Vertical Potato tower and garden ramblings.

I was inspired to revisit growing potatoes vertically this year. Especially after seeing so many wonderful gardeners posting their inspiration on the massive time suck Pinterest.  I think my buddy Max would have been proud to see this creation. 

As you can see the potatoes are growing nicely out of the top and if you look close you can see the sprouts starting out the side as well.  They seemed to appear over night which for a gardener that checks her garden daily, those new finds were quite exciting.  I can hardly wait for the big reveal this fall.  I promise to take lots of pictures.

Have you planted potatoes this year and how did you plant them?

I haven't planted everything yet.  I still have carrots and zucchini, parsnips and beets.  So many things beyond that I can't wrap my mind around how much work I have left to do.  Herbs in particular desperately need to be planted. 

Beyond that I was a complete failure in terms of starting seeds this year.  I tried and tried and tried but between the 3 months of wedding decoration, I neglected them and they would get started and then die.  Then we decided to gut our living room so my time was focused elsewhere again.  The seed to die process happened 3 times.  So I have to go out and buy peppers which I haven't come to terms with as of yet.  At least I tried. 

I have been harvesting strawberries.  Just little guys and a handful at a time.  I believe that this will be my last year for strawberries and they have become more of a nuisance and really do not amount to anything other than a very small snack. 

Other than that, look below at how beautiful my sage is.  I just love my sage bush but a BUSH it has become.  I underestimated how incredibly large this sucker will become and need to trim it down.  Not that I will mind having all of that sage for tea.  YUM.

Oh, pray for rain.  While I will not complain about the absolutely incredibly wonderful weather we have been having, we are going on 2 weeks without rain.  My rain barrel needs filling although my 5 year old would much rather get soaked with garden watering duty. 

Tattler Lid canning update

I have successfully completed three canning batches using my new Tattler Lids.  It was a rocky start...only because I didn't follow directions but once I got it, nothing but sweet success.

The first batch of stew did not seal.  This was of no fault of the Tattler Lids, just me not taking the time to firmly tighten the metal rims after I removed the jars from the canner.   Since the seal and lid are thicker than the standard metal lids, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that the lids are tight to allow them to seal during the cooling process. 

Word of warning.  In my last post, I mentioned that I was concerned that I didn't get the seal laid down properly along the rim of the jar.  On one jar, which was hissing when I removed it from the canner, was not properly sealed.  I move the metal rim a bit and the pressure made hot soup spray out the side.  This again was my own fault and no one was hurt.  I figured out that the rubber should be placed on the lid, THEN placed on the jar to ensure that it is laying properly.  This probably is in the instructions which of course I barely read.

The first unsealed batch I cleaned up and sanitized more lids and processed them again.  Much to my relief they were firmly sealed when I checked on them the next day.  I ended up doing 9 quarts of stew, 7 pints of stew and 5 quarts of beef chunks.  All sealed wonderfully.

In the picture above you can see what the lid looks like.  I'm not sure if it is evident but the lid is indented, indicating that it is sealed.  The lid is very thick and since it is made of plastic, the pop noise that we canners love, never happens.  However the indentation is quite visible.  The red seal also is visible under the lid.  The instructions mention that you should use the opposite side when reusing.  That the side you used prior will be evident.  This portion of the instructions I did read.

I can see how Tattler Lids will grow to become synonymous with canning.   You know, like Kleenex is to tissue or Bandaid is to whatever they are called.  I can hear future conversations such as "How many years have you used your Tattlers?"

I admit that they are expensive to purchase upfront.  I purchased 240 to start with but after working with the lids and am able to see their durability, I can see that this was an investment that will pay off in the future.  Much like spending extra for a good canner.

Canning with Tattler Lids

Tattler lids
Our family orders a 1/4 of beef every year from a co-worker of mine.  This gives us the motivation to clean out our freezer and to find those things that are buried by seasonal items that are crammed in every nook and cranny throughout the year.  Instead of throwing out anything, I decided to break out my industrial size stock pots and make beef stew.

About a month and 1/2 ago, I purchased the reusable Tattler Lids.  Tonight was the first night that I was able to use them.  To be quite honest, I was a little hesitant to use them as they are a little different than what I have used and trusted.  They are thicker so the rim doesn't twist down as much.  I also found that I spent a lot of time making sure that the rings for the lids sat evenly on the rim of the jar.  I was so nervous that I would have them slightly off and the jar wouldn't seal correctly.

Then I discovered that 1. once the lid was on the ring sat correctly and 2. on the wide mouth jars, if I put the ring on the lid then placed it on the jar, the process was much easier.  My soup is currently in the pressure canner so I do not have an update on how they sealed but I promise to give an update tomorrow.

Some positives are that the process to can and prepare the lids is the same as the metal lids. Minimal learning curve.  The Tattle lids are thick and sturdy, I can see how they will last.  I am really looking forward to getting over my hesitation and having the trust in my standard metal lids to transition over to my new prized Tattlers.

Red Wigglers

In my last post I was debating exactly the steps I should take to officially have a worm composter.  Should I build my own, should I just order a prebuilt one, etc?

When I figured in the time that it would take put one together and granted I don't have a lot of extra time, I splurged and purchased a prebuilt, 6 layer, outdoor composter, complete with 1000 red wigglers.  No one is more excited than my 5 year old daughter.  Her recent fascination and complete lack of fear of anything slimy that lives in the dirt makes a mama proud.  I see a future show and tell, involving dirt, worms and compost.  That will be a fun day.

Anyway, according to the site that I placed the order, they ship out every Monday and that the worms usually take 3 days to arrive.  So in my excitement I figured that the worms would be here today since I ordered last week.  I have been saving scraps of veggies instead of dumping them in my compost pile, let banana's go bad (and they are still sitting on my counter) and have been saving paper to be shredded for their bedding.  My daughter has been sharing my excitement and has asked every day when they will arrive.  Of course, we counted down the days and she went to school this morning thinking that by the end of the day, we would have 1000 new critters.

Boy was I wrong.  The company did in fact ship the worm composter this week, BUT the worms will not arrive until next week.  This is actually quite smart because I would hate for the worms to arrive before their home does.  Admittedly I am a little disappointed that we have to wait another week.  I know my daughter will be too but I'm sure once they arrive, the extra wait will be forgotten.

I will keep you updated on our adventures with the worms.