How to Preserve Garlic
There are 3 main ways to store garlic: Freezing, Dehydrating, or in Oil. Read more about it over at Tip Garden:
I just haven’t gotten the gardening bug yet. I had my seed order ready, and then a friend of mine brought me all of his seed catalogs. Even with all the extra options, I just haven’t been able to get my hopes up.
I thought browsing the new catalogs might do it. But no. I did redo my seed order, for better prices more than selection. I didn’t expand the list any — if anything, I trimmed it back. I just don’t have the garden dreams I had before.
Instead, I’ve been sewing. Frank spent a day cleaning out the hot beds while I sat at the sewing machine or the computer. Perhaps he thought it would inspire me.
Oh, I still want to taste those home-grown tomatoes. Still want those days in the garden under the sun. I just don’t feel the excitement about it I did before. I feel disconnected from something that is (or once was) an integral part of our lives.
It’s a sobering lesson to lose all the work and investment in a garden and come up with nothing, like we did last year.
I find myself investing time and learning in other projects. Chickens, sewing, etc. Last year, by this time, in spite of an actual winter, I already had seeds started indoors. This year, I haven’t even placed my seed order yet, nor have I reviewed what seeds I have in our little seed bank. I’m just not there yet.
Perhaps when spring starts to show itself. Someone in the county reported hearing peepers the other night, and though I know they always freeze their little buns off at least once each year once I hear them, I hope that perhaps spring intends to arrive early this year — maybe that will get me going.
In the meantime, I’ve been sewing garden aprons. I thought perhaps a new garden apron would inspire me to get in the garden mindset. It didn’t. Instead, I ended up inspired to sew more aprons. I made 20 aprons in a weekend. At least I’ll have something to sell besides eggs at the spring farmer’s market…
Over the weekend, on a break from the world of small business taxes, I filled out my seed catalog orders. In the end, the full flow of garden dreaming excitement never hit me. I didn’t find myself attempting new challenges outside our norm (like eggplant) like I usually do. In catalog orders of the past, I’ve been eager to at least try some new things. Not so much this year.
Last year, I went to our seed stash before placing my orders, taking inventory of saved-over heirlooms seeds, and filling in the gaps or supporting certain varieties. This year, I didn’t do that either. I pretty much know what’s there — nothing from last year, and only remnants from the year before. So, I figured I’d just stick to the basics, and basically start from scratch. Other than pumpkin seed, we pretty much needed all the basics.
The list started with a pound on Gray Mammoth Sunflower seed, which I grow and harvest for our hens and feathered friend feeders. They have huge blooms that make harvesting a little easier, but I have a second use for these towering stalks — fence reinforcement and bean poles.
Two years ago, I happened to just pick up a pack of this seed somewhere while shopping. The garden was already started, and so I just stuck some seed in around the new fence line at the end where we’d just expanded. The fence there was shorter than the 8 foot fencing we have around the original garden plot, so I figured the sunflowers might help.
They were helpful – to a point. A row of 12 foot tall sunflowers each a foot apart from the others, just inside the fence did deter some deer from just leaping over the short fence into the garden. When dealing with deer, any deterrence is a good thing. The problem is, I can only plant the sunflowers along the fence on the north side of the garden. Planted on the southern side, they’d cover three rows of carrots and onions with shade.
I also have been known to use the sunflower stalks (that get up to 3 inches thick) as support poles in the green bean rows. Instead of bean poles, we run fencing down the rows of beans, so they can just climb the fence. But we’ve always had a problem with the fence sagging as time passed, the more the beans grew, the more the fencing sagged. So last year, about 2 weeks before we even planted the beans, I laid out the rows and planted a sunflower seed about every eight to ten feet. Two, and then four weeks later, we planted the beans, and put the fence down the row. By then, the sunflowers had a good head start, and looked as though they would offer the additional support needed later in the season — but then the big wind storm came and flattened them, fence, flowers, beans and all.
I’m going to try that again this year.
Some may think it odd that we grow these huge sunflowers to harvest and we really don’t eat the seed ourselves. The hens and birds get the seed, the fence and beans get support from their stalks and we — well, we get to enjoy the beauty of foot-wide blossoms towering high above our heads all summer. That’s good enough for me.
I mentioned yesterday that I have fallen in love with certain tomatoes, which I consider as staples in our garden. There are two, specifically, that I feel I just can’t do without.
Brandywine (Lycopersicon esculentum)
As far as I’m concerned, Brandywine are some of the most beautiful tomatoes grown. More pink than red, they are considered to be “the benchmark” for real tomato flavor.
Brandywine have leaves that look more like a potato plant’s than a tomato. Once, I gave six plants to a neighbor, who pulled them up from her tomato bed and tossed them, thinking I had given her the wrong thing…. (Alas!)
We love them sliced, with salt (or sugar) and they make an awesome tomato sandwich. Two years ago, we had such an abundance, that they were used to make our pizza sauce — which turned out especially sweet and tangy.
Dating back to Amish Country near Philadelphia in 1889, the fruit grows deep pink and plump, up to one pound.
Twice I have tried the Amana Orange tomato seed, referred to as the “Yellow Brandywine.” They germinated well, but I had a more challenging time getting them to survive the transition from seed tray to garden bed. In all, I had one plant survive, which produced about 8 tomatoes – but they were really, really good as well.
Black Krim (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)
I just wasn’t sure about “purple” tomatoes until I tasted one. They are amazing, with an earthy, almost smoky flavor. The Black Krim is a Russian heirloom that originated in Krim, a Crimean town on the Black Sea. The baseball sized fruits are dark, purple/black.
Black Krim is known to be one of the most reliable of the “black” tomatoes, and our seeds have always germinated and sprouted well.
I like them sliced, but the Black Krim have become the “secret ingredient” in our home-made ketchup, which is more like a tangy barbecue sauce than ketchup. They darken as they cook, so my ketchup actually looks like tar in a jar.
Sure, I have other favorite tomatoes — Money Maker, Mortgage Lifter, Red Oxheart to name a few. But the Brandywine and Black Krim will always be mainstays in our garden.
Quietly, they’ve been spread across the country through the postal system, delivered to mailboxes of people who grab them tightly and carry them into the house to ponder over and learn, preparing for action in the coming spring…. Seed catalogs.
I’ve come to learn that gardeners all have their own preferred sources of seed. Some rely only one seed saved over from years before, while others faithfully get theirs at the neighborhood feed store where they’ve gotten it for years. Some swear by one company, some by another. Some prefer hybrid, others prefer heirloom. Frank and I prefer to work with heirloom seed, and try to save over our own seed, but at the same time, like to try something new each year. And although we have gotten seed from various sources, we’ve come down to one catalog for the bulk of our supply — Seeds of Change.
Seeds of Change offers 100% certified organic seed, and offers a variety of heirloom varieties. We’ve had success with germination, growth, etc — all the great things you expect from seeds. I’m sure such success and satisfaction would come from ordering from any organic seed supplier, but we also happen to like the seed bags that come with Seeds of Change seeds. They’re resealable zip lock bags. For some reason, that did it for us.
And I’ve made use of them. I managed, over the years, to save brandywine tomato seeds from the garden in my bright yellow resealable bag their grand-seedlings came in. For some reason, I take pride in that fact.
This year’s study of the seed catalog includes a little more strategy than previous years. Last year’s Great Garden Failure depleted our seed storage in two ways — first, we got no harvest from the seeds that grew, and thus – likewise didn’t have any seed to save over.
Not to say we don’t have any seed. I have a minute supply of original seed generations, and a stout supply of seed from the second generation. However, to keep things growing as they should for many generations, I feel the need to order more from the original source each year to keep my seed line strong.
I feel especially determined about this with my tomatoes. I want my Brandywine and Black Krim to sprout, grow, produce, slice, taste and cook the same in ten years as they do this year.
I’ve gone through the catalog once with a fat magic marker, circling what I consider the basics of our garden, plus an interesting squash or grain or two. As I did so, the name of the company was not lost on me. “Seeds of Change.” What promise, what hope, what possibilities come with each order, in each yellow resealable bag.
The Great Garden Failure will always be tied to a year we’d rather forget – for many reasons. The garden was not all that we lost last year. But in browsing through the seed catalog, these seeds of change, we cannot help but imagine smiling over a plate of steamed spaghetti squash, tossed in herbs and warmed butter. You can almost taste the sweetness of that honeydew melon, feel the juice run down your chin. You can see the swirls in the top of a pot of tomato paste, and smell it’s earthy steam.
Ah, what a change can come from a pack of seed.
That is part of planning a garden. Planning the garden is planning your spring, summer and fall. It is planning your stock pile for next winter, and planning your seeds of change for next year — and the year after that, and the year after that, and so on.
The Seeds of Change catalog has come with its promises of a healthy, bountiful future. And so the planning and study continues – we won’t have to order for a few weeks yet.