August 23, 2012

Gardening & Canning.. oh my!

My garden this year has far surpassed my expectations!  IT has been unreal even with the drought, which has affected some of it.  I’ve canned so many jars of stuff, I’ve had to buy more jars, lids and still need more!  I’ve canned 7 qts of green beans, 5 pints carrots, 3 pints green beans, 4 pints beets, 18 jars salsa,  7 qts tomatoes, 6 pints tomatoes, 15 jars pickles, 10 jars hot peppers, 3 jars Cowboy Candy, and 2 ¾ jars spaghetti sauce.  That of course does not include the 10 freezer bags of green beans, 6 freezer bags broccoli/cauliflower mix, 50 ears of corn (planning on decobbing and canning some of this) plus 3 bags of carrot sticks for snacking AND I’m no where near being done.  And of course what we've eaten fresh!

I have had countless amounts of cucumbers that ARE massive.. and I mean massive, we are talking HUMUNGOUS SIZE! Some were atleast 1.5 feet long!  Unreal.. needless to say we ate a lot of cucumbers and I made A LOT of pickles! J  I’ve picked over 100 jalapeno peppers not including the other variety of hot ones I planted.  I’ve got atleast 75 habaneros’ growing right now, what on earth will I do with them!

Many things are done, many are still growing, like broccoli, beans, cantaloupe, tomatoes and peppers.  The carrots are done, the corn’s pretty much done. The watermelon didn’t do much of anything and the tomatoes have grown beyond my control, they seriously have become crazy mutant plants that are like 4 feet wide and are falling everywhere!  Ahh.. I digress, I can’t complain I will surely have lots do with tomatoes in the next month. 

Now the weather.. oh my goodness. It went from unusually warm spring to super oober hot summer, we’re talking major drought!  90% of the corn in IL was fried due to the heat.  As were my peas, a batch of beans and my kiwi plant that they said would grow here. L  Now it’s August and we are down to the 70s, which I just don’t get. Ugh.  Hopefully the warmer weather stays otherwise I’m going to have gazzilions of green tomatoes!

So the end result of this first year of my raised bed gardening (there may be duplicates I already posted prior but they are all in one post now!):

The plan
The start

just starting out

Work in progress we are growing!
 The produce

Monster cukes!

Behomth carrots!
This was all from 1 Sat morning!

My little corn helper!

Making salsa

Habanero salsa!

Potatoes i just dug up waiting to get canned

all my canned goods
Pickles and green beans

50 ears of corn to freeze!

I think it’s fantastic!  Starting to prepare and plan for next years garden, going to have to change things up a little bit and build a grape arbor for next year where my berry bushes currently are, they got overrun by cantaloupe and weeds.  I hate (yes I know strong word)  well despise weeds!  Darn things just keep coming back!

And in between all that we took our boys to a Cubs game for Build a Bear Workshop day and even though the seats were sucky and the Cubs are horrible this year, they got to ride on a train, experience Wrigley Field (highly recommend for those who never have!) and got a FREE Cubs bear!  What better way to spend a birthday with my 9 yr old!  Next week back to school!!!!!!  Mom says YAY! Kids say BOO!  Ha Mom wins!

Well what do you all think and what have you done if any gardening this year?  I’m so going to be stocked for winter!

August 6, 2012

Garden Extravaganza!

My garden guard!

He's such a good boy!  He is guarding mama's garden, he knows his brother would go 'raid' all the veggies!

Well with the major amount of heat over for now atleast, I hope (it's back to 80's) my garden has started producing some more veggies.  My cauliflower has come in heavily and my broccoli plants that I have left are producing numerous side shoots.  I'm hoping to have some more broccoli for the fall, we will see.   My green beans have by far taken the brunt of the heat we've had.  I had to pull up a entire box of Contender beans, they produced once then died.  Didn't seem to matter how much I watered either, they just didn't survive.  I've now planted new beans in it's place, which are sprouting already.

So to date I have had countless and I mean countless (atleast 30) humungous cucumbers and they taste sooooooooo good!  I'm definitely going to be stocking up on Biotamax for next year!  IT's made a world of difference on them!  Tomatoes are finally starting to ripen, they too have responded well to the Biotamax, probably woudl have been better I did it when I planted but alas..   I've had to pull one Zuchinni plant out as it died, but it produced atleast 15 fruits.  I have a 2nd one going but it's only got male flowers now, only had a few fruits off of it, so I'm not sure what it's doing.  Beets were pulled and canned already, so I've planted more.  Lettuce has gone to seed, so I pulled that and replaced it with green beans.  Had tons and tons (over 100) hot peppers.. All varities.. jalapeno, pablano, habanero, banana.  My one and only serrano pepper plant didn't survive the drought.  oh well..  Green peppers are doing ok, was hoping for some sweet peppers but nothing is turning red :(  My corn in the raised beds has grown tremendously (albeit now beetles are attacking the ears!) the corn with my pumpkins not so much, it's definitely stunted by the drought and heat.  As is 90% of the rest of IL, and we are feeling it.. Gas prices are up to $4.15 a gallon today!  YIKES!  I'm wishing I worked closer to home so I could walk! 

So with all this mass amount of produce I've been harvesting  We have been eating salad atleast a few times a week, hubby and I are the only ones who will eat the lettuce, which we like but aren't over crazy about every day so we do a few times a week.  Been snacking on cucumbers for lunch, grape tomatoes and green peppers.

I have given countless zuchinni, lettuce and kale to my grandmother and my mom.  They have frozen, shredded and baked zuchinni bread with it.  (We don't eat zuchinni). 

So here's what I've canned/frozen this year so far:

10 pints of bread n butter pickles
9 pints hot peppers (listed above)
7 qts green beans (though I think I over processed them a little)
4 pints green beans
3 pints cowboy candy (candied jalapenos)
4 pints beets
2 frozen pkgs. green beans
5 pints tomatoes
50 white onions

Not too bad for being in a major drought most of the summer with no rain and temps over 100 daily.  The small amounts of rain we have recieved have done wonders for my garden.  Check out some of my produce from the last few weeks:


Mega cucumbers

Hot peppers, broccoli and cucumbers

Pickles, beans and hot peppers

These I picked Sat.

This was picked 3 weeks ago

2 weeks ago (for the pickles & hot peppers)

AND this is only some of it!  I've given away countless zuchinnis, lettuce, kale, broccoli, cucumbers and green peppers!

I can't wait to be able to make some cheesy broccoli, cauliflower soup.  Waiting for my carrots and potatoes to come in! 

How is everyone else's garden surviving?  I'd love to hear about your garden, the size, what your growing, how it's doing etc. :)