Jan 14, 2009

Joyous Jelly Day!!

Finally, I get to make jelly from my own home grown, completely organic, fruit.
While this may not seem monumental to most, and I do agree that the sun would rise tomorrow with me never having made my own jelly. However, with my frugal nature, this is epic.

So the story actually begins back three or four years ago when I found a Black Raspberry stick for sale at a discount store...I cannot remember for the life of me what store so I wont dwell. This was to be a companion for my already fairly established Golden Raspberry. I don't think I paid more than five dollars for it, and since it literally was just a few sticks, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The first year I was just happy it lived. The second I pretty much forgot about it, and the third we got a handful of berries and I was completely happy with even that.
Then Spring 2008 rolled around...the vines kicked into high gear and went crazy sprawling this way and that, and to my surprise the Black Raspberries decided that they would be more than just pricker bushes, and would actually go forth and prosper. And prosper is exactly what they did. From around the last few days of June thru the first week or two of July, every other morning, I was able to pick two cereal bowls full of berries. One bowl was for eating and the other went directly into the freezer for when the Winter blahs hit. Of course several bowl-fulls went to the little(and not so little) kids in my life, and a pint or two was savored at my Mom's 4th of July lunch. Up until now the remainder has slumbered in the deep freeze waiting.....

Well time goes by. July faded into August, and on to September. Then before you know it,I was looking at November and December. The frosty weather brought about the perfect conditions for cooking up those lovely berries. However with the hustle of the Winter Holidays, I was unable to turn my lovely mix of delicate gold and deep black berries into the jelly that I longed for and they were destined to become.

Until today.

Today is the start of some of the coldest weather yet to visit my area. So what better way to heat up my home a bit than to boil up some jelly. And boy, did I boil. Now, you would not believe how heady an aroma comes form one little pot of bubbling berries. The aroma of warm raspberries alone is reason enough to cook up a pot of jelly. Unfortunately for me, I only had enough fruit to make one batch, but it looks so good it brings a smile to my face and a growl in my belly. I took pictures, but of course I didn't think of taking pictures until the jars were already filled and processing in the Water Bath. So hopefully this coming season will see as plentiful a harvest so I can photograph all of the steamy fragrant steps to jelly joy.

Here is a picture of the berries starting to ripen last Summer:

I was told that they look like Cap'n Crunch Berries

The leftover pulp, right before it hit the compost:

Some empty jars just waiting for their turn to be filled:

Everybody is in the Bath...Five more minutes and they can come out:

All lined up waiting to be enjoyed:

Jan 11, 2009

Green Thumb Sunday

I am counting the moments until Spring arrives again. There was once a time when I dreaded the prospect of a hot and humid July and August...now I look forward to those sultry months for the garden bounty that they bring. The mountains of tomatoes in every color shape and size imaginable...the crisp, cool cucumbers, the herbs of every flavor, crunchy-sweet or spicy-hot peppers in rainbow hues...oh ...garlic scapes curling toward the sun...I could go on and on.
Okay...I still dread the sticky-hot nights and the buzzy , bite-y mosquitoes....
But you know the veggies are divine.

For now I am in a garden limbo, pouring over my seeds and seed catalogs, suspended in a frozen world....Waiting.

Jan 5, 2009

Here's The Taro

It isn't the prettiest Taro in the World....but it is growing.For that matter it is growing in the middle of the Winter while the temperature outside hovers around freezing, and the snow we received New Years Eve continues to linger on the ground. So in my book it is the best little Taro planting ever!

Now...from what I understand ,Taro takes along time to grow.Once the leaves start to fully establish themselves , it should take another 4 months to grow a corm large enough to both be harvest-able for edible purposes and a huli or portion of the top of the corm,along with the crown, suitable to grow a new corm for the following season. I believe from huli to a corm of harvest size it could take up to 7months. Sooooo....I figure if I can just keep my little guy alive until the end of May the plant should actually be old enough, and large enough, to have a good sized corm ready before the end of the garden season in my area. Of course I know I started it too early, but I was totally excited to see it grow and I just had to have something in my plant/junk room to nurture. So I am crossing my fingers(You can cross yours for me too...it just might help)and with a little luck I will not kill it, and I will even get a little reward for my troubles.

Right now I have two corms planted. Both have finally sprouted. The bigger leaved of the two plants is the one most visible in the picture. That one sprouted about three weeks in advance of it's littler brother, but I have faith in them both. I know that they like moisture and some people who grow them in colder regions, immerse their pots into garbage cans of water to mimic their more natural growing conditions. However I have also read that growing them in average soil kept moist is another option.I don't have the room for the type of set-up a water garden would require, so it is average soil for me .

That all being said, this is my very first time growing Taro. That means, this information is just from what I have gathered during my limited research. So none of this is 100% written in stone, and there may be things I am not quite understanding, or may be overlooking.But I am learning....and I promise to post all that I learn about this beautiful leafy and totally tasty plant.... right up until I thinly slice and deep fry the harvest.

More Taro Tales to come :) .....