October in the garden this year looks a lot like our spring garden back in March. Pretty much the same plants are growing but this time we are more prepared for the harvest then the mice were around the harvest time in early summer. We are a little smarter and a little more prepared. We hope. As you can see from the pictures there are still something growing in each box. Our golden beets are surfacing and most are ready to be hauled out. Our red beets are putting on quite the show and a couple are settin’ seed for us! That’s exciting news! This summer we ended up with big wooded fence trellises that were perfect shade for growing our cooler crops under. Since the beets were covered from the hot sun and the powdery mildew thanks to the spaghetti squash our second harvest will be sooner then expected. Many different surprises are happening right now in and around the beets! We have also planted a new crop of broccoli. We may have gotten the seedlings in a bit late due to the wait of the massive spaghetti crop but that’s all right. We are good with the wait, we just hope we don’t lose any of them during the first hard killing frost. If we do, well, then we know better for next year.
One of the joys of having fresh food right outside our door has been the freedom we now have of calling our own shots on dinner. Personally, I am thrilled to clip off new collard greens for salad or fryin’ with bacon and mushrooms. Those titty pink boxes have allowed us to live the lives that we are intending to live. Not so much a life off the land kinda life yet but we are working our way toward that very goal. We both hate wondering the isles of the grocery store picking crap off the shelves and now knowing that each box of some noodly thing will just end up hurting us in the long run. This garden is really just part of the freedoms that we are looking for. We are not against other people living and eating from the store and we are not bashing the people that own the store ( even though I personally have issues with them ) great for them runnin’ a valueable business in our community but I will think three or four times before I spend my hard earned dollar at the cash register. Yes, I still go there from time to time filling in the missing pieces that the garden may not be providing at the moment but don’t think that those moments are just taken for granted. Oh, no! Those are marked down and considered for the next years garden plannin’ process.
In the last post we talked a little about the planning process for the garden itself ( Determination. Tips. Monsters ) and how things will look in the summer of 2016. We are hoping to give tomatoes one last go around. So with this in mind we have already gotten in the boxes a few of the companion plants that are needed to help build strong tomato plants. This summer though our companion plants included marigolds, nasturtiums, rudbeckia, and zinnia! Each plant that flowered did such an amazing job at bringing in pollinators to the garden and luckily those nasturtiums kept the cabbage moth at bay once they started bloomin’. We did end up eating the nasturtium flowers on salads and burritos; and the seeds as “capers” but we are still waiting with anticipation for the marigolds to die back and collect their seeds. One of the most important lesson learned this summer is the price we pay for greed. Too many plants from the garden center in those little black trays are like a new diamond necklace from a jewelry store for others. It’s hard to resist what to bring home when they all look so innocent and need to be planted in the boxes. So now it really is forcin’ us to grow our own from seed. A 6 pack of starts is just way too many for our pink boxes unless we decide to grow all the boxes with the same things. To make a good variety of plants we really have to sort through what is important and what we really can reap from one plant. Clearly we were heavy on the squash this year so next year we can grow something next in rotation.
It’s no secret that we are growing tomatoes next year. Really, we are not hiding that fact. There are a couple reasons behind the tomato planting and they are: 1. To see how many we really can harvest from our boxes and 2. how many of those can we get stored up in jars. We do eat tomato products like crazy so we are going to determine how much are small space can produce, if it isn’t enough then we will look into growing them in a bigger space on the property. This though brings on a whole other set of issues that are quite not ready to be dealt with. More on this later. We like our spaghetti and our own pizza sauce so we will hopefully get a few jars to last us the entire year. I do realize that it will take a ton of tomatoes to get the amount that we are hoping for but at this rate we really need to see what the titty pink boxes can handle. If we can get 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 12 pints of pizza sauce then we will be happy campers. Really, hoping we “can”, hahahaha! Get it!? Can!
Most home gardeners really find tomatoes easy to grow and have very good luck with them. Heck there is even a t-shirt out just in there name but for us in our space we have had the worse kinda luck. Maybe because they have been put in late for the last two years or maybe because we have he wrong soil or the temperature hasn’t been turned up enough but this coming season will tell us the facts and we can move on from there. Maybe, I need to get on the tomato bandwagon and love them as much as other people do? Nah, its just another fruit that needs to be in my belly so we will grow them for the love of their flavor. Oh, I could design a t-shirt for them!? The world needs another clever t-shirt design! Right!
One of our fall boxes has our second round of cauliflower in it. Since these pictures were taken at the beginning of October the plants have almost doubled in size. So far no signs of those dirty rotten scoundarels trying to eat them either. Then again, they are just starting to put on heads. We have the three different colors planted again like last year but we are not sure if they will do good since the weather has been changing so quickly. The Almanac says we will have roughly the same weather as last winter so we are banking on wrapping this crop up and getting them in jars before the snow hits.
When I was younger I worked in a cannery that provided frozen foods for Flavor Pak. One of the fun parts of working there was coming up with the combinations that you see in the frozen food sections in those white little bags. Well since I am a true believer in the idea that freezers are for people that are too lazy to can then I like to take those combinations and instead of tossing bag after bag in the freezer I will toss jar after jar into the pantry! Our island is notorious for loosing power during the winter months. One of my most vivid memories about the power outages on the island runs back to my first winter on this rock and the power went out for almost a week. Lost everything we had in the fridge and the freezer with in the first couple days. It wasn’t cold enough out side to store everything in coolers yet it wasn’t possible to just cook it all up either. After this winter of sheer coldness and high winds that eventually moved in and a massive attack of the flu I knew right then that I would never live in a house that was heated with electricity only. Nor was I about to go through any more nasty winters like that one turned out to be with out a back up plan of food in the house. Needless, to say, I now can. Even my leftovers get a run through the pressure cooker and sealed up.
Back to the cauliflower.
When we get out and harvest the cauliflower, broccoli and other things that are growing we will can them all up in medley style jars. This way we always have a variety of veggies to chose from and we are not centering the meals around one veggie. More the merrier to make the body happy. We will have yellow, purple and white cauliflower and of course green broccoli. Thinking of mixing up the veggies in my jars again this year to include the second round of sweet corn that we got bagged up sitting in the freezer. I now right? Just after I made that snappy statement here I am with frozen bags of corn. Good gawd, what will you ever do with me? I really like baby carrots also so they just might get in the mix somewhere and then again we have a harvest full of beets that need to get mixed up somehow. Wow! So many choices.
One of the past times at the house is searching pinterest for new food concotions that of course don’t require the 8 allergens that we can’t have so most of those ideas will get canned up as either parts and pieces or a recipe will get cooked in the crock pot and then left overs are canned. Either way, the plan will be a yummy success. Do you know Tess Pennington, the lady that plans for 52 weeks at a time and jars up the ingredients so all you have to do is add water and cook? Whoa! She is my hero! I have done a few of her meals in jars and they have turned out great, even have a few of them in the pantry tucked away for lazy days when we are both working and too tired to cook when we get home. Well, just take that concept and think about it with fresh stuff from the garden. That’s a little how our canned food jars look in the pantry .. except a lot of them are dump and reheat! Nice!!
Here is my disclaimer: Just because I type it doesn’t mean its the gospel or the right way to do things. When canning please remember your own skills and your own competency levels. Do not can the way I do you might end up killing yourself if you are not of the understanding of what you are doing. There are great teachers out there that will help you learn and grow in to your skills. There are books such as the Ball Canning Book that has all the up-to-date rules, cooking times and even a few recipes that will help get you started. I, Dez!, am a rebel with a serious cause of not having food waste. I am confident in my skills so please do not try any of this at home and what ever you do … do not blame me if you get sick or kill someone from what you have canned.
Ok with that said. Moving on to the cabbage patch. We are happy to report that the first batch of cabbage that were eaten to the ground have been revived and are growing again. Thanks to showers of love and attention and a whollata prayers we have three different varieties coming in strong. Right now, there are four heads the size of a human fist already on the growing move. This is rather exciting since I have people giving me orders for sauerkraut. Seriously, this is going to be an expensive cabbage season but totally worth each head. Also an exciting cabbage season since the boyfriend brought home a new massive crock to make the sauerkraut in!! Oh happy days.
We are going to leave you with one final picture and hope that your gardens grew well for you this summer and fall and that your freezers/pantries are busting with what you were able to harvest. We also send out a prayer for everyone as the winter colds are already starting to hit some places up north. We pray that the food you have will sustain you and that the winter will be gentle on the hearts and the souls of all the gardeners waiting for spring.
“When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore are the founders of civilization.” – Daniel Webster