Archive for August, 2013

Baby Pumpkins Abound!

Monday, August 26, 2013



There are clutches of chicks, litters of kits, herds of kids, and bands of lambs. And, now we have a family of Cucurbitaceae’s.

The flowers I pollinated last week have all taken and we will now have a full harvest of Fall globes to adorn the front walk and the house. One thing I did notice, though, is that are many more “male” flowers than there are “female” flowers, so in the future I will be especially care to pollinate all I can find in order to maximize the harvest.

The pumpkin pictured above is only a few days old. Those pollinated before him had already morphed many times this size!


Let Fall begin!

Where’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 006

Our pumpkin and squash patch is spilling over its fencing—literally. I had no idea when I planted those small 4” pots, started from seed in early spring that they would run so far and so high. Some have attached their tendrils to low hanging branches and are climbing up into a tree, over fences, and around anything they can latch on to.

On the positive side, though, I don’t have to worry about not being able to read the plant markers anymore. The fruit has grown large enough that I can see more than a dozen Butternut Squash, Delicata, Sweet Dumplings, and a few mysterious ones I don’t recognize. I’ve forgotten the names of everything I planted all those months ago.

The only thing I can’t see is very many pumpkins. In this patch I planted Connecticut Field pumpkins and search as I may I only see a few perfectly round globes. October and November just wouldn’t be right without the glow of a carved pumpkin on the front walk. Just like inside the house would not be as festive without a collection of Sugar Pie pumpkins at every turn. Not to mention the aroma of pumpkin butter perking away in the crockpot or a harvest pumpkin bread hot from the oven. Wouldn’t be fall at all without those orange orbs.

But, not to worry, it will be harvest time soon enough and I’ll have a bushel of winter squash for soup, stews and just plain baking and eating, and there will be pumpkins for cooking and decorating even if there are only a few. Fall wouldn’t be the season I love without pumpkins and squash. Nope, not at all.

Why so few pumpkins?

Well, according to my good friend Sandy, a small pumpkin crop is the result of not enough Pumpkin Sex in the morning. You heard that right, folks…Pumpkin Sex!

Pumpkins (like other squash) have boy flowers and girl flowers, and in order for the girl flower to set fruit (grow baby pumpkins) she has to be fertilized or pollinated. You remember the birds and the bees, right?

Unfortunately, what use to be the springtime job of bees has now been relegated to us humans. And why shouldn’t it, we humans have been the primary cause of decreasing the bee population all over the country with our chemicals and pesticides and unfriendly bee practices.

So, instead of bees hoping from flower to flower spreading pollen where ever they land we must now take over that task.

Making pumpkin babies is really very simple. First you identify the boy flowers, which will have a stamen in the center of the flower. Think male parts and you won’t have any trouble identifying them. The female flower has “girl parts” or a multi-segmented stigma. This is where the pumpkin will start growing once the female flower has been pollinated. When you find a male flower, gently pick it and pull down or remove the pedals to expose the stamen. Then gently open the female flower and swirl the stamen around the stigma to transfer the pollen. You can also use a Q-tip or your finger to transfer the pollen from one flower to another, but that all seems just a bit too personal. In a day or so the female flower will close up and begin to dry, exposing its “baby bump”. Or is that “baby pump”? After about five days the little pumpkin has grown exponentially, proof that the morning pollination was a success and that Pumpkin Sex in the spring means loads of pumpkins come fall. After that just sit back and watch your pumpkins grow.

Note to self, folks, if engaging in early morning Pumpkin Sex isn’t quite up your alley start planting bee attracting flowers and shrubs so that Mother Nature can take back HER job.

Mother Nature’s Air Conditioning

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

window-fanWe’ve had a relatively mild summer by all accounts, but that is about to change. Weatherman says the mercury will start to rise later this week and that can mean only one thing—hot!

Without air conditioning life would be unbearable. But, with the kind of air conditioning most people use life could get very, very expensive. In my area, when the temps go up so do the electric bills to run household cooling systems, sometimes into the hundreds of dollars a month.

I have even had conversations with people who complained about spending $600 or more a month to cool their home. How could that be possible, I wondered? What were they doing, I thought? But, rather than speculate I asked, and what I found out was astonishing.

In the group I was talking to every person had their home cooled down to 70-degrees. Most had their thermostat set to turn the air on at 72-degrees. And, every person left the air on when they were not at home. I didn’t know what to say. I was amazed.

I must have given them a strange look because one of the group asked why I looked so puzzled. I explained that I couldn’t imagine spending that much money just to move hot air out of my house, which, in turn, prompted questions and looks that seemed to say, “what else are we suppose to do?” When I told them my electric bill was rarely over $40 a month, even in the summer, it was their turn to be amazed.

I explained that I had all I needed to keep my house comfortable even when the temps pushed towards 100. Large trees in the front and back of the house shade it from the sun. Big windows allow good air flow from one end of the house to the other, and, most importantly, box fans.

I went on to explain that when I placed fans, facing out, in the windows where the house heats up and fans in the windows near the shade trees facing in I can create a cooling draft that keeps the whole house very pleasant. The trick is to draw the hot air “out”, while pulling the cool air “in”. Constantly flowing air also helps make the house feel cooler even if the inside temp increases.

For really hot days damp sheets can be hung near windows so the in-coming air passes through them before it is drawn throughout the house.

That’s all there is too it!

Give Mother Nature a chance and she’ll not only keep you comfortable all summer long, but she’ll save you a bundle of money too.

Breakfast in a Basket

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Breakfast in a Basket 009

A quick trip into the garden gave me the beginnings of a summer frittata. Now all I have to add is a few herbs, a slice of toast with homemade blueberry jam, some country style sausage made last fall and I’ll have a breakfast fit for a farm girl with a full day worth of work ahead of her.

Banana Pecan Pancakes

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BananaPecan Pancakes 002

I’m a big fan of using small bits of most anything to make hearty well balanced meals—big fan. So much of what people leave behind in the fridge goes to waste when just a bit of creative energy can turn those bits into a wonderfully satisfying meal. Case in point — last night, when I was cleaning the kitchen I realized that my banana was getting too soft to eat. Usually I make banana bread out of the soft ones, but with my life as an empty nester, a loaf of banana bread is too much for one person. My solution…turn that lone tropical fruit into a small batch of banana pancakes, with some help from a small amount of pecans I had in the freezer. Simple.

After mixing up a batch of pancake batter for one I mashed the banana, chopped a handful of pecans and threw it all into the bowl. Once that thick batter hit the hot griddle the kitchen smelled amazing; warm and inviting and comforting like an early fall morn. When my stack of pancakes came off the griddle I slathered them with butter and drizzled warm Vermont maple syrup over the top; added a few slices of crispy bacon and a sliced apple, and there it was—dinner. There’s nothing like the tantalizing smell of breakfast for dinner to turn your head away from the day and bring you solidly into the easy flow of a relaxing evening. Perfect.

What little bits are looming in your fridge that can be made into a wonderful meal like a quiche, fritatta, stew, soup or chopped to top a hearty salad? Be creative and eat well!

Poultry Processing at Mother Earth Fair

Monday, August 12, 2013

Check out this video on how to process poultry, from the 2012 Mother Earth Fair. It’s a great introduction to coming full circle raising your own meat chickens. Wish I could attend this year. looks like a wonderful line up.

Rustic Peach Pie

Friday, August 2, 2013


The last of the summer peaches are coming off the tree. And, after making them into batches of spiced, jam, chutney, butter and salsa what better way to use them than in a Rustic Peach Pie.

These are rather free form rustic types of pies. Rather than the crust rolled out and placed neatly into a pie plate for that perfect Sunday potluck dessert it is rough and free and ragged around the edges. They are so fast to make when you have previously made pie crusts in your freezer. Simply defrost on the counter, fill with your fruit mixture, fold up the sides and bake. After baking, top with fresh whipped cream or homemade ice-cream. Yum!

What could be easier or tastier after a long day of farm chores? Except for maybe a Rustic Apple Pie!

Dreaming of Fall, folks. Dreaming of Fall.