Category Archives: Gardening

Planting, harvesting, weed control, tilling

Cabbage Concoction

Do you have an abundance of cabbage this year, but you do not need any sauerkraut?

Why not try my cabbage concoction? Cabbage needs to be sautéed before it can be frozen. Here is a delicious way to preserve your cabbage and make in advance a delicious, healthy entree to enjoy during the cold winter months.

Ingredients include: bacon, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, garlic, salt, and peppers.

You need:

8 pieces of bacon

2 small onions or 1 medium onion

1/2 large cabbage

1 large tomato

4 pieces of garlic, 4 teaspoons of minced garlic can be used if you do not have fresh garlic

2 peppers- bell or hot

1 teaspoon salt

The most time consuming part of this recipe is the chopping. Prepare all the ingredients for the  concoction first. Chop 2 medium sized onions. I used red onions because that is what I had in the garden. I have also used Vidalia onions. Dice the garlic. If you do not have fresh garlic, you can use minced garlic. Shred the cabbage. We used half of a large head of cabbage. Dice one large tomato. Chop the hot peppers or even a green bell peppers; this ingredient is optional. As always I recommend letting the kids help!

Fry 8 pieces of bacon in the frying pan. Remove the bacon from the pan to a small cutting board. Put the onions into the hot bacon grease. If the bacon is lean, you can add up to 4 teaspoons of olive oil. Cook them stirring occasionally and cut up the bacon into small pieces while cooking the onions. When the onions are starting to turn brown, add the tomato and garlic. Stir it a couple times for about 15 seconds then add the cabbage and bacon. Do not forget the salt! After about three minutes add the peppers. Stirring requires caution at first. After the cabbage begins to cook down then it gets easier. Keep stirring until the cabbage is thoroughly cooked. If you grasp the mixture between a metal spatula and a pair of tongs, you can turn the mixture more easily.

Keep stirring the cabbage until all the cabbage is completely mixed. Put the lid on the pan and turn the heat to low. Let the cabbage cook for about twelve minutes on low heat. When the cabbage is thoroughly cooked, turn the heat off and let the mixture cool. When the mixture is cool, place the entire mixture in a freezer bag and freeze it.

In the winter simply remove the cabbage concoction from the freezer and let it thaw. Remove from bag and place in baking dish. Bake it at 325 degrees until warm about 40 minutes.

The Shield of the Weed Warrior

When you plant your garden in the spring it is nice to put down weed barriers to lessen future demands on your time. I save my paper bags from sugar, flour, potatoes, and from the grocery store. You just cut a hole in the paper and place it around the newly planted plant. It works great for any kind of squash. Tomatoes like having the paper around them and it reduces their chances of getting blight since that disease is born in the soil. We put paper under our watermelons and cantaloupes.  Sometimes we cover the paper with wood chips or grass clippings.

There has been so much rain this summer that the weed barrier in our garden has worn away or perhaps washed away. To keep weeding to a minimum, I have been cutting pieces of paper from grocery shopping bags and slipping them under my plants. Place a two or more rocks on the paper to hold it in place. Works great! Saves time and money!

So, do you understand the title? Weed barrier is the shield of the Weed Warrior!

Ready, Set, Time to Can Those Vegetables and Fruits!!!

Canning season is almost here. Are you ready? You need a source of fresh vegetables or fruit. Is your garden producing an abundance of fresh vegetables? Do you have a local grower you can buy fresh vegetables from? You need many clean jars. Do you have a supply of new lids? Is the cabinet or shelf clean where you are going to put all of your newly canned treasures?

What about your canning equipment? Is your canner in working order? Do you have funnels, ladles, and a sharp paring knife?

How about spices? Go through the recipes you use for canning. Do you need more pickling spice, cinnamon, dill seed, or salt? If you start to plan now, then get prepared, your 2017 canning season will be more enjoyable and rewarding.

Early Spring Planting

Spring may be coming early this year. Once the soil is thawed, till the soil to get it ready for planting. Compost can be added to the soil at this time and tilled into the soil. Early spring is the time to plant peas, cabbage, onions, broccoli, spinach and kohlrabi. As far back as colonial times, Pennsylvania Germans set a goal of planting their peas by March17.

Spring is not the time to plant lettuce, tomatoes or peppers outside. They can be started indoors to be planted outdoors after the threat of frost has passed.

If you need to magnify the money in your food budget, plant a garden. Many people do not realize how many vegetables can be planted before the threat of frost has passed. Onions are planted now and harvested in July if you haven’t already picked them all by then. Once onions start growing you pick them as soon as you think they are big enough.

Peas need support once they start growing. Many people plant their peas near a fence. The fence could be one used to enclose a garden or a fence erected temporarily just to support the peas while they are growing.

All your cabbage and it’s relatives can be planted as soon as the ground is able to be tilled. If you walk into your garden and mud sticks to your shoes in big clumps then the soil is too wet. Wait a few more days and try again.

My favorite saying is you never know what you can do until you try, so get outside and discover what you can grow.

Marvelous Melon Marmalade

Do you have an abundance of cantaloupe?

One way to save some of that sweet goodness to enjoy during the winter is to make some melon marmalade. This recipe is an inexpensive way to preserve the summer bounty of cantaloupe. There is no pectin needed, which makes it less expensive to make than other jams. As anything worthwhile, this recipe takes some time to complete.

Melon Marmalade

16 cups of cubed Cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon

3/4 cup of lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

4 cups of sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

7 one cup jelly jars with lids and rings

In a large pot(6 quarts or larger), place the cubed melon. Pour the sugar and lemon juice over the melon and let it sit for an hour. While the melon is sitting, collect enough jars to contain six or seven cups of the marmalade. Place the jars into a different large pot big enough to hold them and cover them with cold water.

After the hour has passed, turn the heat up to medium high and begin to cook down the cantaloupe mixture stirring continuously. After you have cooked the mixture for about forty minutes, turn on the heat under the jars. Once the jars come to a boil, reduce the heat but keep them boiling for ten minutes then turn to the lowest setting until the cantaloupe marmalade is finished. Add your lids at this time.

When the cantaloupe mixture is thickened so it looks like thick applesauce, turn off the heat. Stir into the mixture a teaspoon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. If there is any foam, scrape the foam off and discard it. Place a jar funnel into a hot empty jar just removed from the pot of water. Scoop up some of the melon marmalade with a ladle and fill the jars to within a half inch of the top. Wipe the tops of the filled jars and place a lid on each one. Tighten on a ring to each jar. Replace jars back into the pot of hot water. Allow jars to cool in pot of water until they are room temperature. After they are cooled, wipe each jar and mark it with the words Marvelous Melon Marmalade and write the date on the lid as well. Put away in a dark cabinet or on a shelf away from sunlight.

Pick Your Own Food

Last winter I paid $10.00 for a bag of frozen blueberries. Because I did not get my kids and myself to the blueberry patch last summer, I had to pay ten dollars for berries! At the local patch where I usually pick, the blueberries are $1.10 per pound. A pound of blueberries is approximately a quart. I encourage everyone to get to your local growers this spring and summer to pick to your hearts content.

Try to harvest and preserve enough for one year. Blueberries are so easy to preserve. You pick the blueberries. You rinse the berries in cold water. You bag them in quart freezer bags and put them in the freezer.

In our area you can pick by yourself: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, cherries, and pumpkins. Explore what is available in your area and then bring in the harvest. Preserve the food and then give yourself a pat on the back for being prepared!!

Food picked fresh at a local grower whether you pick it yourself or they pick it for you is so much healthier for you. Picking food together as a family will draw your family closer together. Remind your children that we are doing this task together to be healthier, to save money, and to spend time together. Your kids may not appreciate it now, but someday they will. Proverbs 6:6-8 reads, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.”

How to Plant a Bush

Whether more people are looking for organically grown food, or if a greater number of people are looking to grow their own food to be less dependent on the grocery store, there is a trend beginning. People are growing more of their own food! Growing and eating your own food is rewarding!

If you are growing your own food and you desire currants, red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or cherries, you are going to need to know how to plant a bush. All of these fruits grow on bushes or on canes.

First select a place to plant your bush where it will not get easily run over by being too close to the road or the driveway. Select a place with good drainage in your yard where water does not pond(puddles are not formed there after a rain) and where there is plenty of sunshine. Save the bones from any meat you eat for a week or two.

Next, dig a hole that you estimate will be big enough. After the hole is dug, go to the store and buy the bush you want. After you bring home the bush, lay it on top of a garbage bag or small tarp near the hole you dug. Remove the pot or packaging from the root ball. Now, carefully spread out the roots so that they are not tangled together and are all pointing in the opposite direction of the stem on the bush. Measure the roots. Measure the hole you dug. You want the hole you dug to be about eight inches deeper than the longest root of the bush. You want the hole to be two times as wide as the width of the roots. You may need to widen the hole you dug or make it deeper at this point.

Place in the bottom of the hole, the saved bones. It does not matter if the bones are cooked or raw. On top of the bones, place in the hole any leftover coffe grounds you have, a half inch layer on top of the bones is adequate. Do you have a compost pile? On top of the coffe grounds, shovel in about 8 inches worth of compost. You can buy compost if you do not have your own. Move the bush to the edge of the hole and allow the roots to fall into the hole, but keep the stem out of the hole. Fill the hole with cold water using buckets of water. You want to fill the hole quickly with water not let the water trickle in with a hose. Allow the water to drain from the hole.

Once the water has drained, either have someone hold the bush for you or support the bush with a stake. Make sure the bush is in the middle of the hole and the roots are untangled. Start shoveling the dirt in around the roots. For every three shovels of regular dirt, add a shovel full of compost if you have it. Continue filling in the dirt until the hole is filled. Water the bush again. Put a few stakes around it until people get accustomed to it being there. Water the bush at least once a week for about a month so that the bush does not get stressed and starts to grow. Depending on the maturity of the bush, you may enjoy your own fresh grown fruit this summer or in a few summers. Proverbs13:11 says, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.”(NKJV)

Tilling Time

Spring is here. Time to rototill or turn the earth by hand in your garden. If you planted peas around March 17, they should have sprouted by now and be about six inches high. Onions should be growing now. You can plant: cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and beets now.

If you want to enjoy fresh, organic vegetables this summer, now is the time to prepare your garden. As with almost anything in life, preparation is important to success! You can turn the soil in your garden. You can take the composted material from your compost pile and add it to the soil. Then turn the soil again.

Have your soil tested from your garden. If it is too acidic, add some lime from the gardening center. If the soil is too basic, add ferrous sulfate to your soil. Composted manure is great to add to any soil. If you grow many tomatoes, you may want to add gypsum. Gypsum adds calcium to the soil for which tomatoes have a high requirement.

Turning the soil in your garden is useful in killing weeds also. “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!” Prepare your garden now, to enjoy a bountiful harvest later!

Autumnal Abundance

Now is the time of the greatest portion of the harvest.  Tomatoes are ripe which can be made into stewed tomatoes, canned tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce,  and wimpie sauce. Apples are ripening which can be made into applesauce, canned apple rings, and schnitz(dried apples).  Pears are ripening which can be canned in quarters,  made into pear sauce or dried. Peppers can be made into pickled peppers as well as being a big  part of salsa. Peppers can be frozen to be used in chili .

Break open a canning, cook book and see what looks interesting. Then go to your local grower or a farmer’s market and see what is available.  The only way to find out if you are able to preserve food for the winter is to try. I taught a woman how to make salsa last year. When we were finished, she kept repeating,”I can make salsa!”

She has taken courses in college and traveled but she was still overjoyed that she could make salsa and can it for the winter. I have many rambunctious boys in my home so I hide my jars of canned food in cabinets, but many women display their hard work on a decorated shelf in the kitchen. Our usefulness to others increases our value to others and our own self-esteem. Preserve the plenty!!!