Blanching the Kale

We grew a ton of Kale this year, huge bushy plants that required no maintenance. The only problem was they got aphids on them, and aphids gross me out. Sometime in late September I noticed the aphids had all but disappeared (yay!) so I decided to harvest the whole garden, and blanch and freeze the Kale.

First up I also dug up all my purple potatoes, and my walla walla sweet onions. My onions didn’t get very big, but I kind of like a little onion! You don’t end up with waste.

I ended up cutting a lot (it filled my sink and the dish drainer) of Kale, which was hardly even a dent in the massive Kale plants we have growing. I followed Not Martha’s instructions for blanching and freezing Kale. Although I didn’t have a salad spinner, so I ended up using a bunch of towels to ring out the blanched Kale. It was quite a messy process, and my whole house smelled like Kale (not the most delicious smell), but in the end I got a fair amount of Kale to freeze (think of it like spinach, it cooks down a  LOT). SO I can now toss lumps of the frozen Kale into a pan with a little olive oil, and voila, Kale all winter! Kinda cool.

1. Picking, and Washing.

2. Removing the spine

3. Cutting into bite size pieces.

4. Boiling for 2 minutes

5. Placing in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

6. Drying with towels or a salad spinner

7. Put in freezer zip-lock bags

8. LOVE KALE!

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Recycled Tire Trellis

My mom saw this on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and we both loved it. Then Mr. Gaunt and I were with her at a garage sale and we happened upon two mismatched tires, no bike frame in sight. I remembered the trellis and snatched them up for super cheap.

I delegated the project over to Mr. Gaunt, with the challenge of completing it for less than $10. We decided right away to leave both the tire and the spokes on (seems silly to lose the cool spokes!) Mr. Gaunt tried a long piece of wood, and a few other things to put the two tires together without success. Finally he removed the inner bolts of the tire, and bought a 5′ All Thread and matching nuts. We ran the All Thread through both tires and put nuts on each side of the tires to hold them in place.

Mr. Gaunt then drove the All Thread about 28″ into the ground for stability. It still sways a little, as the All Thread is thin, but it wont tip over, because of the bottom tire being a wide base, and the deepness of the All Thread. As peas grow up it, it should actually become more stable as they weigh it evenly down.

Last Mr. Gaunt ran basic gardening string between every other spoke. He tied each length off, instead of wrapping it over and under. Then I planted Sweet Peas  at the base of each string. I’m so excited for them to grow into a giant tube of Sweet Pea Flowers!

NOTE: It’s very important to have a special helper there to inspect your work.

 

Swiss Chard Year 2

Last year I planted Swiss Chard in the early spring (like they tell you to). I’m obviously no master gardener, so when September rolled around and my Swiss Chard was still tiny, I assumed I just did it wrong. When we did our fall clean out of the garden, I chose to leave the Swiss Chard, as it still looked like it was growing. When the plant sprouted seeds, I cut them off.  Shockingly it made it all the way through the winter (despite articles I read about frost killing it), and about a month ago it began growing like a weed! How cool. I don’t know if this is common, I couldn’t find any articles that said this was normal, but who knows. Washington is so mild in its seasons, and the soil is so moist and rich that things seem to just love to grow here.

Tonight for dinner Mr. Gaunt grilled turkey burgers and I made french fries and our first batch of Swiss Chard. I sauteed it using this recipe, and it was delish, Mr. Gaunt even liked it. I’m excited to eat a lot more Swish Chard, as there are a ton of recipes out there for using it. Anyone have any favorite recipes? Ive made lasagna with it, but nothing else.

When Spring Comes

I love spring.

Mostly I just love the light at the end of the tunnel. The mud drying up, the trees budding, all of it. It makes me motivated and happy, and ready for NEW and CLEAN!

Sad thing is, it’s only February 11th, it’s still like a month and a half until winter is over, but I see the signs! There are most definitely Crocus sprouting up in my yard, and the sun has been showing its beautiful self more often these days (even though everyone says it’s not gonna stay) and I am taking full advantage of it!

On Friday my mom, Mr. Gaunt and I went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. It’s a huge yearly convention for gardening, I’ll blog about it probably tomorrow. Anyway we bought a few awesome new gardening tools, and today I decided to use the morning sun and put those new tools to work.

I wont lie, the summer burned me out on gardening, and we have hardly touched the yard since we got married. Needles to say, it looked like crap. So today we did the following:

-Raked all the pine needles and weird pine cones off the front lawn.

-Weeded the front beds.

-Dug up the 3 gross rose bushes from the front beds.

-Hacked back the big nasty corner bush (we need to rent a chainsaw to get the stump out)

-Edged the sidewalk

-Cleaned up the porch

-Pruned to side roses and cleaned up the brush

-Pruned our big evergreen tree.

On top of the front yard we also did a ton of work to the NASTY back yard. It was kind of a disaster. There was like old dead plants, wedding milk glass succulents everywhere, rotting pumpkins, garbage, oh lordy, embarrassing!

Things we did:

-Weeded all the beds, and completely cleared out the larger center bed. We actually have plans to lay grass over this bed this spring (more on this later)

-Cleaned up the mess of wood my brother left when he moved out.

-Transplanted all the Succulents from their Milk glass into their barrels, and drilled drainage holes in said barrels.

-Pruned the grapes.

-Pruned and tied up our prim rose-bush on the fence.

-Cleared out old dead Morning Glory vines from the fence.

-Threw away garbage, leftover pots, and other such nastyness.

-Hosed down the patio

-Hacked back the old dead blueberries (this will also be removed when we rent the chainsaw)

So yeah, the yard is looking way better. I mean, November-May everyone’s yard looks like muddy crap, but at least it’s cleaned up now, and we have a good start for Spring. We have some smaller scale plans for the back yard this year, but what we really want is to focus on the front lawn. I’m planning on re-shaping the front beds, edging, mulching, and planting some new shrubs. Also replacing the stepping-stones to new non broken ones. I would also loooove to dump some gravel on the driveway, as it’s a slip and slide mud fest right now, but we can’t afford that.

I also have two big blisters on my thumb, which is the only way you know you worked hard in your yard…duh. (:

 

Fall Harvest and Eats

On Sunday Mr. Gaunt and I tended to our (MUCH) neglected garden. I wont lie, with the hub of wedding and work and schedules and dieting, the garden was the first thing we let go. I’m still processing how I feel about the garden. Next year I wont do quite as big, but I will plan more for what I want to grow (NO LETTUCE!). So Sunday we trimmed things up and picked the ripe tomatoes (sauce will be canned tonight) the acorn squash, a few jalapeno, Zucchini and Cucumbers too.

I bought a beef roast for the Crockpot too. I cut up an onion, a few leftover potatoes from the wedding, a baby acorn squash and threw them in the crockpot and in the fridge. Then in the  morning I got up early and threw the roast in whole, with 2 cups of water and seasoning packet. Set the cooker to low and left for work. 8 hours later the house smelled amazing and dinner was done. Me and the crockpot are going to be good friends this winter. Oh and Pear Cider is the Beer Haters best friend!

Razzmatazzberry

Watching our Raspberries grow has been one of the coolest parts of living here. All props go to the previous tenants who actually GREW them, we have just maintained them. When we first moved in we werent even sure what they were, they just looked like sticks. Today they are wild and crazy berry producing MACHINES!

This is after my brother CANED them. Thank god he did or we would have a mess!

I have tried to be really good about picking them so they don’t get rain-rot or spoil. We are really lucky too in that these berries are big fat juicy ones, not like those silly little wild ones. I would say I have probably picked close to 3 gallons of raspberries so far. Some I just froze in ziplock bags (for smoothies and such) some I gave away to people, and a LOT have been made into freezer Jam. Last week I brought Leo, the two year old I babysit, over to the house and showed him how to pick them too.

It’s definately hard to figure what to do with so many berries. Many will in fact rot and go to the birds, but we feel we are taking full advantage of them, so its ok. I have made 3 batches of freezer Jam so far, about 15 8 oz containers and 3 16 oz containers. I looked around a bit for a recipe, but in the end just went with the Ball Freezer recipe. Yes its a fair amount of sugar, but when I was reading about it, it sounds like the sugar is really needed to preserve the berries. I’m also not sure what the difference is between cooked jam and freezer jam, but freezer jam is WAY easier, and it lasts a full year, so that works for me! Ball also puts out a cute line of freezer containers that stack which I really like better than Tupperware. Ball also has an awesome website with a fruit calculator and lots of recipes that you should check out. And there colors are lime green…whats not to love.Oh and a few people have asked if I de-seed my jam. To me this is a ridiculous request, and if you don’t like seeds, don’t make raspberry jam.