WHAT IS GROWING IN OUR GARDEN WHAT WE ARE ADDING TO STORAGE
The start of fall vining crops: Canned Tomatoes, Pickles, Peaches and Jellies
Watermelon and Pumpkin Charcoal and School/Office
Tomatoes, Peppers and summer squash Freeze Dried Corn and Green Beans
June brought some torrential rain and took it’s toll on the greenhouse (we call it the basement because we go down steps to go into it) and fish pond. The plastic sheeting was torn so badly that we could not patch it anymore. This month, we are having a more permanent roof built on the structure using corrugated clear plastic sheets. It is probably just as well since we are well into hurricane season now.
I continue to learn more about aquaponics and can call myself proficient in growing lettuce. It is a nice treat since lettuce growing this time of year, out in the garden, has not been successful in the past. I am starting watermelon, pumpkin and winter squash seeds and getting those plants into the garden this month. The chickens have done the work of weeding the garden and I have only a single cucumber plant hanging on, since it’s leaves were too high for the chickens to get to. It grows on the side of the lenai vertical. A new dressing of rabbit manure and we will be on the way to the vine trailing plants of fall.
We have a new process of raising the rabbits. At birth, the babies are in one of the nesting box cages with their mom. When they reach 2 months old, we take mom out of their cage so as not to have them endure weaning and a new home at the same time. She gets 2 weeks off before her date with Buck. After a few days the 2 month-olds are taken with other juvenile bunnies to what we call the play pen. It is a large enclosure that has fencing under and around it with a little “barn”. I don’t know what this rubbermade thing was made for, but it makes a perfect enclosure for the bunnies at night. We drilled more holes in it to insure they were airy and comfortable for their sleep. The pen has a good amount of hay and dried leaves for them to tunnel in, and to keep them dry and clean. When those rabbits are 3 to 5 lbs, we pick out females that will be mothers later on and the rest are processed. Oh the leaves come from friends who would leave them for the garbage man but have been talked into bringing them to us in black trash bags. They don’t know the golden treasure those bags really are.
We feel good about letting the rabbits have a more natural existence. They are our main source of meat. We have been learning how to make a delicious sausage from the ground meat and have begun trying to substitute it for beef in recipes. I put the trimmings and bones in the crockpot and cook it for quite a while until the bones are easy to crush, and then it is made into homemade feed for the dogs.
When the new chicks came, I let them live in the attached green house, which is a bit too warm in the summer to utilize for plants. We had a hen named Isis who had gone broody just a month before they arrived so we placed her out with the 24 chicks. You have never seen a happier chicken and oh so protective. She took on one of the schnauzers that got too close to her babies and twice now, a hawk has swooped down to grab one and she chased it away.
I begin canning season in July. Most of that will be done in the mountain house in North Carolina. This is the month for making pickles, canning tomatoes, peaches, and peach and grape jelly. With most of the gardening behind me in Florida, we can begin our hobby of visiting the Asheville Farmer’s Market and buying bushels of good food. While I am canning foods, husband Fairman is drying tomatoes, green pepper rings and peaches in the dehydrator. Here is one of our favorite ways to cook with dried tomatoes:
Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch size pieces and dredge in flour. Fry in a little oil until golden and then take away oil but place cooked chicken back in pan. Add a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, and lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and dried tomatoes to suit your taste. This is delicious served over spaghetti. Everything can be part of your food stores except for the fresh chicken. I serve this without the chicken for our vegetarian friends. Have a great Fourth of July! (Oh and the goldfish problem? Did you know that chickens just love gold fish? Who would have guessed?)