Homegrown Seeds and Fall Cleaning
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 48: December 3, 2022
A good week for tying up loose ends, I circled back around to the hutch-turned-seed-saving-station and processed the last of this year’s seeds for next season and started in on my fall cleaning. It feels good to have seeds tucked in hand labeled packets and the hutch free for its next purpose: prepping cereal bowl planters for growing salad greens.
Follow along with me in the photos as I extract seeds from peppers, sunflowers, and tiny cucumbers.
A dozen+ peppers were saved from healthy, true-to-type plants and allowed to air-dry on a plate. Three developed mold – you can see blackening of the fruit – these were discarded.
I cracked open the crispy dried hot peppers and – wearing kitchen gloves – extracted seeds with a spoon. Tweezers were used to pick pepper shards out of the seed pile. Then into the packet they go! And the pepper shards were added to a jar in the pantry; I will use them for cooking and perhaps make a spicy seasoning salt.
Blushing Beauty is my very favorite bell pepper. An AAS 2020 Edible – Vegetable winner, the peppers change from ivory to pink to lipstick red. They are so beautiful I sometimes have a hard time picking them! I just enjoy admiring them on the plants! Blushing Beauty bells are, to me, as beautiful as roses.
Blushing Beauty started out as a hybrid, an F1 hybrid. I have been saving seeds and selecting from healthy plants and fruit for many years. In time, I created a stable open pollinated variety.
And it’s a good thing I did, as the original Blushing Beauty is no longer available commercially. These seeds are so important to me!
I am completely smitten with Chocolate Cherry Sunflower! This is the first year we grew it and I already regard it a keeper. Naturally this means saving seeds.
I was late harvesting the heads. You know what this means: the birds had first pick of my sunflowers. It was a difficult garden year and the birds are hungry, so I don’t begrudge them. I managed to save enough seeds for my needs, so I am content.
The seeds are small and didn’t fall naturally from the seed heads, so I used a spoon to coax them out and in the process ended up with a lot of chaff.
The simplest way to winnow seeds is to blow gently over them. The lighter weight chaff floated away and I was left with a platterful of seeds.
At $4 per 35 seeds, my packet of Chocolate Cherry sunflower seeds is worth $16! I also filled out a seed monograph and added it to my seed monograph card file.
Next up: Mexican Sour Gherkin seeds. I used a quarter teaspoon to scoop the seeds from the tiny cucumbers, added the seeds and clinging flesh to a half pint jar, added a few tablespoons of water, covered with muslin secured with a rubber band, and will let them ferment 2-3 days until the gel capsule that surrounds each seed is gone.
After that, I will rinse the seeds in a small mesh strainer, allow them to air dry fully, then pack them in a packet. This amount of seeds is worth about $7 commercially, so I just saved another $7. That feels good.
An assortment of homegrown seeds, some in sandwich bags and some in manilla seed envelopes.
Our new batch of laying hens are finally producing eggs and we lost both crops of figs to freezes this year.
Beginning at the top, I cleaned the peeled log ceiling beams with a damp cloth and worked my way down to walls, windows, trim, furniture and floors. All this in preparation for the Christmas tree. (I don’t like to decorate on top of dust and clutter, do you?) Apron sewed by Lena Moore.
We have an outdoor Christmas tree and an indoor Christmas tree.
Garden bed frames were installed by the previous owner who admitted they were awkward to work with. Beds were from 4-6 feet (1.2 -1.5 meters) wide; impossible to reach across to plant/weed/harvest. The wood was decaying; Sam shored them up the last few years, but it was clear they needed to be replaced or removed.
Sam surprised me and prepared this section of garden for amendments. It will be layered in brown paper, then leaves, then mixed wood chips to squelch grass and buttercups.
In the kitchen
This is a type of sourdough starter – the one my mom remembers from her childhood. It “eats” a combination of boiled potatoes and flour.
Another batch of Goldenkraut is underway. Colorful root vegetables join cabbage and aromatics in this special golden sauerkraut.
Indoor winter picnic
Leftover ham bone with bits of meat was added to a pot of cannellini beans and allowed to simmer all day on the wood stove, permeating the air with its delightful aroma. Mugs were stuffed half-full with shredded Swiss chard from the garden and stew was ladled over. Texas olive oil, lemon-infused white balsamic vinegar, and freshly cracked black pepper made excellent toppings. Garden carrots on the side.
Advent by Anja Dunk is steeped in tradition. The reader is initiated into the realm of German winter culture, beginning with a Bunter Teller, a colorful plate of Advent biscuits (cookies), followed by children busily polishing their shoes and cleaning their bedrooms in preparation for Nikolaus – St. Nicholas Day, and Christmas Eve, the pinnacle celebration of Christmas for German households. Learn to make Zimststerne (Cinnamon Stars), Schoko-Pfefferminztaler (Chocolate Peppermint Biscuits), meringue mice, oat waffles, Apfelringe (chewy dried apple rings) to decorate the tree or your home.
Bavarian Cooking by Olli Leeb is a gem of a cookbook that opens with a stunning folk art fold-out map and calendar of holidays. Pictures of old world cooking utensils and a typical American-Bavarian kitchen stove decorated with tiny blue flowers are included. Appealing font and line art adds to the charm of the old world recipes. Many of the dishes I grew up eating are in here, or variations of them. Makes me homesick for my Grandma. The meat chapter includes all part of the animal – nothing wasted. Pages and pages of noodles and dumplings and plenty of recipes featuring seasonal vegetables and desserts both special and everyday.
Bavarian Cooking is also out of print, so I invite you to check my favorite online used bookseller. Click the link and then type the name of the book in the search bar on the website when you arrive. If it is in stock, great! If not, you can create a wish list and add this title to it. They will email you when it is back in stock.
Good bye for now, friend, thank you for visiting!
Michele and Samuel
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