Monday, August 31, 2009

My first lesson in canning!

This is part of about 40 tomatoes, nice sized ones too, that I took to my moms and she showed me how to can. She says that there are LOTS of methods to canning that work. So I am showing you how she does it and learning along the way.

I am pretty sure my mom did not expect me to show up with any where near the number of tomatoes I'll have to see why in tomorrows post.
First, we poured boiling water over the tomatoes, stirred them up for a couple of minutes till the skins started coming undone.

Cool them off.


We were making sauce, so we pureed them. But I might try salsa if I am motivated enough to try this again.

Then we simmered them in a stock pot for several hours. I guess to reduce some of the water content and to sterilize the contents.

Then we brought in the stock pot and had a canning pot for the jars to be steamed/sterilized and lids to be boiled/sterilized.

Sterilizing the Jars.

Poor sauce into hot jars.

Clean rim before adding lid and ring.

Boil canning jars for about 30 minutes.

We had 8 quarts...but the one with the circle around it on the right never did "pop", even after boiling it twice. So my mom kept it to use right away and I brought 7 quarts home!

This was not difficult but was a lot of work. I don't know if I will or will not be motivated to do it by myself...but if I do it will be next year, when baby is here and older! But it will be nice to have these to use and know they came from my own garden!
I did add some garlic to it, and cut some basil from my moms garden to add to it as well!
My next post will be about my moms garden...In the woods!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homemade Fresh Salsa!

This is my harvest so far this week. The tomatoes are coming in...several a day!
I went ahead and picked some Serrano's even though they look small and are not red yet cause I wanted to use these tomatoes!
Mmmm. Fresh salsa! Hopefully the peppers have some heat even though we have had a lot of rain! If not I will have to go to the store and get some to add to it.
(as stated before I am not one for measuring...)
a big bunch of tomatoes (if I am buying at the store I usually start with 4-6 lbs)
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch green onions
1 med yellow onion
4, 5, 6 cloves garlic, depending on how much you like garlic! We like lots!
lime juice (maybe about a tbs or 2)
6-7 decent size Serrano peppers (better if they are red, but green is OK too) Throw the whole thing in seeds and all if you like it hot.
salt to taste
Ug, these things are just everywhere out there since I have not been out there much. I caught one batch in the middle of hatching and did not have my camera. It was quite the sight, a whole bunch of the little buggers!

Here is one by himself, but there are several. Not sure what to do as I don't have the energy to chase them all down and kill them. (by the way these are baby squash bugs)

My pumpkin (on the neighbors side of the fence) is growing. It is probably about the size of a small basketball now. These are the sugar pumpkins so they won't get real big any way. Still no sign of a pollinated giant pumpkin, even though I have seen some pea sized ones, they must not be getting pollinated. Not much time left... ***sad face here***guess we'll have to take the kids to the farm for pickin! That is always fun too!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

After several years of looking for one of these I finally found a new one!
Gloxinia! (Not to be confused with Hardy Gloxinia that is not related, which I also have)
I had one when I lived in TX, and kept it in a pot on the patio and it seemed to me to be a very good plant for someone who tends to neglect them once in a while!
I think it is suppose to be a house plant, but when I got my first one it was barely alive, and didn't have a tag so I knew nothing about it, so I put it outside. TX has VERY mild winters though, so I doubt it will make it through a winter here in KY. So I think I will try to keep this one inside if the cats don't try to eat it!! This plant is related to the African Violet. The leaves are similarly thick and fuzzy, but in my opinion the flowers are prettier. I did find seeds once, but they were the TINIEST seeds I have EVER handled and I could not get them to germinate sadly! Maybe I will try to collect some seeds from this one and try again!
This was my harvest today...2 more lemon cucumbers, 5 tomatoes, several Juliet tomatoes, a pile of Spicy Bush Basil clippings and a couple of Royal Burgundy beans.
My second and third succession plantings of beans just have not done well at all and have not produced anything yet. These few beans are from my first beans planted in may. They are still barely hanging on. The Provider beans were pulled a few weeks ago though.
Yummy Bruschetta! Made from the tomatoes and basil from the garden. Oh I love this stuff!

a bowl full of diced tomatoes of your choosing, maybe 3-4 sm/med ones
(I have even used cherry tomatoes)
a hand full of basil of your favorite variety
about 3 cloves of fresh garlic minced
salt and pepper to flavor
On a nice thin piece of Italian bread toasted with olive oil
I'm not much for measuring when it comes to cooking! I throw everything in till it tastes good to me. This makes good use of your tomatoes if you like them better fresh! As soon as I have a big enough harvest of tomatoes and some serranos I'll share my yummy fresh salsa recipe! MMMMM! Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Surprising harvest today

Today is the first time I have been to the garden in more than a week and was surprised to find all of this...3 slicing cucumbers, 4 lemon cucumbers, 3 Prudens purple tomatoes, a better boy, a few beans, and some Juliet tomatoes!

I hope I picked the lemon cucumbers at the right time...I have never grown these. We will see how they taste!

Catface Prudens Purple finally broke and just fell off the plant while I was gone, and was so full of bugs it is not edible at all! Ew Gross! Now he is UGLY!
I am not too sure I want to grow prudens purple again. It could be all the rain we have had, but they just seem to grow pretty ugly and cracked up and I have thrown several away and have not had one to eat yet! A lot of bugs too. Since I have seeds it might be worth a try one more year and see what happens.

There are a few more lemon cucumbers getting close.

My first Ambrosia melon, and even though I didn't see it while I was out there it kind of looks like there is another one in the corner of this pic! I'll have to check!

Is this a Pumpkin!!!!!!!!? I think so, only a sugar pumpkin, but it is the ONLY one I have so far!
Though the lone giant pumpkin plant is growing and still hanging on. It looks as though a little baby might be forming! It appears as though a little surgery and some BT is helping it! I cut a lot of worms out of that thing too!

GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go away SVB Moth!
This was found out in my corner garden on the sugar pumpkin plants out there. Those plants are stinkin big...they gotta be at least 20 feet, but not a single pumpkin on it! Wonder if it is getting enough sun.... or maybe not enough bees.
I think maybe some less diffucult veggies for the fall garden might be a good idea. Thanks Ribbit and Granny! I am thinking lettuce, chard, spinach? Are those good ones? I also have pea seeds, what about those? I am sure that Cauli, broc, and cabbage are pretty much out. Loopers are a pain! Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dynamite Crape is not!

I have been away on vacation with my kids for several days and need to catch up on my blogs. For those who have left comments, thanks for your encouragement and interest!
We planted this tree in April, it was suppose to be a Dynamite Crape Myrtle...RED! This is surely not red! Though it is still a beautiful Crape Myrtle, I do not know what variety. I am very happy to say that the company we ordered from (Willis Orchard) is going to send us a new tree in the fall! I am very happy about that and it was not any trouble at all (so far)! They were very kind. I am sure it was a simple mistake since the tree had no leaves or buds on it when we got it.
But now I have to figure out what I am going to I going to move this tree to put the Dynamite in it's place or find a new place for the Dynamite! This tree is right in front of our house and can be seen from the living room window. I really wanted that bright red view! But this one is pretty too. Plus the front door is painted red and I have red and white flowers in the front. Hmm! I guess I have a couple of months to decide! I really am surprised it is even blooming since this is its first year in the ground!

In other gardening, I have been contemplating whether I should start a fall veg garden or not. I am going into my 3rd trimester and feeling it and the summer garden is being neglected. So, maybe I will just wait till next year, unless DH wants to be of more help in the garden, but he does not feel confident where gardening is involved. He doesn't know the plants, he doesn't know the bugs, he doesn't know the diseases...and he is amazed at the things I know and have learned in the past 2 years. He just doesn't have the time to learn except by experience. We don't have much time left to decide. So, maybe if he wants to continue having some fresh veggies on the table, he will help. They do taste better! We'll see!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finally! First big red tomato!

A better boy and a few more Juliet grape tomatoes.
Catface is still working on turning colors but still isn't there yet. Can't wait to pick that bad boy!

The cucumber beetles are multiplying in number out there, both spotted and striped. I went out and sprayed everything with some peppermint insecticidal soap...hope it helps! I think I will put a yellow bowl of soapy water out there too! Some of the pumpkin vines are getting longer, but still no signs of pumpkins, neither sugar or giant. It isn't looking too hopeful!

But there appears to be many tomatoes and serrano peppers on the way, they are just taking their slow sweet time ripening due to all the rain and cooler weather I am guessing! And onions too! Some started poking out of the ground but they still look small so I covered them...hope I was suppose to do that, never grew onions before!
Some more of the garden work got washed away again! We got about 7-8 inches out here.
There is a bunch of mulch and cardboard scattered in the grass! I am so disappointed! It looked so nice and neat and now it is a mess. But, there are other ppl who have it alot worse with water in their homes, so I feel blessed to not have to deal with that!