Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fewer beets than I anticipated...

I picked all of the beets that were big enough to can, and it sure seemed like I had a lot. But after I got them all packed into jars, I realized that I only had 2 quarts. There are still more to pick, but they're still small yet. I think I posted directions for pickling beets before (1 part sugar to 1 part vinegar with cinnamon to taste), but I actually canned this batch. Leave a 1/2" of headspace to allow for expansion and process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes. I kept mine whole (just like my grandparents used to), except for the few that were just too big to can whole.

I also trimmed up my rosemary plant today. It was a Christmas gift, and it's been growing nicely in a pot in my windowsill. I'm hoping the trimming will encourage new growth, but the pot might simply be restricting the roots too much (it will obviously never get as big as it could outside in the ground as long as it stays in the pot). I might have to transplant it soon.

Artichokes were getting out of hand at the farm, and nobody was eating them. I decided to make an artichoke pesto. I had over 20 artichokes, but most of them were small. They were starting to open up, and once they bloom they're not much good for eating. I boiled the artichokes for 40 minutes in two batches and then put the artichoke hearts in a blender with the rosemary I'd trimmed off, about 10 cloves of garlic, some lemon juice, a bit of sea salt, a good helping of of olive oil, and almonds (the only nuts I had on hand). It smells and tastes great (the bit I sampled at least). I had a great artichoke pesto with sun-dried tomatoes at Veganopolis, in Portland... and I really wish I had sun-dried tomatoes for mine. It's still good though, and I'm looking forward to having some on pasta or a sandwhich/wrap. Tonight's dinner was artichoke petals, and more than I knew what to do with.

I think I mentioned that I was going to be doing (or, at least see about doing) some gardening out at my grandfather's house. I used Google Earth to estimate that the gardening area is between 7 and 8,000 sq. ft. The sprinkler I'm planning on getting has a range of just under 4,000 sq. ft. at the maximum PSI. And oscillating sprinklers have the best range, though at the expense of watering efficiency. The biggest problems with oscillating sprinklers is that the water can be carried away by the wind because it's being spraying higher in the air than with other types of sprinklers, and for the same reason, more of it is likely to be evaporated. Watering early in the morning should help me alleviate both of these problems.

As best as I can tell, the 4,000 sq. ft. that this sprinkler will cover is already larger than the area that my grandfather used to plant in, so it sounds like a good start to me. And, I won't be out at my grandfather's house daily, so I need something that will cover a large area without needing to be moved around (or without the need to purchase more than one). With an automatic timer I can set the sprinkler to run every morning, whether I'm there or not. That way I know my plants are getting the water they need. Outside of this 4,000 sq. ft. area I'll plant drought resistant plants, or plants with lower watering requirements... probably perennials like fruit trees (although, fruit trees will require more water during the first year or two as they get established).

This is all theoretical of course, especially since I don't really have a way to get to my grandfather's without catching a ride. He's way out in the country, I don't drive, and I'm currently bike-less. But these are only minor obstacles. I should have a clover crop sown in August, and I'll till it in in the spring and get started on planting a real garden.

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