As some of you have seen either in an earlier blog or during my friend feeds I've been a very busy bee working my butt off in this year's expanded veggie garden. Despite a year of super HOT temps and lack of rain, its managed to grow weeds by the tons and even more so LOTS of fresh veggies. Its all good, I get great workouts pulling those weeds, hand tilling the soil, watering, then reaping the rewards of lots of fresh veggies I haul out in 2 or more gallon buckets each trip! On my sparkpage I even posted some veggie photos from the garden since I am so proud of this year's yield.
I just said,
to the last of the cucumbers and the squash plants. All that is currently remaining and producing are my many tomato plants, green bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, and those oh so
HOT habaneros and tabasco peppers. Oh, and the blackberries are still coming in strong.
I've learned a lot from this year's garden.
1. Procrastination in weeding adds up to TONS of weeds and HOURS of work- lots of squats, bicep curls, and wrist curl action happening.
2. Just like a healthy body needs LOTS of water so do plants if you want juicy, healthy, nutrient filled vegetables.
3. When in need of a dose of Vitamin D just head out to the garden to do some harvesting.
4. Its takes a lot of dedication to get a good harvest from a vegetable garden, and its a great stress reliever. Some things are worth the time and effort just like pursuing and living a healthy lifestyle.
5. Sometimes you need to branch out and get creative in learning new ways to use the abundant produce and ways to store it all.
This last one leads me into my latest summer adventure learning experience. Home canning- who knew I could even do it!
I scoured SparkPeople articles, used Google and found some very useful websites that walked me through what I needed to know, these had handy dandy photos steps. I was lucky enough to have friends who have canned in the past who let me borrow their canning supplies (HUGE pot, jar lifting rack, jar lifting tool, wide mouth funnel, and even cool looking tongs ) while I waited for my own canning kit that my husband ordered. I have been on the phone to long time family and friends asking for old time family canning recipes to add to my Favorites Family Cookbook for future reference. I even scored at finding some old canning cookbooks at some thrift stores.
So what have I done with my bounty? In my freezer you will find: snap beans, summer squash, green peppers, blueberries, strawberries, homemade salsa, homemade qt. size spaghetti sauce. I've baked many muffins for portion control of banana bread, blueberry muffins, 3 different varieties of zucchini bread. I will admit I am NOT a pickle fan but my guys are so this year, I needed to do something with all those cucumbers so I became a Dill Pickling Mama. Heck, I even made some zucchini dill pickles- who knew. Then in came the tomatoes so I learned how to make very simple stewed tomatoes, which are a great staple to sauces, soups, and add ins to my ground turkey chili recipe. Still the tomatoes kept coming
so I learned how to make and can salsa plus homemade spaghetti sauce. Let's just say I have a new found respect for all those ladies in the past who canned- its a long process for 1 person and you have to move FAST. Most of the times I've been canning I swore I must have resembled Lucile Ball from "I LOVE LUCY" episodes or even "LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY" in my kitchen. I wore the battle scars of tomato spatter tees, peeled zucchini hands, and the aroma of dill pickle juice.
Best thing though is I now have a very full freezer and had to actually clear out cabinet shelf space for my canning efforts. I will be giving this a shot again next year, so anyone out there with old family canning recipes who are willing to share-
pop them my way via sparkmail- they will be greatly appreciated. Funny- I didn't see any SparkRecipes for canning.
Maybe its becoming a lost art like quilting, another hobby of mine.
So, now that my summer outdoor workout is nearing its end what should I do- keep adding compost materials and till it all under come the fall or look at my local farmer's garden center for fall crop plantings? Hey, I live in the south so maybe I should consider planting that power house vegetable greens of collards!
Here are some photos of my canning efforts to give you a feel of my old fashioned state of mind in enjoying the simple things of life and the reward of good hard work.