08/28/10

In Praise of Canning

After months of searching for canning classes in Nashville, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take two classes this week.

I learned about the first from the East Nashville Crop Swap. This group gets together every other week to discuss organic gardening and trade herbs, fruit and vegetables. The owners of All Seasons Gardening & Brewing Company were generous enough to offer to host a free class in their store.

The second class was organized by Green Wagon. Green Wagon tweeted the announcement and the demand was so great, they were forced to hold two classes. Alan Powell (Long Hungry Creek Farm) taught the class. He will also teach pickling and fermenting classes in the future.

After these two, I’m excited to learn more and start preserving all the delicious produce for the winter!

Canned Salsa

It’s fascinating that the art of canning seemingly skipped a generation, however, it has recently become popular again. I believe the resurgence is a combination of factors – the nation’s desire to move closer to sustainability, the slow food movement, a larger population of health conscious individuals, the DIY movement, the ever-growing “foodies” who desire to enjoy fresh produce all year round and lastly, the economy.

NPR posted an article yesterday about canning:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129402166

Interested in canning?

University of Tennessee Extension, Canning Foods

Ball Blue Book

07/5/10

Building Broccoli – Update!

A few of you may remember our two flickr albums – Building Broccoli and Building Broccoli – Part Two.

IMG_1033

Building Broccoli

Building Broccoli – Part Two

We built a raised bed garden in late April and planted a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs shortly after. The garden (mostly) survived the Nashville Flood, periods of record heat and sporadic care. There have been some surprising successes and dismal failures.

Here’s a two month update:

1. Peppers (banana and green bell)

IMG_1664

I’ve seen no signs of either sets of plants bearing fruit, but the ones located on the porch have stayed much healthier. The backyard bed receives full sun all day and the the porch receives partial shade, but it’s hard to know for sure if that’s the issue. I’ve been more consistently watering and removing bugs from plants on the porch. It’s a poor experiment, but the results are still worth noting.

2. Strawberries

IMG_1657

On intuition alone, I decided the strawberries needed a little more TLC, so I replanted them on the porch in these cool planters I bought at Home Depot. There have been many flowers on these plants and very small strawberries. I think it’s a little late in the season to be optimistic about much more, but I’ll try my best.

3. Watermelon

IMG_1662

I can’t believe how well the watermelon have done. Almost all four plants look great. With some of the other vegetables dying and being transplanted, they have much more room now. I’m having a party if a large watermelon actually grows!

4. Summer squash

IMG_1661

The success of this plant was also unexpected. The other 3 have died.

5. Herbs – Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Spearmint and Rosemary

IMG_1659

R.I.P. cilantro! It was sad to say farewell to my favorite of the five. I think it did better in partial shade, in a pot on the front porch. The other four are doing well. The basil looked healthier on the porch, so I need to keep an eye on that one.

6. Bok Choy

IMG_1660

It looked great at first, struggled and now appears to be growing some smaller sprouts.

7. Tomatoes

IMG_1663

I’m fully convinced there is no way to screw up tomatoes. I can’t wait to eat these.

8. Onions & Broccoli

R.I.P. I don’t know what the problem was with these.

Important notes for next year:

1. Read the care instructions for each plant and make an effort to follow them.
2. Read the spacing instructions for each plant and make an effort to follow them.
3. Try composting to boost the soil a bit.
4. Find an organic method for repelling insects.
5. Buy rain barrels! We really missed out this year on water we could have saved from all the rain!