Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #233

FGF LogoV2Welcome back to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! I was slammed at my day job last Friday so unfortunately blog hop did not happen. BUT we are back this week and we are in AUGUST!

Wow I cannot believe it. I love this time of year. This is when, for me, the hard work from spring planting comes to fruition and we have more food than we can eat. Preserving and sharing it begins!

Pickles were on the agenda this morning. Early this morning I picked over 11 pounds of cucumbers!

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The smaller ones got scrubbed and 8 pounds found themselves waiting to be pickled.

IMG_20160805_090510989We now have seven quarts of yummy, garlicky, “pickly” goodness.

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This is an easy and delicious recipe that I have used for the last three years. It is from DIY Natural and it is amazing.

I hope you are having an amazing summer. I know for many of you this is the time of year that your children are either headed back to school or you may be gearing up for a new homeschooling year. Cheers to a great school year!

So, let’s hop! I am sure you have been doing much over the last couple of weeks, so start your bragging on yourself!

 



Indulging (and preserving) the Harvest Part 2

The harvest continues to come in. I am by no means an expert at canning. This is only my 3rd year doing this, but I do love it. Last weekend we canned 60 pounds of San Marzanos and Granderos (both Roma tomatoes). We also had some tomatillos that I used for salsa.

My kitchen corner was a busy place. It is a little crowded in that space for this task, but I made it work. I am excited about our kitchen remodel which will gain me about 80 inches of counter space! I will be in heaven.

Busy Kitchen

Tools of the trade:

Canning Tools

I was super excited to use the Weck Jars that Rachael gifted me at Christmas. They were the first to go in the water bath!

Four Jars

Making the salsa was delightful and colorful. Look at that.

Salsa

I have not grown tomatillas before but we love them. I am really excited to be canning some Salsa Verde for future use!

Tomatillo Salsa

All in all for my first day canning of the season the takeaway was pretty and much larger than last year. Tomatoes, tomato jam, two kinds of salsa and dried tomatoes all await a winter day for opening and eating.

Jars of Tomatoes

The big news is that although this is the most I have ever canned before there is so much more waiting. I have been with my mom since 9/10 as she had surgery (she is recouping nicely) and hubby has been sending me pictures. Our green beans are so full and heavy that they totally took out the trellis from weight! He rebuilt it for the little guys. Our cucumbers I understand are waiting to be pickled and we have “1000’s of tomatoes” waiting for a canning jar. He told me that he went and bought several flats of ball jars that are waiting in the kitchen for me!

Can you say Christmas presents???

How’s your harvest and preserving coming along? Done or in the middle like me?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Lessons Learned from a First Time Gardener

DSCN3493I have learned so much since moving here almost 2 years ago. My biggest learning curve has happened this year, particularly since May. That is when I broke ground and started using the land we have and planting food in it.

Looking back to 1/1/13, I had no idea what was in store for me this year (and I am not done yet!)  I look at the goals and intentions that hubby and I set and they were not off base, but they were just scratching the surface of what would really occur.  But you don’t know what you don’t know.  So when we said we wanted to garden a bit and work in the yard the intention was certainly there, but the scope and breadth of what would occur developed on its own while we learned and got more and more excited about the possibilities.

Going from a subdivision where vegetable gardening was not exactly encouraged to 5 + acres is a huge change.  Going from 1 basil plant, a rosemary bush and a tomato plant in a pot to digging into real dirt, prepping soil and growing food at the level that it not only feeds you but you also have a bit left for storing for winter is a huge paradigm shift!

I have learned MUCH.  These are a few thoughts and learnings:

  • You never know it all.  There is so much to learn-species of plants, soil biology, the insect and pest world, seasonal impacts, etc.  So much to learn, but that makes it exciting.  I will never sit back and say “I’m done, I now know it all about gardening.”
  • You can’t control some stuff.  Rain, temperature, amount of sunshine… this stuff is God stuff or nature stuff or higher power stuff.  We may disagree on what controls this stuff, but we all can agree that one human being does not.
  • The taste of stuff that you grow, pick and eat does not even compare with grocery stuff.  I don’t care where you buy it, it was still picked and had to be transported to the store.  I can pretty much guarantee that my commute with my veggies is shorter than any that commute to the grocery.
  • My maternal instincts really kick in every time I walk back to the gardens.  “How are my babies doing?” is what is frequently going through my head on that walk.
  • The excitement felt when things start popping through the soil is cause for celebration
  • AND the sadness felt by something lost is real as well
  • I love learning about soil biology.  Who would have guessed I would EVER say that.  What a fascinating subculture in the soil that I have to partner with to get this food. And it knows more than I do.  I learn from it, it definitely is not taking lessons from me!
  • I appreciate the cycle of days so much more now.  I cherish the early morning hours I had during the spring and summer to work outside at 6:30 a.m.  I don’t have light any more at that hour so I have had to adjust.  Again, something I cannot control, but I do have to work with it.
  • I notice more about daily changes in everything.  Even outside of my garden, when I am driving I notice others fields in a new way. Or notice our grass growth and changes more. Or the trees that need trimming or leaves that are changing. It has just made me so much more aware of the things that truly do change on a daily basis.
  • There is no sleep as good as the sleep you get after 8 hours working outside
  • There is no shower that feels better after 8 hours working outside
  • I love, love, love tomatoes.  I just liked them before.  Now I adore them.
  • Change of seasons is bittersweet.  I am so excited about fall and the new opportunities in the garden that will be all new to be also.  But saying goodbye to my summer gardens and eating the last freshly picked tomato or cucumber has  a sadness to it, but also has a way to cause me to really savor every last bite.

AND the NUMBER ONE thing I learned is that I have a PASSION! I am inspired me to learn more and more and do this more and more.  I have been reading and attending webinars. I made a decision this month to go back to school and learn more.

With that decision did come action.  I am registered to begin classes in January with Washington State University’s Organic Agriculture online program.  Talk about a curve ball.  I did not see that one coming but am waiting with anxious and nervous anticipation.  Will I learn it all?  Not a chance!  Will I love it?  I think so, but only time will answer that?  Will it lead me to do something different with my life?  Most certainly, but I just don’t know what yet.

It is all a journey.  It is all learnings.  I don’t know how it ends, nor do I want to, but I am loving the unfolding.

Happy Unleashing and learning!