A New Season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It finally feels like Fall! There is a little cool breeze in the air and leaves are falling from the trees and a lot has been going on here at “The Farm”. The summer crop was wonderful. And yes, I still have eggplant but I don’t have the heart to pull it out when it is still providing produce.

Companion planting went well and was a lot of fun to try. The Eggplant loved the Banana Pepper and Tarragon as its companion plants. The Okra loved the Basil and Bell Pepper as its companion plants.

The strawberry and blueberry plants are looking happy and strong. I was told to remove all the flowers off of the plant in the first year to ensure that the roots will be healthy for years to come. I sure hopes this pay off because I have pulled so many flowers!

 

The raspberries are doing well. They tasted great and I get a small hand full each day. It is perfect for topping yogurt or ice cream. My fig tree gave me so many big beautiful figs that I made fig jam, fig newtons, as well as dehydrating some of them and of course eating them. I’m hoping to get fruit from my apple trees, cherries, pear, nectarine, plum, peach and apricot next year.

With all the food that came for the garden, All In A Jar had a lot to offer students all summer long. I was very busy canning and preparing dishes for the freezer too.

Let me tell you what I have planted for the fall/winter garden. In bed 1 I have Green Onions, Garlic, Walla Walla onions, Sweet Spanish Onions, and Lettuce. In bed 2 I still have Tarragon and Eggplant in 3/4 of the bed and at the other end I have Brussels Sprouts. When the Eggplant is done I will be planting a few companion plants for the Brussels Sprouts (like Beets and Celery). In bed 3 I have Broccoli and Kale; the companion plant for these two is Spinach. In bed 4 I have Cabbage with the companion plants of Roma Lettuce, Arugula, Swiss chard and I put a few Fava Beans in for the nitrogen. In bed 5 Blueberry plants, In bed 6 Strawberries. In bed 7 Carrots, Beets and companion plants of Onions and Cauliflower. Bed 8 Blackberries, Bed 9 Raspberries. I have three dirt bags and they have Oregano, Parsley, and Thyme in one bag. Parsley, Basil and Lemon Thyme. In the last bag I have Rhubarb, Mint and Cilantro.

I have been trying to watch the moon and plant accordingly.

I read that you should plant your annual flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing of the moon … from the day the moon is new to the day it is full. And plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark, or waning, of the moon … from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again.

Soon I will be working on the new class calendar. Please let me know your suggestions for a class you would like to see on the schedule.

 

See you in class!

 

It’s Pickling Time

 

 

It’s pickling time of year! I just want to remind you of a few things to get the best pickle. 

One, is the type of cucumber you are using to make pickles. You need a pickling cucumber. The best ones are from the black spine type, with small black prickles, such as the Chicago Pickling Cucumber and National Pickle.

Wash all ingredients carefully to remove bacteria, which might spoil your product. In washing cucumbers, DON’T scrub so that you remove the black prickles. A good way to get off the dirt and bacteria is to soak them for a few minutes in a glass or plastic container with a tablespoon of pickling salt and one tablespoon of vinegar. Rinse well in running water as you gently rub them.                                The pot you will be using to make the brine should never be brass, copper, iron or aluminum. Any of these will produce a strange taste and undesirable color changes because the metals will react with the vinegar and salt solutions. Use enameled ware, glass, or stainless steel. Stir with wood spoon and or stainless steel ladle.  

Whenever possible, use water without chlorine. Here is how you can use your water to eliminate chlorine and other minerals. Plan in advance and boil the water for 15 minutes. Let stand for 24 hours. When all the sediment has settled to the bottom, ladle the water from the top. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 5 % acidity to each gallon of water before using. Or buy bottled distilled water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to each gallon. You will never regret all this effort. 

Do not use table salt in pickling or canning. Table salt has iodine and anti-caking agent. That will turn pickles an undesirable color and soften the pickle. Use Pickling salt for best results. 

Vinegar should be 5 % acidity. Check the label for percentage of acid and also check the expiration date. If it is past the expiration date, use it to make salad dressing not pickles. Vinegars of unknown strength should not be used. Either cider or white vinegars may be used. When pickling light-colored foods such as onions, white vinegars is preferable for it will not darken the ingredients. When making a simple solution of vinegar, pickling salt, and water, do not boil more than 5 to 6 minutes unless otherwise directed in the recipes. Long boiling weakens vinegar. Follow the timings suggested in the recipes: if a recipe says bring just to boil, do that. 

Always use fresh spices and herbs. Old ones will discolor the product and produce musty, strange flavors. If a recipe calls for you to put spices in a spice bag ( cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine) make sure it is not too tight so the brine can flow through during the cooking time. Remove bag before canning. If you have access to fresh grape leaves, wash them and place on top of produce in the jar. This will keep the produce under the brine and help with keeping the produce crisp. Any recipe can be changed to fit individual taste in SPICES Only. Do not change the amount of vinegar, water or salt. Blended pickling spices are available commercially, I like to blend my own. Here are a list of spices I like using: Allspice, Bay Leaf, Black Pepper Corns, Cardamom, Cayenne, Chili, Cinnamon Stick, Coriander Seeds, Clove, Dill Seeds, Ginger, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg ( grated), Hot Red Pepper flakes, Turmeric, and Celery Seeds. 

Garlic is a wonderful addition to pickles. But one warning; If you wish to add garlic to a jar of dill pickles or any pickles, you will need to peel the cloves then plunge them into boiling water first for 1 minute. This blanching process kills the bacteria on garlic, which can cause spoilage. Or you can place the cloves in vinegar for about 1 to 2 minutes before filling the jars. 

I hope this helps you get the best pickle for you and your family. 

See you in class