Dehydrating

Well I’m not dehydrating – not yet anyway and certainly not with a cup of tea sitting right beside me – however I’m fairly sure that by the end of the weekend my garden will be.

The weather forecast is predicting 40 degrees this weekend and according to the forecast James and I watched, while waiting for our breakfast pancakes to cook, there is a very real possibility that the weather will reach 44 degrees by next weekend.  If you need that translated basically it means “Stinking HOT”.

This morning I have spent a couple of hours putting plenty of water onto my vegie garden.  The rest of the garden will just have to survive as best it can on what irrigation water it receives.

Most of the vegies are finished.  The onions and carrots have headed to seed and I will save heaps to use as seed for next years crops but also as sprouts for salads.

Onions and Carrots going to Seed

Likewise the Rainbow chard has run to seed and that will also be used as sprouts along with the broccoli seed.  I looked up the price of broccoli seeds for sprouting (apparently they are lovely in salads) and it was nearly $10 for 100 grams.  With the amount of seed pods on my bush looks like I might be saving some serious money.

Rainbow coloured Silverbeet setting seed

I left some of the Bulls Blood Beetroot in the ground as it looked like it would run to seed and it has so there will be plenty to plant next year….yipee.

Bulls Blood Beetroot setting seed

I don’t have to many plants in the garden now that I have to tend over the summer months.  The corn I put in far to late as seedlings, is only about a foot high and is starting to produce cobs already – so that was a waste of time. Pumpkins are in and doing very well and I’m hoping to get a good crop off them.  I managed to forget the hose was going on them the other day and they got a super good watering which has done wonders.  There is Sweet Potatoe planted in  lots of wicking beds and I’m hoping it too will do well with minimal attention.

I have two dozen tomatoes planted in two different beds.  Brandywine in one and Amish Paste, Moneymaker and Silver Fir Tomatoes in another. They are looking good and I thought I saw a flower or two starting to appear – but didn’t look to closely in case it got a fright and disappeared.  It will be a bit of a battle to keep the water up to them but I am determined – there is nothing better than a fresh home grown organic tomatoe to eat.

Purple King Beans

My purple king Beans are flowering and they are so pretty. I think I could easily grow them just for the flowers but am hoping for good crops along with the bush beans that are also starting to flower.

Lacy Lady Pea Seed

I have also picked the Lacy Lady Peas and saved the seeds. There aren’t many but it doesn’t worry me that it will take a few years to build up crops enough that I have both seeds and enough for eating. By taking it slow each generation of pea has time to acclimatise to my garden and soil and for that matter me, and will do better for a bit of patience. I found these peas seemed to cope far better with the powdery mildew that invaded my garden this year.

Dehydrator

A couple of weeks ago I lashed out and bought a dehydrator. For less than $50 with postage I thought it was a good buy and I did heaps research to sort out exactly what I wanted. While I will dry fruits and vegetables I can’t see myself doing so many that I need a ten tray $1000 machine – so this little cheapy will do the trick.

So far I have dried celery leaves – now have a jar full to flavour soups and stews and I have experimented with drying apples, kiwi fruit and mangos.  Not bad but I’m not sure it’s worth the time, effort and electricity to dry them. What I have dried won’t go to waste – the fruits can be used in fruit cakes – but it did take two days and the kids have said they wouldn’t eat them dried – they would much rather the fresh fruit.   I also bought a really good dehydrating book that I borrowed from the library first.   Making and Using Dried Foods by Phyllis Hobson I found was excellent.  Full of basic information – how to dry each food in the dehydrator, in the sun or in your oven, recipes to use the foods you have dried and good advice made it a winner in my eyes.  Best of all most of the book is using basic fruit and veg that we eat – not loads of exotic stuff that we either can’t get or wouldn’t buy  cause it’s too expensive.  No affils and all that but of all the books I have looked at and borrowed this was the best I have found.

Of course, with the onset of the hot weather, comes the high electricity bills.  While we open the house up at night to cool it down and shut it during the day in our climate that only works providing the nights are cool and the days semi reasonable in temperature.  So today Ashley put the generator at the front of the house ready to plug it in to provide us with cheap power.

Generator

We have solar panels and they are excellent but until we can get enough panels and batteries there simply isn’t enough solar to run the whole house.  The generator will provide a much needed back up and cheaper option.  Before anyone asks yes we have considered the neighbours and the noise levels. This is a silent pack generator which means it does make noise but no more than having cars or trucks  drive past or the industrial estate’s (which we live on the edge of) machinery running.   It is also big enough to run everything in our house from the washing machine to the cool room to the air conditioners.  Yes the diesel to run it can cost a few dollars but in the long run it is cheaper than paying the high prices of the electricity companies which especially, as the Smart Meters have just been installed in town, could rise at any time depending on demand.

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2 thoughts on “Dehydrating

  1. I bought a food dehydrator once and it didn’t seem like it worked all that well so I took it back thinking there was something wrong with it. It seemed to take forever to dry the food and was noisy. I think I could have dried the fruit outside quicker and if your temps are heading up to 44 degrees then I’d think the sun would dry out your stuff quite quickly but I don’t know as I forget anything I’ve read.

    I don’t know a thing about generators but I’m surprised that the cost of fuel would be more efficent than electricity. For some reason I thought they took a lot of gas. Guess I should go look up the specs somewhere and find out. Not that I’ll be running one anytime soon but I’m curious.

    I love the idea of solar power but it’s just not practical here in Canada. I love the idea of building a house that would be entirely self-sufficent energy-wise but unless I win the lotto it’s not happening. Maybe the costs will come down but probably not in my lifetime.

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