January 28, 2014

Well, I sheepishly realize that I haven't posted in a while ... it was not my greatest summer. Between the weather, which made gardening difficult and tomatoes nigh on impossible, and the weeding (the only thing that grew without problems in the garden this year were the multitudes of weeds), I was kept very busy. With a non-spray garden, weeding is taking up more and more time every year, especially thistles and the dandelions which blow in from everywhere. I weed a patch, move on to another, and by the time I finish the second (a day or so later), the first is full of weeds again. A never-ending process, or at least it was this past summer.

The flower garden looked a little ragged by the end of the year, as I concentrated more of my efforts on the vegetables patches, but aside from the tomatoes which were poor due to the crazy summer weather we had, I ended up with a pretty good harvest.

The beans, especially were quite productive, so we were kept in shelling beans for the second half of the summer, and lots of dried beans to save for the winter months. The squash was INCREDIBLY productive this year, even more so than usual. I completely ran out of interesting recipes for squash and had to google some. I'll post a couple at some point, as I'm sure they will be quite helpful for other people who end up with too many squash all within the space of several weeks. I will be planning for fewer squash plants next year.

I just ordered my seed potatoes for next summer. I was disappointed this past year, as we got record amounts of rainfall within a couple weeks in early summer, and one entire batch of potatoes drowned. Not only died, but actually drowned. The garden couldn't drain fast enough because there was just so much water. Flooding everywhere, cities and streets, and in my potato patch as well. I'm hoping optimistically more less rain this year, a more normal amount at least, and am trying two new varieties. Last year I grew Irish Cobbler (which tastes great, keeps really well, and is fairly productive - good for mashed potatoes) and Seglinde (beautiful potato, lovely taste, thin skin - great for roasting whole, or quartering for soups, casseroles, because you don't need to peel it). I liked them both but wanted to try something new, so I'll be expecting German Butterball and Sangre. The variety that drowned last summer was the specialty one Nicola, which is supposed to have a very low glycemic index (good for people watching their carb intake like diabetics). I'll see if I can find that one again, I bought it locally last year.

As far as canning and preserving, I did "put up" several recipes, most tried and true one but a couple new attempts:
 Sour Cherry Lime Rickey Jam (new)
Raspberry Lime Jam
Dill Pickles
Pickled Roasted Red Peppers (new and delicious!)
Garlic Scape Pesto
GMO-free corn, "creamed"
all the dried herbs (Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme), dried Chili Powder, dried Beans.

We ate a lot fresh from the garden, and I didn't get enough tomatoes to can, only to eat fresh and use. Hopefully next year will be better. I'm just starting to think about planning for next summer, which varieties I want to grow, which colour tomatoes we're going to try, how to reorganize certain areas, what worked well and what I want to change or add... it is still early but come mid-March, it will be time to start Onion and Pepper seeds!


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