Well I took a nose dive into canning when I got bombarded with cucumbers. I didn’t have enough stuff to make the juice so I did three jars at once. I figured I better try it on something BEFORE our 50 tomato plants fruit turns red.
I struggled with it. I was afraid I would screw it up somehow, but I didn’t. I filled my waterbath canner up halfway full. Turned it on. Put the lids in water and turned them on and then kind of followed the directions on the packet of Ball bread and butter pickle spices. One problem, it says it makes 2 quart jars…Wrong! I put the sugar and vinegar in the saucepan. Then opened the packets and picked out every single clove (YUCK). I put some cinnamon in and let it start boiling.
When the canner water was about boiling I put the jars in my oven on the rack and turned it on to 200 degrees for 10 minutes. My mom used this method. Other people have. Ball doesn’t have it listed, but oh well.
I filled them and let the process for 20 minutes to be sure. Took them out and was mad because all of my cucumbers shrunk and there was nothing but juice on the bottom and pickles toward the top of the juice..UGH.
I went to my mom’s to visit and came home and saw two jars had popped!! YAY. I checked them today and two lids stayed on, one came off. I put that one in the fridge only after a taste test. Am going to start some dills tomorrow. Super excited!
I also have froze 4 loaves of zucchini bread, gave one to the parents and one for us. Froze two bags of homegrown peaches and a small pack of green beans!!
With all the rain we have been getting here I was a little worried about the garden, but everything is doing well except for the corn. I have learned they need lots of nitrogen and that is why they are tasseling early. My tomato plants are taller than me (I am 5’6), I have already picked almost two dozen cucumbers and a good batch of green beans. I also have harvested our green onions. I have used the onion part and have diced up the green part and put in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer for winter soups.
Some progress I have made in things I am learning and wanting to do are the following:
-Invested in a freezer. I put a Kenmore 7cubic feet on layaway at Kmart and picked it up a couple weeks ago. I am planning on putting pico de gallo in there, possibly some peaches, etc.. Hopefully, some meat also!
-Saved some cucumber seeds and let them dry for next year.
-Harvested the green onions as above.
-Made two batches of refrigerator pickles.
-Have got canning supplies. still need pint jars.
-Have got some seeds for next years garden and put them in an air tight jar.
-Rearranging and reorganizing our garage for more shelving to get more stockpile items.
-We were blessed with two rain barrels, food grade plastic, with spigots that we put on blocks on each side of the garden. This is something we were going to tackle by making our own out of garbage cans. I was so happy when I got a message from a friend that she had a couple extras.
I am excited about the progress in the garden and the blessings of veggies we have had so far.
So for the last month we have been getting the garden done. We have been tilling, raking, mulching, landscaping, planting, etc… I am almost done. Still have a couple tomatoes to go. Here is a picture of the whole large garden
It is double the size of last year. We have ventured into new crops. I have planted potatoes, onions (Red and white), garlic, cauliflower, shallots, beets, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, zucchini, 45 tomato plants, 24 pepper plants, a pumpkin, watermelons, green beans, lettuce, wax beans, cantaloupes, midget melons, corn (3 varieties) and sunflowers.
THey are fairing pretty well so far with the exception of my garlic 😦 I did have to fight some aphids on my tomatoes. We have been having lots of rain. I am praying we don’t have the bad storms they are calling for.
As for ‘landscaping”. I did purchase landscape fabric (and used last years leftovers) and then put grass clippings over it to keep out the weeds. I still have a bunch more to do but have to wait for the grass to grow. you could also use newspapers for this.
So for the past couple of years I have been hoarding, er I mean stockpiling regular incadescent light bulbs. Why you may ask? Because I don’t want to wear a hasmat suit in case one of the CFL bulbs breaks. Okay, so that isn’t my only reason. I simply don’t like flourescent bulbs. I work under them 8.5 hours a day and I will be dang if I want to see them at home. The flickering they do gives me a headache. The fact that they have mercury in them and if they break you need special clean up instructions makes me sick. How is this any better for the environment? Since I heard that legislation was going to do away with the old incadescent bulbs I have been buying them and storing them. Yes, I have a good supply and will continue to grab as many as I can until they are done away with completely. A great example would be today I went to CVS with my extrabucks, CVS red machine coupons and 20% off coupon and got two boxes. It said on the front of the package that the cost of the lightbulb per year was $7 and some odd cents. Really?!?!?!?
Second part of my title garden planning. I had placed a order with Gurneys because of a coupon. I have 2lbs potatoes coming to plant, one garlic bulb and strawberry plants and oh yeah red onions. After I relooked up my order and realized that garlic would hardly due for the canning I am planning on I got another package at Lowe’s and today three more packages at Wal-Mart. I also got 160 bulbs of green onions that I plan to put in a raised bed. I am assuming without opening my garlic that I have about 50 cloves to plant. I am wanting at least 50 more. I want to can it minced. My mom also told me that my dad used to plant garlic around his apple trees not to eat or harvest, but to keep the animals away. So, besides our fence I am going to outline the garden in garlic and onions.
I have no idea the effect or if this will be good or bad. Trial and error is what I say. So I will keep you posted. In the meantime since it feels like winter here in rural PA I am hiding my garlic and onions in the dark cool closet to keep them kind of in hiding until it warms a bit. Not to mention we just bought a new monster tiller at an estate sale for $35 that needs some maintenence.
I am excited to can and learn the tricks of the trade. Of course, now I need to get a pressure canner…. I have seeds for green beans, wax beans, corn, popcorn, sunflowers (to use as bird feed), zucchini, pickle cucumbers, regular cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and some herbs, watermelon, a midget melon for planting in pots and of course the garlic, onions, potatoes and strawberries. If the weather breaks we also need to plan our raised beds for the green onions and strawberries.
Along with Christmas joy came the joy of various seed catalogs in my mailbox. I compared catalogs and this year decided with the saving coupons to go with Gurney’s.
Last year we had 16 tomato plants, 10 pepper plants, baby bear pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, cantaloupe, watermelon and lambkin melons. The corn died out cause of the drought. The tomatoes and peppers did wonderful. I watered them throughout the summer. Cucumbers were okay. Zucchini were okay. Pumpkins were great. Lambkin melons and watermelon were also good.
THis year my husband wants to go big or go home to say. OMG!!! He wants everything!!! I told him for the wild pumpkins and melons he will have to dig a separate garden plot. We put them in between our tomato plants last year and they grew all over the place.
I have my Gurney’s order ready for bush green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, potatos, garlic, watermelon, pumpkins, cherry tomatos and strawberry plants. I will buy my tomatos and peppers from a local nursery.
Last year I tried starting things from seeds and didnt know I needed a transition to outside weather. Almost all of my plants ended up dying because they were not used to the sun outside.
I will probably also get green onion bulbs. I plan to plant the garlic around the edges to keep away small animals even though we have a fence. I want a couple rows of onions and potatoes to store. I want to can salsa, spaghetti sauce and green beans. If not can green beans freeze them. The cherry tomato plants last year I put in containers and that worked great. I named them all “Bob” and even shared a plant with my mom and friend. My peppers that I started from seed were just blooming when fall hit so I dug them up and gave them to my dad for his greenhouse and he got peppers from them this winter.
I am so excited about these new growing and preserving experiences. I cant wait to share my new experiences with you all.