Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Homemade Tomato Trellis and Tomato Hornworms

This year we have somewhere in the vicinity of 70 tomato plants.  Some were planted from seeds, some were given to us, and others were volunteers.  Well, what a jungle the tomato patch has turned into!  We have a few trellises that we made a few years ago with electrical conduit and trellis netting (costs about $15 to make); but to minimize resources, save money, and keep things local, we made some with logs from the woods, some extra fence posts, and miscellaneous pieces of balling twine and rope.  Jon and I are still trying to find the best rope or trellis netting to use in the garden.  Some materials fall apart whereas others are coated with plastic.  What is your preferred trellis material?

This is one of the tomato patches and it's a jungle even with trellises!  Instead of planting them in a patch, we will plant rows next year.  Peas will be planted the same way next year to minimize vine entanglement.

Another opportunity to use the post hole digger...
Here's the second tomato patch.  This area was a last minute decision because of the donated plants we received from a friend.  We plan to remove the sod this fall and expand the garden to include this area for next year.  I know it's hard to see the tomato plants because we're a bit behind on the weeding.  Due to an appendectomy in the middle of May followed by a 2 week vacation, family visits, and hurting my back, Jon has been taking care of most things himself.  There's a lot to do around here (especially things like weeding which requires bending over) but Jon has been a good sport about it while managing a full time job away from home.

Some branches already have a crotch to set the top log in, but if they don't, you can...

make a tenon and mortise with a drill.

and for small logs you don't need the tenon.  You can use this same idea for a fence stake where you just put a hole in the log big enough for the stake.

These hornworms are the trickiest little buggers to find in a tomato patch because they are extremely camouflaged. 

 If you don't have these, you are lucky because they strip all the leaves off the plant in a night or two. 

Thanks to parasitic wasps, these hornworms die from the eggs the wasps implant on the hornworm's body.  I was hoping the chickens would eat them, but they don't.  They are a bit intimidating with that big horn on their tail, and to top it off they bite!

Beet Burgers

As mentioned in a previous post, we had really good success with the beets grown in cow manure.  The beets that happened to grow outside the cow manure pile grew slower and did not have nearly the sweet delicious taste that the other beets had.  A good way to use the bland-tasting beets is to make them into beet burgers!  This recipe may sound strange but these burgers are really good and full of flavor.  Here's the recipe accompanied with some pictures:

~1 cup cooked rice
~1 cup black beans (water removed)
~1.5 cups cooked beets with skins and roots removed, chopped fine
1 tsp. thyme
2 T parsley
1 tsp. coriander
2 T lemon juice
salt & pepper
~4 T flour
1/2 onion. chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
cheese (optional)

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil and the add them to the remaining ingredients.  Form mixture into patties, adding flour if needed to hold everything together.  If the patties fall apart in the skillet, use the flipper to mold the patty; press down on the patty before flipping. Wait several minutes before flipping the burger and only flip it ONCE.  If you flip it multiple times, it will probably fall apart.  Add cheese for melting if you want.

(If you're ambitious, you can make homemade buns!)

(Mmm Mmm Good...the works...zucchini relish, tomatoes, ketchup, and mustard)

The Garden is Swimming

What a wet couple of weeks we've had!  Since June 26th we've received ~9 inches of rain. It really spread itself out, 9 out of the last 16 days we had a quarter of an inch or more.  With all of this rain, some plants (e.g. potatoes) have struggled whereas others (e.g. corn) have been thriving.

In low spots water is sitting in pools.

When we dug out a potato plant the hole instantly filled with water. 

The potatoes turned to mush in the potatoes this year. 

The garlic stalks were just beginning to turn brown but we decided to pull them early.  Some of the bulbs were already beginning to rot.

With the humid environment outside and more rain in the forecast, we decided to dry the garlic in the basement rather than on the porch or in the garage.  The basement has a dehumidifier which will help dry them.

All of the carrots rotted from too much rain.  We will plant a second crop this week and hope they survive.

When a carrot is pulled, the stem detaches from the root which is completely rotten.  We planted 5 rows of carrots and I spent 4 hours one day weeding and thinning them in early June.

The corn is growing well and so are the sunflowers and squash in the background. 

Foraging for Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms!

Last week my post referenced the Chanterelle Mushrooms we have been finding in the woods.  Come to find out after another scouting in the woods, Jon and Paul found an entire patch of them!  With the use of a t-shirt, Jon managed to bring home 2 pounds of them and another 5 pounds later in the week!  We found an excellent website that has recipes and mushroom preservation information.  I would like to can the mushrooms but sources online state that it's not safe to can wild mushrooms.  In the meantime, we decided to sautee them in olive oil and freeze them because drying isn't preferred for chanterelles.

These are chanterelle mushroom puffs.  Very tasty, but heavy on the butter. 

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound chanterelles, minced
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
Heat the chicken broth in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the chanterelles, butter, and salt and allow to come to a boil. Stir in the flour, mixing constantly until the mixture is smooth and almost leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat. Beat one egg at a time into the mixture.
Drop tablespoons of the dough onto a buttered cookie sheet, spacing the spoonfuls about 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated 450º oven for 15 minutes or until firm and golden. Cool the puffs on a rack.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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