Friday, July 10, 2015

Garden 2015: Yikes

Is my garden unruly because it's a jam packed raised bed or because I'm a lazy gardener? This year, my vote's on the latter. 

The tomatoes I planted using the Japanese ring method continue to make the rest of the tomatoes in my garden look like spindly little plants. The tomato in the tower to the left of the rings is maybe half the size of those around the ring. Unfortunately some of the other tomatoes behind the ring are dying, most likely because I had a volunteer potato take over. I should've pulled the potato early on considering that half of my garden this year is potatoes, but I find volunteer plants to be exciting even though they usually end up taking over everything like my volunteer pumpkins did last year.

You can barely see the cage the tomatoes are surrounding now.
They've grown above the cage and are bowing down into it now.
Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Kale (which has been picked by birds), Carrots, Endive, Tomatoes.
We ate a batch of greens yesterday with onions glazed in bacon grease. 
Black Krim Tomatoes.
Some green beans are ready to pick now. I don't have a pressure canner,
so I just freeze them or make a Pot 'O Beans in the pressure cooker.
Hey, volunteer Dill, big surprise ;) 
Tuna Fish Joe LOVES raw green beans.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kitchen Canning Jar Labels

Here are a few more kitchen labels that are now available on Kraft paper. They can be customized with your name or left blank so you can write whatever you wish on them.

I also worked up a few kitchen stickers that are a lot more customizable. They're available in NINE different color schemes and can have your name added to it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Garden 2015: What A fine Mess I Have

Hey, my garden is really starting to shape up. It's a little crowded in a few spots because I have the bad habit of not pulling up volunteer plants. But at least I don't have hundreds of pumpkins growing in it this year.

It's been raining for almost a week straight here in Ohio, so the beans have gone crazy. They might have doubled in size since last week. I'm looking forward to pressure cooking them with bacon (or a ham bone), onions, and potatoes. My family ate this meal a ton as I was growing up. We called it "Pot 'O Beans." That sounds like a pretty unglamorous name, and honestly, it doesn't look that fancy in a bowl either. But it tastes great even though it's pretty simple.

My grandpap used to shake about a tablespoon of black pepper into his bean bowl. But he would miss half of the bowl because he had a bum arm. When we were done eating and cleaned the dishes up, we were always amused by the black pepper ring left on the table around his bowl. It looked like an eclipse.

So far it looks like my trash can potatoes are doing well. The plants actually look better than the variety I planted in the ground next to it. I've been filling the can with dirt every 6" of plant growth, so the can is nearly filled to the top now. I'm eager to see if the can gets 100 pounds of taters. I was skeptical that it would, so that's why I planted potatoes in the ground too.

Most of my tomatoes are around 3' feet tall now. There's a noticeable difference between the plants around the Japanese Tomato Ring structure and those in the towers. The tower plants seem dwarfed in comparison. They aren't nearly as tall, the stems are not as thick, and they don't have blossoms yet. All were started indoors at the same time. One of the tower plants died a week or so after I planted it, which is odd for my garden.

I have a big potato plant growing right next to my tomatoes. I probably should've pulled it, but I figured   1) there's nothing wrong with MORE potatoes  2) last year's crop did really great, so if the spud I forgot in the ground decided to grow, well, I should just let it  3) we REALLY like potatoes.

This year my lettuce bed has onions, volunteer dill, and several tomato plants. I planted dill once...5 years ago. It keeps growing everywhere. I used to pull it up, but then I ended up using it in a batch of dill pickles I made. So I just let it grow...and grow...and grow. I also use it freely in tuna salad.

Endive always does good in my garden. My husband despises it with a passion.

Kale. Another arch nemesis of my husband. I was hoping to dehydrate some of this to use in a green supplement powder, but it doesn't look like I have much to work with just yet.

I'm not sure what this little guy will grow into. I'm not sure if he's eating the dill plant or not. I have about 100 dill plants growing everywhere, so eat away little fellow. Let's hope he doesn't turn into something that devours my garden.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Garden 2015: Japanese Tomato Rings

I just got my tomatoes planted in the garden. Usually I setup 4 plants around a Japanese Tomato Ring, then the rest are in towers. My ring is a little small (about 1.5') compared to what some gardeners build (4'-6').

I use a foldable trellis to form my ring. Since the gaps are larger on it, I line the inside with burlap that gets tied on with twine to help keep the compost inside.

Then once folded and setup in the garden that already has the soil prepped, you simply add your compost. I've read that some folks just use compost with clippings & waste, then others also add 10-10-10 fertilizer and do lasagna layering. I've never added fertilizer to my rings since I had always assumed that the compost would be enough. Maybe the yield would be better if I added fertilizer too.

I've had success by adding a few feet of compost topped with soil. Then I dig a hole in the center of the soil which is where you water the plants (if it's really dry out, I'll also water plants directly). The compost will provide plenty of rich nutrients during the growing season and give you a bumper crop. The compost will also keep the soil more moist and hopefully prevent blossom end rot.

The tomatoes get planted on the outside of the ring, then mulched with leaves. I put 4 plants around the trellis, 1 on each side. I usually tie the plants as they grow up. In the past I would plant 4 different varieties around the ring, then have the same varieties in the rest of my garden in towers just to compare the yield with this growing method. I could definitely see a bigger bounty compared to just adding compost to the soil around my staked tomatoes.

This year I only have Black Krim and Amish Paste tomatoes growing in my garden. Originally I was going to make more salsa, but my sister supplied me with a bunch of hot house tomatoes a few months back that yielded 45 pints of my husband's favorite snack. So I'm hoping that batch will keep him another year and free up my tomatoes for sauce and a few jars of stewed tomatoes.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Garden 2015: Tomatoes and Potatoes, oh my

I have a few green things in my garden, yea! I got a really late start on lettuce this year, but I was surprised to see some green onions coming up in the lettuce patch already. I forgot that I put a few in last fall. Two of my Swiss Chard plants came back up, but they were pretty beaten up looking, so all that's left now are the stems which could still be used for stir fry or soup.

Lettuce & surprise green onions
I setup a trash can to plant potatoes in as I discussed previously in this post. I'm not sure how many seasons this plastic can will last since it's got to be the cheapest plastic can ever made. It's pretty thin plastic, but at least it's holding up so far. I drilled drainage holes all over the bottom and about 6" up on the bottom sides. Since I don't really have patio space for the can, I dug out a big hole in my raised garden bed to set the can in. Then I used the soil mixed with compost, vermiculite, and peat moss to fill the can. I have extra soil in my wheelbarrow that will get added to the can with every 6" of plant growth. In theory the potatoes will grow upwards and fill the can with produce. We'll see about that.

High Mowing Organic Rose Finn Fingerling Potato
Organic German Butterball Potato
The trash can has High Mowing Organic Rose Finn Fingerling Potatoes growing in it now. I also planted Organic German Butterball Potato outside in the raised bed just in case the trash can potato thing doesn't pan out.

Organic German Butterball Potatoes... looking good so far! 
High Mowing Organic Rose Finn Fingerling Potato
and what looks like a ton of volunteer tomatoes.

The tomatoes that I started indoors are about 7" tall now. They've been outside hardening this week, so I'll be transplanting them in the garden very soon. I planted Amish Paste and Black Krim Tomatoes. I had a few extra plants, so I gave a Krim to my sister-in-law to try out. Some folks seem skeptical of black tomatoes, but I feel like I've raved about this variety a ton. It's one of my favorite tomatoes for eating. The paste tomatoes are typically what I use for my salsa.

Our new doggie Tuna Fish Joe loves to smell the tomato plants!

A few other things are coming up now too: Kale, Swiss Chard, Lettuce, & Carrots. I don't think my parsnips germinated again this year which is a shame because I LOVE parsnips.
Kale, my husband's arch nemesis... that & sweet potatoes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Rustic kraft paper mason canning jar labels

I'm slowly adding some of my most popular vintage canning jar labels onto Kraft paper. Here are a few new mason canning jar labels.

Some families like to preserve together!
So you can choose either "I put up" or "WE put up" for this label.
Choose from fruit or vegetable!
Rustic cottage chic Enjoy kraft paper canning jar label
Custom honey jar and bottle stickers can be customized
with your name, contact info, & more!

Honey Bee Kraft paper bottle and jar labels
Eat your Veggies! Eat your fruit!
BTW, this cool chic is an illustration of yours truly :)
Can it dammit! Hey hey,  potty mouth.
My sister thought this was funny. And who am I to say it isn't?
What's in your jar? Label it in style with these custom kraft paper stickers.
You can add a pre-printed date or leave it blank to handwrite it in.
I stopped counting how many moonshine labels I've done for folks.
It's on the list of things I never thought I'd be doing.
I will never eat these beets. This is my go to jar for canning label photos.
It looks great with kraft paper labels :)
Chevron kraft paper mason jar labels.
Burst kraft paper canning jar stickers.
These Blank kraft paper jar labels have plenty of room for handwriting!