Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Laurena Mayne Davis
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Just like your wardrobe, your canned goods need a good going-over every year.
Out of date? Hanging on just in case you might need it, someday?
Give it away, or compost it, and free up your jars and shelf space for something your family will actually eat.
To can is to have near-perpetual enjoyment of the summer bounty. But nothing lasts forever, and uneaten canned goods and shabby supplies should be sorted and tossed or you’ll find yourself with shelf upon shelf of pickled beets from the ‘90s.
Like clothes, I give my canned goods two years, max. If we haven’t eaten it by then, I either canned too much of something (easy to do) or my family didn’t like it. And every once in a while a dusty, unlabelled jar is discovered lurking behind something else. Not risking that.
So, so long mystery brown jam.
Cheerio, faded cherries.
Pack it in, mushy peppers.
My approach is hardly scientific, but it is in line with what the experts recommend. The National Center for Home Food Preservation (hyperlink to: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html) is a great resource for canning information.
Canning supplies need to be up-to-snuff, too. The wonderful thing about canning jars is they’ll last for decades. Almost all of mine are hand-me-downs from the two generations before me, maybe farther back than that. I love comparing them and seeing how jar styles have changed over the years. But if they’re chipped, they need to be flower vases.
Not everything lasts as long.
Au revoir, rusty rings.
By Carol Clark
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Halloween is still one of my secret, favorite holidays. I love autumn decorations of pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, and walking around in the dark with excited kids. But, mostly, I love chocolate. I start decorating October 1 and leave the fall decorations up until well after Thankgiving.
We have already started my husband's favorite tradition: roasting pumpkin seeds. He likes his seeds very crunch and salty, VERY SALTY, so store bought seeds are never good enough for Olan.
We tried to grow our pumpkins this year. They came up beautifully, bloomed like crazy, and they are STILL blooming, never producing our favorite gourd. Apparently they have some kind of pollination disfunction problem. Whatever the cause we are stuck buying pumpkins, AGAIN, and not just a few of them either.
Roasting seeds is simple. Cut the top off the pumpkins, scrape the seeds out and rinse them.
Spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking oil. Generously sprinkle them with sea salt or whatever kind of seasoning you like. Some like garlic salt or cajun seasonings.
Bake 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
These healthy seeds are full of nutrients. In addition to protein, they are an excellent source of iron, B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, a mineral that aids the healing process and is full of antioxidants. Ironically, they also have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac.
I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
By Penny Stine
Friday, October 15, 2010
Carol Zadrozny with Z's Orchard hosted a harvest celebration at the orchard the other day and very kindly invited my family. I'm posting a few pics because it was just too pretty not to share...
The fall decorations and flowers were awesome. Almost enough to make me happy that summer was over..
Was that what the first Thanksgiving was like? Well, except for the aluminum dishes, the plastic forks and the disposable cups, I'm sure it was just like this!
I'd like to have a party in my garden celebrating the end of the season, but I don't think I could fit a table this big in amongst the tomatillos.
and I definitely couldn't fit a bluegrass band between the squash and the kale.
Nonetheless, it was a fabulous way to say so long to the 2010 growing season. In my garden, I'm still babying the last few tomatoes, still picking the relentless tomatillos and planning on planting spinach in another couple of weeks.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Believe it or not, potatoes are fun to grow. And even more fun to dig up at the end of the season.
You stick a cutting off a seed potato in the ground in early summer, try not to get too impatient when the leaves start to grow and spread and eventually dig it up at the end of the season in search of tasty little potatoes.
The little ones are tasty, but I can’t help but get excited over the really big honkers. The first year I planted potatoes, I ended up with potatoes that were bigger than footballs. And there were a boatload of potatoes under every plant. I wish I knew what I did to make them grow so well, because every year since then (including this year) has just been OK.
I suspect that the tomatillos that seeded themselves all over my garden crowded out the potatoes.
Then again, it could have been the cosmos...
My potato plants themselves didn’t seem to thrive at all this year, and most of them died (or at least looked like they died) long before I dug them up.
Shows how much I know... That’s one way you know it’s time to dig for potatoes. Good thing I didn’t forget where I’d planted them, because some not only died, but practically disappeared before I got around to digging them.
But even in an OK year, it's still fun to dig for potatoes. Don’t ask me why digging potatoes creates these feelings of anticipation and surprise. It truly makes no sense. I planted potatoes. I should expect to dig up potatoes. It’s not like I’m discovering some long-lost pirate booty full of gold and diamonds in place of the red potatoes or Yukon golds. They’re potatoes, for cryin’ out loud, not priceless treasure.
But oh, so fun to dig.
By Carol Clark
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.
Why is it that time flies so quickly? When I was young a summer seemed to last forever. Everyday filled with hours of playing - and it seemed like hours! A week was like a month, especially if you were waiting for your birthday. I remember staying at my grandmas for a week while my mom and dad went on vacation without us. Grandma lived right across the street from us so I spent hours staring out her picture window at our lonely home across the street. Even though I loved my grandma, that week was like a year.
Today I almost can't remember summer even happened. It was only just the other day I was transplanting tomato plants and planting summer squash seeds (4 didn't seem like it would be too many).
I am resolving to slow down. Spend some quiet time outside, really see the beauty of the trees changing colors with the season. Go for a walk in the woods, watch the leaves dance and twirl, take photos along the way to preserve this time and enjoy.
Let your mind have time to relax and enjoy the autumn beauty. Before you know it, winter will sneak in and steal the fall away.
How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before its June.
My goodness how the time has flown,
How did it get so late so soon?