ready to move on.
Weather for the next few days promises to be cold, rainy, with lows near freezing. Spring in Wisconsin tends to ping-pong around a lot and this year is no different. That said, I’m happy to have spent a good portion of the past week in the garden. It hasn’t fed our bodies yet this year but it has fed our souls.
I’ll close out this week with one last picture.