Feb 112016
 

produce auction collage

This post is part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

New Jersey is called The Garden State for a reason, though it originally had little to do with gardening.  Coming in as one of the smaller states in the Union, there are still 5 different climates found within its borders.

There are currently 2 produce auctions found within New Jersey’s borders:

Vineland Produce Auction

1088 N Main Road

Vineland, New Jersey 08360
Phone: 856-691-0721
Fax: 856-794-2301

Email: info@vinelandproduce.com

Website: www.vinelandproduce.com

Open mid-April through late November. Auction are held Monday – Saturday at 10:45 a.m.

Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market
619 Route 33 West
Hightstown, NJ 08520
Phone: 609-448-0193

Email: Bill@tricountycoop.net

Website:

Auctions held Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting at 5:30 p.m.  Call to check for the opening of the auction season

There used to be a third auction, Swedesboro Auction, though I was having trouble finding detailed information. When I could not find any more information than the basics, I called the phone number listed.  Unfortunantly it had been disconnected.  So the searching continued.

The results?  The Swedesboro Auction is no longer in existence.  Instead the Former Swedesboro Auction property to be preserved as open space.

The acquisition of the Swedesboro Auction property completes an eight-year effort to save not only the last significant piece of open space in Swedesboro, but also an important part of our history that will be preserved to remind people of the important role agriculture played in Swedesboro’s past.”  -County Freeholder Robert Damminger

Having spent time on the East Coast, I know that open space can be very limited.  While I am glad to see that this will not become another developed area, I am sad at the loss of a market for both sellers and buyers.

The Landisville Produce Auction was another name I came across.  This one was a bit harder to find, as I believe the name officially is the Landisville Produce CoOp and there are no live auctions held.  An article on the Press Of Atlantic City website from 2013 gave more information.  It turns out that the Landisville Produce Auction may be the oldest in the country.  The combination of history and gardening always catches my attention.

Felix Donato owner of Landisville Produce Cooperative, the oldest agricultural coop in the nation
Feb 042016
 

produce auction collage

This post is part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

New York State currently has 6 produce auction sites across the state.  Most are held on Tuesdays and Fridays, though some also are held on Mondays.  You will want to check their times and days before heading out, especially early and late in the season.

Finger Lake Times wrote an article in 2013 about the Seneca Produce Auction.  It was nice to hear from those who bought and sold at this auction, as well as those who help run it.

Often we hear from the buyers at an auction, about worries concerning available produce.  Here is a look from A Farmer’s Perspective: The Talk at the Produce Auction.

Cornell University’s Extension Office has a pdf available showing the locations of produce auctions in the state of New York.  Their map may give you a better idea where the closest produce auction would be for you.

Chautauqua Produce Auction
7844 Rt. 474, Clymer, New York 14724
Phone: (716) 355-6500 or (716) 355-6391
Time: Tues. & Fri. at 10:00 am
Email: nwesterberg@stny.rr.com
Website: www.chautauquaproduceauction.com

Finger Lakes Produce Auction
3691 Route 14A, Penn Yan, New York 14527
Phone: (315) 531-8446
Time: Mon. at 10:00 am, Wed. & Fri. at 9:00 am
Website: www.fingerlakesproduceauction.com

Finger Lakes Produce Auction’s Facebook page

Genesee Valley Produce Auction
8855 Country Road 3, P.O. Box 163, Centerville, NY 14029
Phone: (585) 567-8640 (auction days from 8:30 am)
Phone: (585) 567-4312 (8-8:30 am all other days)
Time: Tues. & Fri. at 10:00 am

Mohawk Valley Produce Auction
840 Fordsbush Road
Fort Plain, New York 13339
Phone: (518) 568-3579
Time: Tues. and Fri. at 10:00 am

Orleans Produce Auction
12590 Ridge Rd., Albion, NY 14411
Phone: (585) 798-5466
Time: Mon. at 11:00 am, Tues. & Fri. at 10:00 am

Website: www.bontragerauction.com/orleans-produce-auction

Seneca Produce Auction
2033 Yerkes Road, Romulus, NY 14541
Phone: (607) 869-5470
Time: Tues. at 10:00 am, Fri. at 10:00 am

Seneca Produce Auction’s Facebook page

Dec 292015
 

first 2013 produce stand

This past year was harder than I had anticipated.  Though I will further explore that statement later, I want to talk about one aspect in particular relating to this past year – the street-side produce stand.

Since 2009 I have put a small stand out in front of the house.  It started with extra produce which was more than I could give away at church.  The idea was to charge less than Small Town Grocery, who is expensive and has a poor selection,  but enough to cover my gardening costs.  I was not in it to get rich.

Over time I have come to realize how much my neighbors appreciate the close availability of fresh produce.  The working mom across the street would send her kids over for peppers to make with supper.  The assisted living residents would stop by for a tomato or a hanging basket of begonias, as those were one of the few plants able to grow in the limited light of their apartments. Someone canning and needing just a few more tomatoes knew were to stop. The family with only a few dollars to spend on fresh produce could make their money go further.  The neighbor across the street bought me out of bedding plants to complete her yard work.  The mail carrier needing a few things, but no time to run into the store after work.  As time went on, I began to get a feel for the community, realizing what a blessing this was for people.  That is one thing I would remember when I needed the extra energy to keep it going.

(Side note: my husband recently shared with me that at least one person stopped and bought from the stand assuming we needed the money. “Why else would someone do it?”, they reasoned. )

cart of produce auction hay tomato apples

The stand was started before we became foster parents, before the loss of my husband’s father, before the loss of someone close to me to suicide, and before other trials in our lives. It was one of the things I would do to keep my sanity in times of otherwise emotional chaos.

Over time, my friendship with my neighbor grew due to the time we spent on gardening related activities, including running this stand together.  Without her, I am not sure I could have seen it through that first summer with George and Jack.  The following year she had some major medical issues that kept her from gardening at all, let alone helping with the stand. I was able to pick up things and still help her family have some of the fresh produce they had now grown used to during the summers.

processing tomatoes for spaghetti sauce dinning room table

Having the produce stand has also resulted in some unintended opportunities.  It has allowed my neighbor-friend to realize another area of need outside of our community that provides better income on a more consistent basis, during the summers, with not a lot of extra effort.  I too have begun noticing other areas of opportunity and have had the confidence to try them.

When this past Spring was approaching I knew I had to say “no” to more things in my life due to new priorities.  It was going to be for a season, but it was still hard to accept. The produce stand had become so second nature I was not sure I could stop. It had become a part of who I was. “My house is the one with the produce stand out front,” was often how I explained to people where I lived. It had also started taking up more of my time and mental energy.

My biggest worry was how to share this with my neighbor-friend. My second thought was for those who had relied on the stand as a source of affordable fresh produce.

When I shared my conclusion with my friend, her reaction was a sense of relief. Not at all the reaction I was expecting.  She too had been trying to figure out the words to use to say that she could not do the produce stand this year.  Her family responsibilities were going to be increasing, taking up more of her time. We both had been worried about letting the other down when in reality it was not the right season for either of us.

large white pumpkin at stand

As Spring turned into Summer I had several people ask about the produce stand. While they were disappointed, I assured them it would be for a season, not permanent.

It was the right decision. As Summer went along, it was very obvious I could not have done it all. I did not want to do it all.  While we missed the extra cash flow, it was not something we were relying upon to make ends meet.

I did not even need it as a source of extra produce to preserve, as that was something else to which I had said “no”. It helped that I had canned a lot of extra the past 2 years, enough to see us through on several different items.

What started out as an act of desperation when I had begun to feel overwhelmed, ended up being a very healthy thing. It allowed me to step back, re-evaluate if this was something I wanted to keep doing, to spend my time on, or something I needed to let someone else take over. (Several other gardeners had begun doing the same thing in the last year or two.)

Farmer's Market Stand

While I see myself picking it back up this coming summer, I also see myself setting boundaries.  We had both begun feeling as if we had to put the stand out, not because we had extra produce but because people expected it to be there. It was becoming more of a burden than a blessing.

Having the extra time this past year has allowed flexibility in deciding what was best for our family at this time.  Even that has changed several times as various needs have come and gone.

While I wish I could say, “This is what is going to happen, this is what is going to work for us in the upcoming 12 (unforseen) months”, I know better.  Forget about His laughing at my presumptions, I would do it for Him.

So, for now, I see that this past year was only “for a season”. Whether my forecast is accurate or not remains to be seen. I now know that I can let go and still be Me, that my identity is tied to more that something I happen to be doing at this time, even if it is something I greatly enjoy doing. This is a lesson I seem to have needed reminding of yet again.

 

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Oct 302014
 

1414078687005-5129581927 DAYS!?!?  I can’t believe it has been that long since I last posted, though it does not surprise me much.  After a relatively empty summer calendar wise, this past week has been full of activities that have required my attention, took all day, apples, or kids needing more attention.  Basically, life.

Pictures have been taken, but not posted.  Meal plans followed, but not shared.  Plans made to come on here, but no follow through.  I have gone to bed at 8:30 several evenings, knowing that I was too tired to make it even another half hour.

This week we decided to bring the produce stand to an end.  All the remaining produce and fall items were rearranged, displayed and marked down.  I had thoughts of posting it on our local online For Sale group’s page, but was unable to get to it the first day.  Turns out it was not needed.  After the first day we had sold about half of the remaining items.  Just now we were able to condense items into about half of the containers and table space we began with yesterday.  There were several very happy customers and several others who couldn’t believe the low prices.

There comes a point in the season when we are just tired of dealing with the garden, the produce, and the earlier sunsets meaning we have to put the stand up at dinner time (not exactly convenient).  We have found in years past, that once the end of October passes, customers slow stop coming by the stand.  Maybe it is the cooler weather or their lives getting a bit busier, just like ours.  Whatever the reason, by the end of October the natural end to this year’s produce stand takes place.  In a way it is sad.  In a way I am happy it did as well as it has and am ready to  move into a month of a break from thinking about the garden.  Well, that is not exactly true, but I like to tell myself that for at least a week.  🙂

Now I have to run and pick up some kids.  After which point I am trying to decide between an hour or so of yard work or spending time inside letting them finish up a craft job.  With the growing cloudiness and dim light I am thinking it might rain.  An inside craft sounds good.  And they will be thrilled to get to paint and finished it up.  I will take pictures and may even share them.  Eventually.  🙂

Have a great evening.

large white pumpkin at stand

Oct 112014
 

breakfast collage bacon eggs hashbrowns coffee

Saturday mornings used to find us heading to Big Town to eat out breakfast and do some activity.  While we still like to do that at times, we have learned to make as yummy of a breakfast here at home for a lot less.  This morning I decided to listen to more of You Bet Your Garden while cooking.  I began yesterday while cleaning up my kitchen and processing some green tomatoes. The most recent podcast talks about drying hydrangeas, how to save tomato seeds, amaryllis and more. (The last link may not take you to the exact episode I was listening to, but it should take you to the most recent one.)

Farm Market Swap

Last Saturday I joined several other friends for a few hours.  We talked gardens, family, farms and many other topics.  The main reason for getting together, though, was to swap items.

“If you made it, grew it, baked it or canned it, bring it to swap with friends.  Make sure you also bring a box or bag to take home your new goodies.”

Chocolate Raspberry Sauce collage

This is the second year I have joined in and loved it just as much this year as last year.  Knowing ahead of time that this event was going to take place, I have been thinking all summer what I wanted to bring.  Last year I brought some “normal” items: crushed tomatoes, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, a few different jams.  I ended up taking too much, as the group was not that big and most people only brought a few items.

This year I was thinking of more unusual things, items that perhaps people do not usually make.  I ended up taking blackberry syrup (I used this recipe, but did not let it thicken into a jelly) and chocolate raspberry sauce (pictured above).  Not only was it easier to take 12 jars, as compared to 24+, but it was nice to have just two things to display.

I also did a quick pick of the garden that morning, so put them in a basket .  No one needed up wanting to swap for them, but they sure did look pretty on the table.

Farm Market Swap collage

Next year, I think I will take Jack along, if he keeps showing interest in canning.  My hope has been to raise both kids to know how to do this and love doing so.  My way of passing along the ‘art’ of this skill.  So far it has worked.  We make canning fun and kid friendly.  No actual canning or use of the stove yet, of course, but there are many ways they can help.  Above you can see how Jack helped smash the raspberries, add the ingredients and then stir up the sauce before I put it on the stove.  Once it was done, I let him lick the stirring spoon and thanked him for helping me.

Green Tomato Pie Filling collage

Green Tomato Pie Filling

Green Tomato Pie Filling was a new thing for me to try this year.  Early in the week I was afraid there was going to be a frost, so I picked all the tomatoes that were ripe.  There were so many green ones out left on the plants; I did not want them to go to waste.  If I had waited till after a frost, they would have been unable to be canned.

As with any new recipe, there was a chance I would not have like this one.  I have never tried it and do not know of anyone else who had made this recipe before.  There was the chance I was not going to like the recipe, which I hoped would not happen as it was a more involved canning recipe than I am used to doing.

After making a batch and filling a canner load of jars, I tasted a bit that was left over.  My batch resulted in just over 6 quarts, instead of the 7 noted in the recipe.

It was good!  Almost like a fancy apple pie flavor.  I  am not sure I will make this every year, but will keep it on file for future use.  For now, I know what I am taking to Thanksgiving dinner.  If I tell my extended family what it is, they will not try it.  To say they do not like to try new food is a major understatement.  If I call it “Apple Pie” then they will try some.  Once one or two taste it and deem it good, then the rest will follow.  Not sure how I came from this family, cooking wise, but thankfully my husband has encouraged me to try new things.  You never know what you may like.

potatoes first year 2014

Potatoes (and new friends)

I dug up all the potatoes plants  put in late this year.  It was a trial planting, as I had never planted them before AND it was basically July by the point they got into the ground.

George and Jack had a grand time sorting through the dirt in their wheelbarrows looking for potatoes among the shovel fulls of dirt I kept adding.  Every time they found one a cheer went up.

A few neighbor boys came down to play and joined in the fun.  These boys are new to our neighborhood and soon their mom followed along to introduce herself. It was good to get to know another household that we may not have had a chance to meet.  They are not our immediate neighbors, nor on our street.  Sad to say, after living here several years, I still do not know everyone on my block.  I do know most of them around us on our side of the streets, and across the street, just not all of them behind us.

large white pumpkin at stand

Produce Stand Winding Down

At the beginning of the week I would have told you that this may be the last week for our produce stand.  That statement would have been false.

The stand now is very Autumn oriented.  I am just not sure if those who stop by are as wanting of these items as they are of tomatoes and peppers.

When we first began putting a table of produce out front, I listened to others and what worked for them.  It was a failure.  See, every area is made up of a different group of people who like different things.  We are not on a major thoroughfare, not do we got to the marker in a Big Town.  A lot of the people who stop by are older, though some are young families.  Most are looking to see if we have something they might need before heading to the store.  Organic or nonGMO or pesticide free does not matter to most of our shoppers.  Low prices and the appearance of tomatoes and peppers is the main things.  Beyond that other items sell well, though not in as large of a quantity.

The squash we have on the table may sell, though I am expecting to either store or can up a lot of it.  We have not tried corn stalks or field corn before, so that remains to be determined.  The pumpkins may go, but it is going to require us to mark them down.  (I did this change this morning.) While the large white pumpkins may sell for $8 or $9 each, or could be sold by the pound, somewhere else, for us that is too expensive. (We have sold 1 in the last 3 weeks.) It is something we keep in mind when trying to decide what to plant, or look for, to add to our stand.

Next weekend holds an event in downtown Small Town.  If I have nothing else going on, I may take these items and set up on a corner down there.  With more people, and some not from our area, we may see some of these items sell.  George and Jack would also like the adventure and it may give me time with a friend, if she is available, to catch up.

Note: sometimes a picture can show us a truer view of what is right in front of us.  For example, I noticed several things in this photo after coming inside to post it:

  • my wagon is in dire need of a good cleaning.  Harvest season here brings lots of dust.
  • the tape for the sign has left unsightly marks.
  • we sold a pumpkin!  🙂  I did not even notice it missing when I was there, but it obviously is not there now.  Seems marking down the price worked for at least one pumpkin today.

When I stand back from the stand, or take a picture and look at it inside, it gives me a view that perhaps someone driving by or stopping by for the first time might see.  Sometimes I see areas of improvement and other times I can see more clearly what is working.

Yard

We did the last planned mowing of our grass.  The first blowing of the leaves also needed to be done, but they ended up being mowed instead.

After a trip to the hardware store to get a new broom I will do my first fall sweeping of the front porch and walkways. The boys broke my other one in half.  In case you were wondering, no you can not catapult your brother off the steps by having him stand on the handle and you press on the end of the broom that is handing off the edge.  You know, if case you wanted to replicate the experiment.

The squirrels found my pumpkin decorations on the stoop and made a good meal of them. I will have to wash these off and rearrange things.  Past experience told me this would happen, which is why I put the pumpkins out there that are starting to go anyway.  No use having them eat up the good pumpkins.

Things that did not happen

Pizza Sauce, Apple Sauce and Roasted Pumpkin were also on the to-do list this week but were not accomplished.  The day is still not over, so one or more may be done.

 

How has your week gone?  I would love to hear how your garden is doing, or if it is already at an end what you miss about it.

Jul 052014
 

book I am a

These past few weeks have been a difficult adjustment for me, going from having George at school all day to being home.  That part was not so bad.  He runs best when a routine is in place, so I had set up one before school ended and we eased right into summer.  The part that got me was the added activities that came with it being summer:

  • VBS
  • t-ball practice and games
  • basketball camp
  • vacation
  • implementing a summer-homeschool routine that worked for us
  • beginning to babysit Olaf (Our Little Adorable Friend)

My initial plans for the roadside stand were to sell all my extra transplants from starting seeds for my garden.  Well, the big storm took care of that one.  The stand was set out for a week or so, with only one potted plant being sold.  Finally I decided it wasn’t worth the effort each morning till we had more items to put out, so it was placed on my porch and left there.

Earlier this week I talked with my friend, who is the other half of the Roadside Stand team.  She mentioned how the next few weeks are going to involve a lot of out of town guests for their family, as well as a celebration.  She said that the stand was not even on her list of items to think about.

“Oh, good,” I said. “I am feeling the same way and figured if you had really wanted to have been doing it, you would have.  I just haven’t had the time or energy for it.”

“Of course I would have,” she responded.  “That is why we are a team.”

I am so blessed to have found a friend who thinks similarly enough to me that often we can assume, correctly, what the other person is thinking.  She also helps me stay grounded in reality.  It isn’t every friend of mine that I could do something like this with.  It really is a fine line we walk.

Another good point she made was that there was extra time involved besides set up and tear down each night (i.e. carrying it off the porch and making sure things look nice).  It also involved spending time to have items to put on the stand.  It really is a commitment.

This is also the reason we stopped going to the Farmer’s Market.  It was fun, but our families missed us those 5+ hours a week it took to be there on Saturdays, plus the time it took to prepare to go.  Glad we did it.  Glad we stopped.

first 2013 produce stand

Taking care of George and Jack, the house, myself and my husband, and a new foster kid can keep me busy enough.  Add to that the house repair work that needs to be done, the garden, the stand, the blog … well, things had to be simplified.  I had already stepped down from some roles in May and mentally prepared myself to rearrange my priorities.  It was still difficult to let this one go, as I felt I was letting down my friend.  Over vacation I realized that the stand was one area I needed to not stress about – blessing our neighbors with cheap produce is a good thing, but it is not more important than my family, my home or my health.

I was talking with  my husband about this at lunch on Tuesday, how both my friend and I are not in a place right NOW to do it.

“As long as you make sure we have tomatoes,” he replied.  🙂  The man is so predictable and I had already thought of that.

“Don’t worry.  Give me another few weeks and things will calm down.  I won’t forget about tomatoes.  Just because we can’t do it today, does not mean next month will hold the same limitations on time.”

Tomatoes in scale 3

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Jun 192013
 

2013 Garden Update

 

 Some late planted zucchini sprouts have appeared.  Now to see if they will last till I am able to put up some sort of rabbit deterrent.

zucchini seedlings by shed bed

The first red tomato appeared earlier this week.  This is off one of the tomato plants that was quite large when I planted it.  It is from one of the plants whose tomatoes and blooms I did not remove.  These plants looked in bad shape the first several weeks after planted, then seemed to settle in and make a good come back.
first red tomato of the season 2013

This week also brought about the first cucumber bloom.  I’m hoping these get pollinated this year; I would really like some cucumbers and not just great looking plants.

first cucumber blossom of the season 2013

The summer squash plant in the 5×5 Challenge bed seemed to have doubled in size overnight.  That is what summer rains will do for a garden. I have been slowly harvesting the green onions you see around the squash plant.  I have taken out four large bunches and still have many more to go.  Guess that is what happens when you plant a few hundred onions.  🙂  Update: I harvested another bunch just now to sell to a customer at our stand.  I usually trim the greens as they are very long this year and tip over any container I put them in.  The customer was interested in some with the greens still attached, so I walked out to the garden, harvested some and sold them to said customer.  I love keeping things small and personal.

summer squash plant in 5x5 challenge bed June 17 2013

The seeds in the patio planter are starting to appear.  The flower ones that is.  I have yet to see the basil seedlings make an appearance.  This is currently in a spot that gets afternoon sun.  I may move it so it gets more sun.  It can always be moved if it is getting too much.flower seedling in potting soil

The bean plants in my kitchen garden bed.  I’m curious to see how these grow as I have planted beans in the past … on my own that is, we had them in the garden growing up.


Harvest to date:  5 bunches onions (one bunch = as many as I can hold in one hand without them dropping out, I’ll count and estimate later), 2 strawberries (2 more ready to pick) and 1 tomato.  


May 302013
 

 One of my weekly goals last month was to divide my aloe plants and dead head my other house plants.  Here is what they looked like before, they were starting to take over this area.

DSCN7315

DSCN7314

This plant was looking wimpy.  Some leaves had died and not fallen off, while others had been torn and battered by little hands.

DSCN7313

I had picked up a box of pots from a store that was going out of business.  It was a discount store to begin with, so these were very affordable.

box of potsI started on one of the house plants as it was in front of all the aloes.  This vining plant had leaves and sections of vine that were either dead or looked dead.  I had almost given it up as un-salvageable.  Glad I didn’t follow through with just throwing it away.

DSCN7320

First, I pulled off all the dead leaves.  This allowed me to see which sections of vine were dead.  Those sections were cut off, as were the parts where a large section of vine had no leaves.

Ah, looking much better.

DSCN7321

I did a trial run of getting roots to grow from sections of cuttings.  So far no luck, but two of the three jars are still sitting in a sunny location to see if the stems will grow roots.

DSCN7322

The aloe plants came next.  I placed all the current plants on the table. Some were so full and large they were not able to stay standing up without something to lean on.
DSCN7323

Little hands wanted to “help”.  I gave scissors and allowed them to cut up leaves and stems I had removed.

DSCN7324

Here is a closer view of the aloe plant pots.

DSCN7325Here is a plant that was in a different window.  It was in such a place that I often forgot to water it.  The aloe plant was still alive though you can see how different the color is.  I find that aloes plants this dehydrated can still be brought back to a nice green color with regular watering.

DSCN7332

Here is the root ball of one of the aloe plants when pulled out of the existing pot.

DSCN7327

I loosened up some of the soil around the roots…

DSCN7330

DSCN7328

Once I had them all removed from the pots, I sorted them.  Plants that were not growing straight, missing parts, or too small were discarded.

DSCN7331

The remaining plants were sorted by size …

DSCN7334

This plant was easily removed from the parent plant by pulling it away.  The roots of the aloe plants are not extensive, which is what made it so easy to separate them.  Even this section will grow and reproduce.  Aloe plants reproduce, or create new plants, via root sprouts.  I found root sprouts in the bottom of some of the pots, starting to grow off the roots there.  It has been just over a month and some of the newly potted aloe plants already have sprouts sticking up out of the soil.

DSCN7337

Most of the newly potted aloe plants are being sold on the produce stand.  Another great example of using what you have to make a few extra dollars.  This helps offset just a bit of the cost of gardening.

Also, aloe plants, if left to grow long enough, will flower.  Unfortunately, I missed getting a picture when mine did so this last winter.  It really was a lovely delicate looking flower, one I hope to see again this year.

The ficus tree was saved till last as it was the largest of all the plants and took the most time.

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(Above) Since I was working on our dining room table, I put the tree up there too.  It made a convenient height and was close to where the plants had been and were going.  I had a bad of potting mix and a pitcher of water.  You can see the pile of discarded aloe plants towards the bottom of the picture.

(Below) The new pot for the ficus tree allowed the roots to spread out.  Previously they had been starting to circle the root ball.  The tree looks much healthier now and is able to sustain itself between watering.

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This was one project I put off for a while, to the detriment of my house plants.  Once I decided to do it, it took me a few hours one afternoon.  And that counted stopping to explain things to little minds.

Is there a ‘quick’ project you have been putting off?  Go do it today, then come back and let me know if it took as long as you had thought.

 

Oct 142012
 

 

This week was a bit odd in the preserving area: corn and buckeyes.

I posted about putting up the corn a few days ago, here. We ate the first batch, the worst looking ones, already.  It really does help if you actually cook them long enough to be cooked.  We’ll have it again this week.  This time I am going to put it in the crock pot.

I have been in the freezer several times since I put the corn in there.  Being as it wasn’t planned, I just tossed it in where it could fit, which means it is in the way.  However, every time I have had to move it I have been glad that I did do something with it.

If you didn’t read my first post, this meant 4.5 dozen ears of corn were put up.

 

The Ohio buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra) finally started dropping their seeds a few weeks ago.  It has helped that we had several windy days.  If you have never seen these, they are both beautiful and annoying.  The seeds themselves are not really the issue.  It is the surrounding part that is spiky and make walking barefoot or mowing difficult.  The nuts themselves are a smooth dark brown color, except for the ‘eye’ which is a lighter brown. When they are fresh off the tree, they are shiny; almost as if they were already coated with something.  As you dry them, they turn a darker color and harden.  You do not want to keep buckeyes if you have not dried them.  They mold due to the moisture in their meat.

They are supposed to bring good luck.  The squirrels also like them.  They can be used in jewelry, decorations, or just kept solo for a good luck piece in your pocket (after it is dried).

I’ve also been told you can eat them, though I have never tried it.

The job of picking up buckeyes, and tossing the shells next to the tree, was the perfect job for some toddlers.  They thought it was fun to find nuts, run them over to the pan, then come back and throw the shells against the tree.  Work is always better if it can be made into a game.  (It also helps that I told them they could sell them on the stand if they collected and dried them.)

Only one of our two trees produced buckeyes this year.  Well, technically I found a total of two from the other tree.  Compared to what it should be, that is nothing.  A neighbor’s tree also did not produce.  I’m not sure if it had to do with the weather or lack of rain.

Update: turns out our neighbor’s tree did produce a handful of them; just not the normal over abundance that we usually see.

We have been able to send some to the local school for “fall items”.  The rest are being dried for some future yet-to-be-determined use.

So, how do we dry them?  I place them either in a pan or on the top of a plastic storage container, as the pan became full very quickly this year, and sit them out for a few weeks.  Once they turn darker and dull in appearance, they are dry.  Once a day or so I stir them up to make sure air is getting to all sides.  The pan has a few layers of news paper in it, the container top doesn’t.  I think the newspaper is meant to help absorb and disapate moisture.

 

Have you ever used buckeyes in a recipe?  If so, leave a comment. I would love to hear about it.