Saturday, June 28, 2014

Home garden update

The upper mandarin's water was a little low, although we ran the irrigation to check it before I got to assess how dry the soil was relative to when it last ran, so hard to tell if that was the issue.  Anyway, adjusted the drippers so the upper mandarin is getting more water.  Also added compost to its well.

Used fish emulsion to fertilize the two mandarins, the back lemon, the North bed, the West bed, the carrotwood tree, and the front hedge.  Used Grow Power Plus on the carrotwood and hedge.  Also used Organic Citrus fertilizer on the two mandarins and back lemon.  Used organic veg fertilizer on the North and West beds and pots.  Finally, DD put old commercial worm castings in the North bed, West bed, and pots.

I saved seed from our cauliflower and broccoli and tore out the old plants.  I planted cucumber seeds in the West bed, and zucchini and pumpkin seeds in the North bed, plus some nasturtiums for fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Canned Applesauce

Last week we were lucky enough to help pick a friend's apple tree.  We came home with a TON of apples.  So, it was time to can applesauce, which I've done in years past, but haven't taken notes on it for the blog.  So here goes:

For the most part, I used the directions at this site, but I'd like to add my own notes.  First, a note on SET UP: I have the 22 Qt Pressure Canner with rack, that I can use without pressure as a BWB canner.  I have two other very large stock pots, neither of which have Qt markings on them.  I'd guess they are about 16 Qts and 12 Qts, but who knows.  For this project I used the Pressure Canner as my BWB (I need that height to do Quarts) and the 12 Qt for the applesauce cooking itself.  If I were to can Quarts again, I may wish to use the 16 Qt stock pot to allow more room for boiling.  If I were to do pints (as I did last year), I think I'd use the 16 Qt as my BWB and the 12 Qt for the applesauce.  I also had out a large saucepan for heating the rings and lids.


1) Wash, core and remove any bad portions of the apples.  I did not peal them.

2) Put the apples in the Vitamix until fairly full.  The VM works better with quartered apples than halves because it is easier to push the apples down to the blades.  Puree.

3) Pour the puree into a large stock pot.  Once I had about 7 quarts (the canner capability of my BWB) in there, bring to a boil, stirring frequently 'cause this thick sauce can sure bubble in a messy way.

4) Heat the clean jars in the canner, which also serves to warm that water.

5) Using a canning funnel, fill the jars.  The directions say to leave 1/2 inch of headspace, which I thought I left but maybe not, as many of my jars ended up bubbling over during processing.  Leave more headspace next time.  Maybe aim for an inch.

6) Processes quarts for 20 minutes in BWB.

7) After process time, turn off heat, let jars settle for about 5 minutes (not required for food safety), and remove jars from canner.  Leave them be to cool, although I did tighten the ring seals after a bit.

This was mostly successful.  I canned 14 Quarts and 2 1.5 Quart jars (the latter I processed as Quarts).  One lid came clean off in the canner, which was a grande mess and I did have some bubble over in the canner, so 1) make sure the bands are a GENEROUS "fingertip" tight on when going in the canner and 2) leave about an inch of headspace next time.  Also, I'll add that it took FOREVER to wash, core and puree the apples for this project.  So if I want each batch to be more approachable, pints might be a good size choice, as I can't do as much volume at once.  Either size container works well for my family when eating applesauce.  Another point, this does make for a thick sauce, which my family likes.  For a thinner sauce, one could of course add a little water in the cooking process.

Worm Bin

DH turned over the worm bin this weekend, putting the worm castings in the two mandarins, the back lemon, and in the North garden bed.  The smaller mandarin isn't looking too happy.  I need to check its water.