Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harvest Time

This is the time of year my husband risks life and limb to harvest the apples in our tree. This is no small feat when you consider my tree, which I purchased believing it to be a dwarf variety, is over 25 feet high. We didn't harvest as many apples as we usually do but there were enough for me to make two apple pies and a couple quarts of fresh apple juice. This year I have a masticating juicer that I have been putting through its paces and it hasn't disappointed me yet. In addition to apples, I've juiced pineapples, carrots and pears. It is my intention to move as far away from processed foods as possible and the juicer is one step in that direction.

Another step towards healthier eating is my dehydrator. Dehydrating isn't something I know very much about but I decided to give it a go for the first time last week using some freshly picked basil. I learned a couple of things pretty fast. One: dehydrating takes a lot longer than you expect; two: dehydrating takes A LOT LONGER than you expect. Because I didn't have a dehydration guide, I had no idea how long it would take to dry my basil. Three batches later I can confidently say that it takes 18 hours...yes, that's right...18 hours to dry basil. This doesn't count the initial washing and drying of the wet leaves before placing them in the machine.

Speaking of that, there was no way I was going to be hand drying several hundred basil leaves by hand with paper towels so I decided to speed up the process by placing them on a sweater rack and putting the leaves in my clothes dryer on air dry (no heat). Worked like a charm. Word to the wise: basil is at its best when picked BEFORE they bloom. That's when the leaves contain the most oil and are the most aromatic. My first batch came from post-bloom plants and the results were not nearly as aromatic as my final batch which came from plants with no flowers on them. My son had suggested I try dehydrating bananas to make banana chips which I think is a great idea but I can only imagine how many days it will take to adequately dry a high moisture fruit like banana.

Hmmm, juicer, dehydrator, vacuum sealer (got that too!) if I could only find room for a pressure canner...

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Glorious, Glorious

A bee samples a golden marigold.
Petunias in their final curtain call.
Basil (foreground) and marigolds.
Glorious morning glories.
Today was a very gray day in Brooklyn, comfortably cool but gray. Although it didn't rain, the overhead clouds cast a sad pallor over everything. Luckily I have a cure for the gray day blues waiting right outside my front door. It brings a smile to my face and greets everyone who passes with brightness and joy. Of course I'm talking about my garden. Although autumn is leaving its mark on her, she fights back with beauty and bounty. Here, take a look. Isn't she pretty?
Hanging plants on my porch.
Asters and Alyssum

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, October 4, 2013

Harvest Time

I've gushed on and on about my garden enough times for anyone reading this blog to know I really love it. The feeling of growing, picking and eating my own food is unrivaled. Add to that the beauty of the abundant flowers I also grow -- well, it doesn't get any better than that for me. Rather than gush any further, I'll just post a few photos of my little slice of heaven on earth. These pictures were taken within the last few weeks so it's a good representation of what my garden looks like now. Autumn is upon us and summer's bounty is waning but until frost kills off the last of my greenery I'm going to enjoy it to the max. Then I'll put all my pots and shovels away and spend the winter planning next year's garden.

Nope. It doesn't get any better than this.

Morning glories on my fence.
Bi-color corn. It was good!
Petunias in one last burst of blooms.

My garden goodies.
Jalapenos, a pepper and 12 inch cucumbers .
Dwarf apple tree.

Marigolds -- lots of them!

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva