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Veggie Tales - December 2018

Jamie
December 1, 2018

And here we are at the end of another year. Where did 2018 go? There‘s not a lot of physical gardening going on for a lot of people but I bet most of us are doing a lot of mental gardening. It’s time to start making plans for the spring and looking through the seed catalogs to figure out what we want to order for the coming growing season.

Our fall/winter garden is hanging in there. We had a cold spell followed by rain and cloud cover with highs in the 60s and low 70s. I did have some damage on my fava beans from the cold snap But the greens are all still looking good.

Happy December, all!


Comments (185)
  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    Chris - We may sell some of the beef to friends if we get to the point where we have more than we need but that will be a few years down the road.

    Hereford and Angus are the 2 main breeds of cattle raised for beef around this area. I'm not sure if the milk they produce is inferior in taste to something like a Holstein but I think the latter was bred to produce more milk. I'll ask one of the calves how the milk tastes :-p.

    I've butchered several wild turkeys over the years. The breast meat is about the only part worth eating because the legs and wings have a lot more tendons then a domesticated bird. I've watch videos of chickens being processed and it doesn't look too hard if you have a machine to defeather them. I'd hate to pluck them by hand.

    Kevin - like Chris mentioned, I think a smaller chicken tractor would be more plausible and you could rotate it around every so often to give the chickens a fresh bed to scratch around in.

    Richard - I think I went outside and built a snowman during the second half of the Chiefs vs. Vikings superbowl.


  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Yea as I typed that out I was thinking about how we would move a 50 ft long tractor with birds in it.... probably would be better to have one or two 25 ft runs instead.


    How did your hot sauce experiments go?

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Jack - haha! I wouldn't trust the calves word, they may tell you "Meh, it's not really good, you wouldn't want any of this(continues to chug it down)" I guess you don't plan to give the milk a try lol

    I'm curious how their turkeys taste, since they are let out to graze during the day. Oh yeah they had a machine to do the defeathering. Hand plucking doesn't sound fun at all.

    Kevin - they were good! I tried the same recipe twice, which was very simple. Just salt, peppers and vinegar. I definitely want to try a recipe that involves more ingredients next time and that will be thicker. The second batch was very interesting with the melon-flavored Habanada peppers incorporated.

    What's been your favorite recipe? Try any new ones?

  • itsmce (zone 6b, Kansas)

    Wow...get busy for a few days and watch out! It takes a long time to catch up here on this Veggie Tales thread. So much to discuss!

    Chris - Welcome back! Your comment about missing my melon posts...makes me think that I miss eating my melons! My hand surgeries are a distant memory now. All healed up and mostly doing well. From time to time I get a twinge as I try to do something with them. Still struggling with bursitis in the hip area which keeps me from getting good sleep, but it isn't so bad to slow me down with everyday activities, thankfully. Good to know that there is a fellow amaryllis propagator/reviver here. Most people just enjoy the amaryllis bloom the initial year of bulb purchase and throw away the bulb. I am continuing what my mother started doing close to 40 years ago. She befriended a local amaryllis "expert" she called Mr. Amaryllis. She learned from him the process of growing amaryllis from seed. It's a 3-5 year process to get the bulbs big enough to bloom, but it is rewarding, for sure.

    Jacob - That wheelbarrow looks fantastic! Good job. Nice that you can create that leaf mold compost by just raking the leaves into a pile in amongst the trees. In the city, and a windy one at that, it's not an option for me.

    Richard - I think you win that prize here for the latest tomato harvest...right? Well done.

    Yesterday was lovely here. Calm, sunny, and a high near mid-50s. Luckily it coincided with my day away from the office. After some holiday cookie baking and laundry, I made it outside to mow up some leaves in my yard. A couple of my oak trees had finally dropped most of their leaves. I added some to my compost bin, and bagged some for future use.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Chris - I've never made a batch that actually followed a recipe. I sort of just whip it up on the fly with what I have on hand, so I don't really have one to share.


    My general notes after making about a dozen or so batches:


    1. Blend the peppers (make a mash) before fermenting. The few times I tried to ferment just chunks of peppers I had mold/off flavors.


    2. Salt % is very important - I like to aim for somewhere around 5% salt by weight to the mash. This is easier if you make the mash first, weigh it, then blend the salt in. You can adjust up and down by a few % pts to alter the microbial activity and flavor.


    3. Add vinegar or other acid fairly soon after the primary ferment stops (bubbling stops) or you run the risk of getting a kahm yeast (not harmful but some consider an off-flavor and upappetizing.


    3. Garlic is your friend. Use a lot more than you think you need. Try some other spices too - a little bit of mustard and celery seed usually end up in my batches.


    4. Instead of vinegar try other acids. Some proportion of lemon juice and lime juice goes into just about every batch I make.


    5. Tomatoes can be a good way to get extra red color if you dont have a lot of red peppers. Similarly, try yellow tomatoes with yellow peppers. Green with green - etc.


    6. I used to just blend the sauce up as long as I could stand hearing the Ninja blender roar in the kitchen. Now I take the extra time to strain through a fine mesh strainer. You lose volume of sauce but the quality is better and it doesnt get clogged in those little woozy bottles. There are things you can do with the left over solids if your into saving everything. Mine usually goes to the compost heap. Dont put it in the garbage disposal - you wont be able to breath - you've been warned.


  • Chris (6a NY)

    itsmce - hey there, Melon Queen! Happy to hear that you're all healed up and doing pretty well. Sorry to hear about the hip :-/ Sleep is something I definitely value and would be annoyed if something kept me up.

    That is awesome about the amaryllis! It's so funny that you mentioned growing amaryllis from seed! I grew a Charisma amaryllis(from a bulb) for a co-worker of mine and was just staring at it and thought "what would happen if I pollinated this thing?" So I looked it up and read what you just mentioned about how many years it would take to grow from seed. I pollinated the flowers a little while ago and I'll be giving it a try next year! I would love any advice you are willing to give on the process!

    Kevin - thanks for the breakdown! I bookmarked your post. So do you use vinegar and lemon/lime juice blend or is it one or the other? The recipe I used said to allow the salted mash to sit for 24 hours before adding the vinegar. This recipe also had you strain it too, which is, like you said, where it loses it's volume. Is the finished product very liquid-y or does it thicken up? I'm a HUGE fan of garlic, so I'm all for using lots. I liked starting with a simple recipe as a beginner, but I'm ready to expand.

  • johnfduda

    Chris

    You asked about the taste of milk from beef cattle. I have a story about the reverse situation. About 30 years ago I decided to buy a calf and raise it till the grass quit growing. I went to an auction, Kevin at Hickory. The cheapest thing was Holstein bull calfs. So I bought one. Later a GF decided that was cute and wanted a cow. So instead of tying the calf to 12" blocks I had to fence off a few acres. They had a calf and the bull was ready for harvest. The butcher was telling me it'd only be good for hamburg but when he saw the meat he was amazed. USDA choice! I thought he was kidding with me till he offered me $7 a pound for the ribs. It was delicious.


    The problem with this is that to get that quality of meat you have to do what he told me I'd done. Over feed it. Unless you're raising the grain it's too expensive. Corn and oats.

  • Chris (6a NY)

    John - that is an awesome discovery! I wonder if you could get the same quality beef if you let them graze on something like grain/alfalfa and feed them hay in the colder months. How old was the bull? I actually saw a Chef's Table episode where a chef intentionally used a retired dairy cow for the meat and said he saw more marbling and ultimately a delicious product. His point was that you don't need 2 different types of cow(meat vs dairy), that a dairy cow could serve the purpose of both. That obviously wouldn't work for large-scale farms that need to supply lots of meat regularly.

  • jacoblockcuff (NW Arkansas z6a/6b)

    John and Chris, I hadn’t even thought of “dairy” versus “meat” cattle in terms of one producing better meat and the other better milk. I’d always seen it as, a cow would give the milk and meat if desired, and the bull would just produce meat. I guess it never occurred to me that certain breeds are better for different situations.

    My grandpa has a pretty big herd of cattle, probably 30-40 at least. His bulls always seem fairly docile when I’m in the field with them, but you’ve still got to watch it. The cows walk right up to you and beg to be fed, spoiled! I believe, though don’t hold me to it, that he raises mostly angus, and he sells them off once they’re at a good size for meat cattle.

    Chris, my great grandmother and grandfather had a pretty big dairy farm when my grandma was younger. My grandma tells me her dad would walk out to the barn every morning and scream each one of his cattle’s names a few times. Every single one of them came from the fields and filed right into the barn into their own stalls, the same stalls every single day. She says those cattle stayed out in the fields (They had a lot of acreage.) pretty much all the time grazing pasture, whether snow, ice, freezing cold, tornadoes, etc. They foraged for all they needed and only in the coldest of winter months when they couldn’t get to the grass due to heavy snowpack did they get hay, and not a whole lot at that. We’ve been to their old property and it has some really fertile soil for this area. It always grew fantastic hay. They dedicated 80 acres to hay if I remember correctly. Sadly my aunts sold it off a few years back, but the new owner seems to really appreciate and take care of the place, allowing family of my grandparents to visit the property anytime they want.

    Don’t you wish you could go back in time and take a learning course with our ancestors?

    Getting off topic here, I’ll switch back to gardening lol. It’s a rainy, mild day around here. I need to get my tools out, sharpen them with the grinder, and get them oiled up nicely with some mineral oil. Maybe I’ll do that later...

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Kevin - thanks for the breakdown! I bookmarked your post. So do you use vinegar and lemon/lime juice blend or is it one or the other?

    Chris - Yes a blend. Start with 1/3 of each and see how you like that, then adjust from there.


    The recipe I used said to allow the salted mash to sit for 24 hours before adding the vinegar.

    I like to let the salted mash sit a bit longer than 24 hours... IMO unless you've inoculated it with something already extremely active (e.g. slurry from a recent sauce) it takes a few days just for the lactic bacteria to start working. So I go about a week but watch it like a hawk. As soon as you see the white forming on top you're already a bit too late IMO. Adjust for your ambient temperature - obviously it will run faster at higher temps and lower at colder.


    This recipe also had you strain it too, which is, like you said, where it loses it's volume. Is the finished product very liquid-y or does it thicken up?

    When strained the finished product is liquidy - think Franks Red Hot or Texas Pete. If you wanted it thickened you could omit the straining and just let the blender run until it overheats or your ears start bleeding, whichever comes first. Sometimes I like the sauce with a little bit of texture to it but it does not pour as well out of the little hot sauce bottles.


    I get these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CZMHRZK/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1


    I'm a HUGE fan of garlic, so I'm all for using lots. I liked starting with a simple recipe as a beginner, but I'm ready to expand.

    Another thing we have in common. I used a full tablespoon of organic granulated garlic powder in a quart of sauce and thought it wasnt enough.



  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

    One of the benefits of the breeds intended for meat production is that a higher percentage of their feed goes into body weight gain compared to breeds intended for milk production. Most cattle can produce tasty beef if fed properly. Ours are still grazing on pasture most of the time but we had to put out a bail of hay for them a couple weeks ago before the 5" snow fall. The snow is gone but they are still hitting the hay bail pretty hard (lazy cows!). We also give them a few gallons of All Stock pelleted feed every morning to supplement vitamins and minerals. They also have a couple mineral/salt licks.

    Jacob - It sounds like your great grandpa had his dairy cattle well trained! Dairy cattle get very uncomfortable if they are not milked regularly. They know when it's time to be milked! In big operations the cows aren't to picky about what milking station they go into though.

    My Johnny's seed order should be in my mailbox when I get home. I plan to start some Salanova lettuce this evening. Probably a couple of each of the 4 varieties that I ordered (green butter, red butter, green oakleaf, red oakleaf).

    Itsmce - I took a vacation day tomorrow and it will be spent collecting leaves for the compost if they aren't still too wet from today's rain. If still too wet I'll wait until Saturday to work on the leaves and instead have a bonfire to burn up a large stump from a dead fall tree. I have a ton of small branches I need to clean up and 6 months of junk mail to burn!

    John - Did you sell the ribs to the butcher? $7/lb. is a good price even now. I'm not really a fan of beef ribs myself but there is one BBQ joint here called Jack Stacks that has really good Crown prime ribs that are basically smoked prime rib from the small end of the rib roast.

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    Chris -- July 9th picture of Casper eggplant.

    Tony



  • Chris (6a NY)

    Jacob - that's amazing about your great grandparents' cattle! I couldn't even get a cat to come to me lol 80 acres, wow! I don't know what I'd do with myself if I had 80 acres at my disposal.

    I agree it would be awesome to learn from our ancestors. A lot of "new" farming practices are returning to the ways of old, with a twist. We know so much more behind the science of everything than they did, yet they had it right all along.

    I'm happy to hear that the new owners of the farm take care of it properly and allow your family to still visit.

    Sharpening the tools is a great idea! I really should sterilize all of my tools.

    Jack - is this your first time raising cattle? Have you every approximated the expense of raising them vs value of the meat? Kinda curious.

    Nothing better than getting a shipment of seeds in the mail!

    Tony - simply amazing! Did you say that you topped that plant? I grew some Casper eggplant seedlings for my cousin, but they did not fair as well as those! One of them actually had a weird condition where the plant was producing yellow eggplants. That would've been fine, but apparently they didn't taste good.

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Has anyone grown any hulless pumpkin varieties? I enjoy eating pumpkin seeds(pepitas) and until recently, I had no idea that the seeds actually came from a particular type of pumpkin that is hulless. I was thinking that there was some machine that actually shelled them haha!

    Kevin - I saw that you are planning to grow quite a few Hungarian Hot Wax peppers. I am a big fan of pickled hot peppers and I know this one is a popular one to pickle. Have you pickled it and how hot is it? High Mowing says that the peppers will get hotter as they mature, so they are usually harvested while they are still yellow. Your thoughts?

  • Richard Teague

    Tony that Casper eggplant is awesome. I have some in my Johnnys cart right now and will definitely be growing some next season

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Chris - I love me some hungarian waxes. They are a bit of wild card when it comes to heat though. Some fruits are tame and others make jalepenos taste like bells. I havent heard that about them getting hotter as they mature. Thats quite opposite of how a lot of other peppers mature (usually they get sweeter). Maybe thats contributing to my 'wild card' theory.

    I use a recipe similar to this. Really should start doing a true hot water or pressure can so they last longer and take up less fridge space but I have found that the dozen or so quart jars we make a year end up disappearing before the following season.

    https://www.blessthismessplease.com/quick-easy-refrigerator-pickled-banana-peppers/

    Subs - use more garlic obviously. If peppers are extra hot, add some sugar (maybe 1/4 cup). Maybe throw a sprig of dill in. Swap in some apple cider vinegar for a different tang.

  • Richard Teague

    Itmce it was my worst summer season ever for tomatoes, so hopefully I will get some good ones before they freeze and they won't be mushy inside. Last winter I had some like that, kind of like what you get at the supermarket. All of the cherry tomatoes have been real good (not crazy about the Peacevine because they are tiny) but I am just getting some Patio tomatoes where all the leaves died just getting ripe. The Bolseno tomatoes are twice the size of the ones I had in the summer so I am hopeful. Every one has been great so far the Black Tula tomatoes were also top 10 ever, most of the rest were mostly forgettable because of the never ending rain

  • cindy_7

    Itsmce - Just read your post about having bursitis. My dr. recommended this product for my bursitis and it has made a world of difference for me, not only with my bursitis but also with my arthritis. Just to clarify, I have no affiliation with the company. I just know that it did wonders for me and literally overnight.

    All of the reviews on Amazon are five stars with the exception of one, which is a complaint about how it arrived and the compliant is valid. However, it's not about the product.

    https://www.amazon.com/Rootcha-Magnesium-Elemental-Picolinate-capsules/dp/B076G5LXQR/ref=sr_ph_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1544746729&sr=sr-1&keywords=rootcha

    Hope that this info is helpful to you.

  • cindy_7

    Waiting for the game to start!

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Kevin - I guess it's between those and banana peppers. I do love a nice kick though. I think I'm gonna give them a shot! Thanks for the link.

    I think it varies by variety and even the growing conditions can make a difference. I was really curious about how the intensity and flavor of the peppers change and what influences the heat. Earlier this year I reached out to Mike Mazourek, who is a breeder at Cornell and asked him about it. My initial question was specifically about jalapenos, but I suppose it can be applied to many hot peppers. My jalapeno peppers were very hot this year and I was curious what the reasoning was for them being mild sometimes and intense others. This was his response:

    "Besides variety, they are influenced by stress, hot, dry weather, UV light, where they are on the plant and age at picking. They start making heat approx 15 days after the flower opens and things are pretty crazy metabolism wise for the next two weeks."

    I then asked about hot peppers in general and if a younger, unripened pepper was hotter than a more mature or ripened one. He responded:

    "Depends on the pepper. Most build from 20 days, peak just after they start to turn red and then either slowly drop from there, hold steady or some keep slowly climbing."


  • itsmce (zone 6b, Kansas)

    Cindy - Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out.

    Chris - good information about peppers. it sounds a bit like there’s no way to tell when any particular type of pepper gains its heat. Thanks for sharing.

  • Chris (6a NY)

    itsmce - sure thing! Haha exactly, and it's still a mystery on which kinds of hot peppers behave differently than others. I'm assuming the ones that slowly climb in heat after ripening are probably the very hot peppers, like the chilis.

    Johnny's posted their customer favorites. No surprise that many of them have been grown and talked about in this forum. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/featured/growers-favorites/?sz=18&start=0

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    Chris -- why we prefer sweet banana peppers over hot hungarian (you can always add a jalapeno or two the make the sweet banana peppers more spicy to taste when pickling...or just pickle the sweet bananas). Yes on the eggplants -- I TOPPED them (think that's the main reason why we got so much more fruit then usual)!


    Richard -- Johnny's doesn't seem to have Casper eggplants (you might be thinking of Clara). The ones I got were from TGS: CASPER


    Tony


  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Chris - good stuff on the peppers. I know that I have heard that stress, heat, and dry conditions can make for hotter peppers - the people who are out for the hottest ones often omit watering, grow in smaller pots, etc for that reason. Seems counter intuitive with all the wet weather we've received this year that yours were hotter than normal.

    Cindy - that was an awesome game even though the Chargers ended up pulling it out. Lots of skill on display last night.

  • cindy_7

    Kevin - Yes, it was a nail bitter for sure.

    Decided to sort all of my seeds yesterday and am still at it today. Some of the seeds were from 2001! The old ones all went into the compost. If something grows there I will be amazed!! Also found some seeds that had been mis-filed, so I've taken care of that.

    I hope to be organized this year! At least that's the plan.

  • Richard Teague

    Tony it was Burpees cart. They have seeds and plants for sale

  • johnfduda

    Strangely While I don't eat hot peppers I have this fascination with growing a large variety, as hot as possible. I also picture my restaurant with a pepper bar. from one end to the other they get hotter. At the end of the bar the peppers are locked up! Have to ask to get access. The lock adds to the mystique. Maybe it's like collecting stamps?

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Tony - that's a very interesting idea, adding jalapenos to kick it up! I'm considering growing both, if they can fit into my garden plan.

    I will definitely have to give that a try with an eggplant variety! I will also have to upgrade my supports for the plants, because they got a bit top heavy with the fruit load.

    Kevin - I'm thinking maybe it was stress-related. I had a lot going on in that bed this year. I don't know why I thought I needed 2 jalapeno plants either, when 1 was way more than enough. I will be growing 2 shishito plants this time, because I can eat those all the time! I also like the surprise of getting a hot one every so often.

    Cindy - How's everything?? I did that 2 years ago and it was such a relief. Makes life so much easier. I also made a spreadsheet in Excel for my seed inventory, which I categorized everything by vegetable, variety, seed vendor and packed date. Helps me to keep track of older seed, so I can use it up before the newer seed.

    John - haha! I like your pepper bar idea! You could name the spicy end of the bar "the hot corner"(would be a great name if it was a sports bar lol).

  • cindy_7

    Hi Chris! Things are good here. Hope that you are well. Wondered where you were hiding.

    I'm getting ready to start some seeds soon, lettuce particularly. The stores here still do not have any Romaine.

    But guess what? It's going to rain later today! And tomorrow. And possibly part of Sunday. They're calling for one to two inches. And it's predicted to break all previous records.

    This was the first year that I didn't have a table full of green tomatoes at the end of the season. So, we didn't have any fried green tomatoes this year either, one of my favorites.

    Next year will be better.


  • itsmce (zone 6b, Kansas)

    Does anybody need any seeds from Park Seed? In honor of "National Free Ship Day" they are, indeed, offering free shipping today, with no minimum order requirement. Code: SHIPFREE

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    We love roasted peppers -- thinking of getting this big winner MAMA MIA GIALLO HYBRID


    What do you folks think?


    Tony




  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan

    Tony: I grew that variety this summer. It did well in our Michigan garden. They were great for fresh eating. I have not done any roasted peppers of any kind so I can't comment on how they are for that. These had a shape and thickness that reminded me of Carmen red peppers I grew....love that AAS selection, too.


  • Jamie

    I received an order from Baker Creek today and the free seeds this time were “Lipstick Pepper” https://www.rareseeds.com/lipstick/ and Sweet Chocolate Pepper https://www.rareseeds.com/sweet-chocolate/ . I’m going to try both of them and see how they are. I’m glad the freebies weren’t Vernissage tomatoes again hahaha

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Jamie - I got the same peppers from BC today. And Green Vernissage! Lol I must have ordered just a bit more than you in order to receive that gem of a seed packet.


    I am kind of excited about the peppers, especially the lipstick. I think I remember someone here growing it - Jack?


    edit - Tony - looks like a winner!

  • Chris (6a NY)

    Cindy - I hear you on the rain :-/

    itsmce - thanks for the heads up on Park Seed! I think that was the very first place I ever ordered seeds from.

    Tony - Looks good! Kinda like the Escamillo.

    Jamie - I've grown the Sweet Chocolate pepper before and I think it's pretty good! Unique color too.

    Last year BC gave me the Black Vernissage as free seed, but I haven't tried it.



  • Jamie

    Kevin if you’d like some more of those tomatoes I’ll gladly send you a few packets Hahahahahahaha

    it has been rainy here the last few days with a gray sky and just generally dreary. I’m ready for some sunshine.

    I won’t get anything accomplished in the garden today. We are going to go see my parents for an early Christmas. We are staying here in town for the official holiday and my MIL and other in-laws are coming over to our house. I still have to figure out what to cook for them.

    Tomorrow I’m starting some more microgreens and will harvest some greens from outside- mainly collards and mustard this time. I hope there’s some spinach that’s ready again also.

    I’m also going to start some herbs in pots- chives, sage, and Greek oregano.

    I am debating on when to start my artichokes. I’m leaning toward early to mid-January to give them plenty of time to grow and also to expose them to some cooler temperatures in March. That bit of vernalization is supposed to “trick” them into producing their first year. I’m growing Imperial Star from Johnny’s as well as some Cardoon

    https://www.johnnyseeds.com/vegetables/artichokes/imperial-star-artichoke-seed-2120.html

    the other big question is where to put these monsters. Haha they can get quite large.

  • 14tomatoes_md_7a

    Kevin -- Lipstick peppers are our favorite red roasting sweet peppers we've ever grown! Just make sure they get as much sun as possible to ripen red --- 10+ hrs -- extremely abundant with this much sun! This year I had them at the same spot of only 7 hrs of direct sunlight (where all the Jalapenos and Sweet Bananas were...which did fantastically) and the Lipsticks did poorly -- low production with few turning red in time!

    Richard -- final report on Tycoon tomatoes? Flavor, disease resistance and productivity. I'm banking on the BHN determs varieties for taste and disease resistance, but if flavor of Tycoons was great -- will grow one to try (means will have to eliminate one BHN, so unless very tasty... meaning juicy, firm (not mushy) and tangy (we don't care for sweet tomatoes) with complex flavors, will pass on Tycoon). Your evaluation is much appreciated.

    Tony

  • cindy_7

    Well, we did it! We have set the all time greatest rainfall record for a year. The Washington Post has us currently at 61.33" and it's still raining. Also, this total is from 7am this morning. Dulles is currently at 1.14" since this current system started to produce rain yesterday evening. The old record is from 1889.

    I know that you are all just green with envy. Right?

    Jamie - I'm still working on our Christmas Eve dinner plans, too. Was thinking of grilling a duck, but that was nixed. Then grilled lamb chops which was also voted down. Now it's looking like steak and lobster. Can't go wrong with that. Sides will include salad, baked squash, roasted asparagus and a pie of some kind for dessert. I made our Thanksgiving "pumpkin" pies with my Honey-nut Mini Butternut squash and there were no leftovers. Everyone had second servings.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Cindy - how are you celebrating? I think we’re going to join you if we haven’t already.

  • cindy_7

    Kevin - Going to a Christmas party tonight. Maybe we'll dance in the rain while we're there!

    Dulles is up to 1.78" since about this time yesterday. And our flood watch has increased to a flood warning until 10:30 pm. Temp is 52 right now.

    At least it's not the dreaded S-word!

  • Jamie

    Cindy that sounds like a good plan! I wish we could have some seafood but my better half is deathly allergic to seafood and my MIL won’t eat fish of any kind. We will probably have a ham and a turkey breast. I will have a salad with some mache from the garden and some microgreens. I’ll probably make a hortopita also.

  • Richard Teague

    Tony here are a couple of the pictures of the Tycoon tomatoes. They were by far the most productive tomato I have ever grown. About 30-40 large tomatoes (12-18 oz) per plant that were some of the best tasting red tomatoes I have grown. They are very acidic and tangy and taste very similar to a Creole tomato but slightly less acidic. They were good enough for me to harvest seeds from one of the best tomatoes I grew, but I didn't have much luck with the seeds. Only one sprouted and it died when I had the bacterial wilt. I actually got the 8 I grew from the local nursery when they were about 18 inches tall and every one grew 30+ pounds of tomatoes.


    Kevin, all of the hottest peppers in the world (top 100) are small with maybe a habanero or a chocolate ghost as the fattest. None of the long chil peppers that turn red are even close to the hot ones. A jalapeno is about 5000 of the Scoville scale-a cayenne pepper is around 40,000-the super hots by comparison are magnitudes of hottness above them. A 7 pot pepper is about 800,000 on the Scoville scale, a Ghost pepper is around a million on the Scoville scale and a Carolina Reaper is 2.2 million and can put you in the hospital if you are not careful.


    Chris, Ghost peppers get hotter every day, habaneros too-they are at least twice as hot when they are orange or red than when they are green. I have some jalapenos growing now that are super hot for a jalapeno (near 9,000 on Scoville) and they are hotter when they are red too for sure. What i have seen that makes peppers hotter is hot weather where the soil dries out all the way. You can wait until they start to droop slightly before you water them and that will make them hotter-also pick them right before you are about to water them as watering them make them slightly weaker. The hotter it is with little or no rain usually makes for the hottest peppers I have seen. You really don't have to worry about it with the super hots-they are brutal no matter how much you water them. They set flowers in much hotter weather than a tomato plant will.

  • cindy_7

    Jamie - dessert?

    That's what we had for Thanksgiving, turkey and ham. Thankfully everyone who will be here for Christmas Eve dinner loves seafood! And I mean LOVES!

  • Jamie

    I’m still thinking about dessert. I ordered some Christmas Cookies (a friend of mine in Atlanta makes custom cookies). I am thinking about trying to make a Yule Log though. I’ve never made one so I’m still a little unsure.

    My “aunt-in-law” is making dressing so i don’t need to worry about that.

  • Richard Teague

    Tony, that Momma Mia pepper looks like it could be tasty (love roasted peppers-put roasted or smoked jalapenos in chili)-I have never grown any-I have some poblanos going now, but they are about half the size of the Momma Mia. They would be great to stuff I bet. Poblanos are one of my favorite sweet peppers, along with the wonder peppers. I think the wonder peppers are more susceptible to the wilt than other peppers because I usually have 4 or 5 plants and none of them made it this year.

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    Garlic is coming along nicely, especially spanish red (which is the ones that are most prominantly sprouted in the beds).





    Also scored 6 50 watt solar panels for $150. These should be useful on the Farm given we don’t have utility hookups.




  • johnfduda

    Kevin

    6 x 50 watts, how many volts??

  • Kevin Zone 6b - PIT, PA

    12v. I really wanted some bigger wattage but at 0.50 a watt I couldn’t pass these up. They might be more work to connect and mount but it also gives me some flexibility. For instance I can run two in series to get 24v.


    Will probably have two set up to run my 12v spring pump. One charging an electric fence battery. Then the other 3 setup on my trailer for general usage. Will need batteries and charge controllers also.



  • johnfduda

    Kevin

    If you wire them is parallel you can run anything that's 12 volts. They're in parallel if one wire connects all the positive outputs and another wire connects all the negative outputs. Then you switch on what you want to run off the common power available. That would be ideal if you had a battery to store power.

    If you wanted power at different locations far apart then it might make sense to dedicate solar panels for that application.

    You could also run an inverter and get AC power. 6 panels would give you 72 volts in series, but I don't know if you can use the 72 volts to get 115v AC. You could maybe get 72 volts AC out of an inverter and use a variable transformer (Variac) to get 115. It'd probably be cheapest to run an inverter off the 12v. A 115 to 12v transformer is pretty common. I think you could run the transformer backward?? Or I have an inverter that gives me 115v out of my cigar lighter, but how much power???

    If you want light, remember a fluorescent bulb is only what 8 watts and you have 300 available, in sunlight. Or off a battery.

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