THE U-Pick GARDEN IS CLOSED

To get a copy of my book, "How To Grow Vegetables In Sitka, Alaska" just give me a call....The books are $20 plus tax. If you live out of town and want me to mail you a copy, mail a check for $25.60 to:

Lori Adams
P O Box 6021
Sitka, Alaska
99835


Down To Earth U-Pick Garden is located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road in Sitka, Alaska. It is open usually from mid-June through late August. Hours are Monday-Saturday 11:00 to 6:00. On Farmer's Market Saturdays I am not open until 3:00. Children are welcome but may not run through the garden or chase the ducks. If you have any questions you can contact me, Lori Adams, at 907-747-6108 or 907-738-2241. My email address is downtoearthupick@gmail.com

Monday, October 27, 2014

Project Garlic

The Garlic crop this year was fantastic! The bulbs have been hanging on the clothes line inside the house for the the past few months........


......and now it's time to replant. The first thing I did was pull all of the cloves apart and separate the cloves into 3 catagories...

1. 100 of the largest intact Music cloves.....


2. 100 of the largest intact Georgian Crystal cloves....


3. Everything else...


As I sorted the small and unidentified cloves, I pulled out the damaged or partially peeled cloves....


...and packed them in jars of olive oil to be stored in the fridge.


Whenever I need some Garlic I just put some in a food processor and grind it up fine.....YUMMY!

The sorting process takes quite a bit of time. One would think that it could just be done outside at planting time, but it took me about 4-5 hours to process this batch of bulbs while I was sitting on my couch in the living room, so I wouldn't even think about trying to do it outside in the pouring down rain with muddy gloves!

Once the cloves were separated you can see that almost every clove had a dried up stem sticking up out of it.


This probably isn't a problem for most gardeners....but for me it is. The problem is that when the ducks root around in the Garlic bed they find those little stems in the soil and think they are worms or something, and they pull them up out of the soil. They don't eat or damage them, but a Garlic clove that is on top of the soil will not survive the Winter. I like to snip them all off with a scissors.


The next day was planting day!! After prepping the bed by tilling with the broad fork, I planted the Music and Georgian Crystal bulbs about 5 inches deep using 9 inch spacing.


Some of the cloves were absolutely GIGANTIC!!!!


Of course the ducks like to help....



Pink Pink stuck by me pretty close, even after the rest of the herd got bored and left.....


The 200 large Music and Georgian Crystal cloves filled up one whole bed. I planted the rest of the intact cloves fairly close together in the empty potato tubs on top of the ground. I have a plan for them......I'm thinking about transplanting them in April after the beds have been tilled amongst my other vegetable transplants to be harvested as Green Garlic - because I've heard that they may help to deter slugs. The ducks get most of the slugs, but not all of them, and when the ducks are locked out of the beds during the growing season the slugs have a tendency to make a come-back. I'm wondering if any of you have ever tried this technique with any measure of success?


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Project Carrot

It's October.....and October 18th was Alaska Day, the day we celebrate the purchase of Alaska from Russia.


Last year we had so much fun handing out Carrots at the parade that I planted an extra bed of them this year so we would have even more to hand out.


It took several days of hard work to get them all ready. First, I pulled them all up. This particular Carrot bed should have been thinned months ago, but I just never had enough time to get it done, so I wasn't sure what to expect....


I was pleasantly surprised with their size!


The large Carrots got replanted in a tub of garden soil, and were left outside for winter storage.


The smaller Carrots were brought into the sunroom where I spent hours and hours sorting and scrubbing them before laying them in an organized fashion in baskets so they would be easy to hand out in a hurry.


There were bags full of imperfect carrots for us to eat, and 6 FULL baskets of perfect carrots to hand out at the parade.

Here is an interesting observation I made.....remember when the ducks got into the Carrot bed this summer and trampled down all the foliage? I was very irritated with the hoodlums! Many of the Carrot tops were broken off during the breach, but eventually they grew new tops. And here is the interesting thing, the tops that were not disturbed were REALLY long and hard to manage, but the new tops were a more manageable length....


....the PERFECT length for the baskets.


Silly ducks....I suppose now I need to thank them.

The weather forcast for Alaska Day was not very hopeful....


No surprise there....it ALWAYS rains on Alaska Day!


 
But, as we lined up in the queue, it didn't look too bad. Carolyn handed out a few Carrots while we waited.


Mr. Adams ate a few too....




 Finally, as it started to sprinkle, just a little, it was time to head down the street....


I don't have any more photos, because it got completely crazy from here on out.  So many Carrots, so many people wanting Carrots, the parade moving too quickly, Carolyn and I moving too slowly... Sheesh! We decided that next year we need 4 people to hand out Carrots!  It was a lot of work, but man, was it fun! And......it didn't hardly rain at all!!!!!

Happy Alaska Day, Sitka!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Project Potato

About a month ago I cut back the Potato foliage and covered the whole row with black plastic to help them dry out a bit so the Potato skins would cure for better storage. Finally, we were able to harvest them, wash them, let them dry out, and bring them indoors so we could sort them. (Although I have read that it is best if you DON'T wash the potatoes before storing them, I find it best if I DO wash them before storing them.) We ate some, we sold some, and we selected the best candidates for seed stock and stored them in the boat's cargo hold, and here's what we have left....


I think it's enough to feed us through the Winter. I grew 4 different varieties....

The ever favorite, "Yukon Gold".....


Original Russian Fingerlings that the Southeast Alaskan Indians have grown for years known as "Rose Finn"....


"Cranberry Red" originally given to me by my good friend, Evening Star Grutter.....


And my personal favorite, "Inca Bell" given to me by my good friend, Florence Welsh.


Yum, Yum.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Project Apple

The project for Saturday was dealing with all of the apples.....SO MANY Apples!!! Everyone in town is talking about what they are doing with their Apples. When I was in the grocery store buying lemon juice I ran into other people buying lemon juice too....for THEIR Apples. By the time I'd checked out I had ran into no less than 4 other people that were talking about their Apples! We just aren't used to having so many...it was just a great year for Apples.


What a great problem to have!! We aren't really applesauce people here at our house, so I decided to make apple pie filling. Now, when I grew up we froze our apple pie filling, but I don't have a lot of freezer space available right now and there were a lot of empty quart jars in my cupboard, so I decided to can it.

Problem: most of the canning recipes call for "clear jel". I discovered that no one in town has heard of it, and none of the stores carry it.

Solution: do it the old-fashioned way, with corn starch.

First, I took the blade off of my apple peeler and peeled the apples. Apparently the slices turn out too thin for canning.


Then, I cored and sliced them into chunks by hand.


Some of the apples were little...


 But most of them were really nice sized.


Everything went really smoothly.....but it took all day, and the kitchen was a mess!


Beautiful.


Simply, beautiful.


 And everyone approved the results....


And, as all good canning projects go, it was quite late when I finally called it quits for the night.



Project Apples complete.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

10 Random Tidbits......Before, During and After

I'm finally back from a month of cooking on the boat! And here, for your reading pleasure, are 10 random tidbits......

BEFORE WE LEFT FOR BEAR HUNTING:

1. One day Kitty was relaxing in the shade while I was working in the garden.


Suddenly I heard some crazy crunching sound and I turned around to see what it was, and I saw that Kitty had caught a dragonfly and was trying to eat it.


I can't even try to describe to you what that sounded like.  Needless to say....it didn't sound pleasant and he didn't finish eating it.


2. This Spring we apparently had the perfect conditions for optimum pollination....everyone in town that has fruit trees has fruit!  What you are looking at here is the "Great Cherry Harvest of 2014".


These cherries are cool. They are "self-pitting" cherries, so when you pick the cherries off the tree...the pits and stems stay on the tree and you just pull off the cherry.


There were just enough cherries to make one tart.


Yummy!


3. The Apple harvest was unparalleled....


We have bushels of apples!

4. We made tons of pesto this year....out of everything I could think of.... Fennel fronds, Carrot tops, Garlic Scapes, Lemon Sorrel, and Basil.


Pesto is so delicious.

DURING BEAR HUNTING:

5. On day two of cooking on the boat I cut my finger while slicing carrots with a Victor Knox.


Almost cut the tip clear off! That made cooking and doing dishes challenging for about a week. Everyone who owns a boat knows how sharp a Victor Knox knife is.....there's nothing sharper.


6. In between hunts, Mr. Adams helped me load the truck up with seaweed and beach mulch for the garden.


Thanks, Mr. Adams!

7. While shopping for groceries for the boat I spotted these bananas.....


I've never seen such green bananas.......would they ever ripen?  I didn't buy any.

AND AFTER BEAR HUNTING:

8. I hadn't even been home for 24 hours and I had a hole dug to China in the garden.


A drain pipe from the house gutters was causing a problem... so we added some length to it.


Digging a hole or trench on our property is challenging.....there are many rocks and slabs of cement in the way. There was even a log that had to be cut in two.


9. We harvested the Potatoes.  The harvest has excellent and they are so delicious!


We have bushels of Potatoes.

10. Kitty missed me while I was gone.....


Now I need to take my chair back.

Well, now I'm back home, so it's time to go back to work. There's much to be done.....