For the past two days, I’ve had one item which has topped my agenda: Finishing and testing out the cider press I’ve been working on. A good friend, Adonica in the picture above, heard about my project and … [ Continue Reading at: http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2502 ]
It’s been a great year for apples in Northwest Pennsylvania. Above is a selection of apples from a co-workers orchard. He’s got a real apple problem on his hands at the moment, with the potential to fill many, many 50 pound bags full. Chad brought in a selection of the apples he has growing, and I thought I’d take a picture, and share it on my blog. You can read more about his apple problem here: Ella and Family Stuff
Back on the farm we have quite a few apple trees of our own filled with very well grown apples. Davie and Rob took some time out of their weekend to pick apples using the John Deere, in place of a ladder. The trees shown are in the area that I’ve been cleaning up near my Herb Garden. I had pruned the tree in the spring not realizing that it was an edible apple tree. I was hoping to grow crab apples which could have been used as treats for my sisters horses.
A single pickings harvest is shown in the cart, but many more have already been processed into apple-sauce.
It’s also the best time of the year to plant trees, and after I found a few on sale for $25 each, I loaded up my little car, and brought three to my mother’s house where we planted them in her front yard.
I couldn’t help to purchase a Nectarine tree as well, and I planted it near the area I’ve been cleaning up with the Back-blade on the tractor. I’m hoping to plant many more cherries, berries and trees in the area, and while I had rob and the John Deere digging holes, we also moved a Service Berry plant. I’m beginning to think I should put together and post a map of the farm with each plant and it’s variety marked.
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After a long summer of hot days, the clouds spread out their reach and allowed the cold air to descend. The weather man predicted frost, which is a last call of sorts for any gardener. The name of the game this time of year is pick it or forget about it.
Picking peppers and celery isn’t that hard, unless the temperature is barely above freezing like it was when we began our harvest. We filled our bags till the weather chased us indoors, which is were the real work began.
After cleaning each of the stalks of celery and removing the leaves, we used a food processor to chop the stalks into small pieces. These will be useful in soups or as an additive to tuna fish.
After plowing through the celery, we moved onto the peppers which require a bit more attention.
First the tops are removed, then the pepper is sliced down the center vertically. Next all of the seeds are removed. At this point, the pepper halves are feed into the food processor which spits out evenly chopped slices. Slicing these peppers by hand would have taken far too much time, but with the chopper things moved along pretty quickly.
The food processor has a good assortment of blades, but one in particular worked very well on the peppers, leaving the perfect size chunks for soups, salads, or fried peppers.
When we all got sick of processing veggies we cleaned up our mess, and packed the celery and peppers in boxes. These will help greatly to organize a freezer that is about full 0f veggies from the garden.
We finished up Saturday, and before calling it a day, we weighted the processed peppers and celery. I was pretty surprised to find we had 34 pounds of veggies ! The next day we finished off the remaining peppers filling an additional box.
This bounty was provided with 36 celery plants and about 100 pepper plants. Next years garden will probably contain fewer celery plants, but about the same number of peppers, perhaps a few more.
Now we just need to survive picking and processing apples and it will be time for some cool weather veggies.
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I set out to pick more tomatoes the other day, and I soon found a few helpers. While they were looking for tomatoes, I decided to have a look at my pepper plants. I’ve only gotten a few early surprises so far this year, but this time it was different. I found about twenty peppers that were large enough to pick, and quite a few that were just starting to grow. If I remember correctly, the pepper plants were growing well into October last year, so I should be getting lots more green and red surprises in the next few weeks.
Chablis hybrid peppers have stole the show again this year, with a flexnum hybrid peppers coming in a close second. I’ll plant both of these types next year, but I hope to place a lot of effort trying to develop a new variety.
I planted quite a few pepper seeds directly into the soil as one of my many experiments. Several of these plants have grown large enough for peppers, and one has already succeeded in passing on it’s genes. I’ll take good care of the seeds till next year, and encourage them to grow directly from seed once again. The long term goal is to develop a pepper plant that grows faster, and is more compatible to the growing season this far north.
Ever since I built my greenhouse, I’ve been growing a large number of tomato plants. Now, after two years of terrible returns things have gotten a lot brighter, well more of a red then bright, but much more colorful then past tomato harvests. You see I’ve been hit with Blight the last two years, and it ruined the whole patch, killing hundreds of plants. This year I have resorted to using three types of blight prevention: Deconil Fungicide and Dragoon Dust as well as a good spraying of Epsom Salt and Miracle Grow mix. The result ? A lot of tomatoes !
I started picking the tomatoes green as soon as they were large enough. I would then set them in my window sills till they ripened, at which time I would take them to my mothers home from processing. Mom has been working with the rest of the family to covert all of the bounty into spaghetti sauce, and so far they have kept up with the harvest.
I tried to narrow my focus with the types of plants grown this year, and I do not remember planting yellow tomatoes, but they have found there way to the table anyway.
I also had to share this very humorous photo I got just in the nick of time. Sandy told me to look at how fast the tomatoes were flying off the table. The bowl that was holding the cherry tomatoes was half empty. That’s when I decided to ask little Rob if he had anything to do with it. He replied by showing me his shirt full of cherry tomatoes.
I awoke Saturday morning, and one of the first thoughts to cross my mind was “What am I going to do today ?”, which was soon followed with “Especially since I don’t have a tractor to play on”. I decided to get out of bed first, and plan my day later, so I began my morning routine, getting dressed and then feeding my parakeets and fish. Not long after I got done, but before I managed to comb my hair, I heard a thud outside, and had a look. Their was a delivery truck outside, and he was bringing me a box. Sweet!
The box contained two tire tubes for the tractor.Later in the day, I asked rob to show me how to tear apart the tire and replace the tube. It sounds like an easy task, but if you don’t have a tire machine, you better have some tricks up your sleeve.My sister Maurice had the winning idea that separated the tire from the rim using a truck and a board. The board is placed on the rubber portion of the wheel, and the weight of the truck driving on the board separates the rubber from the rim. I wouldn’t suggest you try this, it’s always better to use the right tool for the job.
By the way, I was very happy with the company that sold and shipped me the tire tubes: Stevens Ag Parts – 1-800-333-9194. They sell all kinds of parts for older tractors.
I was using the back blade on the tractor to try and level a large pile of dirt near the rock garden, but I found it wasn’t very effective. Things got a whole lot easier when Rob loosened up the dirt first.
Once the dirt was loose, the back blade became a whole lot more effective. The blade is good at pulling dirt along behind the tractor to be dumped later. I’ve found it’s not very good at leveling dirt when you drive forward, but it works very well when the tractor is in reverse. I dragged the soil to the approximate location where I wanted to spread it in forward, and then switched gears to level it.
The arrangement worked very well. Rob could dig the soil up faster then I could drag it away, but I had a whole lot of fun trying to keep up with him.
At the bottom of the pile of dirt we found an old rear end. I’m guessing it’s from a very old truck since it has leaf springs.
Now that the second pile of dirt is leveled, I don’t have much left to do:
1. Clean up the metal and piles of wood.
2. Level the dirt where the piles were.
3. Spread grass seed and hay.
Then I can begin working on Phase II: Planting Trees, starting with pears, plums, peaches or any other fruit tree I can get to grow from seed. If that doesn’t work I guess I’ll have to save up to purchase some more fruit trees. I’ll also be planting some native trees in the area right next to the crick.