Thursday, August 25, 2011

Watermelon Sorbet

On a whim we picked up a watermelon plant while buying herbs from an Amish farm this spring.  It has taken up a large part of the garden and honestly makes a wonderful ground cover.

The first melon weighed in at an even 40 lbs! There's another beast of similar size still on the vine.

Gardener being serious about watermelon
So what do you do when there is not enough space in the fridge for a fruit that weighs more than our toddler? You make amazingly delicious watermelon sorbet and eat it, that's what you do.

We don't usually have watermelon around and I can't easily remember the last time we ate any.  I think that might change when it comes time for planning next year's garden.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Productive Project

The other weekend I finally got around to starting a new project.  I've been spending my spare time reading up on woodworking and I really wanted to try out making a few things around the house.  First on the list was a cooking spoon.  The catch is that I'm trying to do this only with hand tools.

I've picked up a modest assortment of starter tools but there was one missing piece. It's very hard to shape a block of wood without a good way to hold the blank steady.  The answer is a device called a shave horse.

I went into the garage where a stack of odd 2x4s and 2x6s have accumulated, and with the addition of a metal rod and a hinge, I created my first homemade tool.

I've been working with apple wood that fell from our oft mentioned apple tree. You can see that the finished product is rather rough and ugly but has been used and works perfectly.

The next one will be a bit prettier if I get around to picking up a much needed gooseneck scraper.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Late Summer Homestead Tour

As August 1st is considered a special time to celebrate the summer harvests in some traditions, we thought it would be fun to participate in Northwest Edible Life's nosy neighbor homestead tour today.

Our gardens and landscape are definitely going into the jungle-like state that they start to take on here in southeastern Pennsylvania in late summer. In fact, the past couple weeks have been pretty consistently in the high 90s to 100s with extreme humidity and almost no rain. Which means that very little weeding has been done, and I've been putting off planting fall-crop seeds. But that certainly doesn't mean that nothing is going on in the garden. Let's take a peek around!

Lettuce plants which are flowering and going to seed.

Swiss chard from this spring, which have come back and are ready to harvest again after being feasted on by deer.

Watermelon vines are taking over the entire bed and threatening to strangle everything in their path.

The one and only watermelon growing on all that vine.

Baby eggplant. Remind me to post my awesome Moroccan Eggplant Salad recipe sometime!

Pumpkins showing evidence of another night of munching deer. We planted five varieties of pumpkins this year, so I'm really hoping we manage to get at least a few for jack-o-lanterns and pies. We're already thinking about Halloween!

Tomatoes just starting to ripen. The kitchen will be overrun soon!


Jalapenos. Looks like we have some salsa in our near future.

In one of our perennial patches we have a few blackberries ripening on the canes we planted last summer.

And the mint is getting well established. These flowers are attracting all kinds of buzzing creatures. Can you spot the dragonfly?

Out back the corn patch is looking good.

The ladies are hoping we'll be sharing some of that corn with them.

My new herb patch has been handy in the kitchen. I'm not used to having access to so many fresh herbs, so this has been a real treat!

Hops just about ready to harvest. Next spring they're going to need to be divided, so our homebrewing buddies should be planning their hops patches now!

This spring's new additions: Niagara and Concord grape vines, and a bluebird house (which has already had its first nest of baby bluebirds hatch and take wing!)

Apple trees planted last fall, looking pretty happy, and outgrowing their protective cages.

Apples on our huge old apple tree starting to ripen. These guys are destined for cider.

The two peach trees up front were planted this spring, and have leafed out nicely. I enjoy imagining what our little orchard will look like in a few years' time.

Our recently improved rain barrel system.

Here's a view of the "pasture." We let the back half-acre go wild to let the grasses go to seed and fill in, in anticipation of future ruminants. We now need to invest in a scythe...

And here is a peaceful view of our acre of woods, where we get most of our firewood, a little maple syrup and a few nuts.

Now it's time to go back inside to finish making pickles with the last of the cucumber harvest and daydream about the cooler autumn days ahead! Thanks for joining us on our tour!