Welcome - come enjoy my Garden with me

My Garden although it may be small is my garden. I love working in the garden and showing or telling others about it. While you are here take a look around. There is a lot to see. Take a look at the other blogs I love to read. Leave a comment if you like. But most of all. Enjoy your time here, and come back soon.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rhubarb Part 4 - The taste test....the best part

Now for the best part of this whole evolution...The taste test. I placed lables on all the Jars so we know the date they were made. The Melbby part was because it was made by me (Melissa) and the Rhubarb was from the gardens of Melissa and Debby (my mom).

After hearing the small pop and air being sucked in here is what the Jam looks like now. It smelled wonderful and it was more solid than when first placed in the Jar.

We popped a few slices of bread in the toaster and then spread the Jam on... ...mmmmmmmm looks good.

Shannon trying the first bite of our first Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. She loved it and so did the rest of us. We brought 2 Jars to my Mom....had to as she helped supply the ingredients, and we even gave one to the neighbors. For my first attempt at making a Jam I am very very pleased with the results.

Rhubarb part 3 - Making the Jam

Step one....the ingredients. For me it was Strawberries, Rhubarb, 1/4 cup water and the Fruit Pectin. Once my Jars were to the boiling point I turned these guys on to start. The Rhubarb has been washed and cut. A few along with some strawberries sat in the fridge with a little sugar over night only cause I had to wait for the remaining Rhubarb...(I didn't have enough so my Mom gave me some of hers). Most recipies want crushed strawberries but as I found out while cooking the bigger slices of strawberry were the last to disapear. The strawberries if crushed would have been done way before the Rhubarb would.

Ahhhh Rhubarb stew....As you can see the strawberries are starting to disapear. This is good.

After they reached the boiling point and most of the strawberries were gone it was time to add the sugar. The recipie called for 5 1/2 cups but I thought that was way too much so I just did 3 and almost a 1/2. At this point you need to be constantly stiring. Once boiling again keep the boil hard for 1 min...this just means you want a good hot Jam.

The Jam is done cooking time to add to the Jars. Remove only one Jar at a time to make it easier....remember they are hot. Fill the jar up to the hight recomended....for me it was 1/4" from the top of the rim.

Next make sure that your rim is clean and has nothing on it and place a hot lid on top. Add the band and either set a side till all Jars are filled or place back into the pot of boiling Jars.

This step is interesting. Not all Jams or other canning items need this step. In fact I found some recipies that didn't need this step for this Jam. But regardless this is what I did. Once all the Jars were filled and lids and bands on they were all places back into the pot the Jars were cooked in and once again brought to a boil for 10 min.

After the 10 min was up it was time to remove the Jars and set aside to cool. It is hard to see in this picture but in the back row the Jar on the left in the center of the lid you should see a little bump but the one just to it's left doesn't. As the jars cool you should hear a small pop as the center bump is sucked in. Once the Jars are cooled to room temperature you should test this. If the lid depresses when you apply pressure it has not sealed yet but if it doesn't then you are good to go. They won't all seal at the same time....but it is kinda cool to hear them go. When you open one of the Jars that is sealed you may or may not hear a pop but at least you should hear air. After opened the lid center will depress...at this point it is good.

Rhubarb Part 2 - Tools and prep


So you desided that what you want to do with your freshly cut Rhubarb.....make a Jam. Well before you even harvest them it's best to have all the tools you need. First of course would be a recipie....I got this book at Walmart. But I also looked all over the internet for idea's.
This is just one of many options for making homemade Jam. You could also use Jello...the powder kind. For that it could be a no flavor version or a fruit version.

You will need a pot to boil the Jars in. A tall pot like this is great to use if you don't have a actuall canning pot. It is tall enough to handle the taller Jars and still allow them to be covered with water.

To properly can it is best to make sure you have a few tools around. This is a simple kit that I bought. It has a funnel to aid in keeping the jar rim clean and Jam free. A utensil to move the Jars in and out of the Boiling water. There is a lid tool....that is just simply a stick with a magnet on it to get the lids out of the water. Then there is another tool that helps remove bubbles and aids in determining your head space. Head space is the amount of space from the top of the rim that you need to leave open. For what I was using it was 1/4" head space meaning I could fill the Jar to 1/4" from the top.

This is just one of the many kinds of Canning Jars you can buy. This one is a little fancy but can add to the appeal of a Jam. This is the smallest jar. A regular mouth (instead of wide). It is 4oz. The recipie I used yeilded 6 1/2 pint Jars....that would have been 12 of these little ones....just so you know. But I had some 1/2 pints so I used 2 of those to cut down on the amount of work. It's best when planning on a project like this to chose a jar that will be best for your application. Some freeze well and some don't. Some have a wide mouth others just regular.

These next 2 pictures I broke the Jar down to explain a little bit about each part. First we have on the left is the lid that seals. Then you have the jar and then the band that spins on.

The next picture is a underside view of the lid parts. The red/orange ring is the rubber part that seals. It is very important that this part is not bent or damaged.

Another addition that could be important would be spare lids. When canning if you don't get the seal with in the first 24 hours you need to try to seal again...but you need a new lid. Not the band or Jar just the lid.

The Jars need to boil for at least 10 min before you put anything in them. This is for a few different reasons. 1 to sterilize the Jars, and 2 so they are nice and hot to aid in sealing. For best results it's best to leave them boiling while you prepare your product and remove them as you are ready to fill.

The lids should be heated in a separate pot as they don't need to be boiling as long....they just need to get too the boiling point mostly. The main reason to have these guys warm is so the rubber is a little bit softer so when it cools it will create a seal agains the jar rim.

Well now you are ready to get started in preparing your product. Happy Canning

Rhubarb Part 1 - The Harvest

So the Rhubarb was ready to harvest. So I took the kids outside to have them help me bring in our first true harvest. The important thing about Rhubarb is to pull from the base. Best not to cut. You can cut but then you could be waisting valuable stalk. When you pull you won't get roots it almost looks like you just broke a peice of Celery off. The leaves are NOT edible so there is no need to worry about them if they break. This first picture here is of the 3 Victoria Rhubarb plants just before we harvested them.

Here is a close up of the stalks. When looking to see if they are ready to harvest they do not need to be red through out the whole stalk. As long as the base is red...your good too go. The first year you plant you may only get a few stalks but as the years past you will get more and bigger ones.

This was the leaf that Shannon chose to pick. I wanted to take pictures of them actualy picking them but since this is their first year I wasn't sure how good the roots have taken hold and needed to help.

This was the one that Aiden chose to pick. He is being his normal goofy self.

This is what we harvested. I put them in the bag so that no extra dirt or other surprises would be found on the stalks. Because the leaves are going to be discarded anyway I left them out of the bag.

The Rhubarb plants after we harvested.....they look so tiny now. But if we are lucky we may be able to get another harvest out of them this year. Usually the first year you won't but hey fingers crossed that we can.

Here is just another shot of the harvest. I think it looks cool.

This is just a single stalk view to show the coloring. Notice how only at the base it is red. if you look closely at the left of the photo you can see where it was broken away from the main root.

And finally we have a view of our stalks. Some have more red than others. Some have very little. All were ready to be harvested. The next step is to remove the leaves and wash them. After that it is on to what ever task you harvested them for. For us it was making Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kids in the Garden Part 2

Between Jiffy and Burpee they seem to be the only main brands I buy when it comes to plants or seeds. These cute little kids cups from Jiffy are no exception. So easy a Cavekid and do it you just add water to the growing medium. Once it is expanded spread with a fork....tons of fun for kids of all ages. Add the 3 seeds provided. Put the lid back on (dome up instead) and wait. Once they start to grow you remove the lid. Once they show true leaves you take the biopot out of the kid cup and plant it. I love how both Lowes and Home Depot are selling lots of kid friendly gardening items to include these type of cups and also Veggie Tales seeds. Granted I am sure that Veggie Tale Carrot seeds will still grow to look like Burpee Carrot's but for kids it adds something different to the experiance.

Container Gardening

So you have desided to start a garden. What kind of garden shall it be? A container? Raised bed? Greenhouse, or just a section of yard? Well today we are going to talk about Container Gardening. The cool thing about this is the possibilities are virtually endless. You can pretty much grow just about anything in just about anything. The first picture off to the right here is a Sprout box. No growing medium of any kind just seeds and air...with a rinse of water at least once a day. This type is best for well sprouts...like alfalfa...start them in a ventilated dark room then move to a window or sunny area to turn them green. Although this is a special design you can make your own using a glass jar and some cheese cloth.

Next is for all the Mom's out there. You know all those baby wipe boxes you have laying around? Well they can be great for starting seeds. The fit in small area's they can fit up to 9 of the peat pellet pods, and it make use of those boxes. Depending on what you want to grow you could even just put some regular soil in the box and use it for herbs. Granted it needs to be a small plant and only 1 but hey....if nothing else it can be a conversation peice.

Next was a spur of the moment purchase. My mother and I were looking for a pot that was wide enough to create a mini herb garden....a few different types all in one pot. But all the traditional pots we found were so big. This pot how ever...though actually a bowl was just the size we wanted wide but short. Put some stones on the bottom then the soil and plants. Can be any shape, size, and even color. So this type can really fit who YOU are.

This last picture I am sure looks a little odd. But it is yet another way to start or even grow some plants. In this picture we have a small Mint stem in water...in an effort to grow roots. Some times this works sometimes it doesn't. Some plants once essablished and have a good root system can actually be grown in a bucket of water.....even some veggies...

So as you can see plants can be grown in many different types and styles of containers....I proved it as we are growing something in all of these...(the mint stem is not but one of the leaves is actually starting to grow a root). So next time you go to throw out that baby wipes box or see a big bowl or even a 5gl paint bucket think of the possibilities.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My poor tomato

Just look at my poor baby. Ok so he doesn't look to bad right now but he was wilting really bad before. Not sure why he suddenly started having issues but the poor guy just looked sad. Well upon further inspection I realized that poor Bob the tomato has out grown his pot. The main trunk I guess although strong was very looose in the soil so it was time to move Bob to the greenhouse with Bobbet.

Bobbet is doing very very well in the green house she sometimes feels a little weak and leans on the walls but for the most part she is loving her home. So now the two have been reunited. Bob went thru a rough go after being planted he wilted even more but by the end of the evening he was looking strong again. The first thing that I noticed about the two was that since being in the greenhouse Bobbet has almost doubled in size. The two were pretty close in size when I moved her to the greenhouse. Although the picture is not the best you can see that she is quite a bit bigger than Bob. The tomatoes that are growing on each also show some difference. Bobbet has one that is quite larger than all the other. All things considered though I am very pleased with these two Veggie's. Check back later to hear more of their tales.....hehe...Veggie tales

Pumpkin's anyone?

Out of the 6 seeds I planted there was only one that has sprouted leaves. A few of the others do have a root systems begining so that is good. When I looked at the root system for this guy I realized that he is just way to big to stay here and needed to be planted....ASAP.

So off I went to find a good spot. I found one and to his new home he went. Look at how tiny he looks now. I put the cage around him just cause of how small he looks....I worry for his safety. I can't wait to see little pumpkins start growing....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oh the Gall

What you see here is Grape Gall made by Phylloxera. A pest of Eurpean Grape vines expecialy here in the North East of America. Basically these little guys live in the bark and roots all winter and when the folliage starts to come out they awaken and this is what can be found.

This is what Gall looks like on a leaf. It goes thru both sides. Kinda funny looking but not good for the Grape vine.

This is actually a Gall that was formed over a Grape bunch. If left on the vine it will essensially kill it. The fruit will not get the chance to come to it's full potential. Unfortunatly the only thing to do is to cut off the infected sections and clean up the vine as best as possible. Be sure to prune after the harvest is over to prevent reinfestation.

Being a curious bunch we before we even knew what it was we cut off a small branch with a Gall on it and cut it open. This picture here is what we found and thankfully it helped us find out what it was that infested the poor grape vine. This little red-orange worm is just a baby and if we hadn't found it, it would have grown to infest the rest of the vine. An interesting fact was that American hybrids like out Concord is resistant to this pest. So it only seems to be effecting the old vine....guess we know it is not and American hybrid one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The wonderful world of Sprouts

Now here is something that kids of all ages can get a kick out of. Growing your own Sprouts....such as Alfalfa sprouts. All you need is a jar and some cheese cloth and sprouting seeds. But if you are a little weiry of that like I was here is another alternative. A sprouting kit. Most kits come with a bottom tray that collects water, one or more clear trays with holes in the bottom and a top also with holes. Here is my tray. I have a Zesty blend of sprouts inside.

The day after I started them this is what we saw....not even 24 hours later...and already you can see them. This is the biggest reason why kids will love to grow them.....you can actually SEE them grow.

Day 2....today the kids noticed the roots growing thru the bottom of the trays. They also noticed that some have fuzzy roots...Some even already had a little green.

Day 4. Some how I missed a day but hey....check them out....look at how big they are..

Here begins day 5. They seem to have already out grown the trays. But upon close inspection they are done and ready to be consumed. After a lot of rinsing to get seed shells off I place them into 2 1/2 cup containers and vented the lids. They are now in the fridge awaiting to be eaten.

The trick to growing these with out dirt is the water. You have to rinse them at least once a day if not twice. Water is not to be left at the bottom. Once the majority of the dripping has stopped thats when you get ride of the water....what drips after that is fine to stay. To get better results than these it is actually best to keep them in a dark area...keep them from turning green as long as you can. They will still grow with out the sun light but only to a certain point. At that point they need the suns growing magic. So try it out if you like alfalfa or even if yoiu don't you can add these powerfully nutrition packed sprouts to many meals.


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