Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Saving Food: Apples, Cabbages, Peppers and Beans

It's November 17 and we still have a few dozen bushels of great tasting apples on four Granny Smith trees. 
One of Four Granny Smith Apple Tree Without Leaves But with Hundreds of Apples
We've given away many bushels, dehydrated more and have quite a few bushels waiting for processing. The few heavy frosts we've had haven't touched them. It's hard for me to see them go to waste, though they do help deer and other wildlife thrive. We have a year's supply of applesauce canned and 30 gallons of cider brewing or bottled but have run out of brewing vessels. Every few days I slice and dehydrate 40 or so apples into two gallons of chips. I'll probably pick another ten bushels before they freeze and store them under cover in the garage where I dehydrate them. When it gets way below freezing, they and the dehydrator will need to be transferred to the basement. 
Gallon Bags of Dehydrated Apple Slices and Other Drying Experiments
Three 5-gallon Carboys & Two 6-gallon Pails of Juice Fermenting 
Cabbages did not fair as well as the apples. I had to trim off the top leaves that were damaged by frost. The rest of the heads were still very crisp and hopefully will turn into great sauerkraut (white cabbage) and kimchi (red cabbage). The kimchi also has a few pounds each of garlic and sweet and jalapeño peppers mixed in for flavor. We have a total of seven gallons of these raw veggies slowing fermenting in the garage to extend their time to maturity while we eat more than a dozen fresh cabbage heads and pounds of peppers.
A Few Red Cabbages with Top Leaves Trimmed Off
Cross Section of A Red Cabbage
Five and Three Gallon Crocks Filled with Fermenting Cabbage and Other Veggies. Tops Are Weighing Down Plates That Keep Veggies Submerged in Brine.

Beans are easier to preserve than fruits and vegetables that have to be cut, shredded or squeezed. They simply have to be shelled and spread out to dry. Peppers, too, can be hung out to dry, and look good in one corner of the kitchen. Need a little heat in a dish? Pull one off and crumble it into the pot!

Scarlet Runner Beans in Various States of Drying
A Ristra of Alice's Favorite Hot Pepper (from a fellow seed saver) Hanging Out to Dry

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Glazing Details & Finally Planting Garlic

Weather this week has been sunny and warm, perfect for finishing up the greenhouse glazing details. Both the seven panels that make the transition from the building roof to glazing panels and the covering for the remaining five panels peak had to be reinstalled. 
Aluminum-Skinned Foam Panels Make the Transition from the Corrugated Building Roof to the Glazing Panels
EPDM Rubber Sheet Peak Detail
The new glazing panels are three inches longer than the old ones so they create a "drip edge" that will allow gutters to collect rain. Water has been running down the front wall because there was no extension to let water fall free. Next spring I'll install a system to collect rain and store it for watering both the greenhouse and outdoor gardens so we no longer have to pump water up from the pond. Ice and snow from both the connected building and the glazing slides down with lots of force and would damage gutters which would also impede snow removal, required periodically to make way for more snow.

To prevent rain from entering the internal passages of the glazing, I had to fabricate aluminum flashing that sheds water and allows any moisture inside the panel to drain. These flashing details had to be inserted just under the top layer of the panels so that they readily shed ice and snow but don't get knocked off by heavy frozen sheets when they slide down. Finally, everything had to be caulked to keep out winter winds.
Drip-Edge Detail That Covers the End of the Glazing Panels, Readily Sheds Ice and Snow yet Allows Moisture that Collects Inside the Panels to Drain and Will Let a Gutter Collect Rain 
I like to plant garlic during October so that it develops healthy plants before the ground freezes solid but this year finishing the greenhouse was more important. The first 300 cloves did make it into the ground today and the rest will probably follow within a week. An early thaw will let them flourish next season but we'll have to get by with a smaller harvest if we get an extended cold spring like this year.
Garlic Bulbs Ready to Be Broken Into Individual Cloves for Planting
First Wide Row of Garlic Cloves Planted, Root End Down
Garlic Bed Covered with Two Inches of Soil, Then Two Inches of Mulch
Second Garlic Row and It's Getting Dark Already!
Both Rows Ready for Winter!
Closeup of This Year's Garlic Bed Now Covered in Parsley That Was Planted in June Five Weeks Before Harvesting the Garlic. The Seeds Need Be Sprinkled Around the Thinning Mulch That is Being Eaten by Earthworms and Pill Bugs. This Parsley Is the Main Ingredient, Along with Garlic, of Our Favorite Pesto!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Final Pepper Harvest and Autumn Scenes

We had a late killing frost at night on October 18, a welcome month later than some years. As it was getting cold that afternoon I harvested the sweet and hot peppers, the only frost sensitive crops not yet put away. The sweet peppers filled four bushel baskets together weighing around 125 pounds. I ran out of time to pick individual fruit, so, with light from a headlamp, I cut whole hot pepper plants and placed more than 100 of them in four piles in the insulated back building and shut the door. We had only two plants worth of shishito peppers so they just went into my pocket. It took many hours over the next days to separate the 150 pounds of hot varieties from their stalks and leaves. Around half of both the sweet and hot peppers were fully ripe, with the rest green to partially colored.

A Box of Sweet Peppers Heading to a Friend
From Top: Serrano, Alice's Favorite, Jalapeño, and Poblano Hot Peppers Left After Delivering 140 Pounds to a Food Pantry and Friends
 Frost also did in the dahlias and gladiolus and a week later we dug up the tubers/corms and put them in a dry place to prepare them for a long winters nap.
Light Colored Dahlias with Amaranth Leaning from the Left 
A Dahlia Arrangement
Solid Red Dahlias with Cosmos in the Foreground
Glad Corms in the Wheelbarrow, Dahlia Tubers in the Box
Frost also hastened color change of maple trees and it took only a few days of wind and rain to send most of the leaves to the ground.
Maple Leaves Just Starting to Fall
Four Days Later: Maple Leaves Falling Faster
A Week Later: Few Maple Leaves Left on Tree