Sep 132013
 

Garden Trail Mix

In our part of the country the hot, sweltering days of summer bring on an abundance of okra, usually more than we need to eat fresh. One of our favorite ways to preserve it for later is by dehydrating it. The dehydrated okra can later be added to soups or sprinkled on top of salads for croutons or combined with other ingredients to create a delicious, healthy garden trail mix.

Most often we season the okra before dehydrating with sea salt, and a variety of garlic, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper or other herbs.

Asparagus and squash also dehydrate well and go great in a garden trail mix. The mix pictured with this post is a combination of asparagus and seasoned okra with peanuts, pretzels and  wasabi peas.  Use your imagination and create a healthy snack while preserving the harvest.

Garden Trail Mix

Aug 092010
 

Fooling the gardener seems to be the tomato’s game today! I’d anticipated last week to be the end of our tomato’s peek harvest and they’d decline from there, but not so. Granddad and I harvested tomatoes today and got approximately double what I’ve been getting the last few weeks! We have tomatoes for sale now!

Most of these tomatoes are heirloom varieties, home grown and vine ripened which means they’re packed with flavor! There are a lot of red tomatoes, quite a few pinks (usually a little lower acidity) and a few roma paste type tomatoes. Several other color varieties such as the Great White, Mountain Gold, Green Zebra (some of our customer’s favorite!) Garden Peach (they really are tomatoes) and Aunt Ruby’s German Green are all available for purchase as well!

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Throughout the years we’ve preserved tomatoes by canning, juicing and freezing. Dehydrating works great too and when rehydrated they make a wonderful thick paste, sauce or ketchup and store more compactly than any other preservation method. All the methods work well and your preservation method mainly will depend on personal preference.

Regardless if you’re needing a pound to eat fresh or fifty pounds to preserve we have tomatoes for you!

· Salad and slicing tomatoes of all kinds and colors!

o #1’s $2.00 per lb.

o 2nds $1.50 per lb.

o Canners $1.00 per lb.

When ordering 20+ lbs. deduct $0.25 per lb. from the prices listed. If you have a color or grade preference please specify.

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· Cured potatoes (like what you’d usually buy from the store only ours are a lot fresher and raised naturally!)

o Red – $1.25 per lb.

o Yukon Gold – $1.50 per lb.

There may also be some okra available for purchase this week. Okra is $2.50 per lb.

Here Mom is removing a batch of dehydrated okra from dehydrator racks.

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Tomato grades are as follow:

#1’s are nearly perfect with little or no defects although minor blemishing is possible.

2nds are good solid tomatoes with small blemishes and/or sealed cracks, but there is very little waste.

Canners may be a little rough or have larger cracks. Canners usually need used right away and while there may be slight bruising no rot is permitted.

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I’d planned on already having the corn patch cleaned up now, but haven’t gotten that done yet. So, if you would like to purchase a shock of our 10-12’ tall on average corn for fall decorations let me know right away before I cut the patch down!

o Corn shocks – $4.00 each

While our family enjoyed it unfortunately over all the heirloom sweet corn was a disappointment for CSA members as it was tougher and not quite as sweet as hybrid varieties. These huge stalks will still make great fall decorations though so I now have a lesson learned and continue on.

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We are now starting week 17 of our 20 week CSA season! It is hard to believe that our CSA season will probably be wrapping up so early this year! In past years we’ve always had to take a week or two off here or there in order to allow the crops to catch up, but not so this year. The Lord has blessed us with the ability to continue the CSA season straight through so far!

Drought has been an issue here of late. Thankfully the Lord sent an inch and a tenth of rain last Thursday morning (August 5th) but it had well nigh been a month since our last rain of any sizeable amount. Besides the duration without rain the temperatures reaching the mid to upper 90’s and then for the last week or so bumping up to the 100 to 106 degree range really dried things out in a hurry! I scrambled to finish fixing up the irrigation system and have now been watering two to three times per week with the drip tape irrigation system.

What a blessing the last rain was! The clouds, breeze and cooler weather for a few days were all so very welcome! Overnight what a transformation in the grass, trees and garden crops. They all turned a vibrant green again from the drab drought stricken color they’d be for a while. We’re still praying for more rain though as the ground soaked up the inch and still has cracks showing.

An interesting critter these walking sticks are! I found this guy along a tree line. They aren’t good bug since they forage on plants, but they are quite interesting to look at!

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It seems like we’ve been harvesting berries for much longer than usual this year. G-Jean pointed out why that might be the other day when she said we’d started harvesting strawberries in mid May and we will finish harvesting the last of our blackberries this week! While the berries weren’t always part of the share (we didn’t have enough to divide among all the shares a few weeks) we have now harvested some type of berry (strawberry, raspberry or blackberry) three times per week for 13 weeks! Boy have they ever been delicious too!

While the berries have been a wonderful blessing they have also taken some valuable time away from weeding. Despite the lack of weeding the Lord blessed the spaghetti and butternut squash harvest! We also had the best summer squash harvest we’ve ever had, but they squash bugs have now won the battle and we don’t have a living squash vine on the place as far as I know.

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This is the first year our young orchard has ever produced anything and this season we’ve harvested a few apricots, three peaches and will soon harvest a handful of Stanley Blue prune plums. My they have tasted good and I’m looking forward to the day when there’s enough to share with others too!

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There were enough Concord grapes this year to put a few in the CSA’s trade basket.

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Dad and my Saturdays and evenings have been taken up working on a hay derek we’re constructing. Once built it will help us unload a trailer load of loose hay in about six or seven “grabs.” This contraption is a little difficult to explain so look forward to some more info once it’s completed! It seems like we’ve taken a step forward and three steps back lately on this project, but we’re praying that the Lord will help us complete it soon as we’re running about three months late on haying this year.

A crane would be very handy in the construction of this derrick which will stand about 30’ tall at the tip top, but since we don’t have one we’re trying to make do with the little Kubota, a tree, lots of rope, ratchet straps, chain, cable come-a-longs, a couple of hay conveyors and extra time! Here’s a few pictures of the construction process.

Peeling bark from some logs

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Making the base

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We had the privilege of having some friends from Alabama stop by overnight this past week. No one is safe staying here though as the next day we put them to work harvesting tomatoes, blackberries, okra, basil and helping us pack the CSA shares! David and Jamie seem to be elusive around the camera though so the best we could get was a picture of them overlooking the hay derrick construction process.

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One of Jena’s foreign exchange student friends from Japan needed Jena to pick her up at the airport last week and they wouldn’t let her move into the dorms quite yet, so Miki has been staying at our house the last few days. We’ve all had fun I think, but once again it’s not safe to stay on the farm without being put to work! Miki has been making some rounds with Jena and helped Mom move the chicken palace along with other projects such as juicing some tomatoes along with many other projects. Here she is putting fresh nesting material in the nest boxes.

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I’d better get back to work!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell crew

(620) 330-1966

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