Saturday, June 22, 2013

Broccoli, strawberries, and beets, oh my!

Today was a preserving day (aside from a couple other outside projects). First up, pickled beets!

This is the bed after Jessica thinned it out. These ones will stay behind for table use. 

This is the rest of the content of that one bed, washed and topped but not peeled. Banana for scale. It's a big banana. That's my giant 16" flat bottom wok.
Here are the tops from those. A friend is going to dry them -- not sure what for. We do eat them usually but we've about had our fill for the moment -- and you see we have plenty still growing.

My sweetheart is a chopping machine! It would take me three times as long as it takes her. We only realized later that it's probably much easier to cook them whole and peel afterwards. Next time!

I do them really simple, with just a mix of red and white vinegar with a bit of sugar. No spices at all.
Into the process with you! Note that the tops are showing; I had to ad a bit of water. My little electric range has a hard time getting the big water canner hot and keeping it there. A propane burner is on the shopping/barter list.

This is what was left, bits and peels. I cooked it for 90 minutes or so and made a really thick dye. I think we'l barter it.

Now the broccos! Into the freezer with ye! Quart mason jar for scale this time. Some of those are a little blown out (starting to flower) but they still tasted really good.

Sweetie does the chopping work, I do the sweating work. I like to use our electric steamer for broccoli greens. Then an ice bath, a trip through the salad spinner, and into the freezer.

Neat trick I learned recently: to get more air out of a plastic zipper bag, close partially and immerse in a water bath, then zip closed.

9 quarts crowns, one quart stems, and a couple more of fresh to use in the next week.

And somehow I didn't get good pictures of the strawberry jam process. Jessica got a flat from a roadside stand. But here's the day's canned haul: 1.5 quarts beet dye, 7 quarts pickled beets, and 9.5 pints of strawberry jam. Yum!  Today sets a milestone: it has been a full year since we had any jam in the house that wasn't either made here or in someone else's home kitchen. And it's looking good for next year, too, plus some Christmas gifts!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Father's Day gift: "Funardening"

I was so happy this Father's Day to receive a signed first edition copy of Funardening: Advice from Lily and Theo on how to make gardening more fun! 

(Click the pictures to enlarge them!)

"Get lots of cool bugs in your garden."

My bugs are one of the best things about my garden, providing pollination, soil structure improvement, breakdown of organic matter, and of course education and entertainment!
"Plant lots of nice flowers in your garden."

This is one I've been working on! Some of my flowers are "just here": rhododendron, clover, lilac, roses, dandelion. But I've come to recognize that I need more flowers to help keep my local pollinators strong, and provide a better variety of habitats year-round for my other critters.
"Scoop dirt into buckets so you can find worms."

We love earthworms in this family, and if I dig with an audience I often have to pause so the rescue squad can relocate them to a choice garden bed! Being delivered worms by Lily and Theo is a high compliment. They pick the plants that they want to grow the most -- often the strawberries, tomatoes, or snap peas!
"Make sure to always water the garden with a sprinkler so we can play."

There's just something exciting about falling water. A great way to cool off!
"Let lots of lady bugs play in your garden."

We all know that lady bugs are great helpers, but I learned this year that they eat the most aphids in their larval state! This is just one more reason why supporting a variety of plants for a year-round life cycle is so important.

"Don't forget Lily is an excellent helper in the garden."

Don't I know it! Lily loves to help me dig, plant, transplant, water, search for slugs, and so much more! Theo didn't take his own page, but he's just as helpful -- not to mention the strongest seven-year-old I know!
"Our Family: Don't get Rained on! Happy Father's Day Dad! We love you! And there is more. Ask us and we will tell you!"

Just yesterday I was out in the garden working with Lily and it started raining on us. "I don't mind," she said, and helped me string up the tomatoes while we got soaked to our skin! I'm looking forward to having them tell me all about fun in the garden!

Sadly this printing is sold out, but keep your eyes open next time you're in your local book or garden store!