Here in central Texas, we had a LOT of rain this spring – we had the wettest May ever. I bet I went four to six weeks where I didn’t have to water the garden at all. In fact, we had some new plants struggling because they had too much water. But now we’re in the throes of another Texas summer, and the driest July on record. Good gravy it’s hot out there!
In our garden this year, we planted beans for the first time in three years. In the past, I only planted a few – enough to get beans for a meal or two. This year I got a little more serious and organized and I planted three nice little rows of Roma beans and harvested somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 pounds. I gave the first five pounds away. I just didn’t make time to mess with canning them. But by the second five pounds, I really wanted to try my hand at canning some. I got all the ends snapped and the beans cut into one inch pieces. I convinced hubby to help me pressure can them. We filled the jars with beans, added a little bit of salt and topped them with boiling water and they were ready for the pressure canner. The clouds were pretty heavy that day. And wouldn’t you know it, about the time I got the canner up to pressure, the rain came down. (I think it was the only rain we had in July.) I didn’t want to turn the camp stove off and lose pressure (we do our canning outside on a two burner camp stove – usually an awesome set up). I didn’t know what that would do to the jars of beans and whether or not they could be pressure canned later and salvaged. So I did what any self-respecting homesteading canner would do – I got a rain slicker on and opened up the big umbrella over the stove and the canning continued! (That escapade even got us included in Brown Thumb Mama’s blog post “15 Signs That You’re a Crazy Canner.” She had 14 before me! LOL http://brownthumbmama.com/2015/07/crazy-canner.html)
We’ve been harvesting plenty of yellow squash. Our zucchini hasn’t fared as well this year, but we’ve had enough to make a couple of chocolate zucchini cakes. (Can you say priorities?!) 🙂 The tomatoes are doing pretty well. I made two quarts of salsa a few weekends ago to use a bunch of them. And I’ve given away a ton of yellow squash and tomatoes at work. Everyone is your best friend when you’re giving away home grown tomatoes. Lol
The other thing that has been doing really well this year is our tomatillos. We had a good crop of them our first year gardening in the Pasture. But not the last two years. The plants have grown, but they just didn’t bear much fruit. But this year they are doing really well. Not only are the 16 or so plants I started from seed doing well, there must have been a few stray tomatillos from last year that hit the ground unbeknownst to me. Because as soon as the beans were about done, tomatillo plants sprang up volunteer everywhere in the bean patch. Hubby was giving me a hard time about the weeds in my beans, but the weeds all turned out to be tomatillos. They are all really coming on now and last weekend I put three pounds up in the freezer and made one and a half quarts of green enchilada sauce with another two pounds. Last night, I picked another four pounds, and there are still plenty more coming. We should have a bumper crop to freeze and make green sauce all year long. Now if I could just get green bell peppers, jalapenos, onions and cilantro growing all at the same time, I could make my sauce really homegrown. If I get my act together, I may try canning some green sauce Wouldn’t that be skippy?
Tomatillos are really easy to freeze. Just remove the paper husk and wash well – they have a sticky residue. I wear gloves to do this because even though you wash them off, they stay just a little sticky. Then I put them in quart freezer bags – one pound fits in there nicely. I arrange the tomatillos flat in the bags and they stack nicely in the freezer that way. To use them, just thaw them out, dump them into the food processor with your other ingredients and whirl them up.
We opened up our first jar of beans this week. O.M.G. They are amazing. I couldn’t stop eating them right out of the jar! Now I’m sorta regretting giving away that first five pounds. Lol. But what I am seriously thinking of doing is ripping out some of the tomatillo jungle and planting that back in beans. With our extended growing season I still have enough time to get a second crop. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? I probably can’t put up enough beans to get us through the whole year, but every jar I can put up with be a little taste of homegrown paradise later.
I have some acorn squash growing, but honestly, I don’t know how it’s doing. You see, I had to cover it up with a chicken wire tunnel because the chickens were attacking my baby acorn squashes. We also have some cucumbers growing. I had a pretty good crop of them and made a double batch of spicy bread and butter pickles. YUM. But then Hallie V., our momma cow attacked. What did she do you ask? She ATE my cucumber vines. I had them trellised on the backyard fence. Worked beautifully. I could actually see the cucumbers growing and pick them at the optimal time. Not like now, when they hide on the ground under the vines and grass and I don’t see them until they’ve turned orange and are the size of small watermelons. Anyway, they were scaling the fence, and everything was lovely until Hallie decided the vines were the tastiest morsel she’s ever had. And she proceeded to pull the best producing vines right through the fence and eat them!
OSo, how has your garden been doing this year?
Coming soon, my recipe for Tomatillo Green Sauce…
Until next time, worms rock, bees rules and chickens are my Zen.
Pasture Deficit Disorder – Because Life in a Pasture is the Only Cure