September 23, 2021

2021 Gardening Goal

The first full day of fall is a nice time to harvest our ripe tomatoes.



We started our gardening this year with one, clear goal. 

Our 2021 Gardening Goal was: 

To preserve more food than ever before. 

It is a reasonable goal because after years of having a garden, we are still relative beginners at preserving. 

Up until recent years we have been experts at eating fresh, but haven't focused on preserving as much as we would like.

This year we wanted to exceed our previous personal preserving best, which was last year.

Adding to our success this year is the fact that it was a great growing season with lots of rain at regular intervals. 

Temperatures were not too hot or cold. In other words, it was a perfect year for gardeners in south west Nova Scotia.

Now we find ourselves at the first full day of autumn, and we are working at wrapping up one of our largest harvests ever.

So much food! 

How much cash are cucumbers or kale or even tomatoes worth when you can't even give them away? 

At times like this it feels strange that people are paying for vegetables at the store down at the bottom of our ridge.

Today we went out to pick our ripe tomatoes because things are beginning to cool off at night and it is time to begin to finish our 2021 garden for the season.

We had already done our cucumber pickles, relish, and strawberry jam earlier in the season. We also canned one batch of cooked chipotle salsa.

We have been eating fresh garden veggies for weeks, but when there is so much food, one can't keep up regardless of how ravenous.

Now it is time for the bulk of our tomatoes to be processed.

We will do another batch of salsa because the first batch turned out so well. For the rest of the tomatoes we will simply can them diced, something we have never done before.

Another goal of ours is to get off store bought canned tomatoes altogether.

Wouldn't it be nice to get off store bought food entirely? 

That is the ultimate goal. 

While this goal of goals may remain elusive, it is fun (and yummy) trying nonetheless.

Happy Fall to all Northern Hemispherians, and happy Spring to all of you south of the equator.

Next garden goal - plant garlic some time before winter. I have planted here as late as a beautiful day in December.





9 comments:

  1. There is a peak time for gardens and the production can seem overwhelming. Everyday it is a 1/2 or a full bushel to deal with, but so worth it!

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  2. Anonymous9/23/2021

    Well done on the garden front! It's exciting to hear of your increased yields, and there is no better feeling than having more than enough food to eat, and to share. I love your goal of getting off tinned tomatoes. I would love to achieve this too - have only managed it in one year so far!

    Just a thought, I don't know what variety of tomatoes you have but some dry very well. We made some drying screens with old fly screens and basic wooden frames and put our sliced tomatoes on the tin roof of the wood shed to dry. A piece of muslin is handy to cover them with if you have flies. A day or two of good weather and they are dried, ready to go into jars. If you happen to get humid weather or some drizzle you can just transfer them to an oven tray and let them dry on really low heat - maybe 4 - 8 hours depending on how juicy the tomatoes are. I like mine really dry as they keep well. When I want to use them - eg on a pizza - I simply rehydrate for a few minutes in very hot water, then use. The flavour when you do it this way is incredibly concentrated.

    Pasta Grannies on youtube has a video of how to make tomato paste, so this year I am growing an old Italian variety (San Marzano) that is suited for this. Well, when I say I am growing them, I put my seeds into trays a month ago and not many have sprouted! Perhaps it was too cold when I put them in and I need to try again.

    If you are interested I can try to find a video link of some Hunza people in Pakistan drying apricots and making apricot seed oil. I was fascinated by how 'primative' their system seems, yet it works. Climate always has to be considered though. I have a cook book by an Ikarian woman and they dry many things on screens. The also do things like cut biggish zucchini into rings, lightly salt them, then thread onto a string to dry in the open air. This works for apples too (minus the salt). You then rehydrate the zucchini for use in winter stews. I think our neighbours thought we had gone completely nuts when they saw the zucchini strung right across the garden! The Italians do it this way too. It is amazing to think we grew up without this knowledge, and that food preservation is available to all even if you cannot afford a food dehydrator. We are 'powering down' little by little, and sun-drying is part of this.

    Just a thought, could you have a little farm gate stall on an honesty system where folks just leave you some money in a jar? People love fresh produce and this gives you a little cash too. I would love to find friends with bees and swap some of our veggies and eggs for honey as it's something we don't produce yet.

    Madeleine

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    Replies
    1. Linda was just looking into sun-dried tomatoes. It can be very humid here, so that would affect drying time. It looks like some people do them in the oven, but it seems the natural method would be superior.

      We have been watching an Italian granny at "Buon-A-Petitti" on youtube to learn about canning different tomato products. She has some great methods and an awesome canning set-up in what looks like a garage. She is also a sweet person. I would love to see the Hunza video. Traditional methods are hard to beat. We will need to know these things in the lower-energy future.

      We also want to do some fermenting of tomatoes and other veggies. For now, though, we are trying to keep it simple so will just can stewed tomatoes in 1 L jars.

      Many people here have farm gate stalls. I would rather do a swap like you say. We have veggies, and would like eggs, honey, and maple syrup. And pies. I am not sure if anyone is growing walnuts here, but I could use some of them, too.

      Thanks for the many ideas. So much tasty fun to be had, and so much better than going to the office to work to make money to take to the grocery store to buy food.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous9/26/2021

      Here are a couple of links - one for dried apricots, one for apricot oil:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReHb-CFsdmg&t=8s&ab_channel=Salamat

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npkTT7gpULA&ab_channel=Salamat

      I hope you both enjoy them :-)

      Madeleine

      Delete
  3. Anonymous9/24/2021

    PS I should have said, small tomatoes like cherry tomatoes will sun-dry in a day or two but larger ones might take up to six days. And the tomatoes should be salted moderately on the first day, and again after about 3 days to help with the drying process. Turn them daily too.

    Madeleine

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  4. I'm impressed! I've not had experience with canning my own produce. It was something that I always wanted to learn. I'm hoping to get some sort of cart or raised bed to put on my front porch and grow some things next year. Certainly not enough to preserve, but to have some fresh produce and herbs outside my door would be like heaven to me.

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    Replies
    1. When we lived on the west coast we canned jam made from wild blackberries we picked in the neighbourhood. Last year we switched to making strawberry jam made with local berries we bought. We also added cucumber and beet pickles and cucumber relish. This year we have also done salsa and stewed tomatoes. It is a lot of work, and one needs to be very organized and efficient if it is going to be a pleasant process. As those with more experience say, and I agree, "It is so worth it".

      Another gardening goal I would like to see realized is helping everyone that wants a garden, get a garden. Any kind of garden. A little fresh produce and herbs go a long way. We would be your garden buddies if we were closer.

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  5. CONGRATULATIONS on your goals and this years' successes. It is rare that we have purchased a tomato product in over 10 years. This has been a poor yield as we had excessive heat that kept dropping my tomato flowers. Sept 22 was my first harvest and that is also average first frost date! Yikes!!!!

    Every year I grow? tomatoes (heirloom, San Marazano, Sungold for quick eating in the garden, Celebrity and an early yield. Eggplant, a wide variety of sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, spaghetti squash and butternut.

    What do I do with it?

    Canned Salsa-up to 52 pints so a pint a week. We use it for salad dressing as well as tacos, burritos and dipping chips.

    Tomato paste, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and my favorite?

    Ratatouille. https://www.salon.com/2010/08/07/ratatouille_weapons_grade_style/

    This stuff is AMAZING! Some I spice for Italian and use for every pasta dish we eat. Some I leave plain. This I use as a chili base. I freeze it in 1 quart dishes and then vacuum seal after frozen hard. I try for 52 of these as well.

    Cucumbers we eat fresh as fast as we can. I only grow the English and they are not best for pickles.

    My cilantro died early in the heat. My oregano and thyme went crazy in the heat! So easy to dry and package up for the year.

    It is most definitely a LOT of work when the garden comes on. With a good yield I could easily put in 30 hours a week or more on top of my hectic 60 hour job but oh the taste of garden food all winter and spring made it so worth it!

    I can't wait to hear what else you accomplish before your garden freezes.

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  6. Oh how I miss having a garden as I read this! Some of the best times were myself and my three daughters sitting around either the kitchen table or the picnic table on the back deck shelling peas or snapping beans for freezing. There were many years I didn't buy potatoes, carrots or onions until the following summer. When it was time to pick the apples from our tree I would borrow slow cookers from friends, line them up on the counter and make applesauce. We would have four litre ice cream pails filled with apple for crisps and pies come winter. Somewhere there is a photo of the three girls sitting along the edge of the bottom deck eating dripping homemade rye bread and beefsteak tomato sandwiches (if they wore swimsuits while eating we could just hose them off later) - and another of the volunteer tomato plants this always yielded come the next growing season. I also miss that lovely smug feeling at being able to cut the chord to "the system," if you know what I mean.

    ReplyDelete

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