Gardening

An update for the book’s progress this week would consist of: editing is still going strong, a few chapters left to go, and beta readers are still the next step. Rather than leave the post at one sentence, I’m going to share some progress on our garden that I mentioned earlier this year.

I am sad to report, the pickling cucumbers did not make it. My best guess is that they need to go out later in the season or have some sort of greenhouse cover to keep them warmer for longer. Other than that, the plants are doing well. There are some aphid battles being fought over the brussels sprouts, but we believe we have them under control for now.

The tomato and tomatillo plants are growing like crazy, and I will need to set up some support lines for the tallest branches soon. The romas are starting to come in now, and the others are already producing many of the fruits. Off to the left in the picture, you will also see the asparagus in all its tall fluffiness behind the cilantro in bloom and basil filling out nicely. We are letting the cilantro go to seed to plant again for a fall harvest.

These things are still too early to can, but we have done a couple of jams so far this year. Over the last couple of months, I bought rhubarb and mixed it with strawberries. A week or so ago we were also given some sour cherries. We decided to mix those with blackberries to sweeten them up. I prefer some tartness to my jams, so we use low-sugar pectin and only a bit of sugar (much less than the recipes show).

We made the black(berry) cherry jam this morning, and I think it turned out pretty well. We have about a serving or two sitting in the refrigerator that was not enough for another full jar. I have actually found I enjoy using the jams on bagels. I put a thin layer of cream cheese on half and some of our jam on the other half. Now I need to buy some more bagels!

Strawberry-rhubarb in the back right. Black(berry) cherry on the left.

More editing complete, jam jars sealed, and the new job starts Monday! Have a great week everyone!

Spring Planting

On this sunny weekend in the Puget Sound, I decided it was time to plant my starts outside.

I’m pretty proud of starting all of these from seeds in my garage. A few years ago I started working with a grow light so I could plant seeds rather than buying starts. It is too cold in the January / February time frame to put seeds outside around here. I could have done them in the house instead, but a) I have found they get less temperature shock going from garage to outside and b) cats. Little cat would eat them and big cat would have no problem knocking them over.

If I could only grow one thing, it would be tomatoes. They are a must have in my vegetable garden. This year I planted four tomato starts, and I’m hoping we have a big enough harvest to make and can tomato sauce. However, with the way I eat tomatoes I’m not counting on it.

In the big planter we also have brussels sprouts and three tomatillo plants. We usually make a big batch of Verde sauce with the tomatillos and can all except one meal’s worth. It is my favorite enchilada recipe – not claiming authentic in any way – and growing my own tomatillos is just another excuse to make it.

Asparagus on the left (year 4) and basil on the right.

We always try to have at least one basil plant. Either we use it fresh as needed or dry it to use over the fall months. You can also see the asparagus coming in nicely. Those were also grown from seed, and we patiently waited the recommended two years before harvesting any of them.

Cucumber plants!

Finally, we have my pickling cucumber plants. I tried to grow these last year, but they did not take for me. I’m hoping I can harvest enough with these two little starts to get a few jars worth of pickles. I mentioned in the pasta sauce post that I like canning, so now you see I was not joking. I’m sure as summer comes and goes this year I will have more canning posts for you.

Enjoy the weather!