Fertility Natures Way

Buttercrunch lettuce flowers.

Buttercrunch lettuce flowers.

Watching nature and the fascinating self-made propagation, or the way plants give back to the earth.  When placing the lettuce outside it immediately bolted, grew to about 3 feet, and began going to seed.  Surprised by the flourish of flowers which only stayed open for a brief time, then closed up and when they opened again had a puffy fine lined feathery bouquet with seeds attached underneath.  I like the way Wikipedia describes it like a “parachute”, and,  “The pappus remains at the top of each fruit as a  dispersal structure”.


Buttercrunch lettuce seeds under a fine lined feathery bouquet glittering in the sun.

Built within it’s structure the seeds get picked up by the wind and can self propagate without any help. It is wonderful to see this type of bounty.

With fall and cool weather my mind is focused on preparing the soil and I saw a wonderful film about soil fertility which shows a method with wood chips that keeps the soil fertility process in balance in the link below called “Back to Eden”

Back to Eden film.

Back to Eden film.


The film is also on http://vimeo.com/28055108


Yes, I Can!

Canned carrots with doe hill pepper harvest.

Canned carrots with doe hill pepper harvest.

This weekend I tried my hand at canning for the first time!  There is something so reassuring about it.   You just don’t dread the foreboding winter as much, when you know you are stored well for it.   Only had sea salt on hand and was supposed to use salt without iodine, which the sea salt naturally contains.   So, I added a few drops of vinegar and lemon in order to keep the color, but much less than I’ve seen done. I am waiting to see if the color will turn brown due to the iodine, or if the lemon and vinegar will do the trick.   I used the water bath method as I don’t have a pressure cooker, and I decided to precook lightly to kill germs beforehand rather than cold pack (which is raw uncooked veg.), and of course had to add some homegrown herbs and garlic.  Some herbs like oregano should, I hope, aid in the preserving process.  In the excitement I left a a darn bay leaf in the carrot brine, so one will probably be overpowered with it . I really enjoyed the process, even though I was quite nervous about it. All the tops popped like they were supposed to. One on it’s own, and the other two when I pressed down to test them, but they stayed down so they passed the test. The process does perplex me a bit.  I wonder how the water doesn’t seep into the top gap when being immersed, and only now figured out why there needs to be a gap in the first place after reading this book “Put ’em Up!”.  The gap is needed for the food expansion during the heating process. That leads me to another question.  So how come when it expands it doesn’t suck some of the exterior water back in? I am guessing it can’t do both at the same time. Who on earth figured all this out- the exact amount to leave at the top? And I wonder how far back it all started. The book helped me to understand the process more, and I like the way it’s organized.  I wish I could find some of those colorful tops in the book.  Important things I learned were:  fingertip tight means don’t use your knuckles to over tighten the tops as gases will not be able to escape , let the jars sit 5 minutes  after turning off the heat before taking them out, and do not  tilt the jars to get the water off the top when taking out the hot jars as the seal is not set yet.

Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Put-em-Sherri-Brooks-Vinton/dp/1603425462

I also found a strange sooty film on the exterior of the jars and the inside of the canner that I am hoping is from the first use of the canner and not from the metal tin covers. There is not that much choice on the local market for canning tops.

Gee, now I don’t have to worry about food going bad.  It is quite comforting. The true test will be of course, when I open them up a month or two down the road.  I think I will be doing sauerkraut next, probably some tomato sauce with market tomatoes, and some fruits. These are more acid and therefore less risky and lend themselves better to the water bath method. Then, the only room for fantasy in the world of practical, will be for the playfulness of herbs, balancing the quantities and the tastes, and dreaming of just opening up a jar of home canned on a cold winter day.

A Simple Days Harvest

A simple day's harvest. Red pepper, tomatoe, calendula, french thyme

A simple day’s harvest. Red pepper, tomato, calendula, french thyme.

This is a days harvest, and I wish days were simple, but most of them aren’t. Knowing the labor of love involved in the growing process, and the daily tending that brought the results. Probably I bring more to the process than needs to be, trying to figure out ailments, pests, and nutrient deficiencies, an anxiety that wouldn’t be so pronounced had I not been alienated from natural process. I only plucked what I needed for dinner.  The camera failed to capture the striking color streak on this pepper.  I hated like heck to cut into it’s simple beauty, but the taste made it worth it.  Even though I still buy most of my vegetables at the farmers market, there is still quite a difference between bought and home grown. Home grown seems more potent and rich, the textures less fibrous and more complex, with usually a direct energy spike after eating that seems lacking in the purchased.
This years harvest wasn’t as bountiful as last years, however the tomatoes came ripe at a steady pace through out the summer.  Enough ripe tomatoes for a salad a day, rather than all ripening at the same time at end of season.  So I wasn’t left without, but still didn’t have enough to can!
It seems to be that I only get one crop of fruit with the plants and they halt growing further. I trimmed the peppers early in growth and did notice a more full bunch, but they were struck with heavy rain which weakened the second set of budding flowers at their base, and then heavy winds directly afterward that just blew the bulk of the flowers away.  I only found out too late, when I stepped out into a floor of knocked off flowers, and they never recovered past the first flower set. Absolutely need to move on with the greenhouse.

%d bloggers like this: