Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jack 2: Before & After

This is the biggest pumpkin we grew this year. Actually it is the biggest pumpkin Sunny and I have ever grown. It was 73 pounds using store-bought Giant pumpkin seed. This is also the first time Sunny and I have tried to grow pumpkins and it inspired us. We got an early 36-pounder and a 68-pounder to boot (See: Meet Jack below).

By the way, Dustin designed the face on this Jack-O-Lantern. Meghan and her friend Millie carved most of it, and Brittany added some detail. I shot some pictures and processed him into pumpkin pie filling the very next day! To heck with Halloween, that is too much pumpkin pie to waste!

Anyway, Sunny and I have decided to go both big and small next year. I am researching Atlantic Giants and the little pie pumpkins to grow next year. Sunny is going to hit the Farmer's Market next year, so we should have some dandies for sale next fall.

I am lobbying for the space to grow at least one Atlantic Giant next year. Christy Harp set the new world's record with this 1725-pound Atlantic Giant in Canfield Ohio on Oct. 3. All she used was compost on it. While some believe there may be one bigger still out there this year, that is still incredibly impressive.

If I grow Atlantics next season,  they will be just for carving, and I will grow a bunch of pie pumpkins for cooking. I have never made pumpkin pie from scratch before, but I gave it try this year with the 36-pounder and Jack 2, pictured at the top of this post. He alone will make a total of twelve 9-inch deep dish pies!

I really need to practice making pie without burning the edge of the crust, otherwise, I have to say pumpkin pie from scratch has to be the best I have ever eaten, and it's really easy to make. I have adapated my own recipe from this base recipe here .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time to get busy....

When this family decides to do something we don't go small scale....not in the garden and not in the kitchen....We purchased this bad boy canner over the internet from a company back east. It cost nearly $400 but it holds 19 quarts and saves us a lot of time. So far we have pressure canned pumpkin, spaghetti sauce, salsa, carrots, tomato soup, meat, barbeque sauce...not to mention everything we water-bath canned.
This pressure canner is extremely heavy when you get it all loaded and you can't use it on a regular stove top...lucky for us we have a gas range with metal grates... and it takes up two burners!

This was a practice run season for gardening and canning as next year we are ramping it up with the addition of another 24 by 80 feet of garden space and 2 additional raised beds. We got a good idea of when our various crops will need to be harvested and also how to plant in succession so we also get fall crops. I wanted to see how much I could produce so that next season I can sell at the farmer's market. I would also like to grow various crops for people who enjoy fresh veggies but hate to garden...(Hard to imagine that people hate to garden :) I already have a few takers on this idea so I am very excited....I am also considering taking orders for vegetable baskets in which the customer would get a basket of vegetables and or flowers on a predetermined schedule and delivered straight to their front door. I am also interested in growing some vegetables to provide to the local food bank. This year we had an abundance of tomatos and cucumbers (I grew over 100 plants each) so I gave quite a lot to the Post Falls food bank...It feels good to give especially when it is fresh garden veggies that you grew yourself....

I have already began the garden plans for next year and I am also investigating hydroponic gardening so I could grow some veggies year round. We are going to build a few potato boxes and a composter for next year... I saw some pictures of potato boxes online and they seem pretty cool. You can expect 50 to 150 pounds of potatos from each box so we will give it a try.....When it comes to gardening we are always thinking of ways to improve next year's yield.

For now's back to the kitchen as we still have 4 rows of carrots to clean and can. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Meet Jack

This pumpkin is the smaller of the two giants we grew in the garden. We decided to carve this one up....Mike (Melanies son) was the talented carver. ....and we are keeping the big guy for pie ingredients. We actually had one more pumpkin in the garden that was mistakenly planted in the cucumber patch this the time we figured it out we decided to just leave it. Jeff made pumpkin pie from that one...and it was the best pie I think I have ever tasted. Supposedly, the larger pumpkins aren't supposed to be as good for pie making but everyone loved it. I suspect we won't need to buy a store made pie during the holidays this year...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2010 Family Garden Expansion!!!

We spent the last few weekends slowly taking down the garden and harvesting everything. It is sad to see summer go but then again it allows us time to start planning for the next gardening season. And we will definitely need more planning time since we are expanding the garden next year!!!! I couldn't believe my ears when my dad said "so how much bigger do you want the garden?" A bigger garden means taking up more of his beautiful lush green pasture that he keeps so perfectly groomed. He said it would just mean less for him to mow!!! I didn't argue.

The expansion is going to be about a 24 wide by 100 or so feet long. It will extend to the right of the above photo and it will leave room in the back for another raised bed or two. We will have to put up another electric fence around the expansion in order to keep the pesky deer out. The deer could easily jump this fence but so far the electricity has kept them from coming too close.

My lovely sister-in-law grew these petunias and the super sized marigolds (all from seed) in the raised beds behind her. These were no ordinary flowers let me tell ya...The petunias were supposed to be just your typical petunia but they literally took over the entire raised bed and were flowing over the sides. Dad had to tie them up so he could mow around them. Petunias were one of my moms favorite flowers so she may have had a hand in this :)

We hated having to tear them out. As you can see they were still in full bloom...but they shared the raised bed with the strawberries.... and the strawberries created so many new shoots that we figured we should get busy transplanting them. Slowly we have removed most everything from the garden except the perennial herbs , strawberries and the giant pumpkins.

The pumpkins were just an experiment this year but they really turned out great... In fact, my dad started a family contest to see who could guess the weight and the winner receives $20. We got some frost this week so I'm guessing we will pluck them from the vine this weekend and do the weigh in. Next year we are going to try and beat the new world record and grow some Atlantic Giants... :) Just kiddin dad. We are also going to add some pie pumpkins to the mix next year as Jeff recently learned to make pumpkin pie from scratch and it turned out quite delicious.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Thriving Individual

My-oh-my! She finally flourished! I transplanted this beauteous creature into the ground about a month or two into Summer, and she finally decided to be brave and introduce herself to the world! Before I captured this memorable moment, I really studied her. I learned so much. And as funky as this sounds, my puny daisy has an enormous personality. When I first glanced at her, over the ledge of the front porch, she seemed a bit shy towards the other pretty flowers surrounding her. So, I knelt down beside her and admired her radiant pedals; then I greeted her with a bundle of joy and excitement, it was almost as if she was mocking me. She smiled right back at me! It was like she had been waiting to meet me. What a brilliant day it was, and I am glad to share it with everybody! Have a nice day! "Just can't live that negative way...make way for a positive day." -Bob Marley

Giant pumpkins!

Here is one of our giant pumpkins started in March in the greenhouse. Jeff made pumpkin pie from scratch with one of the smaller ones and it turned out very good....nothing store bought even compares to the taste of home grown pumpkins.
Grandpa started a contest for all the
grandkids...they have to guess the weight of the largest pumpkin and whoever guesses correctly wins $20....I anticipate the weigh-in to be in mid October and keep in mind these were gaining 2 or more pounds per day in August.
Next year we are going to try growing Atlantic Giants and see how big we can get them. Apparently, they can grow over a thousand me might have to expand the garden even more!! We also want to grow a few pie pumpkins ( the smaller variety are supposedly better tasting for pie purposes). I think I will also look into other pumpkin recipes so if anyone has ideas please let me know.