Friday, November 27, 2015

Saving Seeds

Even when the earth is brown and dry, when the fruit of the lush green summer is molded and black, the garden still has treasures, and something to give back.

Seed saving for these easy plants is nothing profound. It's simply a matter of picking the dried seed pods, extracting the seeds and storing them in a cool dry place until spring. Above are vine dried Scarlett Runner Beans.

Inside the homely shell is a beautiful black and lavender bean, that can be reconstituted and added to recipes that call for dried beans. I'm saving them for seeds for next year.

I didn't plant a lot of Okra this year, we ran out of bed space and time. What I did plant, got away from me and the okra pods grew large and woody. At that point, they are best left for seed collection.

Some radish seed pods.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Iron Oak Farm, but especially from Tom, who is thankful he is a pet and not joining the cranberry sauce and dressing this year.

Many blessings to you and yours, and many things to be thankful for. May you share in bounty with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Automatic Chicken Coop Door Installation and Product Review

Our coop has a new feature! An Automatic Chicken Coop Door, that can be set to a timer so our chickens are always safe from nocturnal predators! Learn more about this amazing product in my latest Community Chickens post.

Automatic Chicken Coop Door Installation and Product Review

Planting Garlic and Other Bulbs

Our bulbs are in for the year. It's always such a hopeful task as we enter into the darkness of winter. It's encouraging to think of the bright and cheerful daffodils and tulips that will emerge next spring.

Planting bulbs is a pretty straight forward process.

Dig a hole or a trench for the bulb to be planted.

A good rule for depth is 3 times the size of the bulb. I tend to do twice the size of the bulb, then add a good layer of compost and/or mulch to the surface.

A bulb planting tool can make it easy to plant individual bulbs. It take a kind of core-sample of the earth out, then pop the bulb in the hole and redistribute the soil. (Ours is pretty old and rusty, but still works like a champ.) 

The bulb should be planted point side up. If the bulb doesn't have an obvious "point" then check for signs of root buds, these should be facing down.

Bulbs do well with a thick layer of compost. It helps fertilize first thing in the spring and it discourages early weeds from taking over the sprouts.

Garlic is also a bulb and is planted in a similar manner.

We dig trenches so the garlic grows in straight rows,

and place the bulbs across the rows evenly before covering with earth and compost.

This year I'm growing two new varieties from Fruition Seeds that I picked up at the Mother Earth News Fair in Wisconsin. 

The first variety is called "Music" it's a large variety often mistaken for Elephant Garlic. It's "sweet and pungent." according to the description.

The second variety is called "Italian Red" it's a hard neck garlic with a mild flavor. 

When I was at the fair, I talked to one of the employees about growing garlic. Ours seems to come back smaller and smaller each year. Her advice was to "Eat the small ones, plant the large ones." This will be my rule going forward.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pecan Pie Tasting, Maple VS Honey

Zach's dad's favorite pie is Pecan. His birthday party was this past weekend so I decided to make him a pie to celebrate.

I've been intrigued by the Honey Pecan Pie recipe from the Miss Kay's Duck Commander Cookbook. I was particularly interested because I love to use ingredients from the farm whenever I can. This year we got a bumper crop of honey from our hives, so I thought this pie would be perfect!

Get the recipe over at Mommy's Kitchen

I was browsing around other blogs and noticed that honey could be swapped for maple syrup in this recipe.

We have a bunch of that too!

So I made two pies.

One with honey

and one with maple syrup.

They were both DELICIOUS!!!

The maple had a deeper flavor and not quite as sweet as the honey. The honey has a brighter taste, and you couldn't mistake the honey flavor.

If I had to pick one, I think it would be the maple. I love anything maple flavored. Also, Pecan Pie is very sweet to me anyway, so I enjoyed the downplay of sweet flavor from the syrup addition. But both got votes from our family that tasted the pies.

To make the maple version, substitute 1/2 cup maple syrup for 1/2 cup honey, cook as directed. 

Beeswax Turkey Place Card Holders KBB Post

Make these easy place card holders for your Thanksgiving table. Learn how over at Keeping Backyard Bees.

Beeswax Turkey Place Card Holders

Crispy Breaded Porkchops

This is a super simple, easy recipe and only has 3 ingredients! 

Crispy Breaded Pork Chops

4-6 pork chops, I like bone in because I feel like there's more flavor and I admit...chewing at the bone is my favorite.

vegetable oil

1 sleeve of saltine crackers crushed

Place the crushed crackers in a shallow bowl and press the pork chops into the crumbs.

Really mash them in till the crackers stick and coat the whole chop.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pan, heat the oil on medium high till you drop in a cracker and it sizzles slightly.

Cook the pork chops 2 at a time (don't overcrowd the pan) 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Don't worry about cooking all the way through, you're going to finish them in the oven.

Place golden chops in an oven safe dish and bake around 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.