Today I took the rather reckless step of attempting to make jam while caring for a toddler and an infant. Naturally the crucial, timing-required steps occurred right around the start of that very tenuous event known as the baby’s nap time. Thankfully the hubster not only works 100 feet away, but is also a very good sport and quite understanding of my current difficulty in putting together a cohesive thought, let alone a good plan.
In truth, what with the pregnancy and ensuing baby I didn’t really contribute much to the making of this jam.
I selected and purchased the seeds for the Gold Medal tomatoes at our local Seedy Sunday this spring.
My mother sowed them and supplied me with the small plants.
I planted them in soil tilled by my step-father, and prepared by the hubby, who also did the majority of the weeding all summer, as well as the watering.
My mother picked the ripe tomatoes.
I did have the idea to make the jam, found a recipe and assembled all the required ingredients and supplies.
I cut up the tomatoes and plopped them in the pot over heat with the sugar and lemon juice, but after that the whole mess got turned over to the man, who finished cooking the jam, jarred and processed it.
It was a busy morning, but it ended well, with five pints of applesauce (apples from my mom’s Lodi tree), five pints of pickled green beans (from my garden, improvised recipe, have no idea if they’ll taste any good), one pint of garlic dill pickle spears (garden cukes, unfortunately failed to seal so they’ll be early eaters from the fridge) and a half-pint of pickled jalapeños.
Whew. It was a bit of a learning experience, but I think I did pretty well for my first water-bath canning run. Now I have a bunch of jars of stewed and pickled sunshine, waiting for the shorter days when I can pull them out and think of how clever I was.
Also loving the rampant rudbeckia and zealous zinnias, seen in the corner.
Because the beans, man, they are producing like it’s the end of days. And I, well I just don’t quite know how I’m going to keep up…
Just now, while the munchkin is napping, I thought “I should probably go pick a few beans” because I haven’t picked the bush beans since the day before yesterday, and at that time I started to notice a few wee ones on the Purple Rattlesnake pole beans. It took about five minutes to fill a 4L basket. I glanced at the lone broccoli plant and saw the green bunches leaning towards blooms so snipped off the little florets for tonight’s dinner. And of course a few Swiss Chard leaves from the thriving 8′ row for my lunch. The cukes I’ve been keeping up with and seem to be between blasts anyways, so I just got the one little mutant that was loitering on the bush, but I did spot 4 or 5 more that are at least double the size they were yesterday and will surely need to be culled tomorrow. The four golden cherry tomatoes didn’t make it back to the house for the photo op. Not sure why. I know I picked them, nestled them in my palm… oh yeah, because they are like CANDY. Mmmm, sweet sweet vegetable (I know, fruit, but it’s not as impressive sounding) candy.
Now the fun part comes; processing the beans. Fortunately freezing beans is pretty quick and easy, the most time-consuming part is trimming them. It’s just that between having to test a website migration, do laundry, research chicken-keeping and, oh yeah, care for a toddler, my free moments are few and fleeting.
But when I think of January, with snow feet deep all around and the days supposedly getting longer but it’s hard to tell, when I’ll be going bonkers because it takes 10 minutes to put on enough clothes to take out the compost, I know I’ll be so glad I scurried now so that I can open the freezer, dump a bag into a steamer and taste the sunshine of August again.
Husband takes toddler on a run to the store, giving me a 45 minute “break”.
Multiple choice question:
a) sit back with a glass of wine and that clever book I’ve been wanting to read
b) take a nice relaxing bath
c) call a friend I haven’t seen or talked to for too long for an interruption-free chat
d) plant a shrub, clean the bathroom sink, and write a blog post.
I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that one…
First it was rain, making puddles in the future garden, motivating me to stay inside and unpack after the move.
Then it cleared up and just as I was getting caught up on the laundry (it turns out I really enjoy hanging laundry outside – it’s all peaceful and zen and sh*t), the black flies arrived.
Oh the black flies, the little black flies…
Thankfully they don’t last long here, but just as they moved onto their next stage of existence, the rain. The rain came back. And so here we are with the puddles and the grey and the going stir crazy indoors waiting to get out and get the garden established.
So to the clover. We’ve got clover in the “lawn” (hah!), and if there’s one thing this kind of weather does it’s make me look at the little things. So today I bring you clover. Well, just the odd clover. We all know what regular clover looks like, right? Green, three leaves, sometimes with patterns, sometimes plain. Google it if you’re not sure.
Instead I present to you the oddities:
I know, the Nibbled Clover isn’t really different clover, but I do find it entertaining that all the leaves on one plant will be nibbled around the edges while the one next door is left entirely unmolested.
And in case you were wondering, yes, it is difficult to get good sharp photos in mediocre light with a kicking, 20-something-pound toddler strapped to one’s back.
I went down to the garden today, thinking I could harvest a few veggies.
You know. A handful of green beans, a cucumber or two.
This is what I came home with:
The beans are mostly Rattlesnake pole, with pretty purple streaks on the pods.
They have purple flowers and are planted together with Scarlet Runners, which makes for a very pretty tripod. Which you could see if I’d had the foresight to bring my camera with me. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
As you can see, that’s substantially more than a handful. And that’s five cucumbers (counting the curly one), with several slightly smaller ones left on the plants. And some portulaca, and a little baby carrot, and the sage is about 1/5th of the plant.
This garden thing, it doesn’t actually require all that much time or effort, in the grand scheme of things, but having a 14.3 pound baby strapped to one’s front has quite an impact on one’s ability to plant, water, weed etc.
Still… we’ve been managing.
We’ve got bush cucumbers;
and carrots (that’s the sage planted last year in the background, doing very well indeed)
and my favourite – peas!
There are also pole beans and garlic and asian greens; photos to come.
6-05-2010|Comments Off on The garden, she’s a-growing!
Managed a few minutes today to pop some carrot seeds into the ground at the Community Garden. The peas I planted about a month ago are on their way, and last years garlic is satisfyingly tall and green, as is the sage.
Like so (unfortunately my real camera is suffering some kind of lens malfunction so we’ll have to settle for crappy cell phone pictures until the batteries for the backup camera are charged):
I was accompanied by Himself (you can see his snazzy orange stroller in the corner of the above picture), and he managed to refrain from wailing just long enough for a quick portrait of sorts.
I’ve also been working on another quilt. This is more of a “salvage an old comforter and cover the nasty old sofa” quilt than anything else. It’s extremely basic, with squares of various stash fabrics separated by strips of a duvet cover that generously sacrificed its previous identity for the project. The central panel is put together (thanks to the OH looking after His Royal Poopiness for a good chunk of Mother’s Day – hurrah!), and while it’s nothing special, I’m confident it will be more attractive than both the floral comforter I’ll be stuffing it with and the aforementioned nasty old sofa.
(You may notice, if these are the sorts of things that you notice, that I managed to piece it such that no fabrics repeat in a given row or column. Considering the severe case of new-mommy-brain I’m sporting these days, I thought that was quite an accomplishment, though it did require a modest amount of taking-apart and re-assembling to pull it off.)
That is all.
5-18-2010|Comments Off on A-Gardening We Go, and some Quilt-making too.
I cleaned up the community garden plot on the weekend, so now it looks like this:
That’s a little patch of garlic at the end under the straw. It should sprout up in the spring and deliver one head for each of 8 buried cloves next August or so. And just so I don’t get impatient, I should even get scapes in June to satisfy the fresh garlic need.
That little bit of remaining green at the other end is the sage, which should die down and rest over the winter, but come back as a nice little bush next year.
I’ve been making some headway on the knitting front, but this is the only picture I have so far:
Being a gift, I won’t go into details yet, but it’s pretty fun knitting and nearly done now.
I’ve been spending the rest of my time finding maternity clothes at thrift stores and trying to wrap my head around the inevitability of the whole deal. But apparently I’m glowing, so I suppose it’s all OK.