We are deep into the month of October. Still no rain which is putting us into the extreme drought category. It might continue into the winter months with little snow as well. Most folks would love that but it's a bit concerning to me that the ground is almost powder for several inches. When building the Urban Ranch garden bed the dirt wouldn't even pack down it was so powdery. This has been an interesting year for gardening. The plants did survive but much watering had to be done. My Urban Ranch water tank ran dry the end of July and was supplemented with city water. It has never done that before.
Bed 1 at the Urban Ranch was finished this month. I've decided to put brick facing on the bed. Here is the finished bed on one side and the path between the two rebuilt beds. I decided to just go with wood chips and not be to fancy with a brick path as well. It's much easier and cheaper as well. The path was 24 inches wide but I widened it to 32 inches. It gives me a little more room to move around with this old rotund body of mine. The bed itself is four by eight feet but the growing size of the bed is a little smaller at a little over 9 feet long and 32 inches wide. My reach isn't what it used to be. It is really turning out good. I have two more to rebuild.
The basement garden will become more of a focus now that the outside gardens are coming to an end. Lettuce and radishes are still growing and have been growing all summer. This picture is sorrel with is supposed to be a sour green. I'm going to expand the basement garden with sorrel, spinach, and maybe carrots. I will use a 2-liter bottle with the top cut off for growing carrots. It would be awesome if that works.
The water tower at Terra Nova Gardens is getting closer to being finished on one side. The X-bracing is really making it sturdy. This has been a summer project and has taken much time away from the actual growing of garden plants there. I'm hoping to use this side of the water tower for watering and giving more attention to the actual gardening there next year. Both the Urban Ranch and Terra Nova Gardens had extensive garden projects happening. As I look back on the summer activities, it's been a productive year for gardens.
This is the end result of a summer of working on a new water tower. The entire tower is not finished just yet but this side of the tower is usable. I will start filling it up on March 1st. I might flush it out again but it's pretty clean now. The tank had some kind of soap in it so I'm not too worried about it being toxic. I was going to paint the structure but as I look at this tangled brace mess, I think a better solution is to just hide the whole thing behind some lattice work. This has been many hours of work to get this far and I'm quite satisfied with the progress. Next year I won't be putting so much time into the tower and concentrating more on the beds of the garden. They are in terrible shape. This month is almost gone and I still have work to do cleaning up.
This is the resulting processed tomatoes of the last harvest at the Urban Ranch. I still have some from last year so this will be plenty for a reserve in the storage room. I try to plan a two year supply in case a bad year happens. My canning technique is a little different but better for water bath canning. I use the pressure cooker but don't tighten the lid so there's not pressure in the cooker. The water bath canner doesn't have quite the depth to cover up quart jars with water during the processing. With the cooker, the water level can be two inches above the jars as recommended. The process begins by filling the jars with hot water from the tap and putting them into the pressure cooker. Then using another jar or in my case a spray attachment from the kitchen sink, fill the cooker to two inches above the tops of the jars. Set the cooker lid loosely on top of the cooker. Put the lids and rings in a pan of hot water on the stove and bring it to a boil. When the water in the cooker begins to boil, set the timer to 10 minutes. After the 10 minute sterilization time, take the jar remover and carefully remove one jar and pour out the boiling water. Using the canner jar funnel begin to fill the jar with the tomato mixture that has been brought up to a boiling temperature as well. When the jar is filled, wipe the top of the jar to make sure it's clean and without any tomato debris on the rim. Secure the lid and ring. Replace the jar in the boiling water and repeat for up to seven jars in the cooker. When the water once again comes to a boil, set the timer for 10 minutes. Once the time has expired, remove the jars and set on a towel on the counter. Within five minutes all the jars have popped their lids indicating that they have sealed. It's a much faster way to water can high acid vegetables.
Bell peppers are a little different. They are blanched and frozen. The peppers are cut up in chunks of what ever size that is desired. They are put in a large pan and brought to a boil. After 10 minutes, the hot water is drained off and they are put in cold water. Some folks use ice in the water but I just use cold water. After a period of cooling down, the peppers are bagged and put in the freezer. It's a very simple process. I use them in soups. My mother in law uses them in scrambled eggs.
Over all this month has been a productive month. I hope and pray that yours was as well.