Saturday, November 13, 2010

an orchard was born

We have been wanting to plant more fruit trees here on the land for quite some time as fruit production is one of the areas we felt we were slack in. This morning we took a trip over to Johnson's Nursery and got our little orchard trees. We came home with 3 apple, 3 plum, 2 peach, 2 pear, 2 cherry and 2 currant bushes. We spent this afternoon planting them in the holes that I dug during the week in anticipation of getting them.

We had another beautiful fall day here in the South and the nursery is in a very pretty area of the county, not that I know of an ugly area, so while waiting I took the liberty of taking a couple pictures of the area.

The gentleman helping us was a kind feller and he walked us through the process of choosing trees, giving a pruning lesson and talking about the state of the economy and business. He was the only one working today so he was multitasking and dealing with other customers the entire time we were there, but it was a really relaxed atmosphere so waiting was not an issue and was almost enjoyable. Prices and service were both quite excellent and they have a very good reputation. If anyone is looking for orchard trees, they do ship all over the US with the exception of a couple states so consider giving them a look.
By the time we returned from the nursery and our monthly town supply trip we had quite a truck full of stuff so in order to get them all home we laid them down. Unfortunately small trees planted to form an orchard do not make an impressive picture, especially in November so pictures will be along in a few years when they get a might bigger and they can actually be detected in the photo. Many of the trees went on the hill behind the greenhouse that we terraced off a couple years ago. Because of difficulty keeping between the beds weed free and the layout of the hill, we decided that fruit trees would be a better solution. The remainder of them went down in what we call the bowl below the terraces. This should be a great location for the trees to grow in to a nice little orchard and maybe next year we can get a few mores to add to it. Either way, in a few years it should provide us with as much fruit as we can eat.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

simple supper-tater soup

It is soup and salad time of the year on the homestead and last night I made us a tasty tater soup for dinner. I must say that it was quite tasty considering I made it up on the fly. Then again, most recipes I post are made up as I go along at least to some extent because I either do not have the ingredients I need or do not use the ingredients that are listed. I also like basic recipes that can have many variations to them yet are frugal to make when I include them in simple supper posts. I do not like looking up budget minded recipes to see that I need a quart of cream to make them or that they cost 10 bucks to make 4 servings of the main course. To me that is not frugal in any way, shape or form. Back when I had to buy more of our food, I allowed for a dollar per person when buying food for an everyday type evening meal and added a dollar on. If there were four people my meal would cost under 5 dollars to prepare. It worked well so is still what I try to base recipes on for frugality

This is not a light soup, it is very filling like a stew but simple to make and is versatile. While I used a bit of bacon in it, it would taste just as good with no meat in it or a substitution. Many different veggies can be added to it and it can be served chunky or creamy. I served ours with a fresh salad and garlic toast but would have been satisfied with just one or the other to accompany the soup. Total cost of the meal for us was for two slices of bacon, flour, some spices and milk used as everything else was grown and made here.

I used left over baked potatoes for our soup and left the skins on. I like chunky soup and only mashed the potatoes with a hand masher rather than a food processor or mixer. I used powdered milk rather than whole milk because we do not use enough milk to justify keeping it around.

tater soup
4 strips bacon cooked and crumbled

2 – 3 tbsp. Bacon drippings

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes (use left overs, it cuts prep time way down)

2 cups water (veg or chicken stock is called for, I use water and add my own spices)

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon using until crisp. Allow to cool and chop or crumble into small pieces. Reserve several tablespoons of drippings. In large pot over medium heat add 2 tbsp. bacon drippings and cook onions, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Add enough stock to just cover potatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender. Mash potatoes roughly with a potato masher. Scoop out about half of the remaining mixture and puree in a blender or food processor. Add milk and any veggies you may want and stir to combine well. Taste for seasoning and add more stock if soup is too thick for your liking. Stir in bacon and bring to simmer, stirring often. Serve hot. Garnish with additional crumbled bacon and chives or other herbs.

alliums everywhere

A few weeks back I ordered some German purple neck garlic bulbils for something different to try here on the homestead. I have always planted the bulbils from our elephant garlic but never tried growing actual garlic using the same method. I had read good things about the type and found them at a very good price so ordered us 50 babies and received 80. While waiting for that order to be delivered I found some walking onion starts at a very good price and also sent for an order of them. I have wanted the walking onions for years but have seen very few places that sell them. While waiting for the delivery of the onions, I discovered the small patch of garlic that the manthing had weed whacked this summer had shoots emerging from the ground. I thought I would leave them there and let them grow until next season and have a good harvest but then saw that each bulb had sent shoots from each clove so I was going to have deformed blobs and that was ok with me because we dont discriminate against ugly veggies here. In the meantime, my orders had arrived and were sitting here on my desk waiting patiently to be planted when we had the cold snap last week and I decided that the new babies had to wait until it warmed back up for a spell. It is Ga after all and that is just how our weather is. As the weather warmed, the bees got madder and I managed to get my self stung on the second nice day we had. Two days later, while I was feeling human again I was also a bit behind on school work so dedicated yesterday to getting it caught up. Unfortunately the sun came up and it became a picture perfect day so I had to get out and enjoy the 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.
I intended to spend an hour or two, no more on gardens and other outside work when I spotted the garlic bed and thought to myself, what a waste. I grabbed the shovel and started digging them up on by one, all forty two clumps of plants until they were all out of the ground and divided into 204 individual plantlings. I then found myself in a predicament of having near 300 plants or seeds that absolutely had to go in the ground very soon because of weather patterns with no idea where I was going to put that many plants at once. My two hours worked in to three then four and in total near 7 hours of time spent. So much for getting the school work for the week caught up but all my little greenies are now in the ground to enjoy the next few weeks of crazy weather patterns until winter settles in. Thank goodness alliums are early growing plants come spring so I will be able to keep track of all the places I planted them in.
This bed is completely planted in walking onions and garlic, even between all the leafy greens.
Some of the garlic plants that I separated and planted in other areas where I transplanted out some perennial herbs. There are also two other beds that I put elephant garlic and garlic in as well. We should have no shortage of garlic next year.