Saturday, July 19, 2008

Minor adjustments to Rainwater Barrels

The proof of anything is always in the using... well, in using my rainwater barrels for watering I have found that because of the height of the barrels, I was wasting too much water in spillage whenever I filled my watering can.
Lowering the barrels was not an option because I need the difference in height to make the overflows from one barrel to the next really work. So I figured that adding an extension hose to effectively deliver the water directly into the watering can was the way to go!I got some old garden hose and bought some fittings for about a buck each and custom made hose extensions for each of the higher barrels. Each extension is incrementally shorter as the barrels go downhill. The watering can fits under the hose and it keeps all the water in the can... No spillage. Problem solved.
Necessity is the mother of invention!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

First Pesto of the Season

This week I made two small batches of Pesto. The Basil is coming in and we LOVE Pesto in our family, with an Italian name like "Molaro" it is practically required!
I grow the Basil Variety called Sweet Genovese. This is the third year in a row that I have gotten this seed from Cook's Garden and I have been very happy with the results.
Last year we also grew a Lemon Basil variety.. but were not as pleased with it for Pesto or tomato sauces. So halfway through the season we just started ignoring it. Let it flower and just forgot about it.. Well this year we are overrun with Lemon Basil and we have learned to cook with it. The lemon basil is nice in Thai and Indian cooking..
But the lesson here for me is that it is easy to have basil reseed itself! I never knew this because I am so obsessive about heading the basil to let it bush and keep producing new leaves. So this year.. I will allow some of the Genovese to flower and go to seed so I will have self-seeded Basil next year! And I will save seed to get some started too.. just in-case this variety is not as good about reseeding itself. I'll let you know.

So.. PESTO..
My Recipe..
~A colander full of freshly picked basil leaves washed, de-stemmed and dried in a salad spinner
~1/4- 1/3 cup of nuts (I have used pine nuts, toasted almonds, cashews, walnuts, toasted sunflower seeds... depends on what you like and what you have on hand)
~1/4 - 1/3 cup of grated cheese (parmesan or romano)
~3-8 cloves of garlic (depends on your love of garlic~)
~enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make it the "right" consistency
Zip it all up in a food processor and freeze as quickly as possible.
When I make Pesto, I put the finished product in Ice Cube Trays and freeze for a few hours before I put the cubes in a zip-lock bag. The quicker you can get them into the zip-lock.. the greener the pesto will stay.. Keep them open to the air and they will turn a dark almost black green on the outside.
These Pesto Cubes make a great addition to soups, stews and sauces. Add a cube or two depending on your personal tastes.
If you are making pasta take a few cubes out the thaw before you start the pasta water, then toss with the pasta after it has been drained.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rain in the barrels!

Western North Carolina is in an extreme drought so Rain is always exciting but I've got to tell you that watching one barrel fill and then overflow in to the next and on and on is pretty darn Exciting!
My young assistant, Rebecca (age 7) had a grand time watching too and learning about how important it is that we conserve water and make the most of what we have.
We got the camera out and had fun shooting the following pictures in the rain.

This second shot shows my latest addition... the upper overflow spigot on the "Barrel 5". It has a 10 foot length of hose which leads into the garden and ends at the "whirly bird" sprinkler. The spigot is kept open. This way the overflow is kept away from the house and waters the garden some more!
One good rain is enough to fill all of the barrels and gives us enough water to keep up with the garden until the next rain.
It's a good feeling!