#1 Gardening Mistake of 2015

Now that the garden is finally coming to an end, it is time to reflect on the successes and failures of my 2015 gardening season.

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Today I spent some time reminiscing about my corn crop and the utter failure that turned into a booming success. Read all about it on Simply Grateful Gardener, Corn Catastrophe.

Not every mistake I made this year turned out so well, but this was probably the biggest mistake. Next year I hope to grow corn we can actually eat and enjoy. For now, I will find comfort in knowing that it wasn’t a total loss.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Garden Update – June 20, 2015

Things are proceeding quite nicely in the gardens. While we were on vacation the weather cooperated perfectly and upon our return we were greeted with flourishing green plants, spreading like wildfire.

Bush and Pole Beans two days before we left on vacation.

Bush and pole beans the day before we left. Hubby and I put the poles up the night we left.

Bush and pole beans the day before we left. Hubby and I put the poles up the night we left.

Beans one week later.

Notice how the pole beans climbed almost to the top of the poles in the week we were gone.

Notice how the pole beans climbed almost to the top of the poles in the week we were gone.

Cucumbers before we left on vacation.

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Cucumbers after I had to tie them to the A-frame one week later.

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Corn and pumpkins before we left.

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Corn and pumpkin vines that had grown beyond the garden and had to be flipped back towards the corn, one week later.

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I hope this pace keeps up.  Already there are tiny cucumbers on the cucumber vines and lots more flowers. The pumpkins have flowers as well.

It’s amazing how quickly things change in the garden.  Looking at it day in and day out I don’t always notice the changes. What a difference a week makes.  I’ll definitely have to start paying better attention, otherwise I might not witness all the wonders nature has to offer in the garden.

My garden is growing, growing, growing, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Strawberry Guava Jam And Then Some!

“Time stays long enough for those who use it.“ – Leonardo Da Vinci

There was so much to get done today in so little time (I know the reality of time, but that isn’t going to stop me from denying it) that once again I got up well before the alarm clock and headed down to the kitchen.

Strawberry Guava Jam was first on my list of “Must Do Today” items. Having juiced all the guava yesterday, my job was fairly simple. All I had to do was slice the strawberries I needed to add to the guava and I’d be set. Here is the recipe:

Strawberry Guava Jam

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Guava Juice/Pulp (see Guava Jam recipe for juicing instructions)
  • 6 Cups Sliced Strawberries (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Pint Apple Pectin Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice

Combine all ingredients in large stock pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 minutes or until strawberries are tender. With a stick blender, spot puree.  This is my cheat for not crushing one cup of the berries prior to mixing with the other ingredients.  Depending on how chunky you want the jam, puree to your liking.  Remove from heat and let stand five minutes. Ladle jam into hot 4 oz. or 8 oz. jars and cap with hot bands and lids. Process 10 minutes in water bath.

This jam is not very sweet. My husband loves it because he prefers jams on the tart side, but I don’t see why you couldn’t add more sugar if you wanted. The rule seems to be one cup of sugar for every cup of guava but with the addition of the strawberries, you could easily add two or three more cups to sweeten this up.

With the jam done and all the guava used, I moved onto my next project — corn. Over the weekend I came across two boxes of corn-on-the-cob on the discount rack. For $2.00 I got 77 ears of corn. This worked out perfectly because I just finished my last bag of frozen corn from last summer’s farmer’s market shopping.

Freezing Corn Pictorial

 

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Freezing corn is easy. The blanching only takes five minutes and I enjoy using my little kernel remover gadget to clean the cobs. In all, this project took an hour and half and yielded me 5 quarts of frozen corn — more than enough to keep us happy until July or August when Michigan corn starts showing up at the market.

The rest of my day was spent cooking dinner, cleaning the house (well that’s what I call it — others might say moving the dirt from one spot to another), driving my daughter to school and then work, and then finally I ended the day by making another batch of dehydrated apples. That was the other huge find on the clearance rack. I got three boxes of apples for $5.00. I haven’t even finished the first box yet and already I’ve gotten 4 quarts of dehydrated apple chips for the pantry.

Dehydrated Apple Chips

Wash Apples
Peel, Core and Slice

An apple/corer/peeler gadget saves a ton of time.

An apple/corer/peeler gadget saves a ton of time.

Place on dehydrater trays

Apples placed on tray - no touching.

Apples placed on tray – no touching.

Spray with lemon juice (both top and bottom of tray)

Love using a spray bottle with lemon juice - so easy!

Love using a spray bottle with lemon juice – so easy!

Set tray on dehydrater and leave for 18 to 24 hours
Let cool

Dehydrated Apple Chips

Dehydrated Apple Chips

Remove from trays and store in quart mason jars sealed with FoodSaver

It was a productive day — it needed to be. There is nothing worse than buying produce off the discount rack and then not doing anything with it until it starts to spoil. Yes, I have done this and end up suffering buyer’s remorse, canner’s guilt, and housewife shame for days after. Today I utilized the bargains I bought and added stock to the pantry, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.