Pickles, Pickles and More Pickles!

 This morning I wanted to make a bunch of pickles with the produce that was still lurking in the gardens.  We obviously cannot eat it all fresh, so the idea of putting it up for us to use in the winter months is something that I really love. 

I picked about 12 green bells, several lbs of jalapeno's, and a couple of the really big cucumber pickles.

The end result was beautiful.  6 pints of lemon and regular cucumber pickles, 4 half pints of jalapeno's, and 2 large quarts of spicy green bells all pickled up! 

Blessings from the Garden

Last night was a prime example of why I love summer evenings here at our house... I walked around the gardens, and harvested a beautiful bounty of peppers, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and beets.  

I also made some homemade Paleo bread, and served it up with some of my apple jelly and honey butter. One of lifes greatest pleasures is eating fresh, warm, homemade bread. 

I'm loving the colors that our tomato plants are putting off. My favorite tomato so far this year?... definatly the pineapple tomato! 

Lots of Canning and Fresh Vegetables!

 We've really been enjoying our produce these days.  The other night we harvested about 6 zucchini and stuffed them with canned ground beef from our food storage, homegrown onions, and peppers. So delicious. We have extra meat left over, so I think we'll pick some more zucchini and make more tonight! 

 Despite the deer nibbling on my green bean bushes, we are getting a beautiful harvest. In fact, I canned about half of them today so we could enjoy them later this winter.  

 Apples! Last winter, we lost one of our apple trees, but the neighbors came over this week and told us we could pick as many of their apples from the same type of tree so we loaded up a 5 gallon bucket of them last night and we made homemade apple juice and canned it up for later use.  It's so sweet. 

 There isn't a day that goes by where I say "I hate how many tomatoes we have".  Seriously, who doesn't love to just eat them fresh with a little salt and pepper?   In a couple weeks we'll have plenty to make sauces and salsa with! 

 In the last few days, I managed to can apricot juice, apple juice, halved apricots in a light syrup and my newest creation... Apricot-Hot Pepper Jelly. 

Erick has a serious love for anything spicy. In fact, I doubt I will ever be able to make anything "too hot" for him.  Can't wait to try this stuff.  After I got done canning it, I licked the spoon and it was really hard to just finish the canning process and put them all away to enjoy later. 

I Declare War!

 I declare war. Seriously.  Between the raccoon's, and now deer.... I'm mildly irritated. I'm assuming this was the handy work of the deer that wander through the front yard, nibbling on my bean plants for an evening snack.   As for the raccoon's, now that they've picked off what was left of my cherry tree, they've turned their taste to my strawberry beds. grrrrrrrr..... I envision some raccoon hunting in my near future. VERY near future. 
 Despite some of the leaves missing from half the bed of green beans, we're still getting a good harvest. 

 Pickle season seems like it's just around the corner! I better start making sure we have enough jars on hand because this year I have about 10x the amount of cucumber plants as we had last year! 

 We are enjoying 1-2 zucchini a day now, and so far it's still enjoyable.  Once I get fed up with eating them fresh, I'll turn to methods of canning the rest to preserve them.  Jams, relishes and pickles will use up all of the zucchini's that we just can't bring ourselves to eat. 

 Our hugelkulture bed is overloaded with pumpkins and melons.  So fun to walk down there and see all the growth that's going on.  These beds are awesome! 

 I was craving a green juice, so I picked enough collards, kale and swiss chard to make a couple juices.

Lastly, I picked green bells, jalapeno's, and cayenne's for a pepper jelly canning fest tonight.  Hopefully I'll get 6 half pints or so of delicious, sweet-hot pepper jelly! 

Life on Garden Time Never Tasted So Good!

 I love being able to gather ingredients for our meals, right in our very own backyard.  Nothing tastes more fresh than homegrown vegetables.  My tomatoes are coming in really nice, and I'm enjoying several cups, daily, of these beautiful yellow cherry tomatoes. 

 Sliced up, and on top of fresh greens and green bells, these sandwiches rock my world.

White raspberries that are growing in the yard taste even better with chocolate chips stuffed inside.  This clearly is one of my families favorite "sweet treats". 

We've been harvesting a lot of zucchini also, but I have no pictures to prove it because we are eating them before I get a chance to capture them! I promise to take more pictures of those squash beds before I pick and eat another one! 

Last of the Peas...and Lunch from the Greenhouse!

We decided that today we would harvest the last of the peas from these vines and take them down.  They've given us countless pounds of beautiful peas and I'm quite happy with how much they produced.  Over the last week, the leaves were starting to yellow and die so I figured they were about done.  My better half got them all cleaned off the fencing for me. 

While I had him down there, I asked if he would thin out the borage plants. They were getting unbelievably large and sort of out of control.  I'm thinking about using the flowers from what we trimmed away for some jelly...

 We harvested several large handfuls of yellow tomatoes, jalapeno's, green bell's and cayenne peppers. 

 Lunch seriously couldn't come soon enough.  I was super excited.  

I managed to can up 2 pints of pickled peas, and two half-pints of pickled peppers.  
Today was a good day in the garden.  

Cayenne Peppers...They Might Just Save My Life

The cayenne pepper.  Something that I wanted to grow a lot of, and for many good reasons.  As some of you may know, I have two blood clotting disorders that put me at a high risk for stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism.  My genetic counselors determined this was something I inherited from my mothers side.  About 4 years ago, I had my first blood clot that landed me in the hospital and as I sat there in my room, the Dr. so coldly said, "You have a life threatening disease, try not to move because this clot could very well kill you."  Awesome right? No. Not so much.  Besides my bad experience with the hospital that treated me, I was put on oral anticoagulants as well as an injection, twice a day into my stomach area, and recovered fully. Besides some nerve damage in my left leg, I'm doing just fine. 

I've been clot free for four years, thankfully, but there isn't a day that goes by where I'm not aware of my condition and doing everything I can to prevent me from having another one.   When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I was considered high-risk because of these blood clotting disorders, especially because when a woman is pregnant she's already at a higher risk for stoke.  Add on two clotting mutations and it's a disaster.   For a year and a half I was put on an aspirin regimen, an oral anticoagulant, heparin and lovenox injections. Twice daily into my stomach.  Talk about a nightmare.  With the Lord's help, I was able to go full term with no complications and delivered a healthy baby girl. My recovery time put me at the highest risk for a stroke or heart attack so they kept a very close eye on my blood and my medications. 

So why am I growing cayenne pepper? Well besides the fact that my better half loves nothing more than a good hot sauce, the cayenne pepper has many health benefits and it very well could save my life when used regularly. 

Blood clots are blockages in your arteries and blood vessels that restrict blood flow through your circulatory system. They prevent organs and muscle tissues from receiving oxygen and nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Some blood clots, such as those that prevent blood supply to your heart and brain, can be potentially fatal. Cayenne pepper contains a chemical, called capsaicin, which might help clear away artery-narrowing lipid deposits, and might help dilate arteries and blood vessels to clear away clots.

Cultures where hot peppers like cayenne are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism, so with that being said...I'm very excited about my cayenne peppers being ready to harvest! 

Anyone Can Grow Their Own Food...and that means YOU!

I'm not going to be passive on this topic. Seriously, I think everyone should be growing their own food.  I hear all the time friends and family look at my gardens and then complain about "how they don't have a yard", or "they have a black thumb", etc. etc. I want to say to them, "Your problem isn't anything other than you're lazy. Anyone can grow their own food, just about anywhere." Check out these pea vines for example. I'm sure everyone has a chainlink fence or something nearby where they could plant an edible vine.  These produce massive amounts of food in literally no space at all because you grow them up. You'd be in awe of the ever amazing pea vine if I could show you just how many peas I've harvested this year. It's kind of disgusting. Especially with no effort. I put them in the ground, and watered them. 

 Everyone loves a good tomato, no?

Every single one of my 40+ tomato plants are growing in 5 gallon buckets. No joke. 
Container gardening at it's finest. 

 Peppers! Which I have hundreds growing right now, are all in containers as well.  No need for lots of garden beds, just plant these in a container. Grow these on your deck or balcony if you don't have a yard.  

These are our jalapeno's, also growing in containers. It's gonna be spicy around here for a while with all these peppers growing! 

 Here's a photo of my better half stringing up a few plants. What you see on the perimeter, are all tomato plants, and the interior are all peppers.   We are using part Mittleiger method, part LDS Prepper method and part our own method for our gardens this year, with MUCH success.  Find what works for you and just do it!  There really is no "right or wrong" way of gardening! 

 Beets! We are using these as wonderful additions to our juices in the evening.  

 Our hugelkulture bed is producing amazing melons and pumpkins so far! We couldn't even count how many were on the vines! 

The squashes are starting to make their grand appearances!  This makes me slightly nervous because I know how much produce can come off of one plant, and we have a lot of plants! 

 Cute little zucchini poking out! In 2 months, I won't think they are so cute anymore. ;) 

 The first of the cucumbers are starting to show up as well!  Can't wait to juice a lot of these, and make more pickles! 

 And I had to share this picture of what we ate for dinner last night. All the produce is from our backyard, and we picked it right before dinner time. Strawberries, tomatoes, borage flowers, peas, and berries a top a bed of fresh greens.  Becca thought the coolest part was the edible flowers of course. 

Remember at the begining of this post I talked about how much our pea vines were producing? Well, take a look.  This is 1 day of harvesting. Now times this by 7. There's a week of peas. Mind blowing isn't it.  And these vines will produce a really long time as long as you constantly harvest. 

Eastern Washington Fruit Haul

Every summer, we take the kids and go to Eastern Washington on a "fruit run". If we are lucky, we get more than one trip in each year.  Last weekend, we loaded up and headed east where all the wonderful fruit stands are!  

 We loaded up on 10 lbs of blueberries. (Which is a lot ya'll, let me just tell you that).  Washed them up, and divided them into little bags for smoothies and juices this winter! 

 50 lbs. of apricots anyone? We canned half of them, in quart jars, just sliced in half with a syrup...and used the other half to make about 12 pints of apricot butter.  

 Over the weekend we managed to pick about 20 lbs of cherries also!  What better way to use them, then make plenty of cherry salsa.  I made two kinds, one with rainier and one with bing cherries! Such a sweet and spicy snack! Love it! 

Well, there's not that much room left on these old canning shelves. Time to start figuring out a game-plan and come up with more storage ideas. 

Toodles! I have a ton of work to get done in the gardens, and regretfully, many many peas to harvest! 

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