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Pre-Demo

January 19, 2014

A couple pics of the kitchen prior to demolition that started on the 9th.  The sink and stove are being relocated to the wall on the left.  The wall with current location of the sink and sliding door will be rebuilt to include 2 windows and a smaller, non-sliding door.  Fridge is also moving directly across from where it is now.  Adding more lighting and widening the opening to the kitchen. Kitchen pre-demo 2

Kitchen Pre-demo

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I Know It’s Over

December 25, 2013

Two weekends ago marked the end of eating from the yard.  Our final tomato was consumed.  Before it got cold in November, I picked and placed all the green tomatoes in bags to ripen.  The majority of them made it.

Green Tomatoes

I do have one bed eking out a small kale and lettuce existence under row cover.  But I don’t think I’ll ever get to be one of those 4 season gardeners.  The sense of relief in putting away the tools and closing down the beds for the year is too good to ignore.

Notes for next year:  Feed plants with compost more frequently, produce responded better than in years past because I was diligent in throwing down some food once a month.  Try Surround WP on apple and peach tree next year to protect from squirrels and other pests.  Fava and butter beans did poorly because of lack of care, use rear beds for them instead of tomatoes.  Space tomatoes farther apart.  Keep sowing carrots throughout season.

Going through a kitchen renovation starting January 9.  Will post pictures starting next week.  Hope everyone had a happy holiday and best wishes for a wonderful 2014.

Winding Down

September 16, 2013

School has started, days are shorter, the end of the season is near.  Mr. E helped me dig out the remaining potatoes in the bags, about 3 lbs. worth.  We used the majority of them in a cod and potato soup that we like.  I cleared out my 2nd bed of carrots and beets this past weekend to make room for a fall planting of carrots, lettuce, kale and spinach.Beets and Carrots

Harvesting a steady stream of tomatoes from the front and back beds: brandywine, thessaloniki, plum, great white, a load of sun golds, cherries, and a monster wapsipinicon peach.  Like last year, the tomatoes took a while to get up to speed, but are now yielding better than last year.  This is due to me applying extra compost, soil and calcium-heavy tomato food to the beds once every 3-4 weeks.  Only experienced a bit of blossom-end rot on 4-5 fruits, which is the least since I’ve been in NJ.

Still getting string and pole beans, jalapeños, bell peppers, cucumbers and kale.  BTW, if you’re ever wondering what to do with kale, you could do a lot worse than this awesome salad and this dish with fried eggs and mushrooms.  Either will convert anyone who is kale-resistant.

IMG_0531

Tomatoes

Swiss Delight

September 6, 2013
Cable Car to Murren

Cable Car to Murren

Recently back from our first trip to Switzerland.  We rented an apartment in Lauterbrunnen, a town located in a large valley between two mountain ranges in more or less the center of the country.  Took day trips from there via rail to Bern and Brienz/Ballenberg, with a day trip to Gruyeres via rented car.  Cable cars, cogwheel trains and plain old hiking got us to nearby towns in the mountains (Murren and Wengen) and inside a couple waterfalls (Trummelbach and Staubbach Falls).  A relentlessly picturesque panorama wherever we went.  Really spectacular.  Ate our weight in Rosti, fondue and chocolate.  Especially chocolate.

Cailler Chocolate Factory Tasting Room

Cailler Chocolate Factory all you can eat – errr – Tasting Room

E and Dad Zurich

E and Dad Zurich

E and Dad in Murren

E and Dad in Murren

I guess Zurich is OK

I guess Zurich is OK

View from apt deck

View from apt deck

View from Wengen rail station

View from Wengen rail station

Lauterbrunnen below, from trail to Wengen

Lauterbrunnen below, from trail to Wengen

Above River Aare, Bern

Above River Aare, Bern

Knife Edge Trail, Schynige Platte

Knife Edge Trail, Schynige Platte

Gruyeres Chateau garden

Gruyeres Chateau garden

Making Milch

Making Milch

Mom and E on Trail

Mom and E on Trail

Mountain Flora

Mountain Flora

Midsummer

July 25, 2013

Getting a steady stream of produce now that the weather is consistently warm: bush and pole beans, cucumbers, jalapeños, carrots, beets,potatoes and … three tomatoes.  Add to that a midsummer flower show from the previous owners’ planting of a variety of lilies, lavender and other attractors of good insects and it’s been pretty pleasant being out in the garden.

Multifurcated Carrot Cherry Tomatoesphoto-7Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cukes

Of course, I have had my share of pestilence this year.  Every single apple and peach stolen by squirrels.   Japanese Beetles destroyed the top leaves of my pole beans a couple weeks ago.  White flies and cabbageworms chomped on my kale seedlings.  And a pair of Tomato Hornworms went through 3 tomatoes and a number of stalks before I found them.  Here’s one of them moments before he was kidnapped and murdered.  Sorry worms, but now you’re familiar with the term “occupational hazard.”

Tom Hornworm

Red Wine Vinegar

July 2, 2013

Home made, even.  Good Italian balsamic vinegar is fairly easy to find these days and we’ve given these folks more than a few dollars over the past three years to have it on hand.  One of life’s simple pleasures and helps us look forward to salads instead of sighing in resignation.  But good (Italian or otherwise) red wine vinegar?  Not so easy to find.  So my wife believed the solution was to make our own. A proper vinegar crock and a starter – the “mother” – were purchased, as well some cheesecloth to allow air to pass through the open top of the crock.  The mother went in the crock, along with 2 cups of red wine and we set it under a cabinet on April 1.  On July 1, we deemed it ready after a tasting proved delicious.

Voila: something made from leftovers into something else.  We bottled most of what was in the crock (leaving the mother) and poured back in a half bottle of days-old wine from the fridge.  Another 3 months and we’ll have more.  Science, man!

red wine vinegar

Summer!

June 30, 2013

Summer’s in the garden.  Peas are producing, carrots, beets and beans are coming in, there’s already a couple tomatoes showing and I snipped our first cucumber today.  And the lettuce has seriously bolted.  As referenced in a prior post, my new beds have taken up residence in part of the driveway near the raspberry / blackberry beds.  Thankfully I have neighbors who are cool with the occasional brief drive around them into the median between our houses.  And I put casters underneath them so I can roll them here and there if needed.

Front Yard, Bed 3

Front Yard, Bed 3

mint is not shy

Front Yard, Bed 2

when it's 3 feet high and rising, it's bolted

Front Yard, Bed 1

New beds in driveway

Driveway Produce