June 1st already and it is still raining most days. For newly planted garden seeds that’s a bonus, and for many like me who suffered turf damage due to last year’s drought, this even and gentle rain is just wonderful to help newly planted grass get off the ground (no pun intended). I’ve had to cordon off areas of new grass to keep my spaniel out, and this was easy to do with a few inexpensive garden stakes and a roll of poultry wire. My very helpful and awesome brother-in-law from Indiana raked and planted most areas for me during his visit here along with my sister for my oldest grandson’s H.S. graduation two weekends ago, and I’ve got a solid amount of grass already establishing.
A word here about dogs in the yard and garden; I highly recommend English springers! They are biting, chewing maniacs as young puppies (as I imagine most breeds are) but by eight months they begin to settle down into really wonderful dogs. A side benefit is keeping unwanted squirrels and rabbits (and ducks!) out of the garden area. I cannot believe the flash of white and mottled brown my Molly becomes when one of them enters the yard. The evening before last she caught a young rabbit that wasn’t yet mature enough to evade her blazing quick responses and brought it up the deck in her mouth. I simply commanded her firmly to “Let it go,” and she released it. Before I could turn to see if it was injured it disappeared. I think (and hope) it fared pretty well. I have kept my poultry wire protection around my new raised beds to avoid her uprooting the newly planted seeds as she races around the area. Springers are a hunting breed, and need a good amount of exercise. Not a dog for apartment dwellers, unless you plan on running them at the dog park or in the country frequently.
I just purchased a magazine called Taste of Home Canning & Preserving for its pretty impressive recipes for conserves, pickles, pie filling, spaghetti sauces etc. At $9.99 it is a bit pricey for a magazine, but it really does have a vast amount of canning and freezing info. It’s a cookbook, really, fairly thick with no advertisements. No idea how long it will be available. I purchased it at Hy-Vee on Marion Road and 26th Street this morning.
Today is really just flat out cold and windy, but I know that soon our weather will heat up and the garden will begin to flourish. This weather is ideal for getting those early tasks done that seem so arduous in hot weather, so I am pulling perimeter weeds and getting everything planted. Yes, it’s a little muddy, but better that than the heat and humidity to come. My hope is to get everything in order by the time the true heat of summer is on us, and just maintain, maintain, maintain. Then let the canning begin. . .
Oh, just a note about something that happened in late fall and winter in my particular part of town. Late last October, granddaughter Piper and I heard the call of an owl in early evening on several occasions, and then in February, I saw a great horned flying at dusk down the greenway behind my house and then sitting in one of my backyard trees a few days later. Because my dog was still pretty young my concern was that she or her next door litter mates might become prey to this obviously large predator, but the Outdoor Campus assured me that they should be safe at their current size. Well, this owl made several recurring appearances and just amazed me with its size and wing span (which had to be a good 6-7 feet.). Several neighbors also sited it. I learned that they actually nest in January and February!
More garden talk later as the season progresses–all is in readiness and anticipation!
Sioux Falls, SD
By fallspark, March 29th, 2012,in Uncategorized, vendors » | No Comments »
Lake Thompson Honey Company
44244 218th Street
Oldham, SD 57051
Lake Thompson Honey Company is a family owned, third generation beekeeping company. The bees our located in Eastern South Dakota, and they run about 2000 colonies. They produce local clover honey, and other honey and beeswax related products right on the farm in Oldham, SD. They started packaging and selling honey at farmers markets and festivals in 2006.
List of Products
Local clover honey in various sizes
all natural beeswax lip balm
all natural beeswax hand cream
all natural beeswax lotion bar
all natural beeswax and honey soap
beeswax wood polish
Dan & Elizabeth Avery
30578-482 Ave, Box 635,
Alcester, SD 57001
Photos, business description and product list coming soon.
By fallspark, July 31st, 2011,in Uncategorized » | No Comments »
High summer brings images of tall stands of corn; Saturday afternoons spent sipping cold drinks between outdoor chores, stopping to visit with the neighbors, and listening to the swell and fall of cicadas in the trees. Windless, fog infused mornings with humidity so heavy that one can hardly breathe just doesn’t fit that picture, but here we are at the end of July, and there is nothing stirring.
Still, the produce at the market was abundant yesterday. Jensen’s had a whole truckload of sweet corn, and it was going pretty fast; indeed, all the vegetable vendors had nice displays of eggplant and cabbage, different kinds of beans, potatoes and carrots, herbs and greens, with lettuce still available in good variety. The heady aroma of new bread intermingling with the fresh scent of just picked corn and other vegetables was impossible to pass, so I bought a loaf, some tomatoes and lettuce and headed home for my own version of an English ploughman’s lunch. I had to wait in a few lines to procure these, but it was well worth my time.
This morning I read on the KELO website that the Salvation Army just had a Christmas in July fundraiser. This created a segue of sorts; directing my thoughts to the fall and winter holidays, and it occurred to me that many of the items for sale at our market would make good holiday gifts, or a nice addition to a holiday dinner. There is some very nice jewelry for sale there, as well as packages of dried pasta in a really impressive variety, those and the specialty jams, sauces and canned salsas would make good additions to a homemade gift basket (as would one’s own home canned foods) and this prompted me to start making lists in preparation, something to do indoors while waiting for our “real” summer to return. One year I gave gift packages comprised of items made in South Dakota, and they were well received. Perhaps this year my theme will be to “support community and the environment by buying local,” an idea that is becoming universal in the common sense it imparts. I know one of my favorite gifts has been a jar of homemade honey and pecan jelly from a sister in Tennessee, who orders it from a woman in her small community there. A spoonful of that jelly on a hot buttered biscuit is such a treat!
With the heat index predicted to climb to dangerous levels again this coming week, early morning or later in the day will be the best time to get out and perform those tasks that cannot be put aside. As a suggestion to make this easier to manage, I’ll share my plan of attack; I divide my mowing into sections and do one part over each of three days, first the front, then the back yard, then the area behind the fence. That enables me to keep my asthma under control (not to mention that unruly mob of torch wielding neighbors from pounding on my door— Get out here and cut the grass!). The weeds, on the other hand, are once again out of control in some areas, and will just have to languish a bit longer.
Still no pole beans forming on the garden trellis, and it doesn’t look very promising, but I did notice quite a few bees in numerous cucumber blooms, so am hoping to salvage at least that part of this year’s plan. Then while watching a re-broadcast of Garden Line yesterday, I learned that in dry times, blossoms don’t produce as much nectar, and this will limit the time for attracting the pollinators. Well that makes sense, but I realize that our short dry spell coincided with my own cucumber blossoms, even though I believe I kept them evenly watered. So I hope that they too, don’t succumb to the same failure as my pole beans; but as a farming co-worker stated just the other day, farmers don’t have to be in Vegas if they want to gamble. That goes for home gardeners, as well.
Here is a quick way to enjoy either eggplant or zucchini (from the back yard or the market), which are interchangeable in this recipe.
Fried Eggplant or Zucchini
Two small eggplants or the equivalent amount of zucchini.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp of seasoned salt and 1/8 tsp white pepper
2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Equal parts of oil and butter to cover the bottom of a heavy fry pan (maybe start with a few tablespoons of each, adding a bit more as needed)
Peel and slice vegetables into ½ inch rounds
Combine the flour and seasoned salt
Heat oil until it just begins to shimmer
Dredge the vegetables in the egg and water mixture, then in the flour mixture
Sauté until light brown and crusted (this just takes a minute or two), first on one side then the other (*maintain just a steady oil/butter temperature but don’t let it get too hot, as the flour will easily burn)
Set on a doubled paper towel to absorb any excess oil while continuing to cook remaining pieces
Serve warm as a side. These are also good at room temperature.
At least the tomatoes are starting to take off, my two potted peppers are setting a few blossoms, and the pole beans and cucumbers are reaching up to grab the new trellises I am using for my first attempt at growing upward. These plants are at long last sending out curly tendrils as anticipated, and if the bugs don’t destroy them, I may have a harvest yet, may have cucumbers just as I finish my last jar of homemade bread and butter pickles put up two seasons ago.
Still, my Swiss chard is just sitting there, as are the red cabbage plants a daughter gave me, half of a 4-pack she didn’t have the room for herself, and both are looking very small and sad. Even the usually robust herbs appear to be disappointed at the lack of warmth and sunlight. I am looking at the extended forecast for this week, and Thursday promises to be something close to normal for this time of year. Although I don’t personally like the heat–as a child of the fifties, don’t care for air-conditioning, I am pulling for the plants just now, and so will keep my fans going and welcome it as it comes.
More rain is in the forecast, alas, but I am holding to optimism. I think the old saying “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” is a good one just now, and it is the anticipation of a warm and dry September that keeps me out there, pulling the weeds from a muddy plot and watching for signs of insects. I so love that time of year in the yard, that I think I plant my small garden solely in anticipation of those cooler nights and warm days full of sunshine, and the sight of home-canned jars of amber peaches (purchased from somewhere far from South Dakota, of course. I hailed long, long ago from northern Indiana, where we had easy access to all the fruit in Southern Michigan), pickles and colorful Mason jars of my own “recipe” consisting of oven roasted tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, garlic and sweet onions, supplemented with my own garden herbs. I use the latter in everything from a mild salsa ( I give it a few spins in the blender) for my breakfast tortilla wraps to a flavorful sauce for all manner of baked meats and poultry.
I am penning this today, as on most Sundays, at my desk at the rear of my home, and even in a light mist on this dreary afternoon, there is beauty in the yard. Since I cannot see the mowed down stubs of the weeds in the lawn from my upper window location, it looks almost pastoral out there, bright green and sloping down to the perennial beds in back. My neighbors have really lovely yards (much nicer than my own at this particular time) and I so enjoy seeing the array of roses and clematis they have planted, flowers that unlike my somewhat sickly looking wave petunias, seem to savor the wet and cool conditions.
With married children and grandchildren expected in several shifts for visits next week, I am glad to see there are some tomatoes available at the Market, as well as asparagus and rhubarb. I’ll take full advantage of this as well as pick up some good bread to use throughout the week.
And for future use, here is a rough recipe for the tomato mixture mentioned here. It does not need to be exact and is very forgiving. Just get the canning right for safety’s sake.
Versatile Canned Tomato Recipe
Cut cleaned and cored tomatoes into chunks, keeping juice and seeds. No need to remove the peels . Put these on a large cookie sheet
Add large chunks of Anaheim peppers, seeds and all (Poblano peppers would also be good, or throw in a jalapeno or two per cookie sheet if you like the heat).
Chunk cut several large sweet onions (Spanish onions work well, as do Vidalias)
Add a generous amount of peeled garlic cloves, at least two or three whole heads, separated into individual cloves
Toss lightly in a good vegetable oil, or olive oil, and season with coarsely ground black pepper and salt.
Put in a 425 degree oven and bake until the onions and peppers start to brown around the edges. Add some oven dried basil, oregano, or whatever herbs you like. You can certainly use commercially dried herbs here in place of your own. I’ve always done this at the end of the season, after oven drying my own herbs, but I am sure fresh would also be very good. Just use a little more (about two to one), as they are less potent than the dried.
Ladle the hot mixture into sterilized canning jars, pushing down with a fork to release juices. If there is not enough juice to reach 1/2 inch from the top of the jar, add some commercially canned tomato juice to fill.
Process in a pressure canner to seal.
*Note: I have hot water-bath canned these for years, and survived wthout incident to happily share the recipe, but recently went to a pressure canning seminar facilitated by county extension educator, Sandra Aamlid. I was advised that while the tomatoes are high in acid and fine to process this way, the peppers, herbs and onions are not, hence, take the side of safety and pressure can! The Minnehaha County extension may be reached at 605-367-7877 if you have questions or need up-to-date canning literature. Or visit http://www.minnehahacounty.org/dept/ex/ex.aspx for more information. Sandra Aamlid is the county extension educator to contact for the latest safe canning information.. And please note, if you have the opportunity to attend one of her evening canning classes (usually hosted by Ace Hardware at the Minnesota Avenue and 41st Street location) please do so. She is just awesome, and you will learn alot. ~Georgia Totten-Sioux Falls
The flour was unintentionally left out of the rhubarb bread recipe posted here last Sunday. Please add 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour to the ingredient list!
Georgia Totten-Sioux Falls
By fallspark, June 5th, 2011,in Uncategorized » | No Comments »
Sometime around1980, my late father gave me a book called Terrific Tomatoes, written by the editors of an organization called Organic Gardening and Farming. It has been on a shelf in my home office for roughly thirty years, and although I glanced through it initially, I have to admit that for my past three decades of growing tomatoes, that is where is has remained, unread. It’s not that I had anything close to a lofty attitude about my own knowledge of tomatoes, just more a case of habit. I simply never took the time to do things any differently than I had done in previous years.
Although I have been gardening for a good many years longer than I’ve had that little book, this year I decided to do things differently, shake things up a bit. I would attempt to produce a larger harvest by pruning the tomatoes, and staking them to a single post in place of my usual habit of just letting them grow as in the standard cage support. I got this idea some time ago from watching the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, from the scene where she and Morgan Freeman are tending to tomato plants behind her house. It all seemed so tidy, and that appealed to my sense of order. So I suppose one might say this has been on my garden back burner for a while now. Additionally, with maturing trees creating limited full sun in my yard, I thought this might give me room for an additional plant or two, while still allowing for essential air circulation.
I realized I needed a little information on how to prune tomatoes, and remembered that little book. So I got it out and perused the table of contents to see if I could find something to address my current need. Sure enough, there it was, exactly what I was looking for. Chapter Five, Staking and Pruning, page 73, and a sub-heading that read: determinate and indeterminate varieties-staking vs. not staking-pruning-planting; suckers-tying up plants-stakes-variations of the stake. Clearly, I had a thing or two learn about growing tomatoes in this way.
I learned that the variety, either determinate or indeterminate, refers to the growth habit of the plants. Determinate varieties are often early fruiting, like Early Girl, and have shorter stems that end in flower clusters. This growth habit tends to produce bushier plants, that direct energy into the fruit once it is set until it ripens, rather than continuing to grow branches. Also, the tomatoes are often found lower on the plant, and these don’t often require staking. The book states that because of this growth pattern, these plants do not respond well to pruning and that it can substantially reduce their yield. I am glad I read that before beginning to pinch off growth!
Indeterminate tomatoes tend to be the later varieties, and will keep growing in all directions, with clusters of fruit continuing on the vine. These types are said to respond well to both pruning and staking, and are the monsters that have tended to grow through the chain link fencing into my neighbor’s yard.
As to the pruning, there appears to be three approaches to these indeterminate varieties of tomato; one can prune them to a single stem, a double stem, or multiple stems, staking them as they grow. The book recommends using a kind of figure-eight tie with a soft cloth or similarly gentle material to create a a strong support that does not injure the plant. The pruning method is to pinch off the suckers (or new shoots) that form in the elbow of the main stems so the plant can put more of its energy into the forming fruit, and less in growing more branches. This will take more work of course, but that’s all part of the experiment.
This new knowledge makes me glad of my habit to always purchase a variety of both early and late tomato varieties. I have done this in the past only to keep up with the canning; this year, I have a good second reason for that practice.
For anyone who may be interested in the outcome of this experiment, I’ll try to post a few photos of the results as the season progresses. ~Georgia Totten, Sioux Falls
I was in MPLS this week for my grandson’s third birthday party, and on Saturday visited a newly formed farmer’s market on the city’s southwest side. There were a dozen or so small vendor stands situated in a church parking lot at the corner of Chowen and 49th street, just a few blocks from the trendy 50th and France shopping area. I actually lived in this neighborhood for a year while working in the cities some time back, and was pleased to see a local market there. This is something that part of Minneapolis needs. As is usual for that city, the neighbors are in full support. Small yard signs advertise its location and its hours, and at a mid-morning hour yesterday, it was very well attended.
As with our own Falls Park market, the offerings there had the distinctive feel of spring; a bit of rhubarb, lots of jams and plants for sale, and like our market here in Sioux Falls, the smell of baguettes and other baked goods permeated the area (I purchased some of these, and pretty well ate through them on my return drive yesterday). I attended the Minneapolis market with my daughter and her family, including her in-laws down from Winnipeg, who regretted they were unable to purchase much of what was found for sale there, as many items may not be transported across the US/Canadian border. Still, they enjoyed the neighborhood experience, noting that most of the people there seemed to be young families with small children. But along with my white-haired, northern counterparts, I saw an entire neighborhood, young and old alike, dogs on leashes, bicycles parked against trees, and it was apparent from the tables full of coffee sipping locals that this was more than a place to buy herbs on a Saturday morning; it had instantly become a destination site to get out and socialize.
This is something Sioux Falls is nurturing at the Falls Park location, as well. Although I currently travel too much to be considered a weekly regular, when I am in town on the weekend, it is my favorite place to start my Saturday. I love to grab a coffee and just wander the market, see what that vendors have to offer, enjoy how they intermingle with the shoppers, the scraps of overheard conversation about the weather or different plants, and I never fail to run into people I know.
In my fifties, I belonged to a lot of social and special interest groups, groups at church, book groups, a bunco club and such, sometimes meeting with several of these organizations weekly. But now, as I begin the decade of winding up my working years, I find I am becoming busier—less time for socializing, and this comes as a surprise. One tends to consider the years of having grandchildren would indicate a slowing down and needing even more of such activities, but I find I am busier than ever visiting children in different cities, as well as those in town. I find I am now becoming the other part of that village once said to be needed to raise a family in this busy new century, and am as engaged on my days off as I was when my own family was young.
So for me, as for so many others, the market represents a single destination to fill not only my immediate need for fresh eggs, produce and poultry, but more importantly, a genuine need to stay connected with community, to feel a part of that essential whole. When I visit other markets, I am reminded to how grateful I am for our own growing Falls Park marketplace and the solid community anchor it has become. -Georgia Totten, Sioux Falls