Gardening in the Blind


Golden Goodness
March 27, 2012, 6:29 am
Filed under: chickens, Cooking/Canning/Drying

After sometime, my girls have decided to lay eggs again!  I can’t believe how much I missed the eggs this winter.  It has been so long that I forgot how many eggs I get from them.  My neighbors are happy, but more importantly I am!  Nothing says I love you like a fresh egg still warm from the chicken – that with maybe homemade bacon….mmmmm good!



Spring has sprung
March 17, 2012, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

ImageI have been pacing, digging and throwing a fit for sometime now.  I left some parsnips in the ground for the winter and have been dying to get at them.  But today it happened.  The ground thawed enough that I could get them out.  I ran inside with an arm full of parsnips yelling at Deron to come quickly to see the find.

While I ran a few over to my neighbor, Deron lovingly washed them as he decided what we were going to do with them.  I told him no matter what I was going to have my parsnip/nut/syrup breakfast tomorrow!  Now, that is what I call as celebration.  Fresh produce in March.  Tomorrow I am having a heavy planting so I will take a lot of pictures to show you how I do it.  But until then, enjoy the picture of the mouth watering parsnips fresh from the garden.  I can’t wait for breakfast to come!



Giving Thanks
November 28, 2011, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Garden Planning, local eating, Tomatoes

What does herbs still growing outside have to do with giving thanks?  In my house it made a terrific blend for the turkey. (The turkey was from Many Hands Farm, organic and free-range.  The BEST!) As I glanced at my thanksgiving table,  I was proud of myself in knowing that Deron and I have completed a full year of organic eating.  The food is better all around.

So just what am I thankful for this year?  I am thankful that I am not worrying about GMO’s because we are eating organic food.  I am thankful that this lifestyle has only encouraged more changes for us.  We are going to the gym more, we signed up for the Tough Mudder in May and have a big adventurous year planned for next year.  We are not only getting into the best shape we have ever been in, but we are also going to expand the garden for next year!  Too much excitment I tell ya!

On top of all this, I got a new digital camera.  My new Nikon digital camera will hopefully make the pictures more exciting and encourage everyone to get out and start growing!  Starting in January I will be starting a once a week blog about different types of tomatoes.  Just in time to start planning your own garden.

I am hopefully going to start a make shift hydroponic system that I am building myself in January as well.  I will blog all about it.  Yet another item to look forward to.  If you have anything you would like me to discuss, please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to include it.

Most of all of this I give thanks for having readers like you!  Thanks for finding me at least a little interesting!



Snow is here
November 2, 2011, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Herbs, local eating, Uncategorized

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It has been trying to get all the fall chores done.  I have found it to be overly challenging this year.  So when word came of a bad storm to hit, I panicked.  I knew the rain would start in the afternoon, then changing to snow.  So in true Robin fashion, I waited until that day, woke up early, skipped my boot camp and frantically started dumping out all the containers, cleaning the beds, and most importantly – harvesting everything I could salvage before the snow hit.  It was cold and wet, but with the help from my husband in the morning, we were able to get it all done with only a little of “playing” in the snow to get the garden hoses in the garage as well as patio furniture.  But at lass, I was not completely done.  I had to deal with all I harvested when the outside was done.

I first started with the 45 leeks that I pulled from the dirt.  I cut the excess leaves off, cleaned them up and packaged them in groups, freezing for future use.  I kept a few out to roast sometime during the week as they are one of my favorite.  Next I moved on to the carrots.  I didn’t have many left and I divided them up between dogs and chickens.  The animals were overly excited about it.  Then came the loads of herbs I pulled.  I knew that the parsley and lovage would not last that long, so I started with them in the dehydrator.  I figured it would be good as it generates heat for the downstairs as well.  Great idea, except we loss power around 4 am.  It was enough to dry the herbs, but not heat any downstairs. 

I have never fully understood my dependency on electricity, until it was gone.  I started to panic thinking about the thousands of dollars of beef and chicken in the freezers downstairs.  I had just got off the phone with my mother in law a couple of days before when she mentioned that I needed to look into insuring the meat through my home owners insurance.  Her timing could not have been better.  Mine was not as I didn’t even look into it yet.  But as the time progressed, my husband was getting more irritable and I realized that I needed to do something.  I went with my neighbor to a different town and found a dollar store to purchase a sponge for dishes and some candles.  Wouldn’t you know just as I was paying for the items, my husband called to say the power was back on.  The meat was safe for this time at least.

So, I was able to continue with the dehydration of herbs, make kale stir-fry and kale chips, and use some hot peppers in dinner.  Everything has a happy ending, except the tree branches that didn’t make it…But then again what is a little more clean-up??



Planting Leeks
October 3, 2011, 9:24 am
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

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This year was the best year for my leeks.  I finally learned how to plant them properly.  Funny it has taken me so long to learn how to get nice thick leeks and not the wimpy ones I settled for in years past.  So, as I slowly harvest leeks to use in cooking, I thought I would let everyone know just how to plant them! (And remind me for next year)

I use leeks a lot in winter cooking and am always eager to plant a lot for us.  Just one weekend, Deron and I used 3 parsnips and 8 leeks in cooking.  I will take about parsnips on my next post hopefully.

To plant the leek sets, you first need to dig a small trench about 6″ deep.  When you place the leek set in the trench it will have just a little sticking out.  Most of the plant will be in the trench.  You need to place the plants 1-2″ apart in the trench, then fill in the trench with the dirt, patting it down.  When you start the next row, try to keep them at least 12″ apart due to the hearty green stocks that fill in as they grow.  I planted about 100 leeks this year and all took.  It is quite exciting.  They are still growing in the dirt, but can be harvested as needed.

Because I live in the northeast where the winters are harsh, I will have to pick them before frost.  I have two options for storing my leeks – I can keep them at 32 degrees F with high humidity or more likely I will end up burying the leeks in cold wet sand (32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit).  They should stay fresh for at least 2-3 months, although I am hoping even longer.  When I store the leeks in the refrigerator, I place them unwashed in a plastic back.  They will only keep for about a week this way though.

So, happy stews and soups and roasted leek dreams while enjoying what is in season.



Hot peppers
September 8, 2011, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

Just one of the bowls of hot peppers

I miss this guy I used to work with – Bond.  He was my hot pepper tester.  I also knew that when I had too many, he would be the guy to eat them.  But atlas, I have no Bond this year and the peppers are not stopping.  I can never figure out when a good year is versus a bad one.  I have been forced to be creative with it.  Besides watching my husband’s face when I encourage him to eat a hot pepper ( “They are so small, how bad could it be??”), I have embraced the dehydrator. 

I have made two batches (which is all I can use I think) of mixed hot peppers chopped.  I then put them in the coffee grinder and then put back in the dehydrator.  I now have a seasoning to add to soups during the winter to give it the kick it is often missing.  I think this is going to be my secret weapon for chili this year!  Now to figure out what to do with the two other bowls of hot peppers I have……



Trying something new with herbs
September 6, 2011, 8:37 am
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Herbs

It has been a bumper crop for my herbs this year.  I have dried them in the dehydrator and window, I have cooked with them, I have just ate them, heck I have even fed them to the chickens.  So I decided to try something new.  I am trying my hand at flavored vinegar.  Deron and I eat a  lot of salads.  We make a lot of homemade dressings.  I thought it might be good to have some flavored vinegar that we could just add some olive oil to and whisk.  Here is hoping it is used a lot!

Jars of flavor awaiting vinegar

It is very easy to make the vinegar.  The best part is that you can put whatever you want in it.  I made  most as a combination of whatever I had on hand at the moment. 

Take vinegar (white or cider) and bring to a boil for two minutes and then allow to cool to about 104 degrees F.  Put the herbs in the containers that you wish to use, I just put it in canning jars as that is what I had handy.  Pour the vinegar over it and seal.  Place it in a cool dark place.  It should be ready in about three weeks, but should keep for about 2 years.  Easy, inexpensive gift for the holidays that looks like you spent far more time on it then you really did.