Here’s What We’re Up To On The Homestead…
BELL PEPPERS RIPENING
It takes forever for bell peppers to turn red in our growing zone but it’s rewarding when it finally happens. We’ll harvest these all at once and then wash, dice, and store them in freezer bags for cooking during the year. Pretty nice to toss garden peppers into your favorite fajita skillet. What’s ready to harvest on your homestead?
YUKON GOLD POTATOES
Potatoes are a lot of fun to harvest – you never know how many will be under each plant. These Yukon Golds are supposedly a “mid-season” crop but we just watch the plants for a cue on when to harvest. Once the potato plants die back (turn brown and fall over), we try to harvest within about two weeks. Once cured, we will store them in Burlap lined crates and layer them with shredded paper or peat moss. So thankful for a good harvest!
CUTTING DOWN BRUSH
Sometimes you can’t beat the convenience of renting a tool to get a job done. While I’d like to own everything I need, that’s just not possible. Rather than manually cut down brush with a chainsaw, I opted to free up my afternoon by renting this Billy Goat brush cutter and the time saved was well worth the rental fee. Sometimes you gotta go for convenience and give yourself a homestead break.
FIRST RIPE TOMATOES
In our growing zone, it’s always encouraging to see tomatoes ripening before August. Due to taller plants this year as well as windy storms, we’ve had to add extra cages to reinforce our tomato plants. This has the Misses thinking about trying some square cages next year instead of the traditional round ones. Perhaps the lack of tapered bottoms would offer more sturdy support.
The Japanese beetles are here and they like our potato plants, peppers, and fruit trees. These pests chew a lot of holes in leaves and will kill plants if not stopped. Some say to drop them in a bucket of soapy water to drown them but we prefer a different method. Wearing gloves, we hand pick them off, squish them, and toss on the ground. We don’t bother disposing of them elsewhere because we read that the scent of dead beetles repels more live ones. For this reason, if you are using traps like these, you need to empty the bags regularly or you may have problems luring more. We may try using these traps in the future but for now, we’ve noticed a reduction in beetles since we switched from the soapy water method. How do you deal with garden pests?
JUICING GARDEN PRODUCE
Right now, our lettuce is overgrown and our beets need thinning, so we’re putting a lot of excess produce in our centrifugal juicer. We can’t currently recommend the model we have because although it is very fast, the strainer basket seems to be clogging. We’re not sure if we would go with a masticating juicer like the Champion or the Omega in the future. Any suggestions?
Summer storms did a number on our crops (like potatoes, peppers, & corn) but by manually propping them back up, and in some cases, using garden stakes, we managed to salvage everything. Since our herb bed is getting out of control, we fired up the Excalibur and started dehydrating herbs for storage. How are your gardens going?
EINKORN SOURDOUGH BAGELS
REUSABLE FREEZER BAGS
We’ve been using these reusable freezer bags for a couple of months now and can say we’re pretty satisfied with them. When we want to thaw meals fast, we don’t like the idea of submerging regular plastic food bags in hot water, as chemicals could leach into the food. According to the manufacturer, these food grade silicone bags can withstand temps of 480 degrees (F) and are free of BPA, BPS, BPF, PVC, phthalates, coatings & fillers. Plus, the bags in this four-pack can really fit a lot. If you’re in the market for an alternative to disposable bags, these are a great option.
The Misses is all about the Einkorn flour right now, and here is another creation: easy homemade crackers made with einkorn flour, olive oil, water, and sea salt. Tasty and so much better for you than store-bought. Get the recipe here.
This is an update on the dandelion “jelly” (see below). Based on the amount of pectin we used (1 tbspn per cup of dandelion tea), the consistency was more like honey or a thick syrup, which we actually like. It can be drizzled over biscuits or even pancakes. The flavor is quite good, a little bit like honey. It was a fun experiment for the Misses.
The month of May means dandelions, and since we don’t spray our lawn, we’re trying to harvest them for use. There is a lot of info out there about eating and using dandelions so we’ve been adding some greens to salads, making salve, and this year, trying dandelion jelly. First step is harvesting the petals and making them into a tea that seeps overnight. After straining, we will add fruit pectin, lemon juice, and sugar to the heated tea and use our pressure canner as a water bath canner to process in pint jars (read your manual to make sure yours doubles as water bath canner). Supposedly, the dandelion jelly will taste like honey…we’ll see.
I (Mother of the Homestead) received this great cookbook from my friend at Point Drive Music. This book contains recipes and tips for using Einkorn Wheat; the only ancient and nutritious grain that has not been hybridized. Many people with gluten sensitivities can eat Einkorn wheat with no ill effects. (You can read more about it here). So far, I’ve made a couple of dishes and they turned out great. I highly recommend it.
DIY GLASS CLEANER RECIPE
We shared this glass cleaner recipe on Instagram a while back and it’s still what we use. We don’t buy cornstarch anymore so we substituted arrowroot powder, and couldn’t tell the difference. The starch is supposed to reduce streaks. We use these microfiber cleaning cloths from Amazon that we bought 2 years ago. They’ve held up well and the assorted colors help us keep our cloths separate for different jobs. Hey, cleaning is not fun but it helps to have the right tools.
DIY GLASS CLEANER:
-1/4 Cup White Vinegar
-1/4 Cup Rubbing Alchohol
-1 Tbsp Cornstarch
-2 Cups Water
*Shake Before Using