Dill Pickle Relish

I wanted to try and make some dill pickle relish.

It is a pain in the butt to do because after you use the food processor to chop the cucumbers they have to soak in  canning salt for 5 hours. Then you have to drain them, rinse them, drain again, rinse and repeat.

When you are on the last time you have to get all the water out of them. This means using cheesecloth and the strainer and squeezing the water out of them. The water just keeps coming out of them. After that part is over the rest is pretty easy.

We made  10  – 1/2 pint jars and these jars are really the perfect size for relish.

We have been giving away cucumbers to family, friends and neighbors but we have had to branch out into the local community and share and have given away an additional 200 cucumbers. We have probably picked 500 cucumbers this summer.

Our plants are producing  30-35 a day so this will not end for a while. We have another 12 people on the waiting list to get some free cucumbers.

Sharing our home grown vegetables with the comminity is what life is all about. A little kindness can go along way and maybe inspire others to do the same.

We are canning away at the Lira house and putting up zucchini and yellow squash in the freezer. Soon it will be corn, okra and green beans.

The moment you realize  your freezer is full of vegetables from the garden you grew and now its time to buy a second freezer.

Now that’s a cool feeling!

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Salsa

We canned our first salsa from our homegrown tomatoes.

I do not like salsa but Jack loves it and he likes it hot so this has plenty of jalapenos in it from the garden.

We made 3 pints total 2 in pint jars and 2 in 1/2 pint jars.

I know my grandmother would be so proud of me. Every year she canned figs preserves, Jelly, tomato relish, pears, lots of her famous sweet pickles, peppers, and much more.

They say when your garden produces an abundance of vegetables your life is in perfect balance.

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Cucumbers Galore

We are picking 20 – 30 cucumbers every day.

Jack will eat about 4-5 a day he read it lowers blood sugar and cholesterol.  I will eat 1 or 2 every few days.

We make cucumber, tomato, and onion salad with Italian dressing it’s yummy. We chop up enough to last a few days.

In the past, Jeanelle and I have made bread and butter and sweet pickles. This is the first time either of us has made dills.

The first batch made 8 quarts I will probably do 8 more tomorrow.

Since Jack is diabetic he does not need the sweet pickles so were not making those this year. I am not much of a pickle person but will eat a dill pickle a few times a year.

We are having a hard time finding jars I know it is the season for canning but its never been like this. I guess everyone’s getting domesticated while quarantining.

Our garden and Jeanelle’s are both very productive this year there has been just enough rain to make them flourish.

There is never a shortage of garden pickers with the four youngest grandkids being close by. Sophia informed us she is the cucumber expert.

A good year with a garden is when it produces enough vegetables to share with your friends and family.

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The Tomato Project

Since his retirement at the end of March Jack is doing the ultimate tomato project.

Here are the 6 different ways he is trying to grow tomatoes.

1. In the 5-gallon buckets with dirt and compost.

2. Lasagna gardening with compost and cardboard a raised garden on the ground with shade cloth. There is no dirt in this type of gardening.

3. Compost and dirt raised garden on the ground covered in plastic to retain moisture and to keep out the weeds this type also has a shade cloth.

4. Partially shaded from the trees raised garden 3 ft above the ground in dirt.

5. Regular garden in the dirt, full sun, and the plants have hay around them to help keep them moist plus it keeps the weeds down.

6. Greenhouse/ Hydroponic tomatoes growing in pea gravel with no dirt they are on automatic watering with nutrients several times a day.

There are currently 73 tomato plants, 9 + different varieties that are growing in 6 different types of gardening. This is why I am calling it the tomato project.

What we hope to learn is:

         1. Which varieties produce the most abundant fruit?

2. Which varieties of tomato have the best flavor?

3. Which plants have the least amount of pest?

4. What gardening type works the best in our region?

5. Which varieties are the healthiest?

Everything has blooms or has bloomed and some have fruits. Some varieties produce large clusters of fruits like the ones you get in the grocery store on the vine. Others produce round or grape-like clusters and some produce yellow, purple, blue, or orange tomatoes.

A good tomato ignites your taste buds like none other.

As of right now, the ones with the most fruit are in the 5-gallon buckets but I think these were planted first, the largest plants that are dark green and super healthy looking are in the raised garden that is 3ft above ground in partial shade these have fruit as well. Since these are getting very tall he is training the branches to grow horizontally on paracord.

The tallest plants are in the hydroponics  I would say they are about 5 feet tall but they have minimal fruit the plants are not as thick or as strong as some of the others and of course, being in the greenhouse they are a lighter green. The regular in the ground garden was planted last but they are growing a lot and have blooms the plants seem thicker stalked than some of the others.

We always have a supply of tomato plants rooting some from seeds and some from suckers of existing plants if any of our friends and neighbors might need some. Currently, we have 10 plants ready to be planted in quart containers, and 17 suckers growing and we have more every week.

 I am sharing a picture of some of the Better Boy Variety tomatoes in the 5- gallon buckets. Some of the clusters have 10 tomatoes in them. The size of these tomatoes is about the size of a 6-year-olds fist.

I shot this picture with my macro lens you can see the fuzz on the tomatoes and the vines. Macro lenses give you such detail.

There will be plenty of tomatoes to put up as sauce or pesto, Lots of tomatoes to blanch & freeze for soups, stews, and beans.

Most of all we will have plenty of tomatoes to share with our friends and neighbors because this is something we enjoy doing.

TomatoesMay2020

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow – Audrey Hepburn

 

Succulents and Sedum plus more

Lately, I have been planting lots of succulents, sedum, and English ivy as well as airplane plants.

I had planned on doing a trade days sale but with this virus scare and my heart issues, I decided against it.

Now I will try and advertise to sell these locally but this is one of my latest DIY things. They are all so cute but the pedestals ones I love.

 

Garden Time

We spent the weekend weeding the garden area this included lots of pulling up stuff by hand.

We planted tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers and eggplant that were all plants we had bought.

We added manure and humus and then covered both of these 25 foot long beds with 6mm plastic to stop the weed issues. We ran soaker hoses in both beds so those beds are good to go. I had won this 6mm plastic at Auction.

A few weeks ago we planted the raised bed that is in our backyard and that stuff looks amazing. We topped it off with humus to keep it moist and give the plants a lot of nutrients.

We planted seeds in rock wool cubes for cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, two kinds of lettuce and some swiss chard those are in the house right now because they like cooler weather by the time its cooler outdoors they will be ready for transplanting.

If you love tomatoes like us it is better to stagger the planting by a few weeks. We will probably even do some in the greenhouse. We currently have about 25 suckers rooting off existing tomato plants we still have growing just for the suckers.

Now we need to decide what all were doing hydroponic in the greenhouse but that will be later next month when the greenhouse cools down. Even though we have a swamp cooler Jack thinks its still to hot.

Our 2 younger kids both love gardening.

Our daughter will be 33 in December she is 2 classes away from getting her Masters of Agriculture from Sam Houston. This is not her only degree she has a Bachelors in Exercise and Sport Science from Texas State and a Masters of Science in Kinesiology from University of Texas.

Our youngest son was a United States Marine for 8 years he will be 28 in September. He just started classes for a degree in Horticulture in North Carolina.

Vegetable gardening has always been a very big part of our lives and I guess it always will be.

 

 

 

Flower petals and wood

Flowers are so soft, delicate and fragile and the wood is aged, rough and cracked.

I love natural light especially morning light.

Step outside your comfort zone & be creative when taking your pictures.

 

The Azalia’s are blooming

One of the first signs spring is near is when the Azalia’s are blooming.

We planted ours about 35 + years ago and they have always performed quite well.

I wanted to plant Azalia’s because my grandmother loved her’s so much and every time they bloom I think of her. They are a gentle reminder that even though she passed away many years ago some people always leave a footprint on your heart & soul.

Azalia’s are not a lot of trouble you just have to remember not to trim back past the first of October or they will not bloom in the spring.

The beauty of these plants is the show they put on each spring as a gentle reminder life is full of beauty take the time to enjoy the view.

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Lowes garden clearance

Every time I go to Lowes I have to go out to the garden center and check out the clearance plants.

I prefer the $1.00 ones and most of the time there is plenty to choose from that still look very good. The dollar ones are normally the pint-sized pots.

This year I have bought 12 Yellow trailing pansies and 20 Red Laser Cyclamen .

To give these clearance flowers an extra boost I miracle grown them 1 x a week for a month.

The normal price of these flowers would be $180.00 I paid $32.00.

Let’s just say SCORE!

I also purchased some red geraniums at Josephs Garden Center in Manvel. I had a few coming back from last year they were red so I stuck with the red and yellow theme for my purchased flowers this year.

I love springtime and adding a little color to the yard is something I do every year but usually, I spend a lot more money.

 

Ladybug vs Asian Beetle

The ladybug and the Asian beetle look very much alike but there are some differences.

Ladybugs have a red color and a black head. The Asian beetles are more orangish red and have a white face.

If your home has been invaded by what you think could be a ladybugs chances are its actually the Asian beetles.

These beetles will bury inside of the roof of a dogs mouth. There was an article posted in December in the Houston Chronicle about this. I will enclose the link.

Asian Beetles in a dogs mouth

I took these pictures on Wednesday with my macro lens so they are still hanging around.

Look for the white head then you will know it is them. Some people say these beetles bite so beware.

Never let your eyes fool you what you think is a cute ladybug might be the evil twin in disguise.

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