Sunday, March 28, 2010

Clearing the Land

When we first moved into The Ponderosa Lodge, the lodge was surrounded by pine trees. This created a beautiful canopy when driving up to the lodge, but it kept the lodge dark and cool. We were so crowded that we couldn't see cars pull in the driveway and didn't know people were here until they walked up to the door. We, basically, had a 20 minute window of sunlight in the front window when the sun was peaking between the trees. We had to do some clearing.

Pines trees in the front and back in 2005.

We first cut down 7 of the pine trees in the front and 5 large trees in the back. Then we cleared some locust across the driveway. This opened up the lodge and we realized we had a view of the holler below.

Last week, we got 12 more trees removed to increase our view of our fields and open the lodge up for more sunshine. We plan to add solar panels to the roof for hot water and need a little more sunshine.

View from our bedroom window.

Tom attaches a cable to direct the tree's fall.

Tom is a good friend and a great person to know. He has his own wood mill and milled all of the trees we have cut down here into lumber. All of the improvements we have made to the lodge have utilized lumber from our property. We trade lumber with Tom in return for his help in cutting down the trees. He takes the large trunks, while the tops and most of the branches get cut into firewood for my friend Scott. The smallest branches are then hauled to the back edge of our fields for brush piles for wildlife.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Weekend of Spring

We took full advantage of this first weekend of Spring. The weather was beautiful and the snow is almost gone. I cleaned up the two beds I had hoops over for the winter. They were buried in the snow all winter, so the plants in them barely grew. It wasn't worth keeping so few plants, so I pulled the tiny greens up and gave them to a rabbit.

In our seven raised beds, I planted peas (shelling and sugar snap), onions, bunching onions, radishes, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and beets. I covered all of these beds with row cover to provide some frost protection and insect control. I also made two salad boxes and planted lettuce and asian greens. I didn't get a picture of them yet, but I will soon. I plan to make more a couple more salad boxes this week.

Here is Jorene, Liam and our cat Georgia helping plant some seeds.

Time for a nap. I wonder what this seed will grow up to be?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jumbo Seed Order

This week, we received our Jumbo Heirloom Collection of seeds from Baker Creek. We ordered this collection of non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds to get started with our garden. We received a plastic 5 gallon bucket full of many different varieties of seeds to grow food for ourselves, our guests at the Ponderosa Lodge, and our friends. It was a great value and a great way to jump start our vegetable garden expansion. We'll grow some of them and save the rest for next year. Our bucket includes the following seeds:

Amaranth, Love Lies Bleeding - Green
Amaranth, Love Lies Bleeding - Red
Asparagus, Mary Washington
Bean, Contender
Bean, Fava, Aquadulce
Bean, Fava, Broad Windsor
Bean, Jacob's Cattle
Bean, Old Homestead (Kentucky Wonder)
Bean, Purple Podded
Bean, Roma
Bean, Scarlet Runner
Beet, Chioggia
Beet, Crosby's Egyptian
Beet, Cylindra
Beet, Mammoth Red Mangel
Broccoli, Calabrese Green Sprouting
Broccoli, Early Purple Sprouting
Broccoli, Rapini
Brussels Sprouts, Long Island Improved
Cabbage, Cour di Bue
Cabbage, Henderson's Charleston Wakefield
Cabbage, Mammoth Red Rock
Cabbage, Nero Di Toscana
Carrot, Chantenay Red Core
Carrot, Danvers 126 Half Long
Carrot, Shin Kuroda 5"
Carrot, St. Valery
Carrot, Tonda Di Parigi
Cauliflower, Green Macerata
Cauliflower, Snowball Self-Blanching
Cauliflower, Violetta Italia
Celeriac, Giant Prague
Celery, Tendercrisp
Chicory, Castelfranco
Chicory, Grumolo Biondo Golden
Chicory, Italiko Rosso Dandelion
Chicory, Sugar Loaf
Chicory, Witloof Di Bruxelles
Collards, Georgia Southern
Corn, Country Gentleman
Corn, Pencil Cob Dent
Corn, Stowell's Evergreen
Corn, Wade's Giant Indian
Cowpea, Bohemian
Cowpea, California Blackeye
Cucumber Marketmore 76
Cucumber, Beit Alpha
Cucumber, Boothby's Blonde
Cucumber, Delikatesse
Cucumber, Early Russian
Cucumber, Poona Kheera
Cucumber, Sikkim
Cucumber, West India Burr Gherkin
Cucumber, White Wonder
Eggplant, Applegreen
Eggplant, Black Champion
Eggplant, Brazilian Oval Orange
Eggplant, Casper
Eggplant, Long Purple
Eggplant, Ping Tung
Eggplant, Round Mauve
Eggplant, Turkish Orange
Endive, Batavian Full Heart
Endive, De Meaux
Fennel, Di Ferenze
Gourds, Bottle
Gourds, Long Handled Mixed
Gourds, Orange
Gourds, Serpente Di Sicilia
Greens, Arugula
Greens, Corn Salad
Greens, Garden Cress
Greens, Mustard, Southern Giant Curled
Greens, Red Orach
Greens, Salad Burnet
Greens, Wrinkled, Crinkled Cress
Kale, Russian Red
Kohlrabi, Early Purple Vienna
Kohlrabi, Early White Vienna
Leek, Bulgarian Giant
Leek, Carentan
Lettuce, Big Boston
Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson
Lettuce, Brune d'Hiver
Lettuce, Forellenschluss
Lettuce, Gentilina
Lettuce, Iceberg
Lettuce, Lotto Rossa
Lettuce, Mascara
Lettuce, May Queen
Lettuce, Merviella Des Quatre
Lettuce, Parris Island Cos
Lettuce, Red Romaine
Lettuce, Tom Thumb
Melon, Charentais
Melon, Collective Farm Woman
Melon, Early Hanover
Melon, Early Silver Line
Melon, Green Nutmeg
Melon, Hearts of Gold
Melon, Honey Rock
Melon, Israel Ogen
Melon, Jelly Melon Kiwano
Melon, Jenny Lind
Melon, Metki Dark Green Serpent
Melon, Metki White Serpent
Melon, Minnesota Midget
Melon, Noir De Carmes
Melon, Plum Granny
Melon, Pride of Wisconsin
Melon, Sakata's
Melon, Tigger
Melon, Tip Top
Millet, German Foxtail
Okra, Burgundy
Okra, Clemson Spineless
Okra, Emerald
Okra, Grandfather Kurtz
Okra, Perkins Long Pod
Okra, Star of David
Onion, Bronze d'Amposta
Onion, Crimson Forest Bunching
Onion, Red of Florence
Onion, Tokyo Long White Bunching
Onion, Tropeana Lunga
Onion, Yellow of Parma
Oriental Greens, Big Stem Mustard
Oriental Greens, Chinese Pak Choy
Oriental Greens, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy
Oriental Greens, Jiu Tou Niao Mustard
Oriental Greens, Komatsuma Tendergreen
Oriental Greens, Michihli Cabbage
Oriental Greens, Mizuna
Oriental Greens, Shanghai Green Choy
Oriental Greens, Tatsoi
Oriental Greens, Wong Bok
Parsnip, Harris Model
Parsnip, Hollow Crown
Pea, Alaska
Pea, Golden Sweet
Peas, De Grace
Peas, Little Marvel
Peas, Mammoth Melting Sugar Snow
Peas, Oregon Sugar Pod II
Peas, Sugar Snap
Peas, Tall Telephone
Peas, Wando
Pepper, Black Hungarian
Pepper, California Wonder
Pepper, Cayenne Long Thin
Pepper, Fish
Pepper, Golden Marconi
Pepper, Golden Wonder
Pepper, Hungarian Hot Wax
Pepper, Purple Beauty
Pepper, Red Cheese
Pepper, Red Marconi
Pepper, Red Mini
Pepper, Sante Fe Grande
Pepper, Serrano Tapequino
Pepper, Sweet Red Stuffing
Pepper, Sweet Yellow Stuffing
Pepper, Tom Jalapeno
Pepper, Topepo Rosso
Peppers, India Jwala
Peppers, Lipstick
Quinoa, Kaslala
Radicchio, Rossa Di Verona
Radish, Chinese Green Luobo
Radish, Early Scarlet Globe
Radish, French Breakfast
Radish, German Giant
Radish, Long Scarlett
Radish, Purple Plum
Radish, Rat's Tail
Radish, Round Black Spanish
Radish, White Hailstone
Rhubarb, Victoria
Rutabaga, American Purple Top
Rutabaga, Laurnetian
Salsify, Mammoth Sandwich Island
Scorzonera, Geante Noire de Russie
Sorghum, Black Amber
Soya Bean, Envy
Spinach, Bloomsdale Long Standing
Spinach, Giant Noble
Spinach, Gigante d'Inverno
Spinach, Merlo Nero
Squash, Black Futsu
Squash, Americana Tonda
Squash, Bennings Green Tint Scallop
Squash, Bush Buttercup
Squash, Buttercup
Squash, Butternut Rogosa Violina Gioia
Squash, Connecticut Field Pumpkin
Squash, Costata Romanesco
Squash, Early Golden Crookneck
Squash, Gill's Golden Pippin
Squash, Golden Delicious
Squash, Golden Zucchini
Squash, Jack Be Little
Squash, Jarrahdale
Squash, Lebanese White Bush Marrow
Squash, Lemon
Squash, Long Island Cheese
Squash, New England Sugar Pie
Squash, Patisson Panache Scallop
Squash, Red Kuri
Squash, Striata D Italia
Squash, Sweet Dumpling
Squash, Sweet Meat
Squash, Table Queen
Squash, Table Queen Bush
Squash, Tonde De Nice
Squash, Tondo Scuro Di Piacenza
Squash, Turks Cap
Squash, Vegetable Spaghetti
Squash, White Bush Scallop
Squash, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin
Squash, Zucchini Black Beauty
Squash, Zucchini Gray
Swiss Chard, Flamingo Pink
Swiss Chard, Fordhook Giant
Swiss Chard, Rainbow
Swiss Chard, Vulcan
Tomatillo, Purple
Tomatillo, Verde
Tomato, Arkansas Traveler
Tomato, Azoychka
Tomato, Beauty King
Tomato, Black Cherry
Tomato, Black Krim
Tomato, Black Prince
Tomato, Brandywine
Tomato, Cosmonaut Volkov
Tomato, Duggin White
Tomato, Egg Yolk
Tomato, Emerald Evergreen
Tomato, Golden Jubilee
Tomato, Golden Sunray
Tomato, Green Grape
Tomato, Green Moldovan
Tomato, Green Pineapple
Tomato, Green Sausage
Tomato, Henderson's Pink Ponderosa
Tomato, Japanese Black Trifele
Tomato, Pineapple
Tomato, Pink Grapefruit
Tomato, Pink Oxheart
Tomato, Plum Lemon
Tomato, Plum Tigris
Tomato, Purple Russian
Tomato, Red Zebra
Tomato, Riesentraube
Tomato, Roma
Tomato, Roman Candle
Tomato, Rutgers
Tomato, Sara Black
Tomato, Seattle's Best
Tomato, Snowberry
Tomato, Striped Cavern
Tomato, Striped Roman
Tomato, Sub-Arctic Plenty
Tomato, Thai Pink Egg
Tomato, Thessaloniki
Tomato, Tigerella
Tomato, White Queen
Tomato, White Wax
Turnip, Navet Des Vertus Marteau
Turnip, Purple Top Milan
Turnips, Shogoin
Watermelon, Astrakhanski
Watermelon, Cream of Saskatchewan
Watermelon, Crimson Sweet
Watermelon, Golden Midget
Watermelon, Peacock Striped
Watermelon, Sugar Baby
Watermelon, Sweet Siberian
Watermelon, Tendergold
Watermelon, White Wonder

Anise Hysop
Basil, Dark Opal
Basil, Genovese
Basil, Greek Dwarf
Cilantro, Slo Bott
Echinacea Purpurea
Lemon Balm
Summer Savory
Tarragon, Russian

Gooseberry, Giant Cape
Ground Cherry
Huckleberry, Chichiquelite
Huckleberry, Garden
Strawberry Spinach
Wild Strawberry

We were very surprised to see Jacob's Cattle beans, which Ken wanted to grow; Jelly Melon, which Jorene had wanted to grow; and a pink tomato named The Ponderosa Pink.

This weekend, we planted Broccoli (Calabrese Green Sprouting and Rapini), White Hailstone Radish, Shogoin Turnips and Dwarf Bok Choy. This week, I plant to start tomatoes and eggplant indoors, then move them to our cold frame. The tomatoes we want to grow are Beauty King, Brandywine, Golden Jubilee, Green Grape, Henderson's Pink Ponderosa, Cherokee Purple, Seattle's Best, Sub Arctic Plenty, and White Wax. The eggplants are Applegreen, Black Champion, Brazilian Oval Orange, and Round Mauve. I also have to decide what melons, squash and beans to grow. This is going to be a lot of fun!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Making Maple Syrup - Part II (Finishing)

The sugaring season in over here in West Virginia. We've had some unusually warm weather and it will get even warmer this weekend. I've read that the prime tapping temperatures are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. We went from snow and day time temperatures below 30 degrees, to 50's during the day and 40's at night. So, that made for a short season. Still, we yielded over 1 1/2 gallons of pure golden deliciousness. Next year I plan to tap more sugar maple trees on our farm. Once you get set up to boil down the sap, a couple more gallons isn't that much more work. I also want to find a long, shallow pan for evaporating the sap. The more surface area you have, the faster the water evaporates.

The hardest part of making maple syrup is the finishing process. You have to boil it till it is 7.1 degrees above the boiling point of water. Since we are over 2800 feet high in the mountains, I tested our boiling temperature with a pot of water. It boiled at 201 degrees.

After you have reached the correct temperature, you need to filter the syrup to clean out the syrup sand and other particulates. I bought a Hobby Filter kit from Sugar Bush Supplies. They were very helpful and described the process to me. I will gladly recommend them to anybody.

It's very important that the syrup stay above 180 degrees while filtering it. To keep it warm and filter at the same time, I used my juicer. It has a strainer, which I put the filters in, a pot with a hose to fill the jars, and a pan that is used like a double boiler. This way the syrup will be hot, but won't burn. After filling the jars, I processed them in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, just to be sure that they sealed.

Juicer with wool and paper filters in strainer.

Another late night.

Is it ready yet, Daddy?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making Maple Syrup - Part I

The maple sugar season is in full swing right now. I have 4 trees tapped with 2 - 3 taps per tree. Each day Liam and I collect 11 - 12 gallons of maple sap. I boiled down 20 gallons of sap yesterday and made 2 quarts of maple syrup. I put them in mason jars in the refrigerator for now. When I boil a second batch, I'll mix all of it together and put the syrup through the final filtering step.

Little farmer

Collection buckets

Boiling down the sap.

Finishing the boil indoors.

2 Quarts, ready for the final filter and to be canned.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Baking Day

Today I decided to try a recipe for Kalamata Olive Sourdough Bread. Every since she saw it in my Artisan Bread cookbook, Jorene had been waiting for me to make it. And since I was going to have the oven warmed up, I figured I would make a day out of it and restock some items in the pantry for us.

I got the bread started early in the morning, then started on some spinach fettuccine for lunch. Since I was going to have the pasta roller out, I thought it would be a handy tool for rolling crackers for Liam. He loves eating crackers for a treat and will even bring me the container from the shelf in the pantry. Homemade crackers are so much better than store bought and I can like to make them when I am going to have the oven on anyway.

This was a basic white cracker (I wanted to make them whole wheat but forgot), with a little salt sprinkled over top.

I tried two recipes, Kalamata Olive Bread and Pecan Levain, each making two loaves.

It pairs nicely with a glass of Cabernet.

Pecan Levain