Thursday, August 22, 2013

Canning Again After 25 Years

   I thought I would never can again.  I gave away and sold all of my jars and rings.  I, at least, had enough sense to save the canner, tongs,  lifter, and funnel. I also inherited my mother's large porcelain soup pot so I was able to use that, as well. But I had to purchase jars and lids all over again, which was an added expense.

   I started out with peaches.  I was so excited I got up real early to wash and sterilize my new jars.  I thought the peaches were a little firm, if only I had known my husband had eaten one on the sly and did not mention the pits were not at freestone stage!  SO I brought the water to a boil and dropped in 6 peaches.  The skins would not bubble or split as they should have. I plunged them into the ice water bath.  Now the skins should slide right off -- nope, not happening! I was now sure they were not ripe enough and I had all my energy geared up for a canning day.
   Oh well, I had also planned to do a batch of bread and butter pickles, so I had everything I needed but the pickles. It was a farmer's market day so off to one of my favorite things to do in the world - Farmer's Markets. Would they have pickle cucumbers yet? Sure enough.  Since I had not done this in so long, I decided to take it slow.  I bought a half peck, which turned out to be just right the amount for the pint jars I had previously purchased.
   This time I had success.  Now for the long 6-week wait to sample them.  I had totally forgotten how satisfying canning is.  Looking at my newly filled jars, gave me such a sense of fulfillment, far more than anything I have done in any paying job ( except teaching piano)  The sparkling clean jars with the colors of the pickles and peppers filled my soul.
   Now let's hope the peaches bring the same success.  I'll wait a day or two and hope they ripen up; if they aren't freestone Red Haven as the farmer had promised, the next post won't be so cheery!



You might also like to visit my other blogs: An Herbal Bedfellow, www.anherbalbedfellow.com & Grabbin' A Bite, www.grabbinabite.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wildflower Garden Update

My wildflower garden was not the exciting burst of color I had hoped for.  It seemed as though I was growing weeds all summer long.  Tall grasses "decorated" my back yard.  Luckily, it is not a showplace.  We keep it natural so as to not have to water and mow as often.  Our back yard is a place for growing vegetables, feeding birds, and campfires. So weeds were not really out of place. But where were the flowers?  I had paid a fair amount of money for some good quality seeds.


A few weeks ago, some color finally started to appear. The stems are short, but now I have hope for next year.  I'll leave that space untouched, and maybe the seeds dropped form the surviving plants will reproduce. It's also possible some of the seeds are biennials, which means they will produce a plant this year but not a flower.  Then next year the bloom will show up producing more seeds for the following year. Anyway, here are some of the flowers that have bloomed so far -- my grandson seemed to have left a nice fingerprint on the lens, but if you can look past it, you will see the show.

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You might also like to visit my other blogs: An Herbal Bedfellow, www.anherbalbedfellow.com & Grabbin' A Bite, www.grabbinabite.com

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Harvesting my Herbs

It's that thyme again!!  Herb harvesting time.


Tidy bundles of oregano, thyme, sage,  rosemary, and some freshly cut chives. I make a loop at the end of the string ties for ease in hanging.


Hanging in the storage barn to dry.  A nice, warm, dry place. My husband kindly gave up some head space for a week or so. It smells so good in there now! The next step will be to strip them from their stems, crush lightly,  and place in clean jars.



You might also like to visit my other blogs: An Herbal Bedfellow, www.anherbalbedfellow.com & Grabbin' A Bite, www.grabbinabite.com

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Deer Problems in the Garden?

Oh, how we love our deer!  We watch them with awe as they gently step their way through our woods, nibbling as they go.  We call out to each other quietly --deer, deer!  and study them reverently with their babies.  Then we go outside to enjoy the early morning dew and the freshness of the pine-filled air.  With coffee and tea cups in hand we walk the yard to see what is new this morning -- daylilies, hosta.  WAIT!!! Where's the hosta????   What happened to that branch on my new weeping cherry tree?  No leaves.  Look at the bark on the newly planted McIntosh Apple - stripped!!!
So, my beautiful Bambi friends, you want to play that way? Okay,well, I have a few things to stop you, other than using a gun.  In past articles, I've written about using marigolds and herbs, I've mentioned hanging bags of my dog's fur in the trees, ( this does need to be refreshed regularly) and I've also talked about an motion sensor sprinkler - which only works if you remember to turn it on, by the way. I've used Irish Spring soap shavings in the daylilies and it works well, but will need to repeated at regular intervals also.

 If fighting with the deer, is turning you off from gardening altogether, maybe you just need to start over with some plants that deer just don't like.  I am only including the plants that I know grow well in my Michigan garden.  There are others that I am not that familiar with. This is a combination of annuals, perennials, and shrubs.  The ones with an asterisk are in my garden at this moment. I have never seen a bite out of one of them, even my daylilies survived this year.  Some of the others are in the plans for next year.



ageratum
aster *
bachelor's buttons *
barberry
bee balm *
bottlebrush
boxwood
buddleia
calendula
California poppy
canterbury bell
columbine *
coreopsis *
cosmos *
crocus (but the rabbits love these)
daylilies (deer do like to snap off the tender buds) *
ferns *
foxglove *
geranium
holly
iris
juniper
lantana
salvia
scabiosa
trumpet vine
veronica violet
wintergreen *
wisteria
Keep in mind, when deer are hungry they will eat anything!!

You might also like to visit my other blogs: An Herbal Bedfellow, www.anherbalbedfellow.com & Grabbin' A Bite, www.grabbinabite.com