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  • Liz

Time to Hunker Down...


Winter Prepping…always a chore especially when the weather gets bitterly cold. But the work has to get done, and so it does...


It’s also that only time of year when you’re harvesting, planting and cleaning out the gardens all on the same day.

 
Last week’s potato harvest was beyond our expectations. We purchased (my favourite) purple potato seed 9 years ago and they have supplied us with an endless bounty ever since. I always save 6 of the best-looking ones for next years’ planting, and they never disappoint.

 
Of course there was no time to waste as the garlic was next on the list. Getting all 196 cloves into the ground involved some planning with 8 different varieties this time. It’s all properly mapped out, allowing me to keep track of what’s where.

 

Lessons Learned

Weeds and Raspberries. When we first moved here, it was such a treat finding, not only wild raspberry canes growing throughout our property, but also an actual raspberry patch that yielded beautiful, juicy, red raspberries. But the patch got neglected over the years as the weeds took over until that was the end of that. Or so I thought. A huge shoutout to my daughter, who last summer took it upon herself to get in there and clean out all the weeds despite being feasted on by pesky bugs. We finished it off in early spring and was disappointed when we got nothing this summer. Ah well, at least it looked great. And then September arrived and holy moly. The following 10 weeks yielded some of the best raspberries we’ve ever had. We were harvesting 2-3 cups of berries every other day. It’s pretty fantastic having homegrown frozen raspberries ready for winter use.
So weed your Berry Patches!!!


Oh! And another lesson learned was that, unlike grapes, raspberries do NOT sweeten after that first frost, ooh that was sour!
 

X-Mas Gifting

As much as I love canning homegrown veggies for our own personal use, they also make great gifts. Friends and family can guess what to expect from me by now. I’ve pretty much perfected a Pickled Jalapenos Recipe that I must say is quite divine. But this year, they will be surprised with the new addition of Pimenta Moida, made with homegrown Hot Portugal and Sweet Pimento Peppers and I think this might be my NEW #1 Preserve.





 

Back by Popular Demand

Comfrey Ointment: I know I’ve raved over this perennial plant numerous times but that’s because it's well deserved. I decided to make a batch of ointment mid-summer so I could share some with a few folks I knew would benefit from it. Well, I found myself making a 2nd batch this past weekend when same folks are practically begging for more, or if I could at least share my recipe. So here it goes…

After years of trial and error, I am finally happy with its consistency. It was always challenging to get the right combination of oil and beeswax so I’m glad I started keeping track of what ingredient amounts I was using, which allowed me to tweak it. Here are some tips in that regard:

· Use the same amount of liquid extract and coconut oil (or other carrier oil)
· 1 part Beeswax to 4 parts Oil

Most recipes for salves and ointments you find online are made with essential oils, which is certainly a great option and cuts production time substantially. But I prefer to use what I have growing in my gardens. At least this way I know with 100% certainty how its grown. Not to mention, as a purist, I make it the old fashion way by boiling the ingredients in water until the desired properties are extracted - so I need to dedicate a full day to this process.

This time around, we had a few frosts already so it was slim pickings trying to find fresh new leaf growth. I also dug up some root, which is supposed to be more potent anyhow, so I’ll be curious to ask same folk which batch they preferred.

Anyhow, after a good wash and clean, I make a strong decoction of the leaves and/or root in distilled water. I boil for at least 1/2 hour when root is involved, and then let cool for a bit before straining the liquid into a large pot with the exact same amount of coconut oil (in my case, 2 cups of liquid and 2 cups of oil). Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer away until all the liquid has evaporated. This could take up to 4 hours (using these amounts which is why I only make small batches). It’s important to make sure the liquid is completely absorbed to prevent mold and bacteria, so patience is a must. But, if you listen carefully, you’ll know when it’s done.

I then remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before adding and stirring in the beeswax until completely melted. For a natural preservative, I add a few drops of Benzoin Gum. I wait another 10-15 minutes before I give it all another good stir to blend everything together and transfer to proper jars. If your concoction solidifies, you can always re-heat it to melt, and try again. (p.s. Never use aluminum pots. I use only glass pots for this recipe.)

 

Sadly, we had to say good bye to this precious little feline who never once complained about anything. A wee bit feral, her cuddles were always on her terms - my kind of cat...




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