2012 Garden Blog

Follow along with me this year


Pumpkin Pickles

I just couldn’t resist making this. I do love to Can…and experiment.  Once I got started I realized that the recipe was similar to Pickled Peaches.  This was somewhat easy to make; the slightly hard part was cutting the pumpkin. 

Suggest you cube it and then slice off peeling.  I’ve not opened a jar and tasted this yet.  I always like to let things made with vinegar and spices sit for a few weeks before I open them.  I do look forward to trying this before all the pumpkins disappear from the stores incase I want more.

Adapted from: The complete book of Small-Batch Preserving by Elle Tapp and Margaret Howard, 2009

Pumpkin Pickles
3 pints

1/2  large pumpkin
2 c. sugar
2 c.  cider vinegar
8 whole cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 pieces candied or crystalized ginger

Remove seeds and cut the pumpkin into 2-inch cubes; removing outer skin.

Place sugar and vinegar in a enamel or stainless steel pot.  Put cloves in a bag (cheese cloth or metal tea strainer) and add to liquid.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a low boil for 5 minutes.

Add the pumpkin, bring back to a boil.  Reduced heat, cover, boil gently for 25 minutes or till pumpkin is tender.  Stir frequently.  Discard spice bag.

Place pumpkin in jars and fill each jar with the remaining liquid.

Hot water bath for 20 minutes for pint or 25 minutes for quart.

How to Cook A Pumpkin

Here’s an easy way to cook pumpkin so you can put it up for later use.  Most people cut up a pumpkin and put it on the stove in a pot of water and wait and wait while it cooks, but you don’t have to do that.

Cut your pumpkin in half, remove seeds, and place the pumpkin face down on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour or until tender.
Make sure your pumpkin is cut straight in half so you can get a good seal when it is face down on the cookie sheet.  This allows for it to steam inside; cooking the pumpkin.
When you remove it from the oven allow it to cool.  The pumpklin will be easy to scrape out of the shell.  Place it in a bowl and use a pastry cutter or potato masher to remove the lumps.
Place in freezer bags or freezer containers for later use.

Green Tomato Relish

The frost came and the garden is finished for the year.  I recieved 1/2 pickle bucket of green tomatoes from a friend before the frost got his tomatoes.  I’ve waited all summer for this time to come; last of the seasons tomatoes to turn into Green Tomato Relish.

This is a wonderful relish for hot dogs, cold meats, burgers, or brown beans etc.

That said let’s get to the nitty gritty.  There is LOTS of prep with the recipe.  Every vegetable must be coarsely ground in a food processor and the prep on the green tomatoes will take you awhile.  This recipe is definately worth the time you’ll put in.

Wash your green tomatoes before you start.

I always use smaller tomatoes; from the wee little ones to med. size.  The larger the tomato the more seeds and you want as few seeds as possible in this recipe.

Quarter each tomato and if the core is large slice it out like you’re seeding and apple.  The core produces a slight bitter taste.

The smaller the tomato the less seeds it has as you can see on the left this tomato needs to have it’s seeds removed.
One way to do this is to take your thumb nail and run it from top to bottom along each side of the quarter piece; the action is like scooping out the seeds.

Grind each vegetable in a food processor after they’ve drained.

Place the vinegar and sugar in a enamel or stainless steel pot; bring to a boil and once sugar is melted add all the vegetables and spice ball.  Bring to a boil again and simmer for 15 minutes.  I like to stir this alot so the spices get a chance to mix up in the juice.

Place in jars and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Your reward is a beautiful jar of relish.

Green Tomato Relish

Makes 5 1/2 pts.

6 c. green tomatoes, coarsely ground
5 c. (1 head) cabbage, coarsely ground
1 med. red bell pepper
1 med. sweet banana pepper
1 lg. onion
1 c. carrots, coarsely ground
1/2 c. ( 2 stalks) celery, coarsely ground
Canning salt
2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
1 Tbsp. celery seeds

Coarsely gind all vegetables in a food processor, one at a time.  Place onions and peppers in a strainer and sprinkle with canning salt; stir to mix.  Place green tomatoes in another strainer, sprinkle with canning salt; stir to mix.  Place strainers over bowls to allow liquid from vegetables to drain off.  Let stand for 1 to 12 hours.  Sit cabbage, carrots and celery aside for later.

Once vegetables have drained.
In a enamel or stainless steel pot over medium heat add the vinegar and sugar; stir till sugar is melted.  Put the spices in a bag (cheese cloth or metal tea strainer) and add to liquid; simmer for 5 minutes.  Discarding the drain liquid add all vegetables to the pot. Stir well to mix.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes; stirring often.

Pack simmering mixture in hot jars, leaving 1/8″ headspace.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  Improves with keeping for several months.

Last of the Garden

The weather here has been VERY dry for over 3 wks.  The garden is just as dusty as can be, yet it still surprises me with growth every time I go to check on it.  I picked some green tomatoes today about medium size and smaller; these are the first I’ve gotten in weeks.   There is a volunteer cantaloupe plant with 3 wee little green cantaloupes on it.  It has been there for about four weeks now still full of blooms even though the deer got in the garden and ate all the leaves.  I’ve blocked them from coming in now. I spied a new cantaloupe plant today prospering with loads of little yellow flowers.

The deer also ate all the leaves off of my late test crop of green beans; that were actually doing pretty good among the grass. :O) 

The okra is still putting on and I’ve about decided it will till frost.  The dry weather doesn’t seem to bother it.  I picked about 20 pods today.  We will have no shortage of okra to eat till next years planting.

Now that I have my green tomatoes I’m gonna need some green cabbage, onions, bell pepper, carrots to make my hot dog relish.  I’ve a friend and her son who just love it and since my stash is about gone…  Opps, no time to Can right now so I prepped the green tomatoes and placed them in the freezer for later.  See next post for recipe.

Pickled Okra

Okra 9-1-11

The okra continues to share it’s seed pods for our consumpution. 

   Sometimes I only get enough okra for a couple of jars; so here is a scaled down recipe.  For pickled okra I only use small pods since they are more tender than the larger ones; those I slice and save for fried okra. (The photo above shows large pods on the left and small pods on the right.) 
   A little tip for ya:  I’ve found that if I make too much vinegar mixture I can just place it in jar and  keep in the fridge for a couple of days till I need it. 
    This is also the same recipe I use to dill pickle cucumbers, and other vegetables.  Simple and somewhat quick to do. :O)


2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/2 or 1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dill seed
1 large clove garlic cut in half or two small
Enough okra to fill 2 pint jars

Heat the vinegar and water in a enamel pot; add the salt and dissolve completely.
In the jars: add dill seed, 1 piece of garlic and then okra.  Top this off with one garlic clove.  Fill jars with the hot liquid.   Place warmed lid on jar and then ring and tighten.  Place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove and sit aside to cool.

Update and Fall Gardening

What have I been doing? Not much. The weather has been so hot here in AR; over 100 degrees for several weeks in a row. The okra and tomatoes are all that’s left of my Spring garden. I’ve been having to water everyother day to keep them alive. The okra really likes hot weather anyway, but I have to say the pods didn’t like the excessive heat. The smaller pods, 1″ to 1 1/2″, were green and moist; but if I left them another day to get longer they became slightly yellow and tough. So we’re going to have very tender fried okra this Fall. I do love boiled okra and I have put an equal amount of it in the deep freezer. The tomatoes, early on in the heatwave, were attacked by avids. They were eating the plants and sucking all the juice out of the “green” tomatoes. I had to apply Sevin Dust to the plants to kill them. Heat and all, I’ve been able to put 5 quart bags of tomatoes in the deep freezer.

August is here and I expected it to be a rainy month and so far it hasn’t let me down. I don’t know if you, as a gardener, have noticed but there is something special to rain water as compared to “city” water. The okra and tomatoes have found new life and so has the grass in the garden. Boo to the grass!


I’ve never tried Fall gardening, but with the price of groceries these days I’ve decided to try with just a few different plants. Yesterday I planted Green Beans and Spinach. I didn’t have much luck with my earlier planting of green beans so I wanted to see what they would do now. I am hoping for more than just 9 pints this time. :O)

This comming Wed. I will be planting potatoes. I am using the last of the potatoes I planted this spring. The local Farmers Co-op did not have any seed potoatoes and the lady at the counter told me to just use some potatoes that had good eyes on them. I cut each potato into several pieces; each piece having an eye. I am letting the cut pieces sit for a few days to get a dry crust on the cut sides. Come Wed. I’ll just dig me a little hole and put the potato piece in, eye up, and cover with about 2″ of dirt.. The eye is where the plant will grow from. Once the plants get about 4″ tall I’ll rake some dirt up on the row; making a mound. (Let the dirt cover about 2″ of the plant stalk.) The potatoes will grow under this loose soil. I will go back few weeks later, as the plants get taller, and do this mounding again. Really there’s not much effort to growing potatoes.

Gardening Is Such Fun!!!

Freezing Fresh Herbs

It’s getting late in the summer and I realized I’ve been ignoring my herb garden.  I do look at it peroidically. :Ol
I am extremely suprised and happy that it is doing well in the location I planted it in.  My hope is that the lavender, sage and rosemary survive the winter and come back next year.   I’ve seen a Rosemary bush that is about 4 ft. tall.  I know that it is at least over 10 years old.  Do I dare dream to have mine get that big?  YES!

I found this great Blog about Freezing your herbs for later use.  Here’s the link:  http://www.mynewoldschool.com/2009/08/05/freezing-herbs/

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