Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lotsa Peppers from the Garden! Home Grown Meal

With all the extra pepper harvests, we are adding it to almost every meal we have! This is a stir fry noodle dish called Yakisoba. Yakisoba literally means, grilled/stir fried noodles. We used a gluten free noodle substitute that is normally used for Pad Thai and it worked great! We added Tonkatsu sauce, for the flavoring to mimic the traditional sauce. Tonkatsu sauce tastes is kind of like Worcester sauce but sweeter and thicker. I guess the closest mixture would be Ketchup with generous amounts of the Worcester sauce mixed in.

Here are just the veggies: HG Paprika and Anaheim peppers, Farmer's Market Carrots, Onions and Cabbage.
Here it is with the noodles added. The noodles were cooked separately, slightly undercooked, so it can absorb the extra liquids from the veggies. It was very yummy!

Harvest Updates

Here's some peppers, pineapple guavas, green beans, and the last of the eggplants
First crop of Sun-chokes, pretty good sizes, and still a LOT more from where these came from. We found a good way to eat them. We've pickled them. They don't develop the strong smells that we were not fond of when cooked. Plus we applied shaved bonito flakes, salted, minced perilla (shiso) and ground sesame very generously. It's crispy and refreshing! They say it's very good for diabetics because it contains inulin, which helps regulate insulin levels.
More Peppers
Even More Peppers!
We're nearing our end in Pepper production. We were VERY pleased with the plants this year, and thankfully NO Pepper Weevils!

We have started seed on Broccoli, Cabbages, Lettuces, Celery, Daikon and Napa Cabbages in pots while we let the soil rest a bit between the summer and winter plantings. We have started a new method of composting. Instead of stuffing our compost bins with the veggie garden's end of season plants, we're chopping them up, taking out a few inches of soil from the bed, then placing the chopped vegetation there in the bed directly, then burying what was grown in that bed (as long as it's not diseased). The idea is: that that plant, be it tomato or beans, grew using the soil's nutrients and the sun's energy to grow, so returning it to rest right THERE makes the most sense. All the nutrients minus the fruits of the plants are are basically returned, in addition to new energy made by photosynthesis. There are other methods, like cutting the plant at the base and simply laying the old plant on the soil, but for us, that method takes too long for decomposition.
We are blessed with a very long growing season, so we don't let our soil rest as long as those who have snow cover.  So far, as long as we add nutrients back into the raised beds from our compost and through our till under method and a bit of rock dust, we get great results with happy plants! We are in zone 9 with 120-150 days with heat about 86 F. We get frost about 3~4 weeks out of the year, so growing winter hardy crops, we can be growing year round.  Carrots, Beets and Daikon actually store more sugars in their roots when there are colder temps. Cabbages can withstand some frost, and peas cant withstand quite a lot of it. I know we're spoiled here with all the warm weather... I just wish we had more rain! (the grass is always greener...)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Garden Updates

Peppers are nearing
the end of production
Bittermelon in pots

Garlic starting to sprout
White Sesame blooming
and setting seed

Strawberries for next spring all in pots

The fig tree has finished this years' production
and the leaves are starting to turn color

VERY late season pumpkins next
to Borage almost ready to flower

Navel Oranges are now bigger than baseballs

Carrot seedlings on the left.
Onion and Garlic Chived on the right.
This is where Cherry Toms
were grown this summer

This Valencia orange was surrounded
by too many plants in it's  root zone
and was infested with bark-boring beetles.

(LOL, I envision Volks Wagon bugs,
barking and being bored)
The Bird of Paradise growing
behind it was finally removed
and planted in the front yard.
This bed had cucumbers,
zucchini, pumpkins and beans.
Most of it was tilled under and
the land is waiting for

the fall plantings of Peas.
Against the back wall, the Sunchokes
are starting to wither
Pink little Cosmos enjoying a
little rain this morning. 

The weather is SOOO bizarre!
Earlier in the week we
had Temps in 110.
Now we have thunderstorms
with scattered showers,
temps in the 70's
Seed starts of Cabbage and Lettuce
This area is where the Asian Pear
Tree stump was.
Tim dug it out and Andrew planted
the Mango tree in place of it and filled
the area back up
Late cucumbers: we're taking
a gamble with the weather
New Zealand Spinach is so hardy

Just a couple of snapshots,Harvest Updates

Hello blog-o-sphere of Self-Sustainers! Here's just 2 pics of the daily harvests I've shot before I ran out the door to my 1-1-1/2 hour commute to work. I have struggles with the moral implications of my time spent away from family and garden while slaving away for the Big Boss. I want to be free of this United Corporations of America but, I guess I am using it temporarily as a stepping stool to gain my independence from it. I've gotta come up with a better plan though. Learn more self-sustaining skills is one thing. Saving up for more land is another. Then there's long term goals beyond that, like what do I do about maintenance of aging technology, even if I am able to afford purchasing them now? Like solar panels, or aging electric cars? This is WAAAAY out in the future kind of stuff. I don't even own either things right now. So why worry? I'm a worry wart...hehe.

What would I do to earn $ if I leave the rat race? I could trade my skills in exchange for other's skills, bartering is another option. We'll still need to make some sort of income to pay those icky taxes they waste on dumb things like bailing out the richest people, if we plan to stay in the States.

I can't believe how expensive land is STILL, even after this financial fallout. They are purposely inflating the prices in my opinion. It's just not realistic. Homes are supposed to be the cost of 3 years of fulltime income. Here in SoCal, that's not even remotely close! The average home is easily $500K+ still in the desirable neighborhoods.  The average income is about $50K/year. That's 10 years of fulltime work to afford the home. I'm nearing 40 and I can't even come close to owning my own place without going into significant dept. (which I prefer NOT to do). I don't want to owe anyone anything, except love. 

 In the mean-time, my garden lags big-time because of the lack of time I have to devote. It irks me that I can't do what I want. I miss the days I used to spend baking in the sun watching the plants grow. I'm a farmer at heart.  It's a catch 22. If I don't work, we will do OK for now, we CAN live on one income. I'll have more time to learn about self-suffieciency. However, it gives us no wiggle room for savings to achieve our dream of buying our own land. If I work, I hardly see my family, and the garden becomes neglected.

I also have another dilemma. I should really post this part on the blog I keep for him.  I have a son who has special educational needs. He just needs MORE education. FAST. He is highly gifted, his thirst for knowledge is insatiable. School is too slow for him and he says he hardly learns anything new. He probably would excel if we homeschool him. Public school is doing their best but, I don't know if it's much different than studying at home. They separate him to do his own level study while the other children get their curriculum. If he's separated, what good is it to him to BE in public school? In fact, he learns more at home. For example, he was reading at 2nd grade level at the end of Kindergarten via school differentiation program. The summer passed and he was reassessed. He tested at 5th grade reading after the break from school. What does that tell us? OK, so socialization is pushed, they say he needs it. However, he seems to struggle making friends with his peers. His interests are different that theirs, I suppose. He wants to talk about planets, States and learn about global concerns. His peers just want to run around and play tag. So, there you have it. I probably SHOULD homeschool but, I'm afraid.  I'm afraid I won't have enough patience. I'm afraid I like my work too much.  Homeschooling will definitely be part of "going off the grid" though... 

I'm such a mess... I've got 2 halves battling it out inside me constantly. Once again I'm on the fence dangling my feet on both sides.  This is probably the first time I've spilled over to blend my family life issues with my passion about living sustainably.

OK, sorry for the rant, I needed to vent. Here's some pretty veggies/fruits that will help sooth our angst.

I promise I will take Garden Update pictures soon!