How Does Your Garden Grow?

There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.

~ John Steinbeck

lower gardenI will have to agree that there is something so satisfying to me to be able to put my hands into the dirt.  This is the photo that I sent out awhile ago in the beginning of spring.  This was my garden before I got it planted.  Even though there is still a small section of my garden that is filled with weeds and yet unplanted, I wanted to share with you what I have growing.

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In this row I have peas towards the back with some kale and arugula growing in front of them.  There are some onions left over from last year and some lettuce.  Under the ladder there are two winter squash plants of unknown variety.  It is a wait and see what grows!

middleIn this middle row I have zucchini and yellow squash towards the fence and the some pole beans next to them.  I have lots of basil so that I can make pesto for the freezer.  There are tomatoes, peppers and more lettuce towards the front.

topIn the top row I have lots of herbs and then below  I have potatoes, string beans and more onions that I just planted.

This is my spring garden because once the end of June comes and the sun starts dipping down, the trees start to shade this garden and it gets very little sun.  I hope that I will have some things to eat out of here soon!

On the side of my house where I keep thinking there is more sun, I have my other garden.If I am truly honest with myself, there is not much more sun on this side of the house.  I live in a beautiful spot, but those big trees are just getting in my way!

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Lots and lots of greens in this part of my garden – kale, collards, tatsoi, spinach, endive, escarole and cress.  Yummy!  We have already been eating out of this side.

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More peas on this side along with beets, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, radishes and chard.  Radishes are amazing!  They grow so quickly.  We have already eaten many of those.  There are some strawberries in the back but I transplanted them so they are still trying to find their roots.

blueberries

Hard to tell in this photo, but these are blueberry plants that I just bought this year and they are loaded!  I hope they make it!

Thanks for taking the tour of my garden!  I will keep you posted as I harvest my goodies!  Happy gardening!

Kitchen Experiments – Salsa

The cool fall weather has been calling me to the kitchen once again – it is time for canning. This post is coming a few weeks late because it is past high tomato season, but this year the tomatoes just keep coming. Who ever heard of tomatoes still on the vine in mid-October. Actually, for me, this is the first year that I actually picked tomatoes from my garden! For the past 4 years my tomatoes have gotten the blight so this was an exciting year for sure! I did not have enough tomatoes for canning, so I went to my local farm in Mt. Bethel, PA – Baarda Farms.  This is the nicest family owned farm!  They are so welcoming and love what they do.  They are a no-spray farm and are willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with anyone willing to listen.

I made salsa last year and it was delicious.  It was so good that my niece couldn’t get enough and wanted my salsa over the store-bought brand.  I made about 18 pints last year and we finished it up in August. This year my husband thought that we needed to make a lot more salsa so he ordered us two boxes of tomatoes!  What fun we had in the kitchen.  It took us all day, but we made and canned a lot of salsa.  Here is the recipe that I used:

Annie’s Salsa Recipe

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained 2-1/2 cups onion, chopped 1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped 3 – 5 jalapenos, chopped 6 cloves garlic 2 teaspoons cumin 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 1/8 cup canning salt 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 1/3 cup sugar 1 cup 5% apple cider vinegar 2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce 2 cups (16 oz.) tomato paste

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars, seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes.

Makes about 6 pints.

I like my salsa cooked and more like a chunky tomato sauce than a fresh salsa, so I cooked mine a lot longer than 10 minutes.  I bought a pressure canner last year when I made my salsa and boy does it save time.  You don’t have to sterilize your jars, just make sure that they are clean.  I had the canner going all day!  Here is what I made by the end of the day…

salsa

42 pints!  I think that my friends will be getting salsa for Christmas this year!  There is still a lot more canning to do.  Apples are in season now so watch out!  Applesauce and apple butter are next! I may try my hand at some pumpkin butter as well.  I will keep you posted!  Happy fall!

Calling all Gardeners

I love to be in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes, but my other love is being outside in the gardens. I have been trying to plant a garden for the past 4 or 5 years. I have a very shady property which makes it very difficult to grow vegetables, but I keep trying anyway! I am pleasantly surprised that this year my garden is actually growing! The moon, the planets and the stars must have all lined up perfectly this year!

gardenThis is my one garden.  Look how green everything is!  I have been eating onions from last year, lettuce, spinach and peas so far.  I also have a lot of squash growing – plus I had a volunteer grow out of the compost pile.

compost pileI had no idea what kind of squash it was until I finally saw one growing amongst the weeds!

squashLooks like a butternut squash variety.  One of my favorites!

Last year when my garden wasn’t growing well, I asked my husband if we could make another garden on the side of the house where a tree was taken down. I thought maybe it would be a sunnier location for some of the vegetables.  Not much grew in that space last year, but this year…

garden2I have a lot of beets and beet greens.  We ate some of the greens but none of the actual beets are quite ready.  I have more lettuce that I just picked today and in that big mass of leaves there is one yellow squash growing.  I hope that the other plants will soon produce zucchini  but you never know.  They look healthy though!  On the far side of the garden I have a lot a different squashes growing.  I was looking the other day at one of the plants that I  thought was a cantaloupe plant.  That is what I planted.  Well, it isn’t.  It’s cucumbers!  I have several of those popping out on the vine as well.

You can’t see it, but on the other side of the squash I have strawberry plants.  They did great in the spring.  Every morning my husband would go outside and bring at least 10-15 in each time.  There is nothing as sweet as the strawberries that you pick and then eat!  I also really wanted to grow raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

blackberriesThe blueberries are not liking the soil so I just amended it with some nice organic acid fertilizer and put pine bark around them so hopefully next year we will be eating blueberries.  The raspberries are not so great either – I think we ate 2 and the birds got the rest.  The blackberries have flowers and fruit but you have to time it just right or the birds get them before we do.  That’s ok, I don’t mind sharing.  I did give my daughter one blackberry that was about an inch long and she said it was the best she ever tasted!

As you gardeners know, gardening takes up a lot of your free time.  In february, I swore I was not even going to plant anything.  Well, you can see where that got me.  I just couldn’t resist.  My husband laughs every time we eat anything out of the garden and jokes about my million dollar vegetables, but I don’t care.  I just love to see it growing in my yard!

All you gardeners certainly know just how I feel.  There is nothing fresher than walking outside, picking what you want for dinner and then preparing it in whatever way you want!  There is really nothing quite like it.  So, if you see me next February and I tell you that this year I am not planting a garden, check back with me in July and see what sprang out of the earth!  Happy Planting!