Harvesting And Storing Yellow Onion

This is the first year I am growing yellow onion in my garden. Last week was time to harvest and store my yellow onion.

 

harvesting-and-storing-onions-01In Spring of 2013, I planted onion seeds in my garden. They didn’t grow so well, and at the end of the season I harvested little, baby onions. Basically, I had onion sets in my hands. I could have added them to a stew of some sort and used them as shallots but instead I decided to save them for this year’s Spring. At the beginning of April, I planted my sets, and last week harvested a bunch of beautiful onions.

I do very much want to figure out how to grow onions from seeds, since the seeds are much cheaper than sets, so I researched some more and discovered that some growers plant onion seeds in September (to remind you, I am in NC, zone 7b). The seeds germinate and grow few leaves, then stop growing in the Winter but don’t die. In the Spring when the temperatures start to warm up the onions start growing again. I think I’ll try this in the Fall. When do you plant your onions? From seeds or sets?

 

harvesting-and-storing-onions-02Last week was time to harvest the onions. It is very easy to figure out when to harvest onions….

 

harvesting-and-storing-onions-03As you can see, the tops fall to the ground….

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Simple Summer Squash Cups Recipe

I wasn’t sure how to call this recipe… Do you know those basic recipes you know by heart and can throw together at the last minute with almost anything you have in the fridge? This is one of them. It is a simple batter that you can add whatever veggie you want to. In the past, I used zucchini, corn, broccoli… This time I made it with yellow Summer squash since I have so many of those in my garden. I didn’t know if to call it Summer squash bake, Summer squash muffins, Summer squash souffle, or Summer squash quiche. I guess it’s somewhere in between so I called it Summer squash cups.

 

simple-summer-squash-cups-26Simple Summer Squash Cups…

 

simple-summer-squash-cups-06

simple-summer-squash-cups-07Dice one half of a yellow onion.

 

simple-summer-squash-cups-08Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add the onions to the pan and fry until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

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How to Make Corn Silk Tea, And Why You Should Drink It

Summer is in full swing, and sweet corn is popping everywhere here in the South. I know we are going to eat a lot of it, and just like past years, I am planning to keep the silk so I can make corn silk tea. I think you should do it too.

 

corn-silk-tea-16Here Is why…

Corn silk is high in potassium, therefore, has a diuretic effect on the urinary system. In other words, it promotes the production of urine. In other words, it makes you pee, a lot.

Corn silk will also help prevent kidney stones, and is useful in other urinary disorders like nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys), cystitis (urinary tract infection), and prostatitis (swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland).

Corn silk is also known to reduce water retention in the body, and may be beneficial in treating high-blood pressure and gouty arthritis (uric acid builds in the blood and causes inflammation in the joints).

Lastly, it may also be useful in eliminating bed-wetting in children.

So, all in all, it is very healthy.

 

How To Make Corn Silk Tea….

corn-silk-tea-02First, I remove the brown, dry silk from the top of the corn. I prefer not to use it because it often looks dirty to me, so it goes to the compost.

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Cleaning and Storing Dry Garlic

Cleaning and storing dry garlic is super easy. Many of you guys liked my previous garlic post: Harvesting and Curing Garlic so I thought I’ll show you the final step of cleaning and storing the garlic harvest.

 

cleaning-storing-dry-garlicTo remind you, I planted my garlic cloves last Fall. For us here in the South, November is the time to plant garlic. It doesn’t matter how cold the Winter is where you live, you should plant your garlic in the Fall, about two weeks before the first frost. Don’t worry about the snow, plant the cloves 1 inch deep, 4 inches apart and cover with mulch (dry Fall leaves are great and free). When Spring comes, and the temperatures start to rise, your garlic will start coming up. You’ll know when it is ready for harvest when the leaves start to brown.

 

cleaning-storing-dry-garlic-01Here is my garlic after three weeks or curing (you can read more about growing, harvesting, and curing garlic here ). You can see that the leaves and stems are completely dry. You can leave the garlic like that if you like, and just hang it in your house somewhere, then cut one head and use the cloves. Or you can clean it up a bit.

 

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Building Compost Piles From Hay Bales

Hay-bales-compost piles-17

Hay is magical. You can climb and play on it, you can feed it to animals, you can use it for bedding, you can compost it, you can mulch with it, you can build houses with it!

I am in love with hay. It smells like childhood and country. Like cows and horses and a sunny day.

When I first set out to start our own organic vegetables farm, I knew I will be using hay. One way or another, there must be hay on my farm.

I also knew I will need compost. Lots of it.

I decided to build my compost piles from hay bales (something I earned from Elliot Coleman). The hay allows for air flow, it is fast and easy to build with and eventually it will decompose and become part of the compost pile.

I didn’t want to pay $6 a bale so three month ago I posted an ad on Craigslist saying I need bad hay; moldy, wet, old, whatever…. The condition of the hay didn’t really matter since I am not going to feed it to animals. I knew someone has to have bad hay laying somewhere.

But no one responded to my ad. I was busy working on the RV and the other farm equipment we bought so I didn’t even reposted the ad.

Then, last week a lady called me saying she has many bales of hay she has to get rid of. The trailer they were stored in leaked and some of them got moldy. She didn’t want to take a chance feeding it to her animals so she decided to get rid of it all, clean the trailer and get new hay.

I was excited as a 4 years old girl on her Frozen theme birthday party.

First, I got to know another one of my farmer neighbors. Karen and I hit it off within second, talking cheese, goats, corn, horses and so on. We were on the phone for 45 minuets! We will get to visit her farm and fish her brain for important information.

Second, we get to take the kids to play on hay bales.

Third, we can start making compost and with the amount of bales she said she had we can keep some bales aside for mulch.

Forth, We get to spend a day in the country.

 

Hay-bales-compost piles-01So, we woke up early Sunday morning ready for a day of hard work. The girls were in heaven the minute they stepped out of the car. They were running around between the goats, the horses, the lama, and the dogs.

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How to Cut a Watermelon (The Easy Way)

how-to-cut-a-watermelon-04What’s 4th of July without a picnic? What’s a Summer picnic without a watermelon?

Did you know watermelon is both a vegetable and a fruit? It is part of the cucumber and squash family.

Watermelon contains 92% water, lots of vitamins A and C and is a good source of potassium. It contains no fat or cholesterol.

There are more than 1200 verities of watermelons grown world wide; wherever they are, bees must pollinate the flowers of the plant in order for a watermelon to grow.

Did you know every part of the watermelon is edible? Even the rind is. I never tried it (I give the rind to the chickens), but I found this recipe for pickled watermelon rind. Sounds interesting.

So you see… we love watermelon around here.

And this is how I cut it…

how-to-cut-a-watermelon-01Start by placing the watermelon on a cutting board and cut one end off.

 

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Fixing An Old RV For The Farm- Phase 1

Aluma-Light-Restoration-14Back in August 2013 we bought 20 acres in the country. There is nothing on the property except of 2 streams, overgrown brush, and red, hard clay.

Lately we decided that even though we can’t afford to move there yet we are going to start farm a few acres.

After driving back and forth a few times (the land is almost an hour from our home) it became clear that we need a place for us to stay. It was too hard to get stuff done because an hour after we got there the kids got tired or board, it got too close to lunch time and then their nap time and we still had an hour drive back home. Many times it was either too cold or too hot for them to spend hours outdoors.

We couldn’t afford much and we have no time at the moment to build something ourselves.

One day my husband came back home from work and told me one of our clients, a car dealer (we have a locksmith business) bought himself a 1988 Aluma-Light Holiday Rambler 27′ Rv a while ago meaning to fix it and use it for traveling. He never got around to fixing it and the old RV was taking up valuable space in his small car lot so he decided to sell it. I asked my husband how much and he said $1500 (no, I didn’t miss a 0).

We could afford $1500. So we went to see it and drive it. Mechanically it seemed fine, the layout and the size were exactly what we need, the dealer said the roof was leaking but they fixed it along with few other things. We knew it will need some work but the price was right so we bought it. After tag and dealer fees we drove out of the lot $1700 short.

We parked it in the driveway and meant to start working on it that weekend.

Let me show you around… 

Aluma-Light-Restoration-27Here is the kitchen. It is to the left of the entrance door.

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How to Clean After Peas in The Garden – What You Need To Know

cleaning-after-peas-2Have you heard of nitrogen fixation?

Nitrogen fixation is a process by which nitrogen (N2) in the atmosphere is converted into ammonium (NH4+). Atmospheric nitrogen or molecular nitrogen (N2) is relatively inert: it does not easily react with other chemicals to form new compounds. The fixation process frees up the nitrogen atoms from their diatomic form (N2) to be used in other ways.

Nitrogen fixation, natural and synthetic, is essential for all forms of life because nitrogen is required to biosynthesize basic building blocks of plants, animals and other life forms, e.g., nucleotides for DNA and RNA andamino acids for proteins. Therefore nitrogen fixation is essential for agriculture and the manufacture of fertilizer. (From Wikipedia).

Peas are a part of the Legume family of plants. This family’s most common plants include peas, beans, peanuts, lentils, alfalfa, and soybeans.

Those plants have a special ability to take nitrogen from the air and store it within nodules in their root system. The nitrogen helps the plant grow and compete with other plants in the garden and when the plant dies the fixed nitrogen is released to the soil and becomes available to other plants.

It is all part of the wonderful cycle of nature!

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The Garden in June

Here is a little photo tour of my garden as it is in the middle of June….

I have to confess that not only there isn’t much there this year since my focus in on the land, whatever is growing in my garden is kind of in a big mess. I didn’t do much organizing this year and didn’t write anything down. I had many old seeds that I felt bad to throw away so I sprinkled them all in the garden.

Anyway, it is what it is…

 

garden-in-june-04Some green onions.

 

2014 06 21_1089 copy015Whatever is left of the garlic after I harvested some of it.

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How to (And Not to) Make Feta At Home (from store-bought milk)

how-to-make-feta-at-home-from-store-bought-milk-1

Feta to an Israeli is like Allstate to Dennies Haysbert, like Bella is to Edward, like ants are to a picnic, like butter is to Paula Deen. You get the picture?

Imagine my horror when I first stepped into an American grocery store in search of my beloved Feta and spotted a tiny block of it in the special cheese refrigerator with a price tag of almost $7! I eat this block in one Greek salad.

So I did without it for a while and when I could go no longer without my Feta fix I spent hundreds to buy it regularly from the grocery store.

One day I decided enough was enough. I don’t have goats or cows but surely there was a way to make feta cheaply at home from store bought milk. And so I was on a mission.

a-cheesemakers-journeyI always wanted to make my own cheese. I decided Feta will be a good cheese to start with. I had to spend some money on buying the right equipment and other cheese making supplies before I tried making it. You can read about my equipment here.

I’ve been making Feta for a while now. I certainly learned some things the hard way but it’s really not that difficult, just a long process. The original recipe I used is from Mary Jane Toth book A Cheesemaker’s Journey. I changed it a bit but for the most part it is still very much the same. It is a great book with lots of great recipes.

 

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