Tuesday, August 24, 2021

How to Earn $597 Gardening: The Farm Report 08-25-2021

 How to Earn $597 Gardening

 The Farm Report

How to make big bucks gardening? Save your money. Don't join a health club! 

I found a tub of dry kidney beans in the 'Outback' and realized they were perfect for shelling. I like to grow my own stuff, and that includes soup beans of all kinds. After I spent a morning at it - about 4 hours as close as I care to report - I got thinking what a huge profit I'd made from my time investment. You can buy a bag of beans at the grocery for a buck or two. Big wages made by me!

Then I realized that this is my hobby, it is my exercise, and it is my mental health budget, too. So with that in mind, I looked up the cost of joining a local health spa. That would be $597 for the year. Also, that would be about a 70 mile round trip every time I wanted to use it, so I'm being fiscally conservative here. You know me - always the conservative....

So I thought I'd just give you a little 'Tim Tutorial' in case you want to try growing your own soup beans. It ain't hard. Step one: Plant some soup bean seeds. Step two: Let 'em grow up and die. Step three: pull the plants and put them into a tub or sack or something so they can dry. I brought mine indoors and put them away where they'd be safe from mice and warm and dry - and then I forgot about them. I really did.

When I did remember them, they were fine for my neglect. The pods pop right open, and Bingo! inside are perfect beans ready for cleaning and use in my salads and tacos.

Faithful readers already know I'm not big on conventions unless the conventions are the best and easiest for me to do. The Foxfire Books probably recommend taking the beans and chaff out into the wind and winnowing them to let Mariah blow off the unwanted plant debris. PFFFFT! When you do that, the beans are still dusty and dirty. So? I just take out as much chaff as I can by hand (the seeds are in the bottom of the bucket anyway). Then I fill said bucket with clean water. The good seeds sink, and the rest of the unwanted crap floats to the top. I pour off the detritus and wash several more times. In the end, I have clean, albeit wet, beans in the bottom of the pan.

Like this! Then, see picture #1 above, I pour out the seeds onto a dryer tray and let the sun and gentle breezes do their thing. Result: Clean, dry soup beans I grew myself - and saved a year's Spa Fee in the venture; all for a few hours I probably would have wasted anyway.

The sweetcorn has proven Iowa Satisfactory again this year. For my readers in England and Northern Europe, this is how it looks. No, we don't have to pick off the extra ears to make it produce, and no, we don't grow it in a greenhouse. We have LOTS! (Oh My God, do we have LOTS!) of heat here, and that is what it takes to make good sweetcorn - and maters too for that matter.

My summer meals look a lot like this. A big strip of bacon on the beans, and maybe a burger if I have the energy at the end of the day, and I'm in heaven. (With all the heat we've had to grow this stuff, the actual terminal destination might be questionable though.)

Putting sweetcorn in the freezer is about as easy as it gets. One of my English readers mentioned he was having his kids help put some freezer food 'down' the other day. I thought that was interesting. Here, we put food 'Up' for the winter. Isn't language fun?!

Tim's Tutorial on Corn: First, pick and shuck the corn outdoors. My good neighbor Ron T actually brought this to me and helped me shuck it. If you do a good job - required by Mrs. Inman! - and hold the silks with the shucks just right, you can strip off everything in one pull per side, and the corn is virtually spotless and ready to go. If you screw up and don't get it right the first time, then you brush, wipe, cuss and pick until ALL the silks are gone before you move on the the next step.

Which is blanching in boiling water. This, according to experts, kills an enzyme in the corn which can spoil the perfect taste of the corn while it is in the freezer. No toxic issues, just quality. I want all the quality I can get. Otherwise, I might as well just buy the corn at Walmart and join the health club. Who wants ordinary?

I like to use a Lee Corn Cutter. It is wood and SHARP steel, and it has been around for decades and decades. You can do this with an ordinary sharp knife, too. Why would you do that when you can buy a specialty gadget to keep in the back of the kitchen drawer for 11.75 months a year? (Because they work that well, is why!) Don't cut your finger!

Cleanup on Aisle 6

Out here on the farm, we do things a little different than in the food processing kitchens in town. After we're all done, we go outside with the hose and the gear up on the Ranger bed where it is easy to wash. Hose it all down spotless clean, then store it away for next year's corn.

Well! As luck would have it, my Big Jim Numex peppers kicked right in. These are Ancho types - and very similar to the Hatch's peppers my son can buy in Wisconsin. They're imported from New Mexico; his, not mine. Mine come from my garden. I like what the Jolly Green Giant used to call 'Mexi-Corn.' I haven't bought any from him for years, so I don't know if he still uses that name. It is peppers mixed with sweetcorn. Delish!

I was so enthused thinking about all that tasty goodness while I was cleaning and chopping the peppers, I got my razor sharp chef's knife a little too close to the chef! Took off the tip of my fingernail, and a tiny little bit of the sensitive part living underneath it. Lesson reinforced, progress was made.

Just like the corn, I steam blanched the peppers and then added some to each bag of corn before I sealed the package and put it into the freezer for a long winter nap. 

 If you see this and laugh and cuss for me, you would be mirroring the correct emotions. You would have them out of order, though. We have a chest deep freezer down in the basement here at Oakdale Manor. It is down there where we keep the bodies. Nobody goes there very often. Well, as I was treading softly carrying a tray of about 24 bags of lovingly prepared sweetcorn to install them in their tomb for the long winter's nap, my shoulder brushed on a bag of canning lids and rings Mrs Inman had hanging on a pegboard hook on the side of the steps. I might have been too tired, it was at the end of the day. I knocked it off. It made quite a racket on the way down. Annie seemed scared, O.J. seemed annoyed. I was livid! at first, then I got the giggles. What a mess. I cleaned it up with my shop magnet on a stick, and we're back in business. 

The Santa Rosa plums produced! We had -27F temps late in the winter. "No Chance!" said I. Well, chance! They are sweet as candy, and perfect.

These little 'Rosa's' don't keep well at all, so I dried them for my winter movie snacks. Candy from a tree.

Annie helped me pick the green beans. With all the high heat and humidity, the beans forgot to look at my calendar. They matured extra fast, and when I finally got them harvested, they were too tough to can. So??? I put a half dozen bags in the fridge to use fresh.

And I went right straight out to the garden and planted some more. I'll bet I have a great 'fall garden' harvest. I hope so!

I mowed off the old beans. In my zeal, I also mowed some onions, too. Make that in two! Dang!!!

Carola's Hosta are blooming. That is always a reminder of when we met Carola one fall, and how we came to have our German daughter and a special family in Germany to this very day. Hi Carola!

The Rose of Sharon is blooming, too. Between these two flowers, it is a sure bet the seasons are about to change. I'm all for it.

The tomatoes have already called it a day. They need cleaned off.

Everything else on the tarp garden is pretty tired too. This year! I'm not going to get caught short. I will - I WILL - have the tarp garden 100% clean before snowfall this year! I will!

These little red gems are cayenne peppers. I dry them and make my own cayenne powder. Another $597 project.

And a reminder from Mother Nature: If you're not going to grow something, I sure as heck will! This whole clump of grass found it's way up out of one little hole in the tarp about the size of a broomstick.

The Sweet 16 apple graft gave up. There is enough green tissue to keep feeding the apples, so they are good, but it looks like curtains for this limb this winter.

What to do? GRAFT! I cut some bud sticks (truthfully, Ron cut some bud sticks for me) and we tried bud grafting this late in the season. Not much to lose but a little time, and I'm another $597 to the good. At this rate, I could be rich, soon.

I'm using 'parafilm' tape for these grafts. The red tape is to let me know where the grafts are - I've got 'em stuck all over the orchard. The squeeze bottle has water and a little rooting hormone in it. I work every angle I can. Come on callous tissue! Grow!

There's somebody here!

Sadie came to play with Annie the other day. Sadie is a Heeler/Terrier cross. She's a sweetie. 

Believe it or not, they played so hard Annie was worn out! HOOOOOORAYYY! Actually we all had a good time.

"They're gone now, Tim. It's just you and me again here at the farm. Do we have to keep that dang cat?"

The Dahlia's are blooming their heads off. I like to have some flowers in the house. I'm not much of a florist or a flower arranger, so I just stick 'em in a canning jar full of water. They are so pretty I forget to look at the bottle they're in. Makes me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

All is well at Oakdale Farm. Come on cool weather!