Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our Garden: the Results.

I thought I'd sum up our garden for this year.
(We do not use any harmful sprays or chemicals).

I walked off the measurements of the garden:
15 ft. by 45 ft.
(but it tapers to 10 ft. by 45 ft. at the upper end)

Please excuse the wild exhibit of this garden.
I never seem to remember to take pictures of things like the garden when it looks the best
because it is at it's best when the temperature is 100 degrees F. and I just want to get those green beans picked
before I am passed out on the lawn.

So I took the picture now,
when it's grandeur is quickly fading,
the squash bugs are wrestling each other for the last bites of trailing vines,
and the final stages of production are winding down.

So here it is: the run-down of what is possible with a smack of a garden.

This year we planted 6 little pepper plants:
(An Amish recipe for cabbage-stuffed peppers was the reason we planted these.)
They've slumped and stooped with their heavy fruits,
and I think one may have been snatched away by a weeding child,
or an over-zealous puppy,
but this is an occasional problem around these parts.

Here is a closer view.

They turn yellow when they are ripe.

I canned the pickled peppers last week,
and we got 7 quarts of them,
around 18 - 20 peppers per quart.

We're still getting the peppers,
so I add them to recipes...

like this one.
(This is an adaptation of this recipe: Kung Pao Chicken):
very tasty.

Thirteen tomato plants stood in the garden this year:

one yellow heirloom type of beef steak tomato;

one called Cherokee Purple, another heirloom steak type super large tomato that turns a pinkish-purple;

and one yellow cherry tomato
(the plant grew enormous,
about as tall as myself and much taller than the others
before it flopped forward and started trailing on the ground.)

 (Yellow tomatoes are not as acidic, so not as hard on the digestive system.
  My husband has a sensitive stomach at times, so I thought I'd try these).

The other ten plants were juice/sauce tomatoes: 8 Italia and 2 Roma.

This was the first year our tomatoes did an excellent job producing.
(Two of the plants in the middle of the row
had the problem of blossom end rot in the beginning of production,
but once the first fruits were removed,
they have since given nice tomatoes.)

I have canned 21 qts. of tomato juice so far,
with likely another 14 more to do.
I also froze 7 qts. of condensed tomato soup.
(Of course, we've had a meal of the soup as well as some pizza
and countless tomato sandwiches.)

From the cherry tomatoes,
I made about 4 cups of ketchup
as well as having eaten much more than I can account for.
I hope to get another four cups made,
if the tomato bush continues giving.

We've still got some Swiss Chard here
and I froze several quart bags of it
(after it was blanched).

We had lots of salads in the early summer from the row of mixed lettuce greens we had.

We planted about 40 onions, but they did not do as well this year.
We got about 10 out of them,
and their size is nothing to brag about.

We have never had success with either spinach or carrots,
not sure why,
so we don't bother with them.
We opted not to grow any squash this season as they take up so much room in the garden
and a neighbor is always generous with hers
(we reciprocate with berries from our supply for her).

I canned 7 qts. of beets and we had a few meals of them as well,
but my mother-in-law contributed well over half of them
from the over-abundance of her garden.
(We only planted one ten foot row of them this year).

We had two plantings of purple bush beans
(5 rows in all, about 12' - 15' long each)
(we usually plant more and longer rows, but I wanted more tomatoes this year).

I canned 14 qts. of purple beans and froze a couple more.

The bean beetles were pretty hard on them this year.
Usually I can well over 30 qts, but there is still plenty in the basement from last season,

so that is helpful.

 One planting of the purple beans was in this lower front section.

In the closest area off to the left of the above photo,
we had 6 heads of cabbage:
we ate one,
I made 6 qts. of stuffed pickled peppers with two,


and I used the other three to make sauerkraut.

One cabbage rotted.

We also grew several heads of cauliflower and broccoli
but we got them in late and they bolted pretty quickly.
We had a few meals with them, but they were, as a whole, pretty disappointing.
Last year, they were spectacular, so it was just one of those hit and miss things.

We grew two different kinds of cucumbers
and those were eaten as fast as they looked edible.
(Lillie often asks for a cucumber when I ask her what she wants for breakfast.)


Our beautiful row of okra.

We've had fried okra every other day now
for the past 2 weeks or more.

The two youngest in our household do not like it,
so the three older of us have had indulgent feasts on the stuff.
Now that we've somewhat tired of it, I may be able to freeze some for gumbo in the winter.

The Farmer drove by while I was taking these pictures
and informed me that I needed to go up to the manure pit
and see what was growing there.

These beautiful creatures were dancing on the vine by the manure pit.
I snatched them up before my husband sped away with the rotted manure they had benefited from.
(I admit, I did say "Eww" once or twice, but as the vine was growing BY the manure pit,
I blinked twice, and then salvaged them).

A gift contributed by a stray seed dropped by something, the cows, and God
is an added bonus!

We planted three different sections of sweet corn
and have enjoyed 8 to 12 ears every night or every other
for the past 2 - 3 weeks now.

A strange thing,
the corn kept looking like this:

then one day, my husband noticed a yellow-bellied sap-sucker feasting on them.
He indulged on a few more ears than I think is fair,
but at least we've had a good season enjoying the ones we did get.

So here is one day's picking
(well, the cucumbers were extra on this day!)

I pick from the garden every other day,
usually taking about an hour to get everything picked
(including berries)
and this is about the amount I have been getting for the past two - three weeks...

along with about 2 qts. of berries that are ripening at the far end of the garden.

These thornless black berries that my mother-in-law brought us
from her home before she moved
have enjoyed the place where they are planted and have grown incredibly well.
They are tart little things, but nutritious,
so I pick them to add to muffins and ice cream
and have enough saved and still ripening that I think some preserves may be an option.

(This cat can never stand me bending over anything without coming for some attention.)

Of course, picking is only a step in the process...

the corn must be cooked,
the berries frozen,
the tomatoes lined up on the window sills to fully ripen
(the grass hoppers and stink bugs are merciless on the tomatoes if I don't bring them in
and let them ripen inside)
before they will need to be washed, cut up,


 cooked, put through the mill,

and canned to be used as juice to add to recipes requiring that tomato touch.

It's always nice to see how much the cows enjoy the corn husks,...

...and the chickens skittle around their feast of damaged produce.

We would love to have a larger garden,
but our topography is such that it is too wet, too hilly, a necessary "road" for farm vehicles,

A garden is not only helpful to the budget and allowing one to have the freshest of foods,
as well as some saved up for winter,
but it also affords the necessary Vitamin D one gets when outside working in it.
The soft soil beneath bare feet can be invigorating,
and the joy of watching things grow warms the soul.

(Much of this wall is last years' work, but many of the freezer shelves have been filled,
there are still another 14 - 21 qts. of tomato juice that will be added,
and apple season is just around the corner.
 I try to make it a goal to fill all the jars every year,
but I got several more boxes from a neighbor, so it may be more of a challenge this year.
If only these kids would stop eating so much...).

It has been eight years that we have been working this garden,
and it seems to improve with each year.  My Farmer feeds the earth with manure
and lime.  If you have just started a garden, don't let a slow start or a bad year discourage you.

Learn your soil and what grows well,
and anticipate that worthwhile harvest.
Find fellow gardeners to swap whatever it is that thrives in your soil
for whatever it is that they have to spare.

God placed man first in a garden for a reason.
Is there any other place where production, nature, relaxation, and beauty
are so cohesively melded together?

With that,
please, excuse me while I go finish canning a batch of tomatoes.

(Tomato Update: Sept.9: I have finished canning the tomatoes
and the results are 32 qts of tomato juice canned,
7 qts. of tomato soup frozen,
and 15 pints of ketchup canned
as well as the three pints that are frozen).

(If you have any suggestions, tips, or comments on your gardening experiences,
please leave them.  I would LOVE to hear what you have to add!)

Linking up to: Carnival-of-home-preserving


  1. What a wonderful garden and beautiful pantry. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your pantry and pickings are just does my heart good to wander up from down the back with a basket full of pickings...unless you garden its a feeling you just cant describe......

  3. How beautiful. We had such a drought here... and water we did like crazy, but we were not able to preserve as much as you did. Your pantry is blessed and bountiful!

  4. Nice serie...
    Best regards from Paris,


  5. Good work! Lovely garden and pantry. Still learning in this neck of the woods. Love squash and okra, those forgiving plants grow well even for beginners like me. Did you know okra can be canned? My mother has done this for years. When you drain and rinse the okra, you can bread and fry it and it has a fresh from the garden taste.

  6. Do you do anything with the green tomatoes or just let them ripen inside? It seems like as the season winds down I have a lot of green ones that never seem to get ripe.

  7. What a wonderful garden, and I LOVE that you still do the canning, too.
    I am always so impressed with your lifestyle.


  8. Your garden made an abundance of food this year, ours didn't do so well. In fact the last two years has been a crazy couple of years due to the weather. I'm happy to be your newest follower~~I think I might could learn something from you in the gardening department. Hope you find time to pop by my blog sometime.

  9. I love the shelves full of canned things!

  10. Cartridge
    I love Gardening...... One hobby of my life.... I like this post very much......

  11. Wow! Very impressive! We just started canning this year and my only regret is that I didn't try it sooner. I love your picture of your pantry shelf, it is beautiful!

  12. Looks great! I was wondering, in the picture with all the canned veggies, what is in the jars on the next to the bottom shelf next to the tomatoes? Are those potatoes?

    1. Yes, they are. :) Our neighbor let us go through his field and pick up all the tiny potatoes that he didn't want. They wouldn't last long, as little as they were, so we canned most of them as we had one or two five gallon buckets of them.

  13. The photo of all your canned goods would make a beautiful card. It is just so pleasing to the eye. My husband is the keeper of our garden and I think I made him a little nervous when after watching a video on a Martha Stewart garden, I suggested that I assist with the layout of next year's garden. Encroaching on his territory. lol

  14. Gorgeous pantry. I love seeing home canned goods all lined up on a shelf. The colors and jars just make my heart sing.

    I would love it if you would stop by my blog and link up this great posts at the Carnival of Home Preserving.

    Here's the current edition:


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