The Good – Harvested 2013 Garlic
Garlic as far as the eye can see. I harvested all the garlic from both my own back yard and the farm location where I ran a trial garden over the last year. This year it didn’t grow quite as large as last year, but I still think it was a success. I need to get it a bit more separated for curing, but right now it’s so hot and dry out that it’s drying nicely even in a heap. I’ll hang them from the rafters soon. With a little bit of luck this garlic, replanted, will turn into a for-profit crop in 2014
The Bad – They took my corn!
Last night when I went to bed I had about 30 ears of sweet corn JUST about ready to pick in my 10’x10′ three sisters garden. This morning there were about 7 or 8 little ones left. Something–probably Raccoons–harvested all the rest and removed them while I was sleeping 20 feet away. They knocked down and broke the corn stalks, so now the pole beans have nothing to grow on either. And obviously if they ate here once, they could be back for the cucumbers and melons that are starting to grow on all those vines. This is what we get for no longer letting our cat(s) outside.
But enough bad–More good! I have been eating tomatoes every night all week. This year of trialling new varieties has exposed me to at least 2 more favorites that are doing quite well in my yard. I will definitely add “Church” to my permanent list of tomatoes to grow, and I think “Pink Sweet” will be on there as well. I will review them here within the next week or 3.
My 8 pepper plants seems to be doing better than average this year. I usually don’t get to pick any peppers until August and this year they are already sizing up and producing lots of fruit.
How is your garden growing?
Yes, it was THAT time of year again folks. Jimmy Canned Corn with lots of helpers! We bought 10 dozen ears of the finest organic sweet corn from farmer M. It was picked at 8 a.m., shucked at 9:00 and safely pressure canned before lunch.
Just cut off the kernels with a sharp knife, pack them uncooked into pint or quart jars, top with boiling water or veggie stock, leaving a generous inch of headspace, and pressure can them according to your guidebook.
Do your pressure canning outdoors in the garage because it’s 100 degrees out and the old air conditioner inside can already barely keep up.
Let the jars cool for a day and then wash off the hard water deposits left behind during canning. Don’t store them with the rings on, just the flat part of the lid. The rings need to be washed again right now, and if you leave them on all year, some of the jars will be really hard to open, and some lids might even rust through, unsealing.
Another use for leftover sweet corn cobs is as a sweetener for vegetable stock. Using a recipe I found online, I mixed a pot full of sweet corn cobs with onion, thyme, pepper, carrots, garlic, celery and etc. These were boiled and then simmered for about two hours.
I made two big stock pots of this stuff and ended up able to pressure can over 2 gallons for future use.
As I mentioned in my last post, I canned sweet corn this week. I have done this for the last 2 years as well, and I always hated composting well over half the weight of the corn that I had bought. I just didn’t really know what to do with all those cobs.
They really don’t look that appetizing, right? But if you were to chew on one of these a bit, you would taste that there was actually a lot of flavor left behind.
I found a recipe for Corn Cob Jelly online. The first ingredient was Corn Cob Juice. I was told to cut about a dozen cobs into neat sections and boil them in about 2 quarts of water for 35-40 minutes.
I let the cobs simmer and kept tasting the water. Indeed, it was getting rather sweet!
At the end of the first cooking time I strained my Corn Cob Juice through cheesecloth. The result was this beautiful liquid shown above. The recipe called for 3 cups of juice, and I ended up with more than I needed. The taste of this juice will vary depending on what variety of corn you use, and how fresh the corn was, but this was just seriously delicious.
I mixed the juice together with powdered pectin and an equal amount of sugar and boiled it into jelly that was fit to can.
The result was 4 lovely half-pints and another few ounces that went straight into the refrigerator to try the next morning.
Several hours later I had Sweet Corn Jelly on my breakfast toast with butter and it was very tasty! I love trying new recipes, but much more so when the result is pleasing. This was a definite success.
Apparently a delicious veggie stock can be made from the sweet corn cobs left over after canning fresh sweet corn. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t know this much sooner. Now I just need to remember for next year.
I haven’t shown you my community garden plot because I never remember to bring the camera. So here are some blurry cell phone pictures.
Community Garden Plot 10 x 30 feet
At the front right corner is an improvised trellis trying to support 9 tomato plants and already sagging in the middle.
The rest of the space contains alternating hills of either corn and pole beans together, or a vining plant such as a squash, cucumber or watermelon. This is my three sisters garden. It’s a very fun experiment and I think it’s going to work out.