Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

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!!!



     We’ve been blessed this year with a great beautiful garden; as I’m sure you’ve seen.  I am so thankful everytime I go out to pick something or see a plant finally starting to bare.  Speaking of starting to bare; the okra is finally flowering. YEAH!  Dad planted it on June 1 and it has been a long month and a half of okra TLC.  We’ve pulled grass, fertilized it, and watered it just about every evening because of the 100 degree days we’ve been consistently having.  The sandy soil in our garden doesn’t hold water very long unlike a dark rich soil would.
     As of today all we have left in the garden is okra, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and watermelon.  The squashes are not doing well in this HOT weather we’ve been having and I’ve been putting off pulling them up.  I really hate to pull up a plant that is still green.

Boiled Cabbage:    9 Qts.

Potatoes:     4 Qts.

Green Beans:    9 Pts. & 1 Qt.

Squash:    6 Pts.

Squash/Zucchini :   4 Pts.

Dill Pickles:  4 Qts., 2 Pts., & 3 half qt. jars

Dilled Cucumbers & Sweet Banana Peppers :   3 half pts.

Dilled Garden Mix
(Squash/Zucchini/Cukes/Onions & Sweet Banana Peppers) :
2 Qts. & 5 half qt. jars

Crisp Squash Pickles :   4 Pts. zucchini & 3 Pts. yellow squash

Zuke & Cuke Relish  :   3 half pints

Radishes:    Dilled = 1 pt.
                    Vinegar/salt = 1 half pt.

Crisp Squash Pickles

I’ve a elderly home health client who has been a huge help to me in my canning and gardening experience through the past few yrs.  She raves about this recipe and more than once has brought it up this past few weeks.  I think she was hinting that I make some; so I did.

I don’t think it’s in me to make any recipe as is. 

I had both zucchini and yellow squash so I decided to make two different kinds.  For the zucchini I used yellow onion and with the squash I used purple onions; staying with the exact spices per the recipe for both.    
After reading the recipe I decided that I didn’t want the layered squash mixture with ice cubes on top to sit in water for three hours.   All of the recipes, I’ve made, that call for salt on squash & onions ask you to place them in a large strainer to drain.    I sliced both squashes and onions, layered them in two different strainers; sprinkling some salt on each layer.  I placed ice cubes on top.  Personally I don’t see why you’d use the ice cubes at all.

Three hours pass and it’s rinse time.  Rinse the squash and onions with cold water; throughly.  While these drain for a minute I prepared the vinegar mixture in a large pot.  I prefer to use a enamel lined pot.  I wanted to stick to the recipe as much as possible but I just couldn’t handle 3 c. of sugar (tooo sweet) so I opted to use 2 cups.  I kept to the correct amounts of spices though a warning here; turmeric can and will stain your pot, wooden spoon, counter top, towels, stove, your hands, and more a lovely yellow.  It can be removed with bleach or a soft-scrub with bleach in it.

Now the dance begins.  I added the zucchini and onions to the vinegar mixture; reserving the yellow squash & purple onions for the next batch.  Placed the lids in a pan of water on the stove to warm.  Added water to the boiling water bath (tall) pan.  On a towel by the stove I placed the tongs (for removing lids from the hot water), the canning funnel, jar rings and lined up the jars.  By now the zucchini was ready to place in the jars, lid and place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Be sure to remove after 5 minutes or it will cause the mixture to start cooking in the jars.

I had a some vinegar mixture left in the pot  so I guess-ta-mated and added more vinegar and spices.  I placed the yellow squash & purple onions in and repeated the canning procedure.

The recipe says it makes 6 pints, but I ended up with 4 zucchini and then 3 of the yellow squash. 

I can’t tell you how it tastes for another 3 months.  The time between canning and opening is not a set thing.  I just like to wait 3 months; guess you could open eariler, but I like to think of pickling like making wine; it needs to sit.

Crisp Squash Pickles
Marjorie Plunkett (Cooperative Extension Service)

5 lb. squash, thinly sliced
3 med. onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c. salt
Ice Cubes
3 c. vinegar
3 c. sugar
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine onion, squash and salt in bowl.  Top with layer of ice cubes.  Cover, let stand 3 hours. 
Drain and wash squash in cold water.  Combine squash mixture with remaining ingredients in a large kettle.
Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 2  minutes.  Ladle into jars; seal.  Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Makes 6 pts.

Garden Pictures

    My Dad dug up the potatoes late last week.  Sure did grow some odd looking potatoes.

   There were lots of small ones so I canned them.  First I peeled them and cut them into chunks and placed them in quart jars.  I added 1 1/2 tsp. of canning salt to each jar.  I then added boiling water to each jar and placed the lid on and screwed the cap on tight.  I placed them in a pressure canner.  10 lb. pressure for 40 minutes.  Done.
Here’s the bounty:


The purplehull peas are finally getting ready to pick.  The plants are so big and bushy that you can’t see the rows.  The bees, wasps, dirt dobbers, yellow jackets, and probely other stinging bugs you can think of are havesting the pollen from the flowers.  I went out to pick a small handfull last night at 8p.m. and the bugs were still flying around.  I think I need a bee keepers outfit. :O)

First Harvest



                                                             Garden Beauty

Canning experiments

Did I mention I love to Can?

Pickled Cherry Radishes

These are Pickled Radishes.  I know, never heard of this.  Well I haven’t either, but who cares.  I love to Can.  My Dad planted a 50 foot row of cherry radishes all in a big wad of plants.  We could never eat all of these so I decided to play with them.   These were Canned in white vinegar and a 1/2 tsp of salt.  I think they’re pretty to look at, but it’s odd how the red came off the radishes and dyed the juice.   I am thinking about dilling some.  Why not?

Here’s a picture of yesterdays pickin’s from the garden.

Cucumbers, Sweet Banana Peppers,  Zucchini, and Yellow Squash

I also dug up about a dozen purple onions and hung them up to dry on the back porch.  There were a few small onions so I used them to Can a mixture of cucumbers, zucchini, sweet banana peppers.  I dilled this mixture with apple cider vinegar, salt, garlic, and dill stems.  Made 2 qts. and 1 quart of dill pickles.

Today I’ll be slicing the yellow squash to freeze for future fried squash.  YUM!
Tonight we plan on digging up the rest of the onions.  The days are so hot.  I prefer to go out after 7pm to do anything in the garden.


Kraut In Jars Update

Sunday, 26 June, 2011

In a previous post ) I listed an old recipe for Sauerkraut in Jars from my Great Grandmother;  I’ve an important update for you.

I was discussing this recipe with one of my elderly Home Health clients and she explained to me that the jars they used back when the recipe was written are different from the ones we use now.  She explained that the jars her mother used had aluminum lids with glass inlaid in the underside.  She said that her mother would place a rubber ring on the rim of the jar, filled with kraut, and then place the lid on; leaving it slightly ajar.  Over the next few weeks the Kraut would ferment in the jar releasing the gas from inside and as this progressed her mother would slowly screw the lid down on the jar.  Her mother would keep the Kraut jars on top of newspaper or in large pans incase the jars should leak while fermenting.

All this said I had to take a look-see at mine and discovered that most of the jars that were sealed, when I put them away in the dark cabinet, are now unsealed and fermenting.   I am not sure how to progress from here and will be keeping an eye on the jars.  I’m in hopes that they will reseal themselves when they’re done fermenting.  This is turning into a learning experiment for me and hopefully you all too.

Here is a picture of the jar explained above.  My mother had/has a small collection of these jars with lids.

Blessed with rain

Yesterday afternoon the rain started and lasted only about an hour; though it did give the garden a good drink.  Woke up this morning to more rain; not sure how long it rained.  So glad it rained, it’s not rained since late May.

I was lazy yesterday and didn’t can the last of the cabbage till this morning.  I got 4 quarts this time.  I noticed that the first 5 qts. of boiled cabbage I canned looked, to me, a bit over cooked.  This time I didn’t steam it as long in the pan and cut the pressure cooking time down to 45 minutes instead of 55 minutes.  The look of the cabbage in the jars have a marked difference.  The first was slighly dark and this batch is greener.  I may have to cook it some when I open up a jar to use, but I’d rather do that than have mushy cabbage.  Here’s hoping the first five are NOT mushy.
Here’s a picture for comparison.

I forgot to mention that my Dad planted the okra on June 1.  It is comming up slowly.  Haven’t counted but I’d guess they’re over 100 plants.  Plenty to share, pickle, and put in the deep-freezer.

I Pickled 3 more cucumber, squash, onion and garlic mixtures today.  This time I added a few seeded and sliced sweet banana peppers to the mix.  I also made 1 jar of dill pickles.

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