My garden, this year, has been a sad little shadow of my past gardens. The combination of a late, cold, wet spring and me being great with child for the first half of the summer, and nursing a hungry little monkey for the second half has made for a very late, very neglected, very low producing garden.
One item that has done very well, which it should since it is pretty much a no-brainer in gardening circles, are my green beans. I planted a lot this year hoping that I would have enough to can, which I did. And, as luck would have it, the all decided to ripen just as Baby Girl was born and when we came home there were pounds of beans that needed picking. And as luck would have it, I have a whole bunch of little fingers that are really good at picking beans, and snapping them.
The great thing about canning beans, is that they need little preparation, they aren’t like jellies and jams, they aren’t like tomatoes that need peeling either. The only thing that needs to be done to the beans to get them ready for canning is a good washing, and snapping them to the size desired. I then raw packed them in pint sized jars, added a half teaspoon sea salt, and hot water. I then processed them for 20 minutes at 12 pounds pressure (the pounds of pressure needed is determined by altitude). Simple and easy.
I was able to can 24 pints, and the bean bushing are still producing like crazy, there will be many jars of beans on the shelves at our house to feed us all winter long!
Last season I tired a few new vegetables, like I do every year, one of them happened to be parsnips. I only planted a small patch, not knowing if we were going to like them or not. Everything I read about growing parsnips recommended that you leave them in the ground until the first freeze, it makes the root sweeter, and just to harvest as needed. My intention was to dig them up in the winter for some fresh produce, but as things got colder and the snow deeper, I put off digging them up. Luckily for me, parsnips winter over quite well and as the weather started to warm a little those hardy little parsnips started to grow again.
The weather around these parts has been unseasonible wet (flooding anyone?) and it has rained almost everyday (I wonder if this is what it is like in the Pacific Northwest, very strange weather for desert Utah). One afternoon there was a beautiful break in the clouds and rain and I ran out and harvested about half of the parsnips.
I love the pretty white color, it was fun to harvest something this early in the season, considering I missed planting any cool weather crops on account of being on modified bed rest last month. I sliced and boiled the parsnips, then toss them with a little butter. To say they weren’t our favorite is a huge overstatement, no one really liked them. However, I won’t give up on parsnips yet, it took me a couple years to get the kids to like beets (and now they love them) so I will try for a little while with the ol’ parsnips.
My question for you, dear readers, does anyone know of a better way to prepare parsnips for eating? I still have some left and I would like to serve them in a different way to see if we like them better.
Saturday we harvested the carrots.
Harvesting carrots is one of the fun gardening jobs.
The kids love to pull carrots.
Storing a carrot is very simple. They are a “root cellar” vegetable, meaning they will stay good and fresh as long as they are stored correctly. I keep mine in plastic bags in an old refrigerator in my garage, I keep the temperature in the refrigerator at about 50 degrees, and they will stay fresh that way for months. You can also keep them in a cold basement room or a root cellar, if you are lucky enough to have a root cellar. When storing fresh carrots cut off the green top, leaving a half to a quarter inch of the top on. If you don’t cut the tops the carrot will wither, same thing will happen if you cut into the root.
If you don’t have a place to store carrots at that temperature, you can blanch and freeze them, or can them (using a pressure canner).
We harvested 50 pounds of carrots, along with the 23 pounds already harvested gives us a total of 73 pounds of carrots this season. They were grown in 16 square feet of garden on my little quarter acre of land.
Yay for suburban farming!