Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hot Days of Summer  
August is going out with a blast of extremely hot humid days with no rain in site.  Apparently it's just what the tomatoes needed.  They are starting to ripen by the basket full.  Unfortunately everyone else has ripening tomatoes as well so there's no prospect of giving away any big quantity.  The dilemma is what to do with the glut of tomatoes starting to come into harvest.  
Here's one day's harvest with another harvest day coming right behind it in a couple days.  I've been waiting for this day all summer now that it's here the fun begins.  I'm going to preserve all of the tomatoes that can't be given away.   So far I've only had one taker for tomatoes.

Here's the beginning of four quarts of tomato soup.  Nice juicy tomatoes are destined to be great tasting soup.  Onions and celery were sautéed and mixed in with the simmering tomatoes.  When the mixture was all soft the soup was run through the Nutri-bullet (a TV super powerful blender) which made it into creamy soup.  A little flour to thicken the soup and into the jars to be canned it went.

The finished product from allot of work.  It doesn't look like much but the taste that I got from the little bit left over was outstanding and made it all worth while.  Now the instructions say to add an equal amount of either milk or beef broth when preparing the soup to eat.  It is very thick almost like tomato paste so thinning it down before serving it up is a good idea.  It's great because four quarts actually makes 2 gallons of soup to eat. Nice!!
If you are looking at the picture and adding up the jars you will notice that it's one pint short of four quarts.  One jar broke in the canning process but didn't hinder the other jars from sealing in the contents just fine.
So what's next?  I have a couple requests for tomato jelly.  I've been looking for a recipe for tomato jelly and all that I've found uses tomatoes and jello.  Yeah, you're thinking what I'm thinking aren't you.  I finally found a recipe for tomato marmalade that's looks good and it doesn't use jell0.  I'll give it a try in a couple days with the next batch of tomatoes.
A couple posts ago I wrote about finding the mother load of old fence panels.  I hauled enough to fence in the entire Terra Nova Garden North.  Here you can see that I've finished up the north side of the garden area.  Now the posts need to be concreted to hold them steady and 60 feet of fence in the back with 30 feet on the south will finish fencing in the whole area.  Four feet high chicken wire will be stapled to the backside of the fence to cover up the cracks in the fence.  If that don't keep out the critters then I'll be looking into a battery powered electric fence.  Slowly but surely it's becoming a working garden.  Maybe next year I can get serious about gardening instead of critter control.
The water tank is still curing but it will get flipped over soon.  The inside will be sprayed with the TV advertised Flex-seal.  Hopefully, that will give the tank a good seal for next year's water supply.
I hope all is well with everyone.  Be safe where ever you are and we will meet here again real soon.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dog Days of Summer  
August has arrived with more cool weather.  Those Dog days of summer are coming to a close and not much hot weather has accompanied them which is just fine by me.  Just what, exactly are the Dog Days of Summer?  Officially the Farmer's Almanac says the term “dog days of summer” is intended to mean it is hot and humid. There is an astronomical basis for the saying. Dog days run from July 3 through August 11th when the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the Dog Star. In ancient times people thought that the star’s position conspired with the sun to make the days hotter than any other time of the year. Other people thought that the hot days of summer made dogs “mad”, thus the name.  
 I've been at it again.  The Urban Ranch garden has suffered greatly because of the very late spring.  All efforts were directed toward Terra Nova Garden and the Urban Ranch was left to fend for itself.  That's not a good way to grow a garden.  Even with heavy mulch weeds will find a way to thrive.
Three hours of blood, sweat, and tears makes the landscape much more pleasant to look at.  Most of the debris was left on the curb to be taken away and made into city compost.  So I guess you could say that I helped out the city by growing them some recycle material for compost which is sold back to the community.  It was organically grown.

In the process of mowing the grass this year I managed to hit the gang distribution block for the watering system that comes out of the big 400 gallon tank.  It cracked loose from the tank and had a major leak.

 It will required a complete drain down to fix.  Since most of the water leaked out already, it didn't take long.  You can see my lame attempt to fix it which never works.  The shut off faucet is actually loose going into the tank so something has been broken.  When drained, the task was to clean all that tar off the problem area to get a better look at the issue.  This area has been a problem before so now it will get the fix it should have had a couple years ago.

Yup, I definitely broke it.  I decided to just "do it".  After the water was completely drained down and the tar peeled away from the faucet, only a slight tug pulled everything out of the tank.  Hmmmm, I really broke it good.  So off to Ace hardware for solder and resin to solder the faucet back into the tank.  The metal around the opening has to be shiny metal.  I had some cleaning and sanding to do.

Well, so far so good.  A good solid solder joint always makes me feel good.  Now a good blob of roof flashing tar to seal up the joint even more.

OK, looks  good as new on this side and now for the inside.
I really can't solder on this side without heating up the solder on the other side which would then melt, run, and break the good solid joint.  There's enough sticking through the backside to get a small hose clamp on the lip for added stability and strength.

 Since I had the tar, I sealed up the entire bottom seam of the tank.  Now patience will be required to let the tar cure.  How long that will take I'm not sure but it has to get pretty solid to hold in the water and not leak.

That was my project for this week.  Now it's time to tackle the backyard again.  The grass (crab grass) is heading toward the sky so it's time crank up Honda and get to mowing.

I'll try to keep things under control until we meet here again.