Fall Clean-up & Summer Wrap-up

Even though the garden hasn’t frosted out yet, we took some time this weekend to clean up what we could.

My husband tackled the garden.  He pulled out the dead tomato plants and cucumber vines.  He also pulled out the associated stakes, cages, and trellises and tilled up the newly vacated parts of the garden.  Our beans, bunching onions, kale, peppers, and Brussels sprouts are still doing pretty well.  Those two volunteer tomato plants are on the decline but are still producing a little so those were left in as well.


I pulled out my gladiolus and calla lily bulbs and put them on a rack (this was from a fridge of some sort) to dry.


I’ll leave them here until next weekend then I’ll brush off the excess dirt, put them in ice cream buckets (probably with a little pine bedding thrown in for good measure), and store them in the basement for the winter.  I did have a number of bulbs that rotted in the ground before I could get to digging them up, but that was largely a function of the repeated couple-inch dumpings of rain we’ve gotten over the last two months!

I didn’t pull out my dahlias yet… because they’re still blooming!  I’m very impressed with my Sam’s Club dahlias!


Two of my day lilies – Purpleicious and The Jury’s Out – produced seed pods this year.  Some have dried out already, so I harvested them and have plans to try and start them next spring.  I’m still waiting on some of the pods to dry out, but I’ll collect them as they do.  I would love to see what kinds of hybrids I get from all of my day lilies.


When I planted this spring I showed you that I put down newspaper and straw to help keep the weeds down.  Did it work?  At first.  The issue was that the weeds that did work their way through were the larger and more aggressive weeds, so when I pulled them they left a hole in the paper and let more weeds populate that area.  Will I do it again?  Probably not.  It’s easier to just hoe or till the weeds in between the plants.

Tomatoes are always boom or bust around here.  This year was bust – thanks to early blight.  Luckily, we had a bumper crop in 2015 and still have ample tomatoes in the pantry.  We ate some fresh, I made and froze some tomato paste, and canned some jalapeno hot sauce.  I found a different fungicide that I felt was working at least marginally better than the stuff I had used prior, so I will buy more of that next year and use it regularly as a preventive in hopes of keeping the pesky blight at bay.

We had a pretty typical crop of green beans.  We were running a full batch of quarts through the canner about once a week.  They’re still growing pretty good, and are actually still flowering.  We definitely haven’t put the canner away yet – there’s a batch of beans going in today!  If you missed my post on how to can green beans, you can find it HERE.

The corn.  Well, that was a lot of corn.  We ate a lot of corn, we gave away a lot of corn, we canned a LOT of corn.  If you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter you likely saw this photo one morning about a month ago…


All that corn was cut up the night prior and was ready to be canned that day.  We ultimately put up about about 70 quarts of corn.  We just ate our first quart a few days ago and (luckily) we’re very happy with how it turned out.

The cucumbers did okay.  As usual, it took a couple replantings to get them going so we didn’t get a terribly abundant harvest.  We ate a good amount of cucumbers fresh, and I canned some relish.  Next year I really need to be on top of things and start my cucumber seeds indoors.  I’ve historically had terrible luck starting seeds, but I think the birds are getting at my cucumber seeds when I direct seed them.  So, I need to give seed starting another shot – at least with the cucumbers, anyway.  If that doesn’t work I’ll have to resort to buying them from the greenhouse.

The cabbages and Brussels sprouts had a great year, with the exception of one cabbage that rotted on me (from the inside… it was weird, I had never seen a cabbage do that before… but we got a LOT of rain towards the end of the growing season).  The cabbages got made into cole slaw, then what we couldn’t eat fresh (which was a lot) got made into sauerkraut.  Here is one cabbage, all shredded up…


It’s still fermenting, so you’ll hear more about that if it turns out (so far it looks promising).  We’ll leave the Brussels sprouts in the garden through winter or until we’ve eaten them all.

After a pretty successful growing season we have a fully stocked pantry and are ready for the apocalypse…


…or just another Wisconsin winter!




Woodpile in September

Well, it happened.  Yesterday afternoon my husband lit the furnace.

I was perfectly comfortable in my fleece sweatshirt with the house at 70 degrees, but he gets antsy this time of year to light it for the first time, so he did.  It didn’t take long before the house was at 75 degrees and the kiddos and I had shed our sweatshirts.  At least he was no longer asking me every 20 minutes if he should light the furnace.

My husband had a few good days making firewood and we’re almost ready for the upcoming winter.  Usually October is the big push for firewood, but without a field full of pumpkins to harvest for sale this year, the woodpile is ahead of schedule.

You want to see some pumpkins?  Of course you do!  Read More »

A Strawberry Cheesecake with a Chocolate Swirl

I’d been itching to bake something fancy for awhile.  Saturday was my sister’s birthday, and she and my parents wanted to come out and visit us, so I happily volunteered to make her a birthday cake.  I stewed for awhile about what to make… there are far too many good ideas out there!  But, no matter how much time I spend on Pinterest, when I need to make a special dessert I will most likely make a cheesecake.  And it’s got “cake” in the name, so it qualifies as a birthday cake, right?

Besides, cheesecakes are kind of my thing.Read More »

Meet Blanche’s Calf!

Well, we had a little excitement this morning.  My husband woke up to go to work and found that Blanche had her calf overnight!  We don’t know exactly what time she had it, but the calf was up and nursing by the time my husband discovered it.  You always worry a little when it’s their first calf, but all went well and neither the cow nor the calf had any issues.

The calf is a little heifer!  She’ll be registered with the American Hereford Association.  As of now she’s just known as”602D,” but we’ll decide on a name soon.

Here’s one of the first photos my husband took this morning, right around sunrise:


Read More »

Jalapeno Hot Sauce

Ready to add some zing to your pantry?

A few years ago I had a less-than-sucessful attempt at homemade barbecue sauce.  We didn’t have a food mill back then.  That, coupled with the fact that I may have added ingredients at the wrong time, left me with a sauce that had a weird mouth feel and not much flavor besides tomato.  Ever since we got our food mill I’ve been itching to give a homemade, tomato-based condiment another try.

I have a lot of jalapenos in the garden, and I already have an abundance of pickled jalapenos from 2013 in the pantry.  So, I needed to do something different with them.  I decided to take a few jalapenos and my meager crop of tomatoes and try my hand at a homemade hot sauce.Read More »

Homemade Chili

This is a super simple recipe that uses some of those tomatoes you worked so hard to put up at the peak of the summer canning season.  I love this recipe because I always have the base ingredients on hand, and you can add in whatever else you’d like.  A little minced garlic would be a nice addition, and I’ve added celery and bell peppers of every color if I’ve had to use them up.

If you like a spicy chili you can kick it up by adding in some hot peppers – jalapenos or something even hotter.  Before I had a toddler to feed I would add some cayenne.  Again, something I always have on hand.Read More »

Relish the Thought (Canning Dill Relish)

No matter how thorough you are, there always seem to be a couple pickling cucumbers that hide from you and by the time you find them they’re about the size of a pint jar… or bigger.  You don’t need to let those cucumbers go to waste, they’re perfect for making relish.  If you don’t have pickling cucumbers you can go ahead and make this with slicing cucumbers.  I did.

Homemade pickle relish is delicious, and it’s not difficult to make your own.  A food processor makes short work of prepping all the ingredients.  A couple-hour soak in salted water is followed by a short boil, then simply pack in into jars and process it in a water bath canner.Read More »

Zucchini-Rhubarb Muffins with Crumble Topping

It seems as though the only non-objectionable way that I can cook zucchini in this household is in sweet baked goods.  Last year I had a bumper crop from two plants and I was making zucchini bread 6 or 8 loaves at a time.  I found It’s a lot easier to give away zucchini when it’s already baked into a sweet, cinnamon-and-sugar topped loaf of bread, so if I knew someone would be stopping by I would have a loaf or two ready for them to take home.  Although zucchini season came a little late for us this year, we’re finally into it.

So, last week I was eating some zucchini bread from my first batch of the year.  It was delicious.  It was moist and cinnamon-y and sweet, but suddenly I had a revelation that something was missing.  It needed something… something zingy… it needed rhubarb!  I decided I needed to make that happen.  And I am glad I did!Read More »