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Friday, September 23, 2011

Whew! Just Molting!

Egg production on my layers has been off. I figured that the shorter days and cooler weather were affecting their hormones. Then I went out to take care of them in the early morning a couple of days ago and there were feathers everywhere. My heart sank. A fox must have got them all. I looked in the coop and there they were all still roosting. Then it dawned on me. It has been a year since I got them. They are molting and that is why production is off. What a relief.
 Feathers everywhere

 One up my Aracuna’s preening. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Uses for Zucchini

Since our garden got a late start this year, we are still harvesting a ton of Zucchini.One of the many quests of my life is to find good uses for this mutant vegetable that proliferates like the bunny of the vegetable world. In the past we have posted articles on Zucchini Fritters, Microwaved Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Frittatas, and Zucchini Brownie's

This past weekend we found a really good  recipe on www.cooks.com. We tweaked it a little bit and my family really liked it. I don't like to be too surreptitious and sneak veggies into my kids food. I prefer to let them know that veggies help us feel good and live healthy. I find that if our children know the veggies are from our garden, they like to eat it. In this case however, our kids are burnt out on Zucchini so when Mason asked us what the green things were in the meatloaf, I said herbs. There are herbs in there so who am I to say whether he was referring to Zucchini or herbs. It was an honest mistake.

Here is the tweaked recipe taken from the original recipe here.

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
2 c. finely grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs OR regular bread crumbs 
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp. instant beef bouillon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 lg. egg, beaten
Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix thoroughly. Pack into 9'x5"x3" loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1hour.

The meatloaf came out very moist and flavorful. My oldest said "I don't usually like meatloaf but this is really good." Hopefully this gives you all another use for the deluge of Zucchini that is overtaking your garden. If you don't have any Zucchini just ask your neighbor that has a garden for some. Chances are that they have extra.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

White Hats and Black Hats

As a child in the early 60’s, I would turn the black and white TV on and more often than not, there would be a western on. I instantly knew who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and Jared & Heath Barkley wore white hats and the bad guys all wore black hats (Nick Barkley was kind of a jerk). Nowadays things aren’t so clear. In movies you don’t know who the good guys are or who the bad guys are until the end of the show. In the garden, you may or may not be able to tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. For example, in the following photo, it is easy to tell who the good guys are because they are wearing white hats.
This is a horn worm that has been eating my tomatoes – a real bad guy! The white hats are eggs implanted by a parasitic wasp. The larvae from these eggs will kill this horn worm. GO! GO! GO! The Lone Ranger rides again! And there are a whole bunch of Lone Rangers!
Now, check out this guy! Is he a good guy or a bad guy?
 Obviously he is a bad guy because he has spines on his back and he had been eating my raspberry plant with that mean looking mouth.  Not so! He is a good guy – an assassin bug. Look what he is doing in this photo.

He is sucking the guts out of a stink bug that has been eating my raspberries. GO! GO! GO! I feel like I am watching the Roy Rogers rolling around in the dirt with a bad guy, knowing in advance who is going to win the fight. This one of the funnest parts of gardening, watching the good guys battle it out to save my garden from the bad guys and knowing who is going to win.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Calling All Portland Backyard Farmers

Suzanne, a backyard farming reader, contacted me asking for a little help. She is hosting a free class for her neighborhood on backyard farming. She is need of someone willing to teach a class for 30-45 minutes on gardening and chickens. It would be on Saturday, September 24th.

Please leave a comment if you would be interested in teaching something like this! 
Please include a way for us to contact you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Day That Changed The World

I am terrible at writing sentimental things and  I'm not poetic. What I am is, grateful to live in this amazing country with so many wonderful people. 10 years ago I was playing with my only child who was just 1 year old when I got a phone call from my mother-in-law telling me to turn on the news. I still remember the sick feeling I got as I started watching, I remember the fear that washed over me, looking at my baby wondering what the world was going to become.  Over the next few days I remember the feeling of pride in my country as I watched the news and listened to the acts of service that were rendered and was inspired by all the people that stepped up and did their part.

Leave a comment and share your feelings, where were you, how did you feel? What are you doing today to remember?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Squashed! Learn from my mistakes

By Jennifer

This ... 

... should still be attached to this

This squash never reached its potential to mature, by autumn, into a blue/gray package holding deep orange flesh -- perfect for delicious pies, soups, ravioli and more. And I'm the culprit.

I trained the squash vine up a wire trellis anchored against a fence. Too late I realized that this squash was forming between the trellis and fence. The space was too narrow and the growing squash too large. It actually started to grow around the wire, forming indentations. 

I figured I'd wiggle the trellis a bit forward (being mindful of the tomatoes also attached) and try to pull the vine up and over, cradling the squash as I lifted it to the other side. Fail! It broke off the stem and landed with a thud.

So here's the lesson: If you use a frame against a fence or wall on which to train your garden vines. guide the blossoms to the open side so fruit can grow freely. 

Either that, or make the most of it.

by Jennifer