Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Apple Sauce

I generally prefer to freeze vegetables and can fruit. (Tomato juice is a fruit). Yesterday and today I canned the last (I hope) of the apple sauce for this year. This brings me up to 26 quarts of apple sauce. Yesterday I did some Ida Red apples we bought over north of Spokane and today I did some Granny Smiths that Jennie bought for cheap at the fruit stand. The later are from New Zealand and were starting to go bad -- probably last spring's harvest. I use a Squeezo food strainer for making apple sauce. I did 9 quarts today in about 2 hours. I bought my squeezo about 35 years ago and it has never failed me. I still have all the original parts. I could use a new o-ring but the old one probably has a few good years left. I use Bell jars and lids and process the jars at 10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes in a Presto canner that I have also had for 35 years. As you might guess, this is a very satisfying activity for me. I hope -- but don't really expect -- that everyone will rave about the apple sauce at our Thanksgiving meal. This year I am expanding my repertoire and also making two pumpkin pies and an Asian pear pie.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Next year's garden

We signed up for another year at Starbird Farm. I got most of the garden tilled before the rains started in ernest. That got most of the canary grass under some kind of control. I plan to put down black plastic, cardboard or old carpet on the worst of it to make life easier next season. We will also reverse the planting next year to we don't concentrate pests. I will spread lime again this year since I don't think we got a very uniform spread last spring.

I'm concerned longer term about the availability of Starbird Farm to community gardening as well as the whole global warming thing. A rise in sea level of only one meter would just about wipe out Ebey Island as a farming community. I need to seek higher ground, so to speak.

The trouble with large scale gardening/small scale farming is that most land around here is priced for development. That price is way too high if all we want to do is garden. If the price is lower, then there must be something wrong with the land. Either it's in the flood plain, or it won't perk which means it is probably also not good for gardening. I keep looking. I'd rather rent than buy, but I'd also be willing to buy a quarter acre. I'd want tolerably good soil, good drainage, access by small truck year round, the possibility to build s shed or small barn, water (could be a driven well), good sunlight and not more than 15 miles from where I live -- Everett.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Solar Roof

Yesterday Dave from Puget Sound Solar cam back and replaced a faulty switch way up on the top of the roof (why put a switch there?). Anyway, that fed AC power to the East side of our solar array so now we are 'cookin' with all 24 panels. Today we made 16 Kwh of power. On an average day our house uses 10 Kwh. That means that for quite a while today our electric meter actually ran backwards and we credited our account. In addition, the State of Washington pays us 15¢ per Kwh for everything we produce.

You can view the performance of our system here.