Seeing Red

Well… let’s just say that I’m so glad I could write a nice garden harvest post before I left for the Labor Day weekend.

At that point we actually had produce to harvest and enjoy.

Then we left.

It was a record 107 degrees as we drove to my parents place and it stayed hot and dry the entire weekend. By the time we returned on Monday –  the garden looked post-apocalyptic.

All of the vineys – the squash, watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkins – everything was dead. Succumbed to the the deadly heat, drought, and dreaded squash bugs.

An they had fought so valiantly all summer.

A moment of silence please.

The corn was brown and dried up and the beans looked pathetic.

So much for a fall garden.

DSC_0132Well – except for the tomatoes. After waiting months for them to finally decide to ripen –  they all ripened at once.

Buddy and I picked bushels of them – 3 banana boxes full.

We were seeing red all the next day as we canned 9 batches of spaghetti sauce in a single day. Never before have I done that many at once.  Wowsa.

And they weren’t done.

A week later we picked another 2 banana boxes.

We have now canned 66 quarts of spaghetti sauce in 2 days.

And I can still see red ones when I look out the window.

Maybe someone should tell them there is a drought? They could slow down.

But I’m not complaining! Oh no – I’m just thankful to have any produce at all!

Really I am.

Anybody want to trade some beautiful red ripe tomatoes for some green beans? Zucchini? Sweet corn?Anything?

I didn’t think so.

Spaghetti sauce here we come.


Some of you have noticed that I haven’t done any garden posts this spring

It’s just too depressing.

And humbling.

You see – my seedlings are rather pathetic.


They were planted a little late, then it was so cold in the basement that we brought them up to Angel Girl’s room and put them in her windows.

Which was a good idea – except that it was so cloudy and overcast that they didn’t get the sun they needed.

I still thought they were doing okay – until I stopped at the Amish greenhouse for a few things and saw their plants.


Amish cauliflower on the left of the screen. My cauliflower on the right.


They also gave us a tomato plant.

DSC_0155Theirs is the one with actual tomatoes on it. Mine are the pathetic little ones with three tiny leaves and the spindly stem.


At least the tomatoes have a few more days to get bigger and harden off before they get planted.

The poor cauliflower and broccoli got planted directly in the garden. Poor things. I felt like I threw them right off the high board into the deep end.

Grow little plants! Grow!

Meanwhile the rest of the garden spot is looking more and more like a part of the lawn. Maybe when things settle down again we’ll get it tilled.

And planted.

And the rains will come.

And the plants will grow.

And I will bask in all the luscious veggies.


Home Canned Salsa

SalsaI didn’t even look in the garden before we left for the funeral last week.

In this case – ignorance might have been bliss at the time – but it did leave us with a lot of very ripe tomatoes waiting when we got back!

The really overripe ones went to our red wattle pigs,  Diesel and Ethel. So instead of making spaghetti sauce with them – I guess we made pork. 🙂

The rest we’re working up now.  Next up – another batch of Mendi’s salsa!

I love canning my own salsa!  It costs so little and I can control how much sugar goes into it.

This is the salsa we use to make our very favorite easy black bean soup!

Home Canned Salsa
recipe from my friend Mendi

5 pounds tomatoes
3 cup chopped onions
1 cup jalapeno peppers, diced (this is optional)
1 cup cider vinegar
3-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (I used even less and nobody noticed!)
1 cup green pepper, chopped
2 teaspoon garlic

Peel and chop the tomatoes into chunks.

Mix all the other ingredients with the tomatoes in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook until you get a desired thickness. (If I’m in a hurry – we have a thinner salsa. If I have time, we get a thick rich one.)

Make sure you use a heavy pot and stir often to avoid sticking and burning! (Ask me how I know this!)

Pour into sterilized pint jars, seal and process for 30 minutes  in a boiling water bath.

Remove from the canner and let cool for 24 hours on clean towels on your kitchen counter so that everybody who walks by with be impressed with your homemaking skills!

Enjoy all winter long when garden fresh tomatoes are but a distant memory!

Garden Update – Drought Edition

I haven’t done a garden update for awhile because it’s been too sad.

The really high temperatures and no rain has done a number on some of the plants.

Just look at this corn.
Sad isn’t it.

Now look at the corn just a few feet down the row. Same amount of water.
Corn2The difference? Shade. We have a large maple tree that shades part of the garden for awhile every day.

It was just enough time to save some of the corn.

I saw some neighbors who put up tarps to shade some of their garden – it’s not a bad idea.

BeansSame thing with the green beans. Half the rows look like this. The other half look better. There are a few little beans on the plants, but most of the blossoms are just dropping.

But it’s not all bad news.

The peppers are doing okay.

PeppersThey don’t seem to mind the heat. As long we keep them watered, they keep on producing. We’ve even enjoyed our first poppers of the season!

With the frequent watering, the guys have managed to keep the melons, squash, and pumpkins alive, too.

Then there’s the tomatoes. We’ve seen a lot of dry rot on my all-time favorites the Rutgers and Amish Paste.  But the hero of the garden this year is the Jersey Giant.


These tomatoes are amazing! The plants look green, the tomatoes are huge with very little spoilage – even in the heat. These are definitely a good drought tomato!

All in all – we’re counting our blessings.

Some produce is coming in. We’ve had enough water to keep things alive – even if we had to manually apply it!

And at least we don’t have to do any weeding!

Garden Check

Things have finally slowed down a bit around here!

Matt is safely in England, the kids are finishing up school, and we’re still eating graduation buns (and will be for some time to come!)

I guess it’s time to think about the garden again!

We enjoyed both lettuce and radishes from the very few early things that actually made it in the ground several weeks ago.

Sugar Snap PeasAnd the peas are ready to pick! The bad news is that we only got one kind planted – the sugar snap variety. The regular pea seeds are still in the packet and it’s much too late in the season to get them in the ground.

The kids are not going to be happy when they realize this fact.

Not. at. all.

They all love fresh peas. Some of them don’t even like stir fry.

There will be no sitting in the pea patch eating fresh peas and shucking the pod over the fence this year.  Nope. Instead there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We did manage to get the rest of the garden planted though.

In one night. During graduation week. It isn’t pretty.

Some of the corn looks more like a corn maze than corn rows!

But it’s in.

PepperThe peppers – both sweet and hot – are perking up now that they are in the garden!

Grow little jalapenos! Grow fast!

With the nice rains over the weekend, the green beans are sprouting! I planted Jade green beans for the first time this year. A friend brought me some last year and I loved them!

Instead of getting fat when left on the plant – the Jade beans just get longer.  I do have a packet of my stand-by Blue Lake variety for mid-season planting if I need them.

TomatoAnd then- there’s the tomatoes.

Would you believe that I initially planted 50 of the tomato plants we started from seed. Yes – 50! And I still had at least that many plants left!

So I started giving them away – to my mom , my sisters, my neighbor – anyone who looked like they needed a tomato, or two or three.

On Sunday I took what was left to church and blessed people with them.

Angel Girl somehow squeezed the remaining 4 plants in the garden – bringing our grand total to 54.

Someone asked me on Sunday what in the world we were going to do with that many tomatoes.

Umm – eat them?

It could be a busy summer!

I’ve linked this post up with the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.