Last year, my husband and I had a food share with Park Ridge Organics. Everything was wonderful and we were exposed to many vegetables we had never eaten before (like kohlrabi). In about January of this year, we started talking about it we were doing the food share again or if we wanted to try our own garden. We decided to give the gardening a try. We worked with Steve’s dad to build ourselves a small garden out on his farm. He even made me raised beds and would help out a lot by putting hay on the plants, etc.
So, the first month of gardening did not go well. The deer ate many of my plants that did come up and then the others didn’t even bother to show their green little leaves. I was frustrated. I had definitely had this beautiful garden that produced mass amounts of great food in my head. Yep, not so much. We had two lettuce plants show up, and then the sheep got loose and at them. We had about 20 carrots. A handful of onions. And zucchini. For the love of god, there is no stopping these plants. At this time, I have frozen over 50 quarts of zucchini!!! Shredded, sliced, diced, you name it. I’ve made more zucchini baked goods than I care to admit. We’ve had zucchini at least three times a week with at least one meal. It never ends.
Steve felt bad for me that my peppers didn’t appear, or my tomatoes, or anything else for that matter. So, we went and bought a few plants. Now, my jalapeno plants have taken over and I’m running out of things to do with them. My two green pepper plants should produce maybe a few peppers before it freezes. Same goes for my cabbage, cauliflower, and tomatoes. We also thought it’d be a good idea to plant four watermelon plants. Watching them spread is scaring me. Oh, yeah, and then there’s still that damn zucchini. Even through the drought which killed off several plants that I had just planted. I am pretty sure the zucchini plants thrived during that time. I’ve quit watering them, but they still produce.
Anyway, last year with the food share if we had anything left over from the week, I’d just freeze it. No big deal. I hate to blanche things, so I chop the veggies up, stick in a freezer bag, label and away they go. This year, I wanted to start becoming a bit more creative, especially since we were getting veggies in a bigger quantity (not by much though) than just a food share.
So, I decided I’d better learn how to can food. Last week, I made six jars of jalapeno jelly and freezer jalapeno poppers. This week, I’ve made four jars of Sun Pickles with my grandma’s recipe, two jars of pickled jalapenos, and tonight, four jars of Simple Summer Canned Dill Pickles.
I’ve also been reading a lot of books and recipes about what I can make at home instead of buying. I love to cook and have really started watching what I eat and what I feed my family. I’m also a once a month cook (thank you OnceAMonthMom!) so the more I can make at home, the more money that I can save and the healthier I know everything is.
Anyway, I fell in love with gardening and I have now fallen in love with seeing what I can make at home and preserve myself.
The following books will be guiding me through my journey:
Needless to say, with all my homemade ventures lately (homemade tortillas being the one that I think sent Steve over the edge), the running joke in our house is when I’m quitting my job in education to move us to a commune.