Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shallots and more

Shallots are in the ground!! All 624 of them! These shallots are Yellow Moon. I think shallots are one of my favorite vegetables to plant and watch grow. They are these round fat bulbs that are placed in the ground so that their little heads stick up out of the ground a little bit and then they start to grow. As they grow each fat bulb divides in to 3 or 4 individual bulbs with the wonderful array of green hairy tops that stand up straight and tall. When they are ready to harvest their green hairy tops start to turn brown and that is the signal to dig them up. They are then split into their own individual set and cured for a couple of weeks and then ready to be added to some wonderful recipes.

We have been busy planting all the Peas too. They are not up yet but I expect them to pop through the ground any day now that we have had some wonderful rain and today it has been sunny and warm. I have planted Sugar Snap Peas, Mammoth Melting Snow Peas and Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Peas. I am trying a variety of peas hoping to have a longer harvest. The Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Peas are suppose to be a good shelling pea that can be frozen. The way Zephyrus, my grandson, likes peas I need to grow a lot of them.

The greenhouse is full of starts of peppers, tomatoes, celery, spinach, summer squash, beets, basil, cilantro, dill, nasturtiums, Calendula and more. Spring is a busy and exciting time of year. We are also working on finishing up the irrigation to the lower garden, preparing new beds and mulching paths.

I will try to write more frequently so you can be aware of all that is growing here on the farm.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Maple Syrup

The Maple Syrup is complete!! The trees were tapped in the snow. We only got 5 taps in because we could not reach the other trees because of the snow accumulation. It was a good season for maple syrup sap and we collected over 100 gallons of sap ( 43 gallons of sap makes approximately 1 gallon of maple syrup. This was our first year having all the equipment i.e. evaporator and sugar shack ready so we could start processing as the sap flow came. We learned a lot from our first batch - about how long to keep it in the evaporator before drawing it off, how to finish it off on the stove - getting it up to a temperature 7 degrees above boiling which in CT became 212.4 degrees F. , what heat setting on the stove kept the sap boiling but not cooking to fast, and how many times it needed to be filtered. If it is not filtered enough or correctly the sugar sand particles called 'niter' settle out upon jaring it up so there is a residue in the bottom. All said and done we were able to jar up 2.15 gallons of maple syrup. I put them in my 4oz, 8 oz and 12 oz jelly jars and sealed them with the lids and bands. I am very happy with the results
A great big thank you goes to one of my high school friends, Cindy, who is a friend of mine on Facebook. She read about what we were doing on the farm and wrote me about her Maple Syrup operation back in Ohio. She answered a lot of questions that I had about the total process. I am very greatfull for all her help.