Thursday, August 21, 2008

Popping Sorghum

I was beginning to wonder about my sorghum crop. The stalks had grown over seven feet tall, but there was no sign of the grains I coveted. I waited. I waited some more. Just last week the first tassels appeared!

Within a couple of days, many of my stalks were sprouting tassels. They are heavy with grain. The plants are now eight feet tall. The grains need to ripen before harvest. I'm not sure how long. I'll do a little research. I think I have figured out a plan to remove the grains. I plan to put several tassels inside a clean pillow case and beat them against a rock. Sounds logical to me, but this is my first sorghum crop. Let me know if you have better idea.

My pole bean tower looks miniature in the background.

This is a baby squash. It's either a cucuzzi or a tromboncino. They are nearly the same squash, but tromboncino has a bulbous end, like a trombone. Cucuzzi does not. I planted both varieties. One has survived. I guess I'll know which one when that first one ripens. Two vining squash plants have taken over the pond garden. I'm trying to keep the vines from heading onto the grass at the bottom of the hill. I'd like to keep them safely out of mowing range. Above the pond, they are crossing the sidewalk and may be heading into the house soon. Eeek!

For months this plant has produced only vines, HUGE leaves and blooms. I'm happy it's finally setting fruit.

I'm still picking tomatoes every day. These little Roma tomatoes are called "Juliet." I peeled and quartered them and put them in a jar of cider vinegar to soak for a few days. The vinegar draws out the tomato "plasma" and tomato flavor. It makes a tasty vinaigrette!

I got a deal on some red raspberries at my little fruit market - six pints for $5! After paying $3 for one pint of blackberries at the chic farmers market, I couldn't pass up this bargain. A few of the berries were past their prime, but most were still perfect. They are jelly now.

Since my pectin experiments all resulted in itchy skin, I've gone back to my pioneer jelly recipe - 1 cup of fruit or juice, 3/4/ to 1 cup sugar, a squeeze of lime juice. Bring to a boil then simmer until the mixture coats the spoon and only three drops fall. Then I skim the foam, put it in jars and process for 10 minutes.

Here's a creamy yellow zinnia with bonus flowers inside.

I'm still picking beans nearly every day. We've had some cool nights, so the tomatoes are setting on their late fruit. I'm overstocked on cute lavender eggplant. I can't give them away! Once again, I wish you lived on my street so I could leave some on your doorstep. I have a million baby squash on my miles of vines. If even half of them mature, I'll be seriously overloaded!


Carrie said...

WOW! You are GROWING sorghum??? Be still my heart!! Wow!! I wish I had a green thumb! HOw are you going to harvest it? Are you going to grind it yourself? I am so super impressed Kay! A green thumb is not something I possess!! Very unfortunately!!

Gluten free Kay said...

Well, I'm going to get out the big combine to harvest it . . . NOT! Ha ha! I have a small patch of it, not acres of it. I'm going to pick the tassels off by hand and shake the grains out.

I have a small grinder. I'll grind some to coarse grain and try to use it to make corn-like tortillas. Then I want to turn the tortillas into chips. Salsa with rice crackers is not very appealing. I miss chips!

And I'll try popping some of the kernels like popcorn. I know it doesn't puff up like corn, but I am seriously short on snacks.

This crop has been pretty maintenance-free. The only bother was replanting it (three times) after our early flooding. No green thumb required, just some space and patience.

I've seen sorghum flour at the health food store, but I've never seen sorghum whole grains for sale anywhere. That's why I decided to try growing it. Sometimes it feels like my whole life is a science fair project. I never know how it will turn out, but I'm always hopeful.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the tip on Vitamin E oil. I'm going to have to do a few controlled experiments with it, I think.

I can't believe you're growing sorghum. How cool is that?!

I did always love science fairs...

Gluten Free Steve said...

Ok, first, very cool that you are growing sorghum! I need to get on the fruit bandwagon and make some homemade jam/jelly.

Meli n Pat said...

You are making me jealous. I moved to Alaska and our summers are glorious, but super short! In fact, the night temps are already getting chilly, but my lettuce doesn't mind. Most things must be in a greenhouse, which my hubby graciously made for me. I'm very impressed at your gardening. My father-in-law would be very impressed and he's my gardening mentor (though he's in NM!). Enjoy those midwest summers; heat, humidity, and all! I'll have to keep you on speed-mail? when I get around to trying canning anything again. I love the tomato vinaigrette idea. YUM! Thanks!

Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

The visual of you beating the sorghum-filled pillowcase against a rock cracked me up!!! You are seriously my gardening idol!! $5.00 for six pints of raspberries?! I can barely purchase a 1/4 pint for $5.00 :) Wonderful pics Kay. You really inspire me to eat healthily!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow!!!! Growing Sorghum =) I am looking to do that very same thing this year. Where did you buy your seeds and what type of sorghum did you plant. So cool.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kay -
Thought you might be interested in this:
popped sorghum!