My Gardening and Preserving Goals 2017


Each year I try to garden with a goal in mind. My goal is always to produce and preserve as much food as we need to get us through the winter and to help me spend as little as possible at the grocery store.

Last year I had some pretty lofty goals and fell completely flat on my face. It was a horrible growing season in 2016. Heat and drought took it’s toll on the garden and a late frost killed all of the blossoms on the fruit trees. I have never seen anything like it really.

I revisited my goals from last year and chopped some of the harder to reach goals out.

Here is a list of my family’s 2017 Gardening and Preserving Goals.

Herbs:

  1. Garlic
  2. Chives
  3. Aloe Vera
  4. Dill
  5. Artemisia
  6. Calendula
  7. Chamomile
  8. Cilantro
  9. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  10. Sweet Woodruff
  11. Lavender
  12. Lemon Balm
  13. Mint
  14. Catnip
  15. Basil
  16. Oregano
  17. Parsley
  18. Anise
  19. Rosemary
  20. Sage
  21. Dandelion
  22. Thyme
  23. Nasturtium
  24. Valerian

Crops:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Strawberries
  3. Raspberries
  4. Blackberries
  5. Cherries Sweet
  6. Cherries Sour
  7. Pears
  8. Peaches
  9. Grapes
  10. Rhubarb
  11. Sweet Peppers
  12. Banana Peppers
  13. Eggplant
  14. Onions
  15. Shallots
  16. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  17. Snap Bean Pole
  18. Peas
  19. Spinach
  20. Lettuce
  21. Cabbage
  22. Swiss Chard
  23. Beets
  24. Radish
  25. Carrots
  26. Cucumbers
  27. Pumpkins
  28. Gourds
  29. Winter Squash
  30. Zucchini
  31. Yellow Squash
  32. Cantaloupes
  33. Water Melon
  34. Sunflowers
  35. Tomatoes
  36. Celery
  37. Broccoli
  38. Potatoes
  39. Yellow Tomatoes
  40. Paste Tomatoes

wp-image-1321768642jpg.jpeg

Preserving:

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Peach Jam
  6. Pear Jelly
  7. Apple Jelly
  8. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  9. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  10. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  11. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  12. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  13. Apple Sauce
  14. Grape Juice
  15. Pear Juice
  16. Tart Cherry Juice
  17. Pickled Beets
  18. Canned Beets
  19. Vegetable Stock
  20. Vegetable Soup
  21. Tomato Sauce
  22. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  23. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  24. Bread and Butter Pickles
  25. Frozen Corn
  26. Frozen Peppers
  27. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  28. Red Root Relish
  29. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  30.  Dilly Deans
  31. Pickled Hot Peppers
  32. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  33.  Crushed Tomatoes
  34. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  35.  Canned Green Beans
  36. Frozen Peas
  37. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  38. Chili
  39. Stuffed Hot Peppers
  40. Stuffed Sweet Peppers

 

So far, we are already doing mighty fine with our 2017 gardening goals and we have had plenty of rain too. Yippee!

This last weekend we added 3 more raised veggie beds which brings my planting area to about 200 sq. ft. of space to work with. Yippee! Thank you Mr. Ripley for working so hard. (He said it was my Mother’s Day present).

To date we have planted carrots, peas, radish, and lettuce but much more will be planted by the end of this week.


How will I keep track of all of this? My journal. And lists. LOTS of lists. Should be interesting! Wish me luck and I will keep you updated. -MM

 

 

 

Advertisements

Dandelion Jelly-You Gotta Try It!

Last season I decided to try making dandelion jelly. I read people’s comments on how good it was and many of them said they would be making a double batch next year. So I figured, what the heck, why not?

I love trying things made from foraging. We don’t spray our yard (though my husband hates dandelions) and sitting in a grassy field of yellow flowers sounded heavenly.

 

Making the jelly is pretty simple. Certainly easier than making grape jelly.

What you need to do is go out and pick lots of dandelion flowers about 10 cups or so. Just the flowers. No stems or leaves and no flowers that have gone to seed. You need the yellow petals only which I used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off from their green base. Just a straight cut right across. It’s ok if you have some green bits of leaf in there too but not too much. You will need 4 cups of petals.

Put the cut off petals in a large bowl and cover the petals with boiling water. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. You are basically making a dandelion tea and while in the fridge the petals will steep and draw the color and flavor of the dandelion out. This tea is very nutrient rich and you can drink it if you like, but I prefer the strong taste be turned into a sweet, mild jelly.

The next day strain the petal “soup” through clean cheesecloth over another bowl and save the liquid and discard the dandelion petals. What you will have left is dandelion tea which is what is used to make the jelly. You will need 3 cups of the tea. If the liquid doesn’t measure 3 cups, add enough water to the tea to bring it up to the 3 cups needed.

Pour the tea into a heavy bottom pot and add one package of powdered pectin and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to it. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently, then add 4-1/2 cups of granulated white sugar to it. Stir to dissolve the sugar and once again bring everything up to a full rolling boil that cannot be knocked down when stirring it. Skim off any foam. In the photo below you can see the pectin is setting up nicely in the jelly and it’s ready to can up.

Pour the hot jelly, leaving a 1/2 inch of head space, into hot sterilized jars and with hot sterilized lids, screw the bands on. I processed them for about 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

After the jars have cooled, label and store in a cool pantry. How pretty are these? I love the golden color!

You might ask what dandelion jelly tastes like? Honey. Seriously, I think it tastes like honey. It’s very mild and a tiny bit earthy but I love this jelly and the main ingredient, the dandelions are FREE! I will be making a double, maybe even a triple batch of this golden goodness this year.

It will be a couple of months before the weather in western, NY will be warm enough for dandelions to bloom, but when they do you will see me sitting out there in the yard collecting them. Hope you try it! -MM

Here are the ingredients in recipe form again.

3 Cups dandelion tea

4 1/2 Cups sugar

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 box powdered pectin

Combine dandelion tea, lemon juice and pectin into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Add your sugar and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and fill jars. Process 10 minutes in a boiling hot water bath. Cool, label and enjoy on a slice of homemade bread!

My Gardening and Preserving Goals for 2016

In past years when it comes to my gardening and preserving goals I tend to just wing it. Whatever canning recipe sounds good I’ll try. Whatever new plant or seed looks colorful and fun I’ll grow it. Unfortunately this leaves me by the end of the growing season with canned goods I will never use and produce that’s not very practical for our needs.pretty cabbages

This year I want to have a plan in place to eliminate the guess work. In a journal I have written a carefully researched list of herbs that I want grow for their medicinal and culinary purposes. I have also thoughtfully picked out the veggies/fruits I will need for the preserving recipes I want to try and I have listed the goods I want to get preserved

This is a VERY high achieving list. I am realistic in saying I probably will not do all of this this year but it is a goal of mine and now I will have a place to look for inspiration when I need motivation.

Okey Doke! Here we go!

I spent a while researching these herbs, plants and flowers and what they are used for. Many make good companion plants to certain veggies in the garden so I will most likely add those plants to the garden beds to enrich the soil and to aid its companion buddy.

  1. Yarrow (can be invasive so it will have it’s own bed)
  2. Anise Hyssop
  3. Garlic
  4. Chives (Companion for Carrots) (I grow now)
  5. Aloe Vera
  6. Lemon Verbena
  7. Dill
  8. Chervil
  9. Horseradish Companion for Potatoes)
  10. Artemisia
  11. Tarragon (Companion for Eggplant and Peppers)
  12. Borage
  13. Calendula
  14. Caraway (Companion for Peas)
  15. Bachelor Button
  16. Chamomile  (Companion for Cabbages and Onions)
  17. Cilantro
  18. Lemongrass
  19. Dianthus Clove Pink
  20. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  21. Fennel
  22. Sweet Woodruff
  23. Lavender (I grow now)
  24. Lemon Balm (I grow now)
  25. Mint (I grow now)
  26. Catnip (grows wild around here)
  27. Basil (annual that I start from seed)
  28. Oregano
  29. Parsley (I grow now)
  30. Anise
  31. Purslane (Grows wild here and considered a weed)
  32. Rosemary
  33. Sage (I grow now)
  34. Dandelion (Also a common weed)
  35. Thyme
  36. Nasturtium
  37. Valerian
  38. Violet (Grows wild here)
  39. Pansy
  40. Eucalyptus

wpid-20150824_180737.jpg

For our vegetable garden I selected plants  based on what I needed for my canning recipes and what I would use fresh.

  1. Asparagus (will not produce until year 3)
  2. Strawberries (will produce better the second year)
  3. Rhubarb (will plant this year and harvest will begin next year)
  4. Corn
  5. Popcorn
  6. Sweet Peppers
  7. Banana Peppers
  8. Eggplant
  9. Onions (My #1 priority every year for storage)
  10. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  11. Snap Bean Pole
  12. Dry Beans
  13. Peas
  14. Spinach
  15. Lettuce
  16. Cabbage
  17. Swiss Chard
  18. Beets
  19. Radish
  20. Carrots
  21. Cucumbers
  22. Pumpkins
  23. Gourds
  24. Winter Squash
  25. Zucchini
  26. Yellow Squash
  27. Cantaloupes
  28. Water Melon
  29. Sunflowers
  30. Tomatoes
  31. Celery
  32. Broccoli
  33. Potatoes
  34. Jalapenos
  35. Yellow Tomatoes
  36. Paste Tomatoeswpid-20151014_132108.jpg

And finally the preserving list. It’s even longer than the other two. I know, I know. It’s a lofty goal but it’s something I will try my best at accomplishing. And if I get it all done we won’t have to go to the grocery store until Spring. (Just kidding).

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Blackberry Jam
  6. Cherry Jam
  7. Peach Jam
  8. Pear Jelly
  9. Apple Jelly
  10. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  11. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  12. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  13. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  14. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  15. Apples in Syrup
  16. Grape Juice
  17. Pear Juice
  18. Tart Cherry Juice
  19. Pickled Beets
  20. Canned Beets
  21. Vegetable Stock
  22. Vegetable Soup
  23. Tomato Sauce
  24. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  25. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  26. Bread and Butter Pickles
  27. Frozen Corn
  28. Frozen Peppers
  29. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  30. Make my own pectin out of green apples
  31. Sweet Pickle Relish
  32. Dill Pickle Relish
  33. Red Root Relish
  34. Ketchup
  35. Red Hot Sauce
  36. BBQ Sauce
  37. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  38. Dilly Deans
  39. Pickled Roasted Red Peppers
  40. Pickled Hot Peppers
  41. Spiced Red Cabbage
  42. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  43. Crushed Tomatoes
  44. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  45. Canned Green Beans
  46. Frozen Peas
  47. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  48. Chili
  49. Pear Juice
  50. Tart Cherry Juice

wpid-20151014_080650.jpg

I will also be drying the herbs and many fruits and veggies in our 2 dehydrators.

What I haven’t mentioned is that we have 3 apple, 2 sweet cherry, 1 sour cherry, 2 pear, 2 peach and 1 apricot (1 died) and a hazelnut (1 of these died also). Plus blackberry, red raspberry, black raspberry, and blueberry bushes.

fruit1

So these are the goals. Am I missing anything? Am I nuts? We will find out! -MM

 

The Last Four Weeks

We have been so busy the last month or so that by the time we had some quiet time I was either sleeping or just doing absolutely nothing.

Here is what we have been up to.

My husband Scott turned the big 5-0 in November and I threw him a big surprise party. I started planning for it in July and it took lots of planning and telling fibs and lots of behind the scenes chatter with our friends and family to get him to his party without him knowing what was going on. Yes, he was surprised and I was so happy that he was happy!
image

The weekend after the big party I jumped into being the chairperson for our Rotary Club’s Pancake Breakfast. We had a great time, served lots of pancakes, and Doug got to play a minion for the morning, which was the theme for the breakfast.
image

Doug and I had another date night but this time we cooked at home together. We did shop first, to buy all of the ingredients for our meal. Grilled salmon, Swiss chard, cheesy rice and then we got a sampler box of cookies from the store for dessert that we had fun rating from 1-10. I love date night with my son. He is a great cook too!
image

I also spent the last two weeks in October canning and juicing and trying to put the garden to bed for the year. Here are a few pics of my preserving accomplishments this fall.
image

image

image

image

image

Here is quick video link of my favorite sound while I canned my grape jelly. Wait for it…

The Professional Domestic Facebook Video

I also have been working diligently on my project for my sweet Mom-in-Law’s Christmas present.
image

Almost done!

Of course between work, soccer games, Church, Rotary meetings, errands, bills, cleaning, preserving, date nights, cooking, etc., life has gotten a little overwhelming.

In the month of October both Scott’s mother and my father were in the hospital. Scott’s mom with a nasty bout of cellulitis and my dad with his second go around with colon cancer. They both are doing well and we appreciate all of the prayers and cards of encouragement we have received.

God has blessed us with so many small moments of joy these last few weeks. We are truly grateful for the good and even the not so good because in those darker times we have learned to persevere and enjoy the moments we have with our loved ones.

I will eventually get caught up on my Pie Challenge with you but until then I leave you with this beautiful night shot from our fall garden. Scott, Doug and I wish all of you a very happy, restful and thankful Thanksgiving this week! -MM
image