Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tomatoes...and green beans

Oh my goodness. My garden went berserk. No longer a beautiful plot of fresh-tilled earth, that held the promise of things to come, or even the lush green oasis that we had nurtured it into, this garden has become my nightmare. It has let me down. In the past, I could always count on my garden to do certain things. Things that I have come to expect. Not this. See, I know that every year, my husband diligently tills the soil for me. Then I grid off the 4x4 beds before the children help us plant the green & shell beans, corn, peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, tomato/pepper/cucumber plants, and anything else that has caught our eyes in the mid-winter catalogs. I know that we will spend an entire afternoon planting these. I also know that as soon as the seeds start to poke their tender little heads from the earth, the crows will come in and annihilate them. I can count on another Saturday spent bending over the beds, replanting and then staking berry netting over each bed, hoping that nobody (that would be me!) trips over the almost invisible nets. I can then count on a few mole hills popping up around the potato beds and my husband planting traps in the ground. I can also count on the buckets that he puts over the traps to not stay where he put them. (Nobody knows how this happens!) Then I anxiously wait for the tomatoes to put on their bright yellow blooms and know that the little green tomatoes won't be too far behind. I can also count on the tomatoes either falling off (again, no idea!) or an unexpected ( for some, but not for me) freeze turns them all black. And I KNOW that the deer will find my little oasis and nibble off all of the little green beans, if they hadn't already feasted on the flowers! I can count on the corn growing to be about 4 feet tall and never setting an ear of corn on the stalks.


This year, the garden decided to do what it is supposed to do. Produce!!!! And I wasn't expecting it. I was not expecting the 22 tomato plants to actually perform. All at once. I did not expect the 4 pyramids of pole beans to get a second wind, or the bush beans (good back-up plan) to outshine the weeds! Nor did I expect the corn to grow to be 12 feet tall, with ears on them, or the amaranth to grow seed heads, or the cucumbers to give us enough to pickle, but they have. And because I wasn't expecting all of this, I obtained tomatoes, beans, and cukes from a local farm! So, my pantry is full, the produce freezer has over-flowed into the meat freezer and my dehydrator is starting to glow. And I have beans and tomatoes to can.

And I can't stop smiling!

End of the Season Spicy Dilly Beans

Wash 4 lbs. whole green beans and snap off ends. Cut in uniform lengths to fit into wide-mouth pint jars.

Combine: 5 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups water
1/2 cup non-iodized canning salt

Heat to boiling.

Pack beans in clean, hot jars.

To each jar, add: 1/2 tsp. dill seed
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1-2 cloves peeled garlic

Cover beans with vinegar mixture to 1/2" from top of jar. Wipe jar rim clean. Seal jar with hot lids and screw tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes.


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