Farmers talk about the weather and the weather. When it's HOT and DRY like this summer, they talk about the WEATHER. Everyone at my farmers markets is trying to just keep the garden alive until the heat lets up by watering as much as they can. We are fortunate to have a well, plus I hate putting chlorine on the plants. The stuff in all my raised beds is doing quite well--here's a photo of the French Tarragon.
Here is an excerpt from Jungs Seeds newsletter that explains WHY my beans have no beans and WHY my tomatoes are not ripening:
"Tomatoes are the most widely planted garden crop, so many of the calls we receive relate to them. First of all, an abundance of blossoms on tomatoes doesn't always result in a bumper crop. Temperatures above 85 degrees F. can affect pollination and fruit set. Studies have shown that daytime temperatures in excess of 95 degrees and night time temps of over 75 degrees may cause flowers to fall off. Temperatures over 100 degrees can make the plant go into survival mode, causing red pigments in tomatoes to stop forming, while the yellow and orange ones continue. If this is the case, it's best to pick the tomatoes when they begin to turn red and allow them to ripen indoors at cooler temperatures. It takes about 5 weeks for a tomato flower to become a ripe fruit - the first 3 weeks to get to full size and the last 2 weeks to fully ripen. Temperatures above 90 degrees will slow fruit growth and ripening, so if you've planted a large-fruited variety, you probably won't harvest the big tomatoes you are expecting. This is not the fault of the variety - it is a result of the heat. Once the excessive heat is over, it will most likely take five more weeks to begin harvesting tomatoes again. Tomatoes that have developed to full size in spite of dry weather may suddenly grow again if watered or rained on, and the result may be split fruit. " You can see the entire article here: http://www.jungseed.com/GardenLibrary.asp and click on Hot Weather and How It Effects Your Garden.
This is my spearmint and elecampayne in April BEFORE the drought.
Our 2 year old Alpine doe that we acquired a few weeks ago "June Bug" had perked up quite a bit. She was feeling poorly when we got her as she had a stillborn this spring. Then this weekend she took a turn for the worse. FarmBoy Gary nursed her with hourly carrots/apples while I was at farmers market; she was weak, lethargic and off her feed. I dosed her with herbs and the goat-keepers Miracle Cure of molasses, corn syrup and corn oil, a high dose of vitamin C and pro-biotics. She snapped out of it this morning, ate all her breakfast and even when up on the mountain to forage with me and the rest of the goats. She still is not up to par, but at least she looks like she will live. I had my doubts on Saturday. June Bug as a baby. Isn't she adorable?
Wiley Coyote has been visiting us each day. He is straggly, skinny and looking for chicken dinner. Rocky has been great at chasing off the Miss Foxy so we haven't seen her for weeks. And, he chases Wiley when he sees him. Today he was so cute he ran up and down the mountain trailing the coyote in the high heat of the afternoon. When he finished he just collapsed in the shade. Anatolian s are not known for their stamina in a race!
My egg customers have been disappointed for a few weeks, but my little hens are starting to lay again. Guess they decided the heat was here to stay so they might as well get with the program.
This morning I was preparing pots for rooting some perennials and a hummingbird landed on my work table. She just sat there for a minute watching me. It was one of those delightful moments when one forgets the heat, forgets the coyotes, forgets the egg problems. For one minute it was just she and I alone. Bliss.
I have a lot of fun culturing food; I prefer "culture" to "ferment". Ferment conjures bad smells and bubbles. One of my new summer books that I mentioned in an earlier blog "Real Food Fermentation" is a slick glossy lots of photos how to on culturing all sorts of food. Today I'm interested in beverages. Cultured beverages. They are by far the most important drinks in the world. And, what's not to like with all those bacteria and yeasty beasties working so hard to turn drinks into a nutritional healthy soul satisfying beverages. You may drink fermented liquid without even being aware: wine & beer (ok so you knew those), coffee, black tea, cider, mead, hard liquor, kombucha, various fruit drinks. It is so dang triple-digit hot outside that I am drinking all sorts of liquid trying to quench a full body thirst; iced herbal infusions and teas, fruit & ice drinks, home made electrolytes, water.
Here are a few recipes--go for it!
From Real Food Fermentation: Ginger Ale
4 inches ginger root
1 gallon NON CHLORINATED water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 to 1 cup yogurt whey
Peel and grate ginger ( a spoon does this beautifully)
Put ginger & water in pot bring to boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, add sugar, stir til dissolved. Cool.
Add whey. A canning jar is ideal to store the ginger ale. Let it sit for a day or two.
From "Nourishing Traditions" here's a little different recipe: 3/4 cup ginger root, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/4-1/2 cup Rapadura (sweetner) 2 teas sea salt, 1/4 cup whey, 2 quarts filtered water. Place all ingredients in jar, stir, well, cover tightly and leave at room temp for 2-3 days, transfer to frig. As you can see, there are differences in these recipes which tells me: DO IT THE WAY YOU WANT and it will turn out ok! Ginger Ale is wonderful on hot days and is best when sipped. It's a great pick me up after being in the sun.
Here's one made with oranges ("Nourishing Traditions") Juice of 12 oranges, 2 teas sea salt, 1/4 cup whey, 1/2 teas orange extract, 1 1/4 quarts filtered water. Leave at room temp 2 days, refrigerate. Stir before pouring.
Here's a most interesting one; I haven't tried this yet as I don't have raspberries growing. In essence crush some raspberry leaves so they are nice and juicy; stick them in the oven overnight at 50 degrees C (which my FarmBoy Chef Gary says is about 122 degrees F!) They will be brown--just like tea leaves! So, use them just like tea leaves for making tea. This recipe is from Henriette at http://www.henriettesherbal.com/blog/fermented-raspberry-leaf.html
Gotta go...have to divide my Kombucha baby.... have a monumental day. Oh, and it's the New Moon...perfect time to start projects! :) e
PS I haven't figured out how to make paragraphs with this new format, please bear with me. And, why can't they just leave it alone!!!
Summer on the farm. In my mind: warm breezes, glorious garden produce, relaxing with a glass of iced herb tea. In the real world: triple digit temps, bugs ,weeds and a failure to thrive, chasing the dog who is chasing the chickens. Don't misunderstand me--I love, no I adore my farm. But the idyllic notion of a working farm is better served in Hallmark channel specials. This summer I have sweated out all my electrolytes, suffered through poison ivy, battled toe to nose chiggers, hospitalized with anaphylactic shock, shed tears over the loss of favorite chickens (drat that fox-Bigg Hoss is gone and I'm down to one little Mable--I've gone from 75 chickens to 36) and despaired over Rocky's persistence in "playing" with the chickens.
In spite of it all, I wouldn't trade my farm life now for my old corporate life. I love watching the sunrise from my bucket seat on a huge boulder. The goat's bells tinkling softly as they forage in the trees, the chickens clucking and scratching waiting to be let out of their pen, the gardens laying quietly waiting to be weeded and harvested. I love the beginning of each new day; it's so full of promise. I am so thankful for what I have, who I am and where I live.
BOOK REVIEWS: Now, on to more practical matters. You know I love to culture food and I just ran across a new book by Caleb Warnock: "The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast". Check out his blog: calebwarnock.blogspot.com Caleb is generous enough to share his natural yeast starter. THANKS CALEB! For culturing other food "Real Food Fermentation" by Alex Lewin is a wonderful resource and "how to". I also just got "Quick Fix Healthy Mix" by Casey Keller and Nicole-Keller-Munoz and it has fabulous time saver mixes. All of them are not as healthy as I would like so am having to tweak them some, but it's a great little book to get you started on making your own "package mixes" from scratch. Finally, "Dinner Is In The Jar" by Kathy Clark has recipes for making premix dinners. This is a great thing to do with all that food storage sitting in your closet or under your bed! You can check out any of these books by clicking on the Amazon button in the right column.
We have loved the way our chickens kept the bug population down but now they have discovered TOMATOES! Cassie, our little Australian Shepherd does her best to keep them at bay, but she just can't seem to manage it. Besides, we are hoping she's "with puppy" --several puppies--so she will have her hands full of other chores.
I am loving our CSA family. Putting all that just harvested produce in those lovely red bags is so satisfying. Last week one of our families came out to help and their twin 6 year old boys harvested the remainder of my garlic. What great workers!
Well, better go check on Rocky...he cannot quite be trusted with the chickens....