Ty’s Apple Cider

Well, this is exciting! We have three apple trees on our property, and Ty has always wanted to have an apple cider-making experience that finally came true this weekend. 

First, Ty and the boys raked apples into piles and gathered them in the wheel barrel after they naturally fell or were shaken from the trees.

Then, we needed to have the tools. We bought an apple picker (which reaches to the higher branches and collects apples), an apple crusher, and an apple juicer. 

We were ready!

This Saturday, Ty, Jude and Morris started the process while I was at work with Rex. They tested the process:

After collecting, the apples were crushed into small pieces by an apple crusher, or grinder. One boy turns the handle and the apples are shredded by gears with teeth.

Then, the crushed pieces are placed in a mesh bag and placed in the juicer. Boards are placed on the top – like Jenga pieces – and the handle is screwed in. Boys take turns turning the handle around and around, which pushes the boards down to squeeze the apples. Juice gets squeezed out and falls into a plate with a little lip that gathers and drips apple juice into a bowl below. 

 

Ty invited his side of the family to join. Jessman, Anne, Jojo and Cass came over to help!

Jessman, Rex and Jude took over the crushing step.

Morris, Jojo, and Cassandra loved placing the blocks on top and turning the handle around and around.

All of the brown joice is funneled into containers or poured into cups to enjoy! It’s so delicious! No sugar, no cinnamon, just naturally delicious!

Tyler was thrilled with the process and the outcome! We got about 4 gallons, which we shared and froze for later. So FUN!

A Large Harvest: Peaches!

We have peaches! So many peaches! Last year we had a bumper crop of apples, and this year, it’s peaches. Our small peach tree is feeling burdened; one of its heavy branches leaned all the way to the ground and broke. 

This year, they’re small, but they’re ripe and ready to pick. We called out the boys to help pick before the Japanese beetles get them. We filled bowl after bowl after bowl! Boys had to empty them on the kitchen counter because we needed them to refill two, if not three times.

Morris climbed the tree and picked the ones too high to reach. 

And I spent a lot of time picking from everywhere.

Just a guesstimate, but I think we harvested around 400-500 peaches!

Of course, they all came at once, and peaches don’t last very long, so I had a lot to do! That weekend, I made peach salsa, a delicious treat! The recipe called for onion, red pepper, salt, vinegar, jalapeno, and cumin. 

I made peach muffins and peach cake. I made peach pie filling – with sugar, tapioca, and corn starch – and froze it (in pie tins). And, I cut up peaches and froze them in baggies. Plus, we gave away many, many, many, and everyone commented on how delicious they were. 

I give credit to the bees that took over the squirrel nest in our big oak tree. They were busy this spring!

A Small Harvest

Today, all three boys were back in their gardens, harvesting what they have. Of course, there were lots of green beans…but I’m starting to wonder if this will be a repeat next season. The boys get tired of picking them, and frankly, we don’t love to eat them. But, they’re here…a lot of them. This time we bagged them and shared. We gave many to Aunt Mary and many to Aunt Melany.

Tomatoes are ripening every day now, and this is a veggie we all love. We pick and eat the cherry tomatoes as we’re observing the gardens, I slice the romas and put them on pizza every Friday night, and I use the big ones – Jude’s sungolds and my heirlooms – for BLTs, a boy favorite.

Also, Morris’s butternut squash is growing big! It’s light green/yellow and the size of his foot. He has two, substantial ones growing in his garden and four more are growing in the back garden.

Today, each boy filled a container, and I took a picture of what they harvested. 

The collection is impressive! As you can see, kale has been busy this season. Morris and I have it in our gardens, and I typically blanche and freeze it for soups in the winter. I also make it on pizza or bake it in the oven for kale chips. 

Jude and I made refrigerator pickles with the abundance of cucumbers hanging out in our refrigerator.

The Back Garden

Well, my original dreams for this garden have changed some. Originally, it was going to be a potato garden. We planted twelve seed potatoes, but nothing grew. Then, Jude planted green beans in those spots, and the plants grew quickly. 

We also located all of our vines here (except for Morris’s squash plant). Here, Morris picks his favorite zucchini: two now, which we’ve eaten as zucchini fries. We also have pumpkins growing! One plant has one big guy. One plant has three small ones. And, a final squash plant is here, but it’s not nearly as ambitious as Morris’s. This is a fun garden to visit!

Cucumber Time

It’s time for each boy to pick cucumbers hanging from their vines. The trellises are getting heavy and starting to lean, especially Rex’s who has about four right now. The boys are the most excited picking these. They marvel and compare how large they are. Then, they use them as swords and guns and run around. 

Later, I make pickled cucumbers: a batch for us, a batch for Grandpa. Ours have onions and dill. They’re a refreshing summer treat!

Oops, There’s Something Viney in Morris’s Garden!

It’s true. We learned last season that it’s not a great idea to plant a zucchini in our planters. But guess who wanted a zucchini in his garden? Morris, of course. And, when we found a zucchini plant from my starts, guess what we found out it is NOT? A zucchini. So, instead, we have a sprawling vine, which is either a squash or a pumpkin. That is to be determined! But either way, it’s too big!

And then, we found out, it is a squash plant! And it’s wrapping its vines around Mo’s garden once, and now twice. It’s huge! 

Everything is a Competition

How do you get boys out in their gardens to weed and harvest? Competition. Rather, the boys came up with the competition, as they turn everything into a competition. OH, and there’s money involved.

First, we have the largest cucumber competition. Rex wins.

Then we have the most green beans collected in 7 minutes. Morris picks 70, Jude picks 75, and Rex wins with 79.

Then, we have the longest green bean. Rex and Jude tie. 

Morris is fine. Rex gets $11 (or more. I can’t remember. I just needed them to get it done!).

Jude’s Fairy Garden

Jude has loved fairy gardens since the magical one appeared at the Enabling Garden. Over the past two years, he’s collected gnomes, homes, knights, and little novelties (wishing well, signs, pathways). He definitely wanted one this year, near his cucumber plants, his gnomes shaded by green bean trees.

Growing Great! (one week later) and Radishes!

Wow! It never takes long when the weather is warm, the sun shines, and we remember to water the gardens. Little radish sprouts came first (within 3 days), all in a row, so we knew they weren’t weeds to pick. Green bean plants rose from the ground like sleepy bodies within a week, and their leaves grew large quickly. 

The tomato plants I grew from seed are doing well; the main stalk is thickening, and they are growing taller. And the cucumber plants are looking stronger, and maybe ready to climb in a week. The boys are excited!

And then, three weeks later, we have lots and lots of radishes. Morris notices and picks his first, and then Jude has an abundance. 

We have more than we can eat, so we give some to Grandpa and Aunt Heidi.