Saturday, September 10, 2011

Filling Raised Beds

Since we moved this past July, we had to leave our old "homestead" and start anew. Last weekend I built two 4'x8' raised beds, and then filled them with soil. I was able to purchase 1 cubic yard for $28 from Southern Landscape Supply, and they threw in about an extra 1/2 cubic yard for free. Antonio and Julia Belén were happy to help, and really enjoyed moving moving the soil out of the truck we borrowed from our friend Peter.

For preparation of the site, I used the lazy method of removing the sod, I just laid down overlapping layers of cardboard and then took an Olfa blade and trimmed the pieces of cardboard that extended past the wood sides to the exact footprint of the beds. I had used that method in the past in our previous "Homestead," and it worked well enough, so figured I would do so again.

Moving the soil was a good workout, was tiring but felt good, was able to spend the time talking and listening to the kids, and then praying and contemplating life while shoveling (when the kids took a break to play in the woods with the neighbors). I knew that I moved a lot of soil, but felt that it wasn't too bad, then the next morning I picked up my daughter to carry her to Mass, and my arms screamed in protest. So later I was curious and looked up approximately how much a cubic yard of soil weighs, and was surprised that I moved a little more than 1.5 tons on Saturday with the help of Antonio and Julia Belén!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Preserving Peaches

We just got back from a family reunion in the Outer Banks (just a week ahead of Hurricane Irene, thank God). On the way back we stopped at a farm stand in South Carolina to buy ourselves two bushels of peaches. We have been eating peaches since we arrived home with the two bushels, but it was time to start preserving them before they start to over ripen or go bad. So two nights ago, Julia started processing them, and canned some lovely jars of peach preserves, and also canned some sliced peaches. The remainder we peeled and prepped for ready made cobbler filling, and dried in our new (thanks to freecycle) dehydrator, and as an extra bonus, Julia made into a carrot peach bread.

I was excited to try out the dehydrator, as this was our first time using it. I had been dreaming of dehydrating food probably since I was in high school. I know, that is probably weird, but I love dehydrated food, and always thought it would be so cool if I could make it myself. I used to read all the backpacking magazines and see all the recipes always called for food that you dehydrate, and would be sad that I would have to scratch the recipe, due to a lack of a good way to dry the food. The kids were very interested, in the process, watching the peaches slowly shrink as they dried into our "fruit snacks." Last night, they looked pretty much ready, so I turned off the dehydrator, and we all tried some dried peaches. They were a huge hit, even Julia, who doesn't normally like dried fruit, loved them, and was finally more keen on the idea of our dehydrator taking up some counter space while it's in use (she's the master chef, so the kitchen is truly her domain, which I can't complain, with all the wonderful things she makes us!)

So now, with Julia and the kids' approval, the world of dehydrating has opened up for us. So now we'll be adding third way of preserving to our repertoire: canning, freezing, and dehydrating!