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Garden Chores: Saving Seeds

August 26th, 2009

Along with all the other gardening chores that need done this time of year, it’s seed saving time. I’ve been out saving seeds for various plants that I’d like to grow again next year, like larkspur.
I’ve also been saving nicotiana seeds. The bees and hummingbirds love these flowers, I think they’re quite pretty as well. I’m hoping to have a lot more of these growing in my veggie beds to attract pollinators. Since they bloom all summer long they’ll be perfect for that task.
There’s really not much to saving seeds. All you have to do is wait for them to look dry and then clip them into an envelope. I’ll remove them from their little pods later this winter when I have a little more time. Make sure you label those envelopes though, otherwise you may be confused in few months as to what each seeds are for.
I’d be more than happy to share if anyone would like larkspur or nicotiana seeds. I may have zinnia seeds and a few other annuals later this fall.

Anyone else save seeds for annual flowers?

Blanket Flower ‘Oranges & Lemons’

August 25th, 2009

A month or so ago, Mr Chiots and I were at a butterfly garden in Cleveland and he spotted a Blanket Flower ‘Oranges & Lemons’. While shopping at a greenhouse a week or two later he spotted some and had to buy them for the garden here at Chiot’s Run.
They really are beautiful flowers and the bees love them. I can’t wait until next year to see how lovely they’ll look in full bloom. Now all I have to do is decide where to plant them.

Anything new in your gardens this summer?

Planting Peas & Other Fall Crops

August 24th, 2009

I’ve been trying to sneak in time to plant a bunch of crops for a fall harvest. I started cabbage and other things a few weeks ago. Last week I planted the rest of my peas. Peas and beans don’t last week in storage, they seem to have lower germination, so I decided to plant them all and order fresh seeds in the spring.
I’m hoping I can protect these little peas from the deer that gobbled up my spring planting. I don’t have any peas in the freezer because the deer ate them all. I planted them a week ago and I have had about 85% germination so far so I’d better get out there and put up a fence.

Do you have anything you’re trying to get in this fall growing season that didn’t work out in the spring?

Harvesting Beans

August 23rd, 2009

Remember those pole beans I planted in June? I’m harvesting them now. The Dragon Tongue beans are quite lovely and the Kentucky Wonder Pole beans are quite tasty.
In the winter I like my green beans with bacon, onions, and garlic cooked till their soft, but in the summer fresh beans need only a little steaming and a drizzle of olive oil.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy green beans?

Canning Tomato Soup

August 22nd, 2009

My tomato harvests have been ramping up now that the warm weather is here. On Sunday I harvested over 28 pounds of tomatoes. With this many tomatoes it’s time to start canning. The recipe I’m starting with is tomato soup. I made this last year it was by far our favorite canned item. We finished off all of the jars earlier this spring, so this year I need to can more than I did last year (31 pints).
I’m particularly excited about this soup because this year I grew my own celery. I also started a lot of onions, but onions are one of those things that don’t do all that well in my garden, so I’ve been buying them at the farmer’s market.

6 onions, chopped
1 bunch celery, chopped
8 quarts fresh tomatoes (or 5-6 quarts of juice) *I coarsely chop mine in quarters leaving the stems on them since I’m putting them through a food mill.
1 cup sugar (I find this is too much and I use less usually 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup salt (I usually add 2 T and then taste before I add more)
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Chop onion& celery. Place in large kettle w/ just enough water to keep them from burning. While this simmers, cut tomatoes (remove stems if not using strainer).
2. Add tomatoes to kettle & cook until tender.
3. When tender put through Victorio or Squeezo (or similar food mill) strainer. (reserve 2 cups for mixing with butter/flour)
4. Return to kettle, add lemon juice, sugar & salt.
5. Cream butter and flour together& mix thoroughly with two cups of reserved juice (chill so it’s cold), until dissolved (or blend together in a blender), to avoid lumps of flour in the juice. Add butter/flour mixture to warmed tomato juice. (Add before it’s hot, to avoid lumps of flour!). Stir well.
6. Heat just until hot. (If it gets to a boil, it can make the flour lumpy). Just prior to boiling, turn off the burner. (It will continue to thicken as it cools.).
7. Ladle into hot jars with 1/4 headspace, close securely with lids.
8. Put in canner & process 30 minutes (start timing when it’s at a ‘rolling’ boil).
9. Remove from canner & allow to set until sealed (approx. 12 hours)

To serve, mix equal parts tomato concentrate to milk (or water or chicken stock), and add 1/2 t. of baking soda per pint as it cooks (1 t. per quart) if using milk, this keeps the milk from curdling. I actually prefer to add chicken stock to mine instead of milk, I also omit the baking soda when using stock or water. I serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated romano cheese, a sprinkle of cayenne and a little freshly ground black pepper.

**Some people say this isn’t long enough in a canner, some people say you should only pressure can this recipe. I’m happy with it and am quite comfortable making it and processing it in this way. If you’re uncomfortable with this method use whatever canning method you’re comfortable with.


What’s your favorite home-preserved garden food?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.