Monday, August 19, 2013

Canning, canning, canning

If you have noticed the distinct lack of talking coming from this blog, well let me tell you it is my garden's fault.  Summer is always such a busy time with my garden and pool.  This week even my pool has taken a back seat.  I had my entire kitchen table covered in tomatoes.  This isn't an exaggeration either.  My kitchen table isn't that small either.  I mean it is a normal four person round table.

I hated to waste them, but didn't really know how to can tomatoes either.  Well Mr. Destructo stepped in an taught himself (and me) to can.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  I mean it is tedious and time consuming, but not horrible by any means.  I think we processed at least 100 tomatoes.  I don't think the six pints of tomato sauce and six pints of diced tomatoes will be the best tasting ever since the majority of my tomatoes are slicing tomatoes and not cooking tomatoes, but it makes me even more excited for my garden next year since I have this knowledge now and can do less slicing tomatoes and more canning tomatoes like Romas.

I planted six slicing type tomato plants this year and two that were supposed to be Romas.  They weren't.  I got a grape tomato plant and a cherry tomato plant neither of which are that useful to me.  My boss is happy though haha.  The tomatoes have done amazing even though the garden got away from me a bit when we went on vacation and I never managed to stake the tomatoes back up.  I have been giving away tomatoes by the shopping bag full and just having to get rid of them as they got too ripe.  Well no more since I can can now.  I feel all domestic and stuff.  I was canning tomatoes, freezing squash, and line drying my cloth diapers.  Win!

In other garden news, the cucumbers made an amazing come back even after they were decimated early on by slugs.  I need to learn to pickle those since I am having to give away bags of them each week.  The squash did awesome and I have frozen probably 7 or 8 quart Ziplocks and we are eating squash at least twice a week.  Yum.  Zucchinis were disappointing.  After losing three of five plants and then one of the two replacements to squash borers, it has been slow.  Plus I missed a day or two of picking and had a number get too big to eat so I gave them away for zucchini bread making.

And the thing that made my gardening year the best was picking my very first bell pepper.  I have picked some before, but they were only an inch or two tall and stunted.  I never have luck with these.  This year I got the most gorgeous pepper ever.

Finally, in cantaloupe and watermelon news I have two large watermelons.  I just can't figure out when to pick them haha.  I have about 15ish cantaloupes on the vines right now that again I am trying to determine the best time to pick.  I am going to have cantaloupe out my ears soon.  I wonder if it can be easily frozen?  Destructo loves cantaloupe year round.  Oh and I have bird house gourds and decorative gourds/ mini pumpkins going crazy along the fence.  I am curious to see what all I get.  They also spread all through the cantaloupes and watermelons so it is a big (yay for an amazing gardening year) mess!

Does anyone have any good jam recipes?  My raspberry bush is thriving and I picked an entire small container yesterday and have quite a few more that will be ready this weekend.  I was thinking about making jam from some of them if it is easy, not too time consuming, and you can make small amounts of it since I don't have that much fruit to spare since Destructo loves "rasbabies."