Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gooseberries and Lettuce! Oh, My!


I just noticed, all of my pictures are cut off on the right side. Must be the layout. When things slow down, Cyn, I am emailing you! LOL

If you saw my refrigerator, you'd gasp, then laugh. All you can see is bags of lettuce! A quick visit at my parent's home yesterday evening turned into two hours of harvesting and washing their lettuce crop. And if you'd seen my dad's puppy dog eyes, you'd have come home with all this as well. LOL

Dad wanted it washed up 'just so' as he always does. My dad's perfectionist tendencies used to annoy me. Now I just appreciate his attention to detail and that he cares enough to do everything he does in the best way possible. I like that as well, but I do my best to find balance. However, he was his house and his lettuce, so we washed a lot of lettuce in a particular way which took longer.

All that being so, we got home much later than anticipated, didn't get to the things we'd planned on, and I spent several hours attempting to dry lettuce and find a way to store it! This pile was 5 feet long and a foot high in the middle. On the way home we picked up some of those 'green bags' so it would not all go to waste.

So I was up til midnight last night, and still had to leave most of the lettuce out. I kid you not, I was BLOW DRYING LETTUCE! LOL

Today, while trying to do a day of rest, instead I find myself trying to figure out what to do with about 20 gallons of gooseberries.

But it has been so long since I've even had time to post that it has been bugging the heck out of me. So I quit working on 6 pies, turned off the audio book of Gulliver's Travels (Have you seen those cool Playaway pre-loaded digital audio books? We checked one out of the library.), and am coming to sit down and try to put in all the stuff we've been doing all week.

I'll try to get in the highlights in one post here...

Last Friday we had a different sort of get-together. Movie night!

Some even dressed the part. I loved this!

Of course we had to look at the garden first. This is what tired people who don't want to trudge up and down a hill do...

And a great movie, complete with popcorn and general silliness.

Last Saturday we did pretty well with resting. I am sure you can all imagine how hard it is to not do anything when it is this time of year! (Today a great example!)

I did walk around and document every crop we had going. This is the only journal I have at this point, so I am keeping track of what is planted and how it's doing by weekly photos. I won't bore you with them today. LOL

Except.... I am getting excited about trying fennel bulbs. I also think I may try to naturalize some of them. I hear they grow in the wild like crazy, so it would be nice to be able to harvest the bulbs without taking up garden space. 'Nother experiment to try.

Monday morning we finished picking cherries. Not enough left to warrant another trip. I decided to try Cherry Cafloutie - sort of. I changed up the recipe and threw it together in the blender. It ended up being rather custardy and needed more custard to the cherries, in ratio, but it was delicious!

More pruning and training the vineyard. It's looking pretty good! Stopped for a one-sided swallow tail butterfly.

And to see how that nest of eggs in the kiwi arbor is doing. Not sure what kind of bird this is. I wish I knew more bird species.

Then we decided to tackle the gooseberries.

We got two gallons off the first bush. They really produce well. They are only about 3' high and 3' across, and I give them no care. After this, we decided to let them mature just a little longer, as I felt they were still too unripe.

We got a grain mill in the mail when we came in! Michael could not wait to try it, so he got some rice out and gave it a spin! Our kitchen counters are too thick, so we tried it on the desk.


After a hard days work, we went ahead and swam, even though we have still not been successful at getting the filter system in and working. It still leaks after 4 attempts. I hope to get that fixed some time soon.

Ah, that water feels SO good! :)

Wednesday we had our first big basil harvest. I am going to be inundated by basil, I can see. I did not know how much to plant or really what to expect, so we have about 30 plants in a 4 by 4 foot area of the herb bed. We really LOVE weeding those plants, the aroma just fills the air. LOL This is how much we ended up with, after trimming the top third off the plants.

Still plenty left growing out there!

I bagged some up to give away to friends later that evening.

And set about to drying the rest.

Michael wanted to try grinding the leaves in the grain mill, but he discovered that the morter and pestle work much better.

And we ended up with a cup of dried basil.

The question remains... what will we do with the next 20 weeks of harvest???

Back to what really prevented me from posting much this week... When we came in for rests, we sat down and did things like clean gooseberries! It took hours to de-stem and de-blossom the 2 gallons from that first bush.

It was done, but we are not doing that to the rest!

The current progress on the shady lettuce bed.

YAY! We are getting cukes!

Broom corn and peanuts are growing.

A good day's work weeding.

And here are the rest of the gooseberries we picked on Thursday! Help me! I still have 11 gallons of frozen ones from last year. I am going to do something with them, just not sure what yet.

Finally getting the pumpkins and winter squash scarified and soaking for planting on Friday.

And we spent several hours collecting scrap wood from the hill and cutting boards to finish up the potato boxes.

It was the first time I'd used the saw since my accident last year. I have to admit that I felt a twist of nerves thinking about turning it on. So I grabbed it and chased them away. I did fine until I had to rip a very long board, which was how I ended up cutting through my fingers, and I didn't like doing that. But it was a perfect chance to chase away the rest of the ghosts, so it was done.

Charging up the fence battery, it's monthly thing.

While picking up the battery from down below, we checked the chickens. Our rooster, the one that had been attacked by the hawk, was dead in the house. I don't know why. His skin was blue-green. A few days after the attack we noticed a blue-green spot on his skin. I wonder if it was gangrene? We may have a rooster to replace him, but I'm not sure. I miss his crowing, and he was very beautiful. :(

Oh, we had some really nice compliments last week. We were cleaning the dental office when the owner came by. I went out to chat with him and also asked if he was pleased with our work, or had he noticed anything he would like us to do better.

He not only said he was very pleased, but told me that they'd had a staff meeting the week before and he had asked the staff what they thought. They all were pleased. As a matter of fact, one had set a 'trap' to see if we'd get it. She said the whole time the other cleaning lady had been there, she'd never gotten it, but we did the very first time. (I wish I knew what trap she'd set. LOL)

Well, those are some highlights of the last week. I am undertaking canning.

Wishing I had a canning mentor...




  1. Faith,
    I love that yoou guys are getting sooo much done! I wish we were. :( I feel like we are just standing still.

    I love the gooseberries. I have wanted to plant some for quite a while now. How do they taste? I would make jam with them. Can you dry them out too?

    I am very jealious about the grinder. I have been wanting one so that we can actually have REAL homemade breads.

    Oh, and don't think I didn't notice the tan lines again. :P I will have to put mine into a post. Hehehe.

  2. Standing still? I know that CAN'T be true! But I do know the feeling, when the list doesn't get any crossings out and time keeps going by.

    You should plant some. VERY rewarding crop! Mine are in bright sun, and they do OK, but I bet they'd do even better if they had a smidgen of shade. Still, anywhere seems fine.

    Gooseberries are a funny fruit. When these Pixwell are ripe, they are mushy and tasteless. When they are too green, it's like eating an unripe grape. But you pick them juuuuuuust before they turn pink (pixwell, or just before ripening of a different variety) and they are a great mix of tangy and sweet. Like rhubarb is tangy.

    I have no idea about drying... I never even thought about it. I'll have to look that up. :)

    Yup, you gotta post those tootsies. LOL


  3. WOW-that is a lot of living packed into a small amount of well as lettuce and berries. I don't know where you live, but I wonder if they'd do well in New England area.
    Loved all the pics! Holly

  4. Holly,

    I'm sure the gooseberries would do great in New England. And I think you'd be happy with just one or two bushes, unless you eat a lot of pie.

    I used to bake pies several times a week, but that was when I had a large family at home. :)


  5. Pesto! Pesto! Pesto! It's my favorite thing to do with basil! It freezes wonderfully, and tastes so fresh in the middle of winter. I just used up my last jar a week ago, and I won't have basil for a long time yet.

  6. I'm trying gooseberries for the first time, found your blog looking how to stem and tail them, I'm going to make pies, the first pie I ever made several years ago, was yuck, I wonder if they were too green. Looking around I found a juice recipe. If I had as many as you I would try drying them, wonder if they'd be good in muffins or eaten out of hand, dried. Or frozen in fruit salad?

  7. Hi Gramma,

    You know there is not a lot of info on google when one of my blog posts shows up on a subject. LOL

    Most gooseberries are picked when underripe, so they are even more tart, but I'm sure if you pick them too early, they'd not be good. I sure would not want to try gooseberry juice. Sounds too sour.

    I haven't dried them. I do dry blueberries and blackberries and such. I suppose they would dry just fine, and be good for muffins. :o)



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