Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Too Busy Doing to Write

With high summer in full swing, I've lapsed on the posting.  This seems to be my perennial conundrum.  When I have time to write, there's not much doing.  And when I'm doing lots of things that might interest other people, I'm too tired at the end of the day to do much writing.  So if pictures are really worth a thousand words, then I figure I can catch up on the writing really quick with the following.

Lasagna mulching.  I don't think the garden has ever looked quite so respectable in August.

Second cold frame.  Recently cobbled together with scavenged materials and ready to plant any day now. (Okay, it's really overdue for planting, but that's gardening.)  Isn't it just darling?  I want to plant nothing but Napoli carrots in it.

Elderberry-pear jam.  These will have to stand in for all the other canning I've been doing lately, including tomato sauce, chicken stock, and grape juice concentrate.  This jam is the prettiest of them all by far.

"Kimchee" made with Tuscan kale (instead of cabbage) and other vegetables from our garden.  Still fermenting, but already pretty tasty, especially the Hakurei turnips.

Homemade ancho chili powder. I may do a separate post on this as there was definitely a learning curve to preparing this stuff.  Smoked over our own apple wood chips, it smells so much richer and fruitier than store-bought.  We use quite a lot of ancho powder.

Solar hot water.  Admittedly, it's not my personal achievement, but it's finally - finally - on-line.  This will heat our house this winter and reconfigure our relationship to washing our whites.  We plan to situate a hoop house over the line that dumps excess heat into the earth - a project for next year.


Frugal Life UK said...

really impressive solar water heating, dad has eight tubes on his roof which heats the water for them and they always have too much!

meemsnyc said...

Wow and wow. I'm so impressed with your solar water heating. And with the jam making. And the cold frame. Boy you are busy!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Glad to see the update!

Did you write about the kimchee, and I just missed it? I've got some very robust (read: tough) kale in the garden right now, and it might be perfect for just such an application.

(Also, now I understand why I could never grow lasagna -- I didn't mulch!)

teekaroo said...

Good job to take pictures! Love that cold frame. My hakurei turnips were a disappointment this year.

Anonymous said...

Solar water heating AND a hoop house- fantastic!
Elderberry and Pear jam sounds interesting. I've had Elderberry and Apple. Is there much difference in taste, or is the first time you've made it?
I'm making elderberry cordial at the weekend, and maybe more of the Cottage Smallholder's blackberry and apple jam (delicious- you sieve or mouli the fruit, so no pips). And some pickled blackberries. And some chutney....


Jennifer Montero said...

You are officially excused from posting - I got tired just reading about all you've accomplished!

Elderberry and pear sounds great, I'm going to try that. and the solar hot water system is amazing. I look forward to hearing more about it as you use it through the winter.

2 Tramps said...

Thanks for the coldframe picture. I have windows and wood - will be making one here soon. What do you plan to grow in your coldframe?

Robin said...

What type of lid did you put in your cold frame? Plastic?
Recipe for grape juice concentrate please, I can never use all the grapes we harvest and concentrate would be perfect!

Teresa said...

I definitely understand "too busy to write." I've been too busy to work on the books that are supposed to be my job, let alone to blog.

Please do post about the ancho-powder process when you have time. (That might be winter, but we can all plan ahead for next year.) I tried drying some cayenne in the electric dehydrator last year and drove everyone out of the house, so there has to be a better way.

Kim said...

I would love a "how to" on your solar hot water. Could you do a short column on that?

queen of string said...

And, just to add to the possible "to do" list, I'd love some ideas on what to plant now. Thanks.

Kate said...

Frugal life UK, I can only hope we'll have too much. Very nervous to see whether this system will carry us comfortably through the winter.

meemsnyc, busy, yes. But the end of the canning frenzy is in sight. October!

Tamar, I didn't specifically mention the kimchee, just my nifty new ceramic weights to fit the glass jar. On early taste tests, my kale is somewhat tough too, or at least the ribs are. We'll see if the lacto-fermentation bacteria can "pre-digest" it for us.

teekaroo, I'm trying the Hakurei for the first time this year, and we are not long-standing fans of turnips. So far, I think we like them.

Hazel, this is the first jam I've done with elderberry, and I only went with the pears because that's what I had around and ripe at the same time as the elderberries. All that color comes from about 4 oz of elderberry juice, combined with two quarts of chopped pear. Astonishing color, really. Wish we had blackberries; they would make great jam.

Thank you, Miss Montero. ;) I'll try to get a post in on how or if the solar hot water affect our thermostat over the winter.

2 Tramps, spinach and carrots did best for us in our first cold frame last winter. And those are great plants to have in winter, so I'll probably go heavy on those. But there are other options too - lettuce, arugula, turnips, mustard greens, etc.

Robin, it's a salvaged storm window. We built the cold frame to fit it. The grape juice concentrate is simply extra ripe grapes processed into juice with plenty of sugar. I bring the mashed grapes up to 190 F, strain and chill overnight in the fridge. Strain again, this time through several layers of cheesecloth. Amazing how much sediment condenses overnight. Then add sugar, bring to 190 again, and can by water bath. I'll dilute the stuff with at least an equal amount of water when we're ready to drink it.

Teresa, I'll work on a post for the ancho powder. I need to make another batch soon.

Kim, not to be snarky, but yes, I can do a very short column on the how to of our solar hot water. Here it is: hire a contractor, write check. This was definitely not a DIY project for us. It's mounted on the far side of our detached garage, involves pipe running into the ground in several places, plus a 1000-gallon tank in our basement. Not at all our sphere of things.

Queen of string, again, not to be snarky, but I refer you to Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest, where you will find season extension tables for planting many crops based on the first frost date of your area. (It's linked from my Bookshelf page.) I'll be planting some cover crops this month, but not much else for the open air. It'll be covered rows and cold frame planting for us from here on out.

Anonymous said...

more info on ancho chili, please!

queen of string said...

Thanks for signposting me to the books. I shall be off down to the library with a very interesting list of things to order tomorrow!! :-)

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

I'm excited about the solar hot water system for you, thats great.
The elderberry-pear jam sounds gorgeous!

Robin said...

Merci!!! I am making grape juice concentrate as I type. :)

I'd swap you blackberry jam for elderberry pear anyday! We have tons og blackberries on the trails by us and pick gallons each year. I made blackberry syrup for putting in bubble water this year.

Wendy said...

LOVE the solar hotwater! How very exciting for you, and for heat, too?! I can hardly wait to hear about how it works for you.

tom said...

Cobbled together, my kee kee

Kate said...

Anon, it's in the pipeline!

Queen, no problem. Libraries are great for evaluating reference books to see whether they're worth buying. I'm guessing you'll want your own copy of 4SH, eventually.

cityhippyfarmgirl, me too. We now have domestic hot water from the array, and the heating should be in place by next week. Fingers crossed.

Robin, hope it turned out well.

Wendy, once it's up and fully operational, I'll do a post on it. I've already realized on thing about the array; it drips condensation in the mornings. Had I put this together earlier, I would have positioned my cold frames underneath it just a bit differently. Always refinements for next year.

Sweets, I meant "cobbled together" from all the junk in the garage. Not impugning its construction!