Posted August 6, 2014 By Ruth

Back in the spring I started looking at compost bins.  We’d not done proper composting here, for a variety of reasons, alot of which boiled down to having a ton of things to do.

With almost two acres of property, almost all of it grass (or well, grass, clover, and a variety of green weeds that mow just like grass), on a property were I not only don’t have to water the grass to keep it green, we have to mow it twice a week at least over the leach fields to keep it from jumping to knee high.  If we used the bagger attachment for the riding lawnmower we could fill up one of the little compost bins in one mowing.

But the big compost bins are way to expensive for what they are. 

So I started looking at building a bin.

And then after some discussion we decided to skip using a bin at all.  I doubt anything other than steel would keep out our wildlife if it really decided it wanted into the bin anyway. 

So now I have a compost pile down by the southern back line.  I know the rabbits (or something) have  stolen some of the vegi greens and trimmings out of it at least a few times, but thats ok.  They don’t seem to be inclined to dig through the whole pile, which is what I really cared about.  I gotta say its composting nicely.  Can’t wait to have good dirt for next spring’s garden additions!

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Home-made tomato sauce, try 2

Posted August 5, 2014 By Ruth

1lb 2.25 ounces of tomatoes

half the olive oil

2 cloves of garlic (Music, remember, small cloves this year)

twice as much salt

same pepper

simmer longer to reduce further

somehow still got 3 full half pint jars


Edit: forgot the oregano *sigh*

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As I needed proof….

Posted August 5, 2014 By Ruth

….that the outdoor temps affect my garden…..

Several days with highs barely hitting 70 (and sometimes not hitting it), lows in the low 50′s, and I get barely one or two ripe tomatoes a day.

Two days with highs in the 80′s, lows in the mid-60′s, and on the third day I pick this:


Temps are supposed to hold through today, then drop again for at least two days, then warm up again.  So we’ll see what happens…..

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If you shop at Market Basket….

Posted August 3, 2014 By Ruth

….Get ready for higher prices and horrid customer service.

Apparently the family decided they weren’t rich enough, and so they fired the CEO who’d produced a successful business with employees who WANTED to stay long term, and his replacement has already made it clear that his goal is to wring as much money out of the company as possible.  I can’t think of a single company I’ve worked for (retail and non-retail) where I’d have voluntarily gone on off the job in order to protest the removal of my CEO.  If it was just a few employees I’d shrug it off, but the articles make it sound like its HUGE portions of the company.  And he was not only encouraging employee loyalty he was doing it while keeping product prices low AND bringing in a profit.  The company has already fired some workers, who are now suing, and the AG is keeping a close eye on things.  

Previously I’d have said that Market Basket was an AWESOME example of how to treat your employees while still having a successful company, but now it looks like its a perfect example of how to run a company into the ground……

There are reports that the fired CEO is attempting to buy out the share owned by his brother, the new CEO, we shall see what happens!

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Heat Blankets for the garden?

Posted July 30, 2014 By Ruth

I’m starting to consider needing to run some of my Christmas lights out to the garden to run 24/7……

We had a cool to cold spring.  After an extremely cold winter that wasn’t unexpected though it did bad things to my pumpkin plants.

I wasn’t originally overly worried though.  Other than the pumpkins nothing else seemed to be having trouble with the chilly start to the season.

But now its the end of July, and although we’ve certainly had some hot days where we’re running the central air, we’ve also had ALOT of days where the temps barely hit 70 for the high, and lows are dropping not only into the 50′s, but even the 40′s in places not to far from me.

Tomatoes are slowly ripening, but the plants have mostly stopped growing.

Peppers seem to be ripening abnormally slowly.  There’s a HUGE crop of Jalapenoes out there, and not one of them has a tinge of red yet.

We’re certainly not getting the crop of zucchini I’d expected.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’d hoped to have enough to shred and freeze to use all winter…..

I’ve got the hooped plastic frost protectors, but I’m worried that’d be overkill during the days, even the less warm ones.

I’m seriously considering digging back out the christmas lights and running them down the rows….

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Home-made tomato sauce, first try

Posted July 29, 2014 By Ruth

Ok, this is mostly for my reference.

Uncooked untrimmed, 1lb 3.5ounces of tomatoes (Black Plum).

Cut out stem ends and weird spots.

Pureed in food processor, skin and seeds on, raw.

Simmered on stove w/glug of olive oil (didn’t measure, gonna regret that), a clove of garlic (Music), a little salt, pepper and oregano.

Pureed again in food processor.

Returned to stove to simmer to a slightly thicker consistency.

 Not quite filled 3 1/2 pint jars, which is fine, I planned to freeze this batch rather than can it.

Haven’t tasted it yet, and I think I got a bit to much olive oil in it.  But it smells heavenly.  We’ll be doing home-made pizza tomorrow using it!

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Mustard update

Posted July 27, 2014 By Ruth

Original post here.

We’re still eating this mustard, much better than anything in the store.  The only issue is that I’m not always able to make up a new batch RIGHT as the last one goes off.  And sometimes when I can, we don’t need it right away.  We’re not huge mustard eaters, just like to have it in the house for occasional use.

So I did some poking around and discovered that the Ball Book of Canning discusses canning mustard.  A look at their recipe, and mine has as much or more vinegar. 

So last fall I canned up several 1/4 pint jars of mustard.  It worked perfectly except that I didn’t boil it down to the right consistency.  Not the end of the world, and easy enough to fix once you open it, but still annoying. 

So today I jarred up another batch, and remembered to be sure to boil it down far enough.  For those of you thinking about doing this yourself, multiplying the original recipe by 2, boiled down to the right consistency (which I did on the stove as its easier to keep an eye on), makes exactly 6 1/4pint jars.

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Chocolate ice cream

Posted July 22, 2014 By Ruth

So a couple days ago I posted about an easy home-made ice cream.

Yesterday I wanted chocolate ice cream.

And hey, what do you know, over the weekend I had bought a quart of Creamline Chocolate Milk as a treat for Husband.

I used the chocolate milk instead of cream, but still added the sugar and vanilla.

O.M.G. that is decadent chocolate ice cream.

When Husband got home from work I made him some to try.

Next weekend I have to buy some Popsicle molds and a gallon of Creamline chocolate milk, we both agreed that it would make the most decadent fudgicle Popsicle…..

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Posted July 22, 2014 By Ruth

When I first planted watermelons I was looking up how to tell when they’re ready to be picked.  The answer across the board was “when the tendril where the fruit stalk meets the vine dies back”.  I figured that was easy enough.

Enter exhibit one:


There are TWO tendrils on the vine right at that connection!

And one died back and one didn’t.

So I went back and re-read the info on ripe watermelons.

The skin had gone dull: check

The thump test produced a dull “thud”: check

The underside turned yellow: check

So I dithered…..

This morning I picked it.

Should have gone by the other tendril, the flesh has only the barest tint of pink, and since these are the Sugar Baby’s it should be nice and red.

Oh well.  There’s another one on the vines thats even bigger, that has only one tendril, and a couple more a bit smaller, so we’re not totally screwed.  But I’d like to get this right before I have to pick the white watermelons, since they won’t even have red flesh to cue me in!

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Posted July 21, 2014 By Ruth

Turns out I’m one of those rare people who have a delayed reaction to yellow jacket stings.  It still wasn’t a severe reaction, but it was highly disconcerting when suddenly, a full SEVEN days after the original sting, my arm swelled up and started itching like mad……

I’ve now lost two cucumber plants.  I’m blaming the cucumber beetles, as the deterioration looks like bacterial wilt, something that they’re known to spread.  Neem oil/insecticidal soap/hand picking is just NOT CUTTING IT for controlling them and they’re all over the garden.  I’m considering putting down beneficial nematodes in the entire garden to control the larva, and considering an actual pesticide for the adults.  I don’t want to, but they are literally everywhere, and if this IS bacterial wilt I want to stop it NOW.  I’ll probly be putting down the nematodes regardless.

We’ve got a steady dribble of tomatoes, and for all that neither of us is a big fan of raw tomatoes we’re both eating these, they’re good.  Which is good, cause at this rate I’m not going to get enough at one time to actually make sauce with.

Cross your fingers, we’ve got at least two Sugar Baby watermelons ripening, and at least a couple more growing.  At least two white Watermelons (Cream of Saskatuwans) growing.  Three cantaloupes.  The fancy cantaloupe finally has female flowers on it.

Onions and carrots look good. 

Zucchini finally has babies growing. 

I’m actually getting sweet peppers this year!  I can’t wait for them to ripen! 

The jalapeno’s look awesome, going to be a bumper crop there.  Looks like most of the mystery peppers are Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, and they’re all producing madly.  Two look like they may be habanero’s, now to see if they’re whites or chocolates. 

I don’t think we’re going to get any pumpkins this year.  The plants are still less than a foot long.  I think the cold spring just did them in.  I’m on the hunt for a variety thats more cold tolerant.

Potato plants look good, I’ve not tried digging through the straw to check for actual potatoes though. 

One variety of lettuce has sprouted and is growing well, neither of the others appears to have even germinated.

Corn…..well, I’ll be happy if we even get a couple ears, that was a massive failure this year.

Blueberry plants didn’t produce any fruit this year, I didn’t even see a single blossom.  I’m blaming the extreme winter and cold spring.

Golden raspberry plant is producing well.  Boysenberry has produced a few berries, we’re waiting for them to ripen.  There are a couple berries on one of the blackberries.

Fruit trees….well, the one apple that didn’t produce last year (at all) has a good crop of fruit on it.  The rest of the apple trees have one or two apples, or nothing.  And there’s no pears at all.  Again, blaming the winter/spring for that one.  They all bloomed, and I didn’t think we got cold enough after budding to cause problems, but maybe we did.

My cell phone has developed a problem.  Its a Motorola Droid 2, so its not exactly new, but suddenly its developed a mind of its own and is randomly hitting options on the screen without any input from me.  This DID start after I dropped it (again) so I suspect a physical problem rather than a virus, especially since I’d not installed any new apps in the previous couple months.  It’ll be fine for a week or more, and then suddenly do things on its own.  Lotsa fun.

We took Arty to his first Barn Hunt practice last night.  I knew his prey drive was high, and he’s finally figured out how to use his nose, so I was hoping this would turn out to be something that I could take him too, and expose him to more things, that he’d enjoy.  And yup, he did very well.  There’s another practice in a few weeks, we’ll be taking both dogs to that one.  Though I don’t expect Apollo do well at it.  He’ll pass the instinct portion no problem, but for the actual runs the dog needs to go through a small tunnel, and I don’t expect to be able to convince Apollo that its worth his time to crawl through a tunnel.

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