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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pressure Cooker and Garden Friends

Woohoo! PB finally found it! Our pressure cooker, I've wanted to cook in our pressure cooker for quite some time now. The rubber parts are still in good shape, it holds pressure, I tested it last night with plain water, it came up to pressure and made the rocker rock.

I have been cooking in a friend's pressure cooker, mainly cooking pinto beans, I also made chili and chicken soup. Her pressure cooker is a 4 quart size, it's barely big enough to cook in, I have to be very careful when making beans not to overfill the pot, I can cook a half a bag of beans, which is fine for one person. I can put in 2 chicken leg and thigh portions but not much more. I was thrilled to find out that ours is a 6 quart size, it's big enough to cook a whole chicken if I want to, plus all the fixens that go with it. PB had 5 teeth pulled a few weeks ago, so I have to make foods that he can easily chew, so this will come in very handy. The other nice thing about using a pressure cooker is it cooks so fast, it uses much less fuel to cook, pinto beans normally take 4-8 hours (or longer) to cook, it's basically an all day affair, but with the pressure cooker, it takes about 10 minutes, you start timing once it comes to pressure, but that's still better than hours and hours!

I have a half of a package of pinto beans soaking, I'll cook those for dinner tonight. I would like to try dehydrating the cooked beans, I should be able to do it, I just need to make a dehydrator.

We started working on the garden a couple of days ago. We removed the last of the dead plants from last year, then using a shovel, we turned the dirt, added some ash from the woodstove, our soil tends to be on the acid side because of all the pine trees and the oak trees, we have added lots of mulch from under these trees to amend the soil, so I figured the wood ash would be good. I also sprinkled in a whole jar of water crystals, these will soak up water and turn into a gel, it will hold water longer and be good for the plants, all of this was dug in well. The only plants left from last year are the carrots and asparagus.

A friend of ours gave us a whole bus tub full of ever bearing strawberry plants. These came from another gardener out here who was thinning out his strawberry patch, we were gifted with some of these. We planted them in one corner of the garden, they look so good, some of the plants already have blooms, I can't wait to eat my first strawberry! Thanks LL and DL! We have really good friends out here.

I think this year we are not going to plant as many different kinds of plants, the garden just isn't big enough to plant so many, so we will pick out a few that we really like and plant lots of them. I know we will have black seeded simpson lettuce, that grows very well here and we love eating it. We also love cherry tomatoes, so those will definitely go out there. Perhaps some spinach, I'll grow a few radish plants, but not for the roots, I love the seed pods, they are fleshy and have a mild radish flavor. I have to sneak in some peas somewhere, though PB says he doesn't like them, I suspect he hasn't eaten fresh peas, they have such a different (and better) flavor than canned or even frozen.

I wish I could grow okra, but after 2 years of trying, I have decided that the old timers out here are right, they just don't like the altitude, they grow knee high at best and put out a few straggly okra pods. These are the same variety that grow so tall by the end of summer that you need a step ladder to harvest them, that is true where I used to live, not here, so I guess, reluctantly, I'll give up on growing okra.

I also want, and want so bad, to grow blueberries, I hope the nursery in town still has some next time I get out there, I know they will grow well here, with the acid soil. I'll have to protect them from the munching hoards of deer and javelina, don't know about the birds yet, might have to throw a net over them, I'll find out for sure.

So far I have only 3 pests that I know of, the first is grubs, while digging up the garden, we found dozen and dozens of them, I squished as many of them as I could find, I suppose I'll have to buy something from the store next time I'm in town, can't have them chewing on the roots of my plants. The other pest is ants, they aren't such a problem themselves, but they bring in aphids so I need to keep them out as much as possible. The third and biggest (figuratively and literally) are the grasshoppers. They have already started showing up, right now they are small, a half inch to an inch, but once they find a food source, they grow into monsters that don't seem to be bothered by anything I put out to kill or discourage them. Last year, the garden was decimated by grasshoppers, if I had done something about it when I first saw them, I might have been able to save the garden, but by the time I actually tried to do something about it, it was too late. This year I will hit them fast and hard, I'll not give them a chance to grow into garden chomping monsters.

The other thing I will grow is tobacco, as far as I know there are very few pests to bother tobacco, the animals shouldn't bother them so I'll plant them outside of the garden. I'll be starting the seeds inside this weekend. I might try direct sowing a couple of plants just to see how they do, hopefully I can direct sow them, but I have read that it's best to start them inside, they start slowly but once they sprout and get a few inches tall (or more), they are quite hardy after that and can go outside with no problems.

If you are interested in growing your own tobacco, read my review of a great tobacco book
I personally recommend this one! Click here for the review now!
and go here to get it
Grow Your Own Tobacco-Grow-Roll-Smoke!

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  1. Congratulations on the pressure cooker.
    They are a really great way to cook tasty foods and save on cooking fuel.

    Are you going to make a strawberry patch?
    I planted some along the fence last spring, the dogs walked on them, then ate them. Will try again this spring. Not time here to plant outside yet.

    Neighbor gave me some three liter soda bottles. We are going to make some of those upside down planters. Tomatoes of course, peppers too, and I was thinking of strawberry plants


  2. Thanks Selene, I'm soaking pinto beans as I type, going to cook them in a bit. I planted the strawberry plants yesterday, it got down to 32.5 F overnight, but it didn't seem to bother them at all, I watered them good today and raked up some curly grass to cover them, give them some protection from any more cold nights and help keep the soil moist.

  3. I am thinking of getting a pressure cooker... About 10 years ago my sister and I canned turkey and made turkey jerky. It was fantastic and we made about 20 quarts of turkey.
    I am trying square foot gardening this year. I have lots of space but it is wooded. So I will put in square foot gardens in sunny areas. I have to get them off the ground since I have dogs and they tear everything up.

  4. Cheryl, once you try a pressure cooker, you'll never go back! Call around and price them in your area, the best price I have found so far is on the link in the upper right corner of this blog, from Amazon, it's a 6 quart, stainless steel Presto for $44, with free shipping, I can't find an aluminum one for that price in town. If you buy through my site, it helps me a bit. If you can find it cheaper locally, get it there, otherwise get it though here.

    Our garden is completely enclosed, not from dogs, but from deer, javelina and donkeys, plus a few other assorted critters. :)


  5. I am glad you got your garden started it`s a great feeling knowing you grow your own food I know I love it. We started tilling our secnd garden so we now have 2 and I loving every minute of it I will be canning alot and I can`t wait. I will be buying Pressure Cooker before my first Harvest I am just trying to figure out what size to get I guess the large. Besides canning in it I will be cooking in it also. You where so lucky to get the Strawberry Plants I paid 4.00 for a pot with 2 plants I got a couple of those and need to get more. Keep up the great work and thank you for being a friend.

  6. craftycountrymomma, that's great news about your garden, the more food you can grow for yourself, and can, the more independent you will be! As far as the size of pressure cooker to get, for canning, you want the big one, they are called canners, but for just cooking meals, you will want a smaller one, I suggest the 6 quart, the 4 quart is just too small to be of any use. There are 8 quart ones too, but personally I think the 6 quart is perfect, you can also can smaller quantities in those sizes too.

  7. Here is a way to combat bugs without pesticides.. collect as fmany of the bugs a possible, smoosh them in a blender add a little water and spray on your plants. I read this many years ago in Mother Earth News. Karen


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