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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pea season

[posted by risa]

Independence Days report, week nine:A photo on Flickr

Planted anything? Not so much ... lupine, zinnia starts. The one bed along the walk from the driveway, our "flower garden," was part of our spring garden this year and now the flowers are a succession planting, after the broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce were done there.

Harvested anything? One zucchini!! Definitely a courgette ... Peas, joi choi, spinach, beets, chard, kale, nasturtium, onion greens. We got our electric shredder and have begun harvesting the knotweed for mulching/composting material. DO NOT TRY THIS if you think you might get any seeds or roots into it! We're hurrying to beat seed set.

Preserved anything? Sugar Snap peas, joi choi, last of the spinach. This has been our longest pea season, with four plantings coming in serially. The heat has backed off, which is a help.

Stored anything? More flattened cardboard cartons. We will need enough to cover 2500 square feet. And some compost, see under Harvest.

Managed reserves? Painted the west side of the house and tearing some dry rot out around the garage window on that side.

Some of the guttering was nailed on so well, and was home to so many wasps, that I have been pulling off sections with a four-pulley block and tackle. This tool, which we got from my dad, came threaded with a tar-impregnated hempen rope, which was Hannah knows how old when it came to us thirty years ago; the rope gave out twenty years later and we have re-threaded the pulleys with a 100 foot Goldline rope left over from our brief fling with mountaineering; no one believes how much this thing can pull until they see it in action. Rips the gutters off nicely, and one can stand well out of the way.

Prepped anything? Not entirely sure what Sharon means by this ... but have been making beanpoles out of any knotweed stems too vigorous to merit the shredder treatment ... it's a pretty wimpy shredder ... and stacking them underneath the apple trees as "mulch" while drying.

Cooked something new? Not really new ... the Granny Smith apple tree likes to do its own thinning. So I gather some of the "drops," which are small and tannic, and slice them and and steam them, which seems to make them quite edible, adding a little sugar and cinnamon to taste. The cores go out to the chickens, who find them endlessly entertaining. And baked two loaves of local-ingredients bread. But that's not new. Umm, let's see:
32 oz. water from steaming peas
handful of spinach, onion greens, beet greens, garlic flowers, finely chopped)
1/2 teasp. active yeast
4 oz. blackstrap molasses
6 oz. honey
sea salt to taste (two "short" handfuls for me) (I forgot it this time, but it didn't seem to matter. Hmm.)
1/4 cup brewer's yeast
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup rolled wheat berries
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
whole wheat flour till the dough "rises off the sides" of the mixing bowl (sticks together). That's four scoops with the bowl I use, plus a little, by eye and touch (hands should not stick too easily to the lump).

I mix by hand with a wooden paddle until the dough stiffens too much for my old arms to stir, then flour my hands and knead until the lump is smooth. Cut into two equal loaves, shape, and drop into two pre-greased ironstone plates. Let rise (I find one rise enough) and bake at 340 degrees F. for 55 to 60 minute. Tip from plate, thump bottom of loaf, if it's brown and sounds hollow, tip out onto cooling rack. Serve hot or let cool, bag, refrigerate or freeze.

In a week or so, if any of the bread is getting stale, use in soup, stir fry, French toast, crumble up and re-use in new bread, or, as a last resort, add to the compost or dissolve it into the greywater (I do this if the bread starts its own garden, so to speak).

Worked on local food systems? Lots of home-grown lunches, emphasizing the joi choi and hard-boiled eggs.

Reduced waste? We've begun harvesting bolted brassicas to take to the chickens, whose quarter-acre of grass gives out about this time every year.

When I steam veggies, or run cold water over blanched vegs, some I use in bread or soup, some in switchel, and rest goes into the grey water and out to the fruit trees or Beloved's rhodies. More grey water to fruit trees.

We have a weekly garbage contract, but did not have to take anything out to the curb for pickup this week! In fact, that's getting common enough that with a little more effort we could quit altogether .. an idea that first occurred to us when a cougar turned over our can and scattered the contents, leaving fabulous claw marks in the plastic can ...

Learned a skill? Well, I replaced a broken loading gate on my dad's old .357 Single Action Army. That counts, right? The gate I ordered was not an exact match (this is a West German replica, made in 1971, and the gate is a Colt part) and required some work at the bench grinder. Then I took it to the local indoor range, where I found it worked properly and is very accurate. Whee!

Today, I'm cleaning house. Maybe get out and cut a little wood, I don't know ...



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