Aaron and I are hosting a farm tour this Saturday, Nov. 5! Please join us. Click here to download a flyer with details.
It’s the end of summer, and our basil plants looked like jungle weeds. That is, before Aaron harvested all of them to make pesto today. Last year, we procrastinated so long that we lost most of our basil harvest. This year we were nearing that same tragedy, but we’re not going to let it happen again. Aaron will be busy making pesto today. We’re going to make two types–The traditional pesto with pine nuts, and an alternate with some other type with yet-to-be-determined nuts.
The drought in Texas is affecting ranchers like never before, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
The current drought is likely to be the costliest in a 12-month span, said David Anderson, a livestock economist with the Texas A&M University’s Agrilife Extension Service. In May, Agrilife reported losses statewide at $1.2 billion. Anderson said an August report will likely tally the cost at three to four times that. The cost of the current drought may be even twice that of the previous most costly drought, which cost $4.1 billion in 2006.
It sounds really terrible.
Also, check out the photos in this Washington Post blog post about the drought.
A while back, Aaron rented a tiller from Home Depot and he towed it back to our house using a trailer attached to his bike. I’ve got a hard-working man! Aaron actually prefers riding his bike instead of taking the car. This was a very unusual trip, though, considering he was pulling 200 lbs. He used the tiller to prepare a new garden area in our backyard.
“There is no substitute for hard work.” – by Thomas A. Edison.
Okay, here’s the dilemma:
We have a healthy crop of homegrown, heirloom tomatoes that all ripen simultaneously. It’s impossible to consume all the tomatoes raw, so we must preserve them before we lose all our hard work. It’s a great problem to have. But we still need a solution.
Solution one: make tomato sauce
Roughly chop the tomatoes, or you can leave them whole if you want to save time. Place oil in the bottom of a stock pot and cook the tomatoes over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree the tomatoes with a hand immersion blender. Simmer the mixture over low heat until it’s reduced by half, or until you’ve gotten rid of enough water so the tomatoes are the consistency that you want. Now you can store the sauce in mason jars and can it (or freeze).
Solution two: make fire-roasted salsa
Roughly chop the tomatoes. Also chop some peppers: we use a mixture of both red and green jalapenos and serranos, but you’ll have to decide based on the spiciness you’re looking for. Add some garlic and onions, too! Place the produce in a pan and roast them on a low-heat grill for about one hour. Cool the veggies to the touch, peel the skins and remove the seeds. Blend the salsa in a blender with some water, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro.Now you can put your salsa in mason jars and can (or freeze) it.
Solution three: can the tomatoes
This is a little more complicated, but it’s worth it because you’ll be able to use the tomatoes for any recipe. Immerse each tomato in boiling water for about one minute, and then transfer it to an ice-water bath. Cool the tomato to the touch and then peel off the skin. Chop the tomato and remove the seeds. Now your tomatoes are ready to can.
Canning is a complicated process and it should be the subject of its own post! In the meantime, check out this awesome website by the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia.
We have a gorgeous wildflower patch on the side of our garden. Aaron grew flowers to attract bees, which help pollinate the veggies in our garden. The photo shows a springtime poppy.
Earth laughs in flowers. – by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Greg Seaman of Eartheasy.com writes that he and his wife experimented with several techniques to make working in their garden easier. For example, his family uses the no-till method of gardening, spreads mulch liberally, plants cover crops in between seasons, plants only in raised beds, and uses an irrigation system for watering. “It took over 20 years of gardening to realize that I didn’t have to work so hard to achieve a fruitful harvest. As the limitless energy of my youth gradually gave way to the physical realities of mid-life, the slow accretion of experience eventually led to an awareness that less work can result in greater crop yields,” Seaman writes.
Aaron & I enjoy walking around on evenings after work, checking on new developments in our backyard vegetable garden. In the background of the photo, you see the chicken coop Aaron made from recycled materials.
This is one of the reasons Aaron & I have an organic garden. Pesticides are nasty business.
Dole Food Co. Inc. has agreed to settle with workers who claim in a lawsuit the company’s “use of a pesticide called dibromochloropropane, or DBCP, on banana plantations during the 1970s and ’80s caused the workers to become sterile,” reports The National Law Journal. The people worked for Dole in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras. The law firm working on behalf of the injured farmworkers “still has pending DBCP cases against Dow Chemical Co. and other defendants on behalf of banana workers in Guatemala and Panama,” according to the article.
I’m so proud of Aaron and his garden. He sent in some photos and a description to a popular Austin gardening blog, and the authors decided to feature his garden in a weekly post. To read what Aaron and the JBG folks thought, scroll down to “What’s in Your Garden? Featuring Aaron Morris.” Here’s what Aaron told them about our garden:
Next Page »“I have converted this entire backyard from a wasteland of weeds and china berry trees into a highly productive mini farm. I have done a bit at a time using little more than a cheap shovel and a soil sifter I built myself to remove rocks. Other than removing the rocks, the only other thing I did was grow a green manure and turn it in. I have a wildspace that I seed with wild flowers and irrigate. I built a chicken coop and compost system, and instead of tilling, I have the chicken clear the spent crops, the I cut out just the stems and leave the spent plant roots to compost in place. So I guess I’m doing a no till system and it is working wonderfully for me. I just ate my first tomato (May 9th!), an amish paste, that I started from seed. I started my seeds in December, I have about 50 plants in the ground. 30 different varieties, mostly heirlooms.”