Enjoying the Home Garden

July 1st, 2008

The garden has really come into its own this week.  We finally have a good crop of beans this year, and they’ve grown more than enough to eat each day.  For the last week they’re making almost too much, which means we get to save some for winter.  We’re still learning how to grow an abundant garden, finding out what vegetables we like and understanding how best to manage weeds and pests naturally.

The lettuce has done very well this year, probably because we got an early start.  We planted mixed varieties of leaf and butterhead lettuce and some of them have grown very well.  I’m not partial to softer leaf lettuce, but since it grows so well we may have to get used to it.  And we haven’t tried yet, but I’ve read that the crunchy types of lettuce such as iceberg don’t grow as well in the midwest.  Anybody know?  

Red leaf and butterhead varieties have grown nicely this year, but what is the red speckled type?

Red leaf and Buttercrunch lettuce     Red leaf lettuce with speckles

I’ve enjoyed making canned pickles and peppers the last couple of years, but we have not used a pressure canner yet for other vegetables.  Maybe we’ll freeze some of them?  For beans we’ve been told that it’s best to blanche them quickly before freezing, to help maintain flavor and freshness.   That will be great to have nearly fresh beans for the colder months, yet I also like the softer canned beans. They just have a flavor and texture that I love.

Beans, sweet peas and snow peas, yum!  Nothing like home grown, but it makes you appreciate just how many peas are in a can at the grocery store.

Green beans, sweet peas and snow peas

Of course the internet is a wonderful resource these days, and there’s many sites that offer helpful information.  Here’s a great site at PickYourOwn.org that provides a wealth of how-to guidance on canning and freezing.   Very helpful especially since we’d like to make some jam or jellies from berries, as well as put up a lot of other vegetables.   We’re still learning, and with grocery prices skyrocketing it helps to do more things at home.

Have you ever made anything out of elderberries?  We have a couple plants growing on the property and I hope to pick a bunch of them. These Elderberry flowers will grow into a bunch of blue-black berries, hopefully picked before the birds can get them!

Elderberry flowers

The tomatoes are about to start producing too; lots of small to medium green tomatoes are all over the plants now.  If we can keep the moles from digging them up we may do well this year and even have tomato sauce.  

And have you ever thought about corn pollination?   It’s an amazing process that we really take for granted.  Hopefully we’ll have some corn to feast upon in the months ahead.

Tassle of corn plant

The garden can be a lot of work but it’s also a wonderful place to learn about plant growth, especially when it provides so much food!

2 Responses to “Enjoying the Home Garden”

  1. I’ve grown the iceberg type of lettuce before but always have so much problems with bugs. It was either resort to chemical warfare or grow the leaf varieties. I chose the later way and have done it that way ever since.

    I’ve pressure canned lots of fruits but about the only vegetables I have done are green beans, pickled stuff and tomatoes. Everything else I freeze. It just always tastes better in my opinion.

  2. Thanks for the lettuce info, looks like it’s the same in this area. I wonder if I grew them under cheesecloth or something? Think we’ll get the pressure canner this year to try stuff out. We’ll have to try more fruits and veggies… of course freezing saves on jars too.

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