Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Archive for the ‘Gardens’ Category

Fresh tomato and herb tart

Dinner tonight is fresh from the garden. Tomato herb tart topped with fresh goat cheese, and a bowl of mixed greens. 

The tart is made with a herb crust that was blind baked for 20 minutes so it stayed crispy. After letting the crust rest for 10 minutes I topped it with chopped mixed herbs, sliced tomatoes, fresh goat milk feta, basil salt, pepper, and finished the layers with a drizzle of olive oil. Then baked the tart at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The resulting tart had a flaky crisp crust and juicy topping.


Carrot pesto: moving towards zero waste


The hard never ending rains this summer required that we use everything that we are able to harvest this year. This morning I picked carrots, green beans, egg plant, tomatoes and cabbage. The cabbage is now sliced seasoned and in the crock to ferment. Carrots, egg plant and green beans will be prepped for the dehydrator – I really prefer dehydrated veggies in winter soups and stews.


This morning carrot greens were turned into pesto – several batches for the freezer and one put aside for a pasta dish on Sunday.

What yummy things are you making today?

preparing for the colder months


It was time to thin the kale this morning. The cutting rendered 8 pints of greens and a half gallon container chopped stems for fermenting.


While waiting on the pressure canner I blanched yesterday’s green bean harvest and placed them in the dehydrator for drying. We really prefer to use dehydrated green beans rather than frozen in winter soups and stews. For the next month or so our dehydrator, pressure cooker and water bath canner will be running almost daily.


Spicy eggplant and tofu


We have finally arrived at the Time in the growing season hat we can eat mainly out of our gardens. This morning I picked eggplant, sweet peppers, green beans, tomatoes and onions. A number of the fresh veggies noted earlier, and a block of tofu made by a local farm were used to create a Sriracha-spiced Stir-Fried tofu with eggplant and  red bell peppers for dinner. There is nothing quite like the taste of garden ripened produce to make a very memorable meal.


If you would like to try this dish the base recipe can be found on Kalyn’s blog.

I made some minor adjustments to her recipe to fit what I had available in my gardens. I replaced the Thai basil with fresh Italian basil, the green onion with a freshly picked shallot, peanut oil with canola oil, and stevia with maple syrup. I also sliced the fried garlic and added it back to the dish at the same time as the sauce was added,

A bit frustrated…

I am starting to get a bit frustrated with the nome that lives in one of the sets of raised vegetable beds in our back field. When I went to check on the gardens after the rains yesterday the zucchini plants had been pulled up and all the flowers eaten. There fences around the gardens so I know it wasn’t deer or any of our animals. Today I went to pick some green beans for dinner and found that all the jalapeños had been pulled off their plants and thrown to the ground — guess the nome doesn’t like hot. This is the first year we have had this problem so I am not sure what to do about the issue. Have any of you had this type of problem? If so, how did you handle the situation?

Early July Garden

Living this far north I get a little inpatient waiting for the vegetable gardens to start producing. Regardless of how I feel the gardens have a mind of their own and provide eatables when they are good and ready.

So far:

  • the radishes have matured and been harvested
  • Snow peas have basically played out for the season, but will leave the plants in to see if any more develop as the weather cools
  • spinach has been planted in the radish bed
  • asparagus is just about done for the season, time to do a bit of cleaning of the bed and laying new straw
  • tart cherries have matured but the small critters and birds have eaten almost all of them
  • The deer have been keeping the strawberries and ground artichokes well trimmed
  • pears, peaches, and on a limited basis apples and plums are maturing nicely
  • Have been able to pick some Swiss chard and kale to go with meals
  • tomato plants are loaded with fruit just waiting for them to ripen
  • have even able to harvest small amounts of broccoli and cabbage so far, but there is a promise of much, much more in a few weeks
  • will be able to pick the first offerings of bush and pole beans in about a week for canning
  • Eggplant, peppers, summer squash, onions, carrots (had to plant these twice since an unseasonable heat wave fried the first batch), and various hers are coming along nicely
  • Ground finally got warm enough for the cucumbers and witnter squash varieties to start growing well and producing flowers of promise

2018 Garden Starts

Our gardens are just starting to come to life after a long cold winter. The fruit trees and berry bushes are covered in fruit starters, the vegetable gardens are starting to show promise, and the flower beds are displaying some wonderful colors.  I truly love this time of year when each day has something new to show.


July Gardens

Some of the produce in our gardens are really starting to produce and others we are fighting with the voles and chipmunks to get a share. When watering Thursday I noticed that there were a number of holes in the beet bed and some of the greens laying on their sides. Closer inspection noted that voles ate some for the beets and left their greens behind. So I picked the beets mature enough to use, pickling the beets and using the greens for a great pasta recipe found on Chowhound called “Beet Greens and Feta Pasta“. The recipe took all of 15 minutes to prepare and was delicious.


This morning I thinned the kale bed and harvested about 15-20 pounds of greens and a small bunch of Swiss chard.  Some of the greens were used to make a Coconut Curried Kale and Sweet Potato dish that I found on the Cookie + Kate blog. The dish tasted wonderful and herbs and spices made the kitchen smell wonderful.


Another portion of kale was used to  build a kale lasagna for the freezer and the balance went into the dehydrator to turn into kale powder for winter soups, stews and smoothies. The Swiss chard picked today will be turned into one of our favorite tarts tomorrow.

Today we finally got around to covering the grapes to protect them from the deer and birds who have been nibbling on the little green globes.


This growing season we tried a few new varieties. Two that are looking promising are an orange eggplant and scarlet runner beans.


For the first time our potato plants have developed seed potatoes. The cool evening this season and rich soil in the beds assisted the potato plants in producing a large number of flowers and seed pods.


Late season apples

Apple pieYesterday I picked the norther spy variety of apples in our small orchard. They are an extra special treat since they mature so late in the season and only produce biannually. This semi-tart crush Apple is great eating apple that is also good for baked goods and sauces. After picking through and crating the apples for storage we were left with a few dozen damaged apples that would not keep. Since we already used early season apples to make enough cider, apple sauce and apple butter of the next year so I used some of the damaged apples to make the first apple pie of the season for our house. The remaining set-asides were peeled, sliced and bagged for the freezer. We waste very little in this house so the peels were prepared and stored to age into Apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar

Smokey bush beans in the slow cooker

The cool wet weather that we received this summer encouraged many of our vegetables to provide us with bumper crops.  One of those vegetables was bush beans. After canning 30 pints and making copious amounts of four been salad, I decided to convert a childhood ham and beans recipe to a flavorful  vegan dish. With a bit of experimentation a dish of juicy green beans with soft potatoes and a rich flavorful smokey broth was created.   An added bonus of the dish is that it takes a little effort to prepare and can cooked in a crock pot started in the morning before work or prior to an event.

If you have some extra beans in your garden or the local market has fresh beans on sale you may want to try the following recipe.

smokey green beans and potatoes


  • 10 cups of green, yellow and/or purple beans cunt into bit sized pieces
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Spray the bowl of the slow cooker lightly with cooking spray
  2. All all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir
  3. Cover pot with the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours
  4. Enjoy with some hot water cornbread or crusty rolls

July on the hill: month in review

July was a month of highs and lows. Fortunately we were presented with more highs than lows this month. After a very slow start the vegetable and herb gardens started producing to the point that I have been able to dehydrate a number of different herbs, can 20 pints of green beans, a dozen pints of 4 bean salad and six pints of baked beans. We have also been able to enjoy a variety of salads, kale and zucchini dishes, as well as selected raw vegetables form the gardens.

The tomatoes, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, parsnips, and many of the tree and bush fruits and maturing to the point that we will be able to pick them in the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately,   the winter squashes, collard and cabbages are growing slowly and struggled with the cool wet July weather.  I am really starting to get a bit concerned about ability of some of the vegetables to mature before the first frosts set in this fall. Hopefully the rains will not come as often in August and we will have seasonably appropriate temperatures to spur plant growth.

The flower gardens loved all of the rain and unseasonably cool temperatures this month. We were blessed with some lovely summer blooms.

The middle of July I took a trip across the country to spend a bit a time support a relative that was dealing with a serious health issue. Fortunately my family member is recovering well and will return to very good health. Unfortunately,  I had to cut my visit short because one of my spouses relatives passed away at the end of the month.

Hopefully August will be a much better month…Enjoy the rest of your summer.


Sunny Days

The past couple of weeks have been just wonderful. It has been sunny and warm almost every day and evening rains have taken care of the garden watering. For the past week we have been able to pick blueberries, sour cherries, raspberries, asparagus and kale daily, so needless to say we had wonderful salads and smoothies for our meals.

Last week between tending the vegetable gardens and house chores I finally got around to splitting and re-planting a few of the hosta groupings around trees, by the pond and along the hillside on the side of the house. I was really surprised by the number of plants that I ended up with after the splitting… I really shouldn’t let this process go for so many years :(… this fall I need to attack the long overdue splitting of the iris patches…

Quite time on the patio has also allowed me to  work on a few needlepoint pillow tops (normally have 2-3 going at a time), and the late nights even provided time to finish a few of the units.


Over the next few weeks I will be finishing up 2-3 more pillow tops before I move onto a few quilt projects waiting in the wings, and dehydrating and  canning of some of this seasons produce.

June in review

June was a wet and cool month here in the northeast. Our temperatures were below normal and rainfall levels at a record high. Most of our plants loved the weather and the wetness allowed us to get a number of things done indoors. The herb garden has allowed me to dehydrate a number of different items for the fall. The asparagus bed provided and is still providing tasty treats, and the radish beds have provided for some tasty roasted morsels and enough greens to make pesto for the the entire fall.

The yummy treats on fruit trees, berry bushes and grape vines are coming along nicely. A number of our flowers made a quick showing before the rains drove them away, but the blooms on the houseplants made up for the short garden showing.

I finished a number of potholders that will go in holiday baskets for friends and family this year, canned two dozen jars of strawberry and carrot cake jam, and got a bit of work done on a few needlepoint projects (have 4 going at once at the moment).

On the sunny days this month we tried to keep up with weeds in the garden (an impossible task), split and stacked food for the winter, played fetch with the dogs, took in an outdoor concert, did a bit of hiking and even got out kayaks on the water one day. All in all it was a very good month.

We plan on kayaking part of the Connecticut river on the fourth of July weekend after a few items on the honey do list are completed.  Hope you all have a wonder 4th.

2015 projects started…

Last night I finished the “Dancing to the Light of the Moon” quilt top (the name may change) and this morning I packaged it up and sent it off to the person who will be quilting the piece. I really enjoyed designing and working on the top and will share project photos with you in a few months.

Getting to the post office this morning was a true test of my love of crafting since it was a -17 degrees Fahrenheit at 9 am and even the chickens didn’t want to leave the hen house. Nice thing about the weather is the trip to town was quick since the cold kept many off the streets. It has now warmed up to 1 degree outside (the high today will be 7), the wood stove have warmed the indoors up, chickens have been fed a warm oatmeal and dry corn mash (so they are very happy), So I can get back to a few new projects that I have on my list.

A few of the things that I would like to get done by the end of the month are to finish planning out the vegetable gardens and the associated starters.

i2015 seedsFinish beading a quilt I started a years ago — the butterfly garden turned out to be more than a notion… in the end there will be more than 10 tubes of beads in the top.

butterfly gardenAnd since I find it impossible to work n one project at a time a hand pieced mini quilt has also been started. The quilt used English paper piecing of units of an inch or less that will sewn into baby blocks and six pointed stars created with a number of hand died fabric scraps that I couldn’t part with.

2015hand pieced mini quilt

Why are summers so busy?

Summers always seem to be our busiest times of the year. This summer especially since we needed to build a new hen house and expand the raised bed section of our garden.

new hen house

The new hen house is now complete and the young chicks are installed, we have three of the new raised beds done and 5 more to build. The existing vegetable gardens have been so productive that we have seasonal veggie dishes every night for dinner, green smoothies have become a morning staple and the dehydrator, pressure cooker, and canning pots have been working overtime. It has been an enjoyable yet exhausting season so far.

One of our favorite smoothies is a carrot cake one that allows me to use some great veggies and the mixed greens power that I make from some of the garden bounty.

Carrot cake smoothy


  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp mixed greens powder*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut
  • Hand full of raw walnuts
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Mixed green power is made by taking the greens from vegetables plans like turnips, beets, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, and some kale and other greens that you have growing in the garden and dehydrating and then grinding the dried leaves into powder.

The fourth of July weekend we split a few cords of wood for the winter and then rewarded ourselves the following weekend with some kayaking on the Connecticut River. This past weekend we finished our chores up early enough that we were able to take the dog out to the river for a bit of swimming.

ginger in the water

Life is good…

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