Monthly Archives: August 2017

How to get More From Your Garden

August heat is settled in, you’ve made countless trips to water, weed, and harvest things from your garden and if you are like me you have let some go too long. I always plant Jalapenos for salsa and our Mexican food obsession but I don’t care for food to be super hot and spicy. We pick fresh peppers and freeze them for later and then toward the end of the growing season the pepper plants just get loaded! I hate to let anything go to waste and a few years ago I started making chipotles and well, I don’t know how we lived before we added these smokey flavorful spicy pieces of greatness to our diet!

In soups, in salads, in any kind of meat dish these things just make the food taste awesome! Here is my process and its probably the easiest thing you will make and trust me everyone will love it.

Start with green jalapeños or red it doesn’t really matter.

Be sure to wear gloves while you work with peppers or don’t touch your face for three days!

Cut the stem off, wash them good and remove any bad spots.
You can use a smoker, a wood oven, or a grill with wood chips but it has to be done with wood.

Get your heat regulated somewhat low, under 200 if possible.

Place peppers on the rack or on some foil if they are small, shut all the vents and forget about it for 12 hours or so. All you want to do is keep a fire going long enough to char and dry those dudes out to where they look like they are burned to a crisp literally.

When they are done this is what they look like. Just put them in a sealed container, I use a jar, and chop one up or add it whole to your next recipe and your whole kitchen will smell great!

This year I ground some into powder for table seasoning that we like really well. One word of caution if you grind powder you should wear a mask because the dust will really get you going!

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!


Seeing is Believing

I planted some sudangrass this spring after harvesting the ryegrass crop for hay around mid May. I used a no-till drill and planted the seed right in the existing stubble without tilling the ground. Since we baled the ryegrass the soil was really bare and we got a good rain a couple days after planting so I was all set for a harvest in about 60 days yay!

Sudangrass thrives in Oklahoma summer heat and we received timely rains totaling over 9 inches on that crop. I was scheduled for harvest shortly after July 4 holiday but as I kept checking the crop over the weeks I noticed it wasn’t growing very well and despite the good rains the ground was really dry? There was one area where the soil is a different type and it has a swag that catches a lot of runoff water that was thick and dark green and really growing on schedule but that was just a few acres. The rest of the 40 acre patch looked really anemic and I was not sure why.

This is what I’m talking about. This is going on 90 days of age and harvest (which would be around 4 feet tall) should have happened at about 60 days of age.

As I looked through the field I found one small area where the grass was taller than my head.

If you look closely you can see a small skip in the center between the tall stalks. This was a bit of loose hay laying on the ground, leftover crop residue from the previous harvest. Look at the difference in height! 6 to 8 feet around the residue and 2 feet max in the rest of the field.

I started reading some of OK States research about no-till practices and found out that the leftover crop residue not only shades the soil to conserve water but it lowers the ground temp as well. It’s not uncommon for bare Oklahoma soils to reach 100 degrees in summer, but soil with residue will usually be 20% cooler. The residue turns to organic matter building the quality of the soil and it breaks the energy of rainfall. Think of power washing something verses a soft spray to wet it. These factors all contribute to less erosion and more water held in the soil to to meet the plants needs. No-till also requires less field work so less inputs and wear and tear on the equipment and your pocketbook.

Here is a picture of corn planted in wheat residue to give you a better idea of what we are trying to accomplish.

I really enjoy being able to access quality research from a top notch school for free and figure out why things work the way they do. I think I’m going to take a serious look at no-till farming practices. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Work hard.
Have fun.
Make a difference!

Oh and Go Pokes!