Monday, December 16, 2013

Lessons Learned in the Garden 2013

I don't post many posts any more.

Something happened this summer that just turned me off from posting.

Anyway, for some reason I had a very difficult time this spring getting my seeds to germinate. I started and re-started many of my seeds, lost a huge number of seeds, and seedlings.  I now think I had something wrong with the seed starting soil I was using. I don't know how to pick better seed starting soil. Any suggestions?

I was able to add horse manure and lots of crushed eggshells to the 20 Foot Garden bed. It really seemed to strengthen my tomato plants. This was a great year for tomato harvest for my family. I didn't have enough for canning, but we had plenty for every day eating. I also had so many cherry tomatoes that I had to try pickled green cherry tomatoes. It turns out that the whole family loves them, so it was a good thing.

I grew Swiss Chard this year for the first time and have been very happy with it. I had 2 spots for it. One was in mostly shade (maybe 3 hours sunlight a day), and it did very well there during the summer. The other is in full sun, and it suffered all summer, but looks great now.

I tried three types of okra this year, since my family likes it. I tried Stelley, Stewart's Zeebest and Eagle Pass. My middle daughter loved the Eagle Pass. The Stelley really didn't survive all the rain we had this summer. And Stewart's Zeebest was the star. It just produced and produced. We loved it and the pods could be picked larger.  Unfortunately, Baker Creek Seeds is not selling it this year.
l to r: Eagle Pass, Stewart's Zeebest and Stelley
I had a terrible year with my eggplants. I find this really disappointing, since I really love eggplants. I probably only harvested 3 Japanese eggplants all year.

The cucumbers produced enough to eat out of hand, but not enough for pickling. Luckily, I was able to find a good farmer's market this year, and bought a bushel of cucumbers. I pickled 20 quarts from the farmer's market bushel.

I harvested 8 fresh organic peaches off our young peach tree.

I harvested substantially less from my beans this year than last. Was it because of the rain? Something else? I don't know.

I didn't plant a winter garden this year.

I plan to expand the garden next year. Here's hoping for larger harvests for all of us!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Biscotti Marathon for Christmas Presents

Cranberry Biscotti (the recipe calls it Holiday Biscotti)
Another view of the Cranberry Biscotti

I don't make biscotti every year, but the years I do make it, I make enough to give to all our list of people for whom we are thankful.

This year, I woke up the day after Thanksgiving with a desire to make the biscotti for the people who serve our children, those Junior Master Gardener teachers, Sunday School teachers, RA leaders and others who add so much to the lives of our children. I am so grateful for all these people contribute to our children's lives, and I just want to let them know this year.

So began the Biscotti Marathon. It actually consisted of 3 marathon biscotti making sessions.

Lemon Biscotti, Chocolate Ribbon Biscotti, Butterscotch Biscotti, and Chocolate Crinkles (not biscotti,
but still good cookies.) These are ready for sharing. 
The first session consisted of the above 4 recipes.

Almond Biscotti, Chocolate Ribbon Biscotti, and Cinnamon
Apple Biscotti ready for sharing. 
 The second session consisted of the above almond and cinnamon apple biscotti, and I used the chocolate ribbon biscotti from the first session to complete those bags. Almond is my very favorite recipe, and I have used it for many years. The cinnamon apple was a new (and not worth repeating)

The final session consisted of a second round of Lemon and Butterscotch Biscotties.  I am still not sure I have enough for the entire list, but I am losing sight of the fun of it, so I am taking a break.
My Butterscotch Biscotti. I made up this recipe. I always get
requests for it from those to whom I have previously
given it, and I love it, too.
Yum. I enjoy this. It's lots of fun, and I don't know anyone else in real life who makes biscotti, so it makes an unusual gift. 

If you know me in real life, you can just pretend you didn't see what you are getting for Christmas from our family. :)

Merry Christmas to all.