Friday, September 9, 2011

Organic Gardening 2011

We built two raised beds this year.  These pics were taken in June before we left for Wyoming.  The first pic is tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, zucchini, and a few onions.

This is our second bed.  It has soybeans, onions, jalapenos, and herbs.
We also had a growing trellis of green beans and a back garden with squash and melons (pics coming soon).  I planted marigolds and calendula in the beds to control insects and it worked!!!  The back garden got attacked by 28-spotted ladybugs and there were no flowers there.  Marigold and calendula are both edible flowers so they are good companion flowers for the garden.  I am going to take some pics of the garden now because most of it is still growing strong during September!!  We used all organic soil and fertilizer this year.  Buds to Blooms provided us with all our growing materials.  I started everything from seed.  Organic seeds were purchased from Johnny's Selected Seeds.  I wanted to start seed collecting this year so it was important for me to see what the seed looked like.
 I collected and dried seeds on an old screen from a window.  I collected flower heads and removed seeds before cooking vegetables.  I even saved soybean pods from the plants when I did not pick them fast enough and they turned brown and started to dry.  I stored the seeds in glass jars that I collected over the year.  Below is a picture of marigold seeds.  They are long and stick-like and they don't look like seeds at all!!  I knew what they looked like because I started the flowers from seed.
 Below are calendula seeds which look like small curly horns!  Again, the importance of starting from seed really came in handy here!
 Here is my collection of seeds.  I leave the lids off for a few days to dry out any moisture, then I put the lids on and store in a dark cool spot in the basement.
Here is my first attempt at canning.  For future gardening, I will only plant ONE jalapeno plant.  I had 3 this year and an endless supply of jalapenos...even now in September I am picking 5-10 daily.  So, I needed to can some.  I boiled the jars.
 I cooked the peppers with onion, garlic, and olive oil until slightly soft.  Then I put the peppers in the jars with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.  Foods that don't have a certain amount of acidity can cause botulism if canned without a pressure cooker so the vinegar is important.
 I don't have an "official" canner so I put a dishtowel in the bottom so the jars don't touch the bottom of the pan (I am not sure why they can't but that is what I read so I did it).
 Boiled for 10 minutes, removed to cool, 5 minutes they popped!
  Jalapenos for future taco nights!!!

 I do plan on updating this blog within the next week with new pics of the garden and details on what I have started for fall gardening!

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