Why I’ve been so busy…

Since getting home from Arizona, life has been a flurry of food preserving. Here's what I've been up to:


First, there were pickles to make (you can see, they've already been dug into- I tried to buy more pickling cukes, since I only got enough for 4 quarts from my garden, but the market was all out. :(  Then came drying and grinding herbs. A friend and I picked about a million apples (with the help of our hubbies, actually, who did most of the hard work!), and that bag is the remnants of dried apples that haven't yet been devoured by my family! There was originally about a bag and a half.

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Then of course, there was all the canning. Those rows are mostly 3 jars deep, and from left to right you see tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, applesauce, peaches, and then more applesauce. It doesn't look very impressive in this picture, but can I just say that it was a lot of work? 🙂

As well, I sliced and froze about 10 large bags of peaches, plus a bunch of small bags of diced red peppers, which are now tucked neatly into my newly organized freezer (oh, it looks so pretty now that I can actually find where things are, unlike it did in this picture!).


Two days ago, I did a bunch of winter prep work in my garden, and picked these babies. There were two more pumpkins, but we already ate them in some yummy pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving! The green colored ones cross-pollinated with something (a zucchini??? I have no idea!) and turned out smaller than the other spaghetti squash, and no matter how long I left them, they just wouldn't change color. So I guess they're green squash! I'm so curious to taste them!

One thing that concerned me with the pumpkins is that they didn't seem to want to get entirely orange either. Now, I might have been mildly hasty is taking them in, as we haven't had any heavy frosts yet (though we have hit 0 degrees), but the vines were all dying, and it seemed the only places they were green was where they were facing the ground, not the sun. Should I leave them a few weeks longer next year?

My last major canning task is to turn these pumpkins into puree, which I will do in a couple weeks when I borrow my MIL's pressure canner. The other squash will go down in the garage, as will my carrots, turnips and beets when they all finish.

There are some new peas growing, which I assume we'll just eat fresh, as with the lettuce and radishes. There's spinach coming up that I hope to freeze. Then garlic to plant for the spring time, some buckwheat to add as a winter cover crop and that's it! Time to take a break from my garden! I must admit, I'm ready. There's something good about being so productive and busy for a season, and then resting a bit during the winter. I'm looking forward to slowing down!

How about the rest of you? Have you been canning and preserving like mad women during this harvest season? What have you been putting away? Are you winding down with your gardens?

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  1. I have done far less canning and freezing this year than last. Moving and preparing to teach twice a week took up some (okay a lot) of time and energy. I still did some frozen strawberries, peaches, and greenbeans. Canned greenbeans, apple pie filling, and applesauce. I promised my mom salsa…but I may just give her my leftover from last year! I have some tomatos still on the vine that I am praying will ripen…;o) My mother-in-law helped me on Tuesday with our last two bushels of apples and I was soooo thankful for her help. I feel like I’m still recovering from the mess of it all, I don’t know what I would have done with out her this week. I would love to find a canning buddy again where we live now! I do have a friend who likes to can, but she is super super busy (although trying to change that)so I can’t rely on her! Canning with at least one other person makes the work so much more enjoyable and not such a daunting task!

  2. Stephanie,
    You mentioned planting garlic now for the spring. Is there anything else you plant now for springtime? Also, what do you use to plant garlic? I’ve always wanted to try this.

  3. You have been busy! I was kinda bummed the first trimester exhaustion and feeling yuck hit me right at the peak of harvest around here. I forced myself to can a few pints of tomato sauce but now they smell so bad to me I can’t get myself to eat them! I actually riped up my plants while some tomatoes were still green and tossed them into the woods cause I couldn’t stand to look at them anymore, bleah! Oh well, there’s always next year right? :-)And at least now I know what I need to plant in the spring and how much of everything else I’ll need to buy.

  4. I don’t have time to read all the comments but I wanted to say two things: first of all congratulations on all your hard work, I know how much work it is! I also did a ton and I am glad it was during the second trimester! Now I am totally not up to it but its done!

    Secondly, I was told at the farmer’s market and tried it last year and then tried it this year with my own (sadly only 3 due to blossom end rot) pumpkins is that they totally ripen inside. Since we were going to get a frost, I picked mine and they were still mostly green. Within a few days they turned more orange, and now, a month later, we have 3 beautifully orange pumpkins. My daughter loved to go check on them in the basement and report back how orange they were “mommy, no green! orange!” Like I said the lady at the farmer’s market told me the same thing and last year I tried it with her pumpkin.

    I had some butternut squash and pumpkin cross. I have squash-shaped pumpkins! LOL. I am also curious to see the insides. I was told to avoid that, to plant them as far apart as possible so the bees don’t cross the pollen as easily.

    Oh could you tell me where you get your seeds again? I can’t find where you posted about that. Thanks!

  5. oops…by ripening “inside” I meant inside the house…like a coolish basement…not meaning the pumpkins ripen inside the pumpkin. Hope that was clear…

  6. Hi Stephanie,
    Great job with all of your preserving!
    Have you thought about kale for the winter?
    And there is also claytonia and other obscure greens that love cold weather.

  7. Faith, I know that there are other things you can plant for spring, but that is all that I’m doing this year. I’d be interested to know what others are planting, though.

    Donielle, don’t feel too bad about it. It’s just a season, right? Next year will be better (esp. with a sweet little baby by your side!)

    Nola, thanks for the ripening tip! I didn’t know that, but I’m so glad to hear it!

    Candace, I could probably grow a few other greens this winter, but spinach and lettuce are all that I’m doing. I’m a bit worn out from this year, the first year that I’ve really gone all out with gardening. Maybe next year I’ll get more into the winter gardening, and grow some great greens.

  8. This year was our first real garden too. I was able to preserve over 88 gallons of produce either canned or frozen. Plus I have butternut squash, speg squash, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, and turnips that are NOT included in that total. The total doesn’t include all the food we ate throughout the season too. We are still getting spinach, lettuce, carrots, celery, and parsley from our garden. The goats and chickens ate my entire fall pea crop. 🙁 Next year I will plant them in a bed inside the garden instead of trying to use the garden fence as my trellis. If you want to read more about our gardens bounty from this year here is my blog link listing everything: http://reesespiecesgang.blogspot.com/2008/10/gardens-bounty.html

  9. Shirley, that’s incredible! I’m glad that your garden went so well this year! That makes me really want a bigger garden, even though this one was plenty to handle with two littles and no helpers. I’ll check out your post, because I just love to be encouraged by what others are producing from their gardens!

    And 88 gallons, wow! I probably canned about 15-20 in total, plus froze some, and of course, we ate tons and are still growing fall crops. It really is amazing what you can produce, though, isn’t it?

  10. Wow you have been busy. I have been wanting to do some pickles, but haven’t found a good dill recipe. Everything I see is for bread and butter.

  11. I would like to second Nola’s advice. We’ve got a few pumpkins inside right now that are ripening nicely. 🙂

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