Gift Shopping for Gardeners and Preservers.

We all have those people on our gift list that we have no clue what to give them. Sometimes they will ask for something specific, but a lot of the time we’re left to figure it out on our own. This can be quite a challenge if you aren’t familiar with their interests. If you have a gardener on your list this year, or someone who enjoys canning or dehydrating, I can help you on your quest for the perfect gifts! Why take my advice? Because I’m an organic gardener and I preserve what I grow, too! The links below are affiliate links. That means I may get a small commission if you purchase anything through these links, which helps to keep this site alive. They are all products I Continue Reading →

Fall Harvesting and Preserving the Bounty

Fall Harvesting, and why I like it the best. I think fall harvesting is one of my favorite times in the garden. Normally the weather is cooler, the plants are slowing down production, and canning is just more comfortable to do when it’s cooler. This year however, we saw unseasonably cool, cloudy and rainy days and downright cold nights during August and early September. Some of my tomato plants started to die back. Powdery mildew did in the squash, and the peppers stopped budding. The picture above is from last year. That all changed about a week ago. The summer-like weather over the past week has rejuvenated the peppers and the tomatoes are ripening up again! The daytime temps are to stay in the mid to upper 80’s through Wednesday, Continue Reading →

Preserving Herbs, Tomatoes and Peppers

The herbs are doing phenomenally well this year, and I am preserving everything I can from the gardens. With the help of my Excalibur dehydrator, I have been dehydrating a lot of those herbs! You can see in the picture that the basil, thyme and oregano are totally full (I vacuum sealed those) and will be starting more jars shortly. After Monday’s abundant rain, there will be lot’s more to harvest tomorrow! Like the jars? Just Ball canning jars and a paint pen! Preserving tomatoes The tomatoes are also coming along and ripening quite nicely now. Because I still have plain canned tomatoes (diced, whole, puree, etc.) from last fall, I am preserving them differently this year. Basic tomatoes are great, but sometimes you want something more. The Gladiator romas Continue Reading →

Harvesting and Still Replanting for Fall Crops

Yesterday’s harvesting went pretty good. Despite all the setbacks from woodchucks munching on everything as it sprouted, the garden (and I) persevered! For the past few weeks I have been harvesting and replanting with fall crops. We only have about 60 more days in the growing season, so everything has to be a short season variety.    Last month, snow peas went in where the brussels sprouts were removed, and cucumbers and Italian green beans replaced the kohlrabi. Beets and carrots were planted right after harvesting the leeks. Today I will be planting beets where I pulled the first crop of carrots, and broccoli raab and lettuce to replace the first crop of beets. What do you do with it all after harvesting a lot of vegetables at once?   Continue Reading →

Tomato Sauce Recipes

I found some of my tomato sauce recipes that I posted on my FB blog last year. These are tried and true recipes from reliable sources and I made them last year. It’s nice to have plain tomato sauce, or puree, on hand to season however and whenever you need it. But, it’s quite helpful to have a pre-seasoned sauce, too, specially for quick meals. Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do. I’ll be making a lot more this year! Basil-Garlic Tomato Sauce From the Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving Preserving Method: Water Bath Canning Makes about 13 (16 oz) pints or 7 (32 oz) quarts. You can easily cut this recipe in half for a smaller batch, but you’ll wish you made more! You Continue Reading →

Canning Tomatoes Soon!

I’m going to be canning tomatoes! Yes, I know it’s just one cherry tomato, but for me it’s just like seeing my first Robin in the Spring! It starts with one, and then there are more, and then I can’t keep the birdfeeders full. Tomatoes are the same way. You can’t wait for that first bite of vine ripened garden freshness, and before you know it you are giving them out to neighbors because you can’t eat them all. This year I planted six San Marzano tomatoes. They are a delicious Italian heirloom variety that is perfect for sauce and canning. It has smaller seed pockets and more “meat” to it than other tomatoes. I also planted eight Gladiators, a hybrid paste tomato (a cross between two different varieties, nothing Continue Reading →

Woodchuck in the Garden…again.

Monday afternoon I went out to the garden to get a few good pics before the rain started. The tomatoes and peppers are doing great. The squash and corn I replanted after the woodchuck ate it is up and thriving. The pole beans I replanted…twice…are finally up about 6 inches or so, since adding 1″ opening chicken wire to the existing fence. And then I came to this bed. Yes, I know it looks like something out of a football playbook, but this is showing the latest ransacking done by the demon spawn of the neighborhood woodchuck. Seriously, yesterday everything was well-sprouted and leafy. Now, the red arrows point to some of the stubs that are all that’s left of most of my Italian green beans. See those two cute little Continue Reading →

Can I Still Plant Vegetables in July?

Sorry, I don’t have any pics of an early Fall snowfall. This is the opposite, an early April snowfall from last Spring. Now back to the question… Is it too late to plant vegetables in July? The short answer is “no”. It just depends on what you want to grow. Here in Central NY, zone 5, our first frost date is considered to be October 13th. That is 96 days from today, give or take… Mother Nature can be very generous and forgiving, and then sometimes she seems unforgiving or just down right miserable. October 13 is only 18 days before Halloween. I can remember warm evenings taking my boys trick or treating in just their cute little costumes, and I also remember pulling them over snow drifts in a sled, Continue Reading →

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for Dinner

Since the day I planted the cabbage seeds I’ve been looking forward to making stuffed cabbage rolls! With all the rain we’ve had, everything is starting to grow quickly. I went out this morning and harvested two nice, firm cabbages that weighed a bit over 6 pounds total. Unfortunately, with all the rain, the slugs also found them… Luckily though, they were only on the outside and between a couple outer leaves, which went into the compost bin anyway. The insides were flawless! I will gladly give up a few outer leaves knowing that my home grown produce has never been chemically treated. Ever. I made a double batch of stuffed cabbage rolls so I will have a few meals to freeze. They freeze great! By next weekend the remaining six Continue Reading →

Square Foot Gardening with the Seeding Square

No more strings in my raised beds! My new Seeding Square arrived! I don’t know about you, but having a much anticipated package delivered on a crappy rainy day just changes everything. The corn needed to be replanted due to foraging squirrels, so this arrived at the perfect time. Hoping it would be simple and easy to use, I set up the camera and started shooting “the replanting of the corn”…   Oh yeah, I likey! I thought marking out my square foot grid with string was easier than building a wood framework, but this just eliminated the whole grid set up entirely. Press the Seeding Square into the soil and it perfectly marks the grids as you plant. The color coded chart and Square make it easy to know Continue Reading →

Dehydrating Herbs in my New Dehydrator!

Today I am dehydrating herbs in my new dehydrator! I’ve wanted an Excalibur dehydrator for a very long time, and finally found this one at a really good price. Yes, it is big! Right now it is on the dining table until I figure out its permanent location (it is still set up for seed starting and soon for crafts). It has 9 trays with 15 square feet of drying space, a 7 inch fan and a 600 watt motor. Not too loud, sort of like a window fan or air conditioner running. These are rated as one of the best dehydrators on the market. I’ve tried cheap ones, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. There aren’t any vegetables ready in the garden yet, so Continue Reading →

Harvesting Broccoli and Cauliflower

It’s time to chop the broccoli! I didn’t plan on harvesting broccoli and cauliflower yet, but due to more rain than we needed and temps in the upper 80’s to 90, it was time. Broccoli and cauliflower are cool weather crops. Normally, our spring is in the low to mid 70’s and much cooler at night. Even our nights have been in the upper 60’s to low 70’s. As a result, the broccoli and cauliflower were starting to bolt, or flower to produce seed. If they go too far, they become bitter and cauliflower actually becomes grainy. I caught them just in time. The crop was definitely not noteworthy, the heads were small and a few little yellow flowers were open. Did you know that a head of broccoli is Continue Reading →

Woodchucks in the Garden

Woodchucks and squirrels can be worse for a garden than the bugs are. Add rabbits into the group and your vegetable garden can disappear seemingly overnight. Charlie has been busy… Charlie, as my niece calls him, is my arch enemy, my nemesis, and a relentless vegetable destroying woodchuck. I have been in this battle for quite a few years. My gardens are all fenced in, but he still finds a way. I made the mistake of planting my peas to grow up the fence by one of my raised beds. I thought about Charlie as I planted them, but thought I would give it a try anyway. Things went well for a while… I came out one morning a couple weeks ago to find half of my peas quite a bit shorter than Continue Reading →

Planting a Salad Garden by the Square Foot

Why plant a salad garden? Planting a salad garden is a great way to keep all your salad fixings in one convenient place. Plus, growing your own greens is much healthier than the prepackaged salad mixes at the grocery store. Remember, you are now in control of any chemicals used on your produce! Keeping it all (for the most part) in one bed also makes it easier to harvest your own nutritious salad mix for dinner. Salad veggies, unlike most other vegetables that love the sun, can also be grown together in areas with less sunlight! Just four to six hours a day is enough to grow lettuces, spinach, peas, beets, radishes and other leafy greens. With the exception of tomatoes and peppers, everything for salads is grown in this bed. To increase yields and Continue Reading →

Fighting the Urge to Plant the Garden NOW!

This is our weather forecast this week and I want to plant something… Plant now? I want to sooo badly! But I figure that if I plant the seedlings now, it will snow next week. This is Murphy’s Law in Central New York. So, I will take advantage of these gorgeous early Spring days and finish prepping the raised beds. I still have 2 beds that I never cleaned out last fall. Yes, I know I should have done it then, but too many other things came up. Before I could get out there the snow accumulated and I decided it could wait until a nice winter day. Nope. Never happened. Think of cleaning them out in the fall like putting away the holiday decorations. You hate to do it, but Continue Reading →

Peas, The Easiest Vegetable to Grow!

Peas are by far the easiest and earliest vegetable seeds you can plant. They are cold tolerant, so planting now is not a problem at all. These little guys will not be stopped even if it snows! They are great when gardening with small children, because they are large enough for small hands to plant them one at a time. Unlike a packet of tiny carrot seeds, which, if left to a three-year-old’s fingers, will be used up in the first six inches of that 30 foot row it was meant for… I was going to plant my peas yesterday, but it was cold and damp, so no working outside for me. I started more seeds instead: four varieties of tomatoes, two of peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, okra and basil. Update on last weekend’s transplants.  The veggies Continue Reading →

Transplanting Seedlings Today!

The cold weather crops I started 3 weeks ago are finally big enough for transplanting into larger pots. I ordered some new trays (without holes) and 3½ inch square pots a couple weeks ago from www.greenhousemegastore.com because I needed better trays and the prices were very good. They sell “hobby packs” of ten in addition to full cases. The hobby packs were the perfect amount for me. They arrived just in time for transplanting all these little guys. I also purchased a large roll of row cover fabric which was cheaper than buying a small package of it at Home Depot. To use the fabric effectively, I will be making pvc hoop frames for some of the beds and will drape and fasten the fabric over it. Sort of like turning the raised beds Continue Reading →

Planning My Square Foot Garden Layout

Oh, the weather outside is frightful… So, I’m planning my Square Foot Garden layout today. With winter storm “Stella” dumping more snow today, planning the vegetable garden gives me hope that Spring is actually coming.  I have made my list of this year’s plants and I know how many of each I will be growing. Next, I will decide what plants go in which bed and lay it out on graph paper using the SFG (Square Foot Garden) method. I have five raised beds, two are 4×8, three are 3×8 and one square keyhole garden that is 8×8.  I also have large plastic storage boxes that I place next to the fence in the dog’s play area. For obvious reasons you can’t plant in the ground where the dog “fertilizes” it. 🙁 A Brief Guideline Continue Reading →

The Cool Weather Crops are Started!

It’s too cold to be outside this weekend, so I’m vegetable gardening indoors. The light system is up and running, and I have all the supplies ready and waiting. I have all the seeds I plan on growing (except for the rosemary that I should have started two weeks ago), so the magic starts now!.  So this is my dining room light system set up. Yes, it is taller than needed for plants (the lights can be raised to 4 feet), but after seed starting season is over it becomes my craft table. It gets taken down briefly for the holiday dinners, then back up again for seeding time. Today I am starting my “cool weather” crops: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and leeks. These are all plants that thrive in cooler weather, Continue Reading →

Early Spring or is Mother Nature Just Messing With Us?

The Spring like weather this week has been unusual, to say the least. Temperatures in the 60’s to near 70, sunshine, a foot of snow melted away and robins were spotted. Trust me, I’m not complaining at all about this brief warm up, as we’re supposed to be in the 30’s and get lake affect snow again on Sunday and Monday 🙁 Anyway, this bit of faux Spring has me wanting to get my hands dirty in the garden, but I am fighting the urge and refraining from planting the peas this early like I did last year. They finally grew, but getting a couple feet of snow in early April didn’t help. Instead, and to get my garden fix, I got the lights up on the seed starting table, all my Continue Reading →