Taking Stock after the Summer of Rain

Canned pickled cayenne, sweet peppers and chow chow, sitting on my pantry shelf.

A summer of record rain fall diminished our expectations for most of what we planted this year. Now, with unusually cold weather this week, we are bringing in the last of our crops.   Even with less than what we planned, we have enough. What’s more, after my husband completed the chicken coop and we successfully raised fourteen hens, we now collect fresh eggs every day from our chickens.

Instead of the nightly watering rituals that we kept up each summer since we moved here to Greenville in 2009, in the summer of 2013 we did a lot of sitting inside watching the rain wash our gardens away.  There actually was a short spring season with strawberries, cabbage and even artichokes, before the heavy rains really got started. We also managed to have a short fall growing season with some drier weather. Last year our okra was washed away every time my husband planted some seeds. This year okra is one of the few fall crops the we have harvested, along with some broccoli, eggplant, and greens and lettuce, a variety of sweet and hot peppers, and sweet potatoes.
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Freezing Vegetables for Virgins

Greens can be thoroughly washed, drained, sliced and then frozen raw.

Greens can be thoroughly washed, drained, sliced and then frozen raw.

When you first start gardening, it is enough to just enjoy what you grow. But even as a beginner you run the risk of growing more than you can use of notorious growers like zucchini. If you don’t keep a garden, but miss the farmer’s market in the winter time, you could think about buying in bulk in the summertime and cooking up some double portions for now and later. Freezing is the quickest, easiest way to save your abundance for later. If you’ve never frozen more than the occasional leftovers, and your freezer is just for ice cream, you’re missing a chance to put a little convenience into your healthy diet.

Not all  vegetables are created equal. There are some that really don’t take well to freezing unless cooked first, like cabbage. Others, like cucumbers, you can’t freeze at all. There are some authoritative sites on the web that you can refer to for specific vegetables,  and squashes. One of my favorite sites is Pickyourown.org. Clemson University is also a great resource for detailed information. But you don’t have to be an expert to get started. You really don’t have to know much at all. You can freeze most vegetables quickly and conveniently. Continue reading