Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Life Gives You Pig Fat. . .

Okay, so life probably doesn't give most people pig fat.  Not like it does me.  I'm very lucky that way; when Mother-in-Law has a hog butchered, she has the fat saved so I can make lard out of it.

I've been doing this for close to ten years now, when I realized that all that valuable fat was just being thrown out.  I researched how to render lard, discovered that rendering is ridiculously easy to do, and have requested the fat be saved for me every year since.

Perhaps you know someone who raises a pig for meat.  Or someone who purchases one from the 4-H auction at their local county fair.  Or maybe you are thinking of raising a pig or two yourself some day. 

Well, if you can get your hands on some nice fresh pig fat, you can make it into lard.  Which is about the best thing in the world to make pie crusts out of.  It is also a natural fat, not a hydrogenated one.  So, a good fat.

How did I get blessed with an abundance of pig fat just now?  Someone Mother-in-Law knows just had four or five pigs butchered out at the end of last week.  She graciously asked if they were going to keep the fat, and when the answer was no, she asked if she might have it for her daughter-in-law.  Who would be me.  I'm fairly sure I'm known as her crazy daughter-in-law, but hey, if it gets me free pig fat--a huge box of it--who am I to complain?

When life gives me pig fat, I make lard!  And boy, did I make lard! Took me about eight hours of my Monday, but it was well worth it.  I probably have enough lard to last a couple of years.

First I had to rinse it, because it came to me in a large box lined with butcher paper, and I wasn't sure if it had been washed off once it had left the pigs.  So I put it, about a quarter of the box at a time, into my largest colander and rinsed it well in my kitchen sink.

Then I took several hunks of it at a time, placed them on a cutting board next to the stove, and proceeded to dice the lard into chunks not bigger than about one inch.  They melt a whole lot faster and better in small pieces.

These small pieces were placed into my 8 quart pot, which I had put just a little bit--1/4"?? I didn't measure--of water in to keep the first pieces of lard from scorching and sticking to the bottom of the pot as they melted.

I turned the burner on medium heat, and let the contents of the pot heat while I diced some more fat.  When the initial pieces began to melt, I stirred them around, and added more.

As the fat heats, it melts somewhat.  When rendering it into lard, all you have to do is keep stirring, dicing, adding, stirring, dicing, adding. . .  Very very simple.  Eventually, you will have lots of liquid fat, and some brown puffy things called cracklings.  Some people eat the cracklings but I don't care for stuff that fatty/greasy.

At this point, I had used the first colander-ful of fat.  Which was about a quarter of the box, remember.  So I decided it was time to drain off the rendered fat and get it into the canner.  In the past I have used freezer containers, but with this huge amount of fat, I didn't want to take up that much freezer space.  I decided I would try canning it.

I used a ladle to dip out most of the liquid,

and poured it through a mesh strainer, into a smaller pot.

Then I remembered that I needed to line the strainer with something to help catch the little bitty browned pieces so that they wouldn't end up in my lard.  I pulled a piece of muslin out of the drawer--I keep unbleached muslin around for straining things like when I'm making syrup or lard--and lined the strainer with that before dumping in the rest of the pot of cracklings/fat.

From there, I let the liquid fat cool a little bit, then ladled it into clean warm canning jars.  These jars I did not soak in hot water before filling, as you don't want water in your lard (the water that the pot started with boils off during the rendering process).  I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite my hesitation at using room temp (about 80 degrees in my kitchen by this point) jars, the hot oil (over 200 degrees according to my candy/deep fry thermometer) did not cause any jars to break.  Maybe because they were all old and very thick canning jars versus new ones?  Some of the ones I used were the old square-body style pints; forget where I got them, probably either my grandmother or perhaps DH's grandmother. Or maybe it was because I had a towel under the jars instead of just having them on the counter.  Or maybe it was because I poured the first ladle of oil into each jar slowly, giving the jar time to adapt to the temperature rather than just dumping in boiling oil quickly.  Whatever the reason was, no jars broke anyway.

My first batch (the quarter-box) filled 7 jars.  I went with 1/4" head space on them, because that is what I thought I remembered reading somewhere about canning lard.  They processed 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.  Because the lard is molten when you take the jars out of the canner, they are an amber color. 

Repeating the steps from the beginning again--take 1/4 of box, rinse, dice, start w/a little water in pot, heat, melt, stir, dice, add, stir, strain, put in jars, process in canner--I worked my way through the entire box of pig fat in about eight hours.  In the end, I had 25 pints of lard.

In the above picture, you can see how the first jars, the cooler ones by the end of the day, had started to whiten as the lard turned into a solid.

This morning, this is what all the jars looked like:

Close up of just one jar, so you can better see what the final product looks like.

Everything got used; all the fat was rendered. The liquid fat was canned and became lard.  The cracklings leftover I did not throw out. Instead, I put them in freezer bags and those went into the freezer.  We use them to supplement Old Dog's food in the winter time, since he is an outdoor dog (all our animals live outdoors, due to DS2's animal allergies) and can use extra fat in his diet during the cold weather months.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pickled Peppers

If Kris grew a peck of pickled peppers, then picked a peck of pickled peppers, then pickled a peck of peppers, how many jars of pickled peppers would she have?

Actually, I don't know if I picked a peck or not.  Came out to two pounds on my kitchen scale.  But I did pick peppers, Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, to be precise, and I did pickle them.

I also remembered to take pictures of the process (unlike when I made pickled beets partway through my pepper making) so that I could blog about it.  :0)

So, if you've ever been curious how to make your own hot pickled peppers, read on and see how I did it.

First, I picked the peppers, of course.  One good thing about this hot dry weather, it makes lots of hot peppers!

After I picked them, I weighed them to see how much I had, so I would know how many jars I needed, and how much vinegar solution to make up for the pickling.  But first, before pickling, they needed to be washed.

After washing them off, I donned a pair of gloves (because you always want to wear gloves when handling hot peppers, otherwise not only will your hands burn, so will anything else you touch--like your eyes or other sensitive spots).  I trimmed the stems down flat, and cut the peppers into chunks, about three per pepper.

Then I mixed a solution of 1 cup pickling lime to 1 gallon of water, put the pepper chunks in a large bowl, and poured the lime solution over them.  Then I proceeded to let them soak for about 18 hours.  This makes the peppers stay crisp when you can them (last time I attempted homemade pickled peppers, I didn't know this and they all turned out mushy.)

After the peppers had soaked a good long time, I dumped them into a colander and rinsed them off.  Then I put them in a clean bowl, covered them with water, and let them soak in the water for an hour.

When an hour was up, I again dumped them in the colander and rinsed them.  Rinsed out the bowl too, then back into the bowl with the peppers, and top off with fresh water.  Soak another hour.  All in all, the peppers were rinsed and soaked in fresh water three times, for a total of three hours.

Near the end of the final hour of soaking, I made up a solution of 7 1/2 cups cider vinegar to 1 1/2 cups water and 3 tablespoons canning salt.  I brought this to a boil, then kept it hot while I packed the once again drained peppers into my prewarmed canning jars.

The jars get 1/2 inch head space, although in this picture it doesn't look like it.  I squished them down before adding 1/2 teaspoon celery seed and 1 teaspoon mustard seeds to each jar, then ladled in enough vinegar solution to reach that 1/2 inch mark.  I pressed out the air bubbles with a spatula (you can also use a knife if you don't have a skinny spatula), wiped the rims, applied warmed lids and rings, then put the jars into my boiling water bath canner.

In the canner, I processed them at a boil for 10 minutes.  Once the time was up, they came out of the canner and went onto a towel on my kitchen island to cool overnight (minimum 12 hours cooling time for canned goods, remember!).

Here they are, all six pints, cooling next to the pickled beets I made earlier while the peppers were still liming.

Here's a close up of a jar of peppers.  You can see the celery seed and mustard seeds in them.

Can't wait for two weeks to be up so we can sample them!  (Two weeks being the minimum time you should wait for a pickled item to develop flavor.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blueberry Jam

This week I got a good deal on blueberries, so I decided to make some jam to sell at the farmers market.  If you've never made blueberry jam before, come along with me on a photo journey from start to finish.

First, you need six cups of ripe berries.  Sort out the bad ones and pick off any stems,

 then measure out your six cups.

Pour into a colander and rinse well.

Pour rinsed berries into a pot (I used an 8 qt, but anything bigger than a 3 qt should work). 

With a potato masher, mash berries well.

Add two tablespoons lemon juice, and one package of pectin to the mashed berries.

Stir well, and turn on high heat.  Bring to a rapid boil, stirring frequently.

  Then add 5 cups of sugar.

Stir well until all sugar is dissolved.  Return to a rolling boil, stirring almost constantly.

Meanwhile, have your clean jars--half-pints for jelly/jam--heating in a sink of very hot water.

When the berries are at a full boil that you can't stir down,

 time for two minutes, then remove from heat.

Skim the foam (if any) from the berries.

 Don't throw this foam out, though! Put it into a small dish as it is completely edible and makes a tasty spread on a piece of toast; a preview of what your finished jam is going to taste like.

Then ladle into the hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. 

Wipe the rims with a clean wet cloth, place on lids and screw down with bands.

Put into a rack suspended in a boiling water bath canner

When rack is full, lower into the bottom of the canner.  The jars should be covered by 1-2 inches of water.  If there is not enough water to cover jars by one inch, add some from your hot water in sink that was used to heat the jars prior to filling.

Put lid on the canner, and return to a full boil.  Boil for 15 minutes, then remove jars and place on a dry towel in a location free from drafts.

Don't touch for at least twelve hours.  As the jars cool, you will hear the lids seal with a pop.  Do not touch them to check for seal until fully cooled--after 12 hours!--or you might get a false seal.

And there you have it, blueberry jam!  Easy and delicious.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


This has been a strange year for homesteading.  First, the wacky warm winter weather that made for no maple syrup this spring.  Then the entire week of hard frosts at the exact time all the fruit trees were in full bloom.  And now the drought going on three months, or is it four?  April was unusually dry too.
All this, and I declare that this little place here is officially fruitless this year.  Of all the blossoms I had in my orchard this spring (see my post "Recent Sights" from April), I have not one single cherry, not one single peach, not one single apple, not one single pear.  Of all the blossoms on my blackberry canes, I have berries that dried to a crispy brown before turning from the green to red to black stage.

I was hoping those blackberries back in the woods, the cooler, shadier, moister woods, had fared better than my volunteer-turned-cultivated patch next to the garden, so last week I took a walk back to see what I could see.  What I could see were canes with abundant leaves, and very, very few berries.  What berries there were, were all hard and dry, looking like they would suffer the same fate as the ones by the garden: death before maturity.

Knowing that about 75% of Michigan's commercial fruit crop was wiped out by the same frosts that did in my own orchard blooms, I fear the price fruit will be this year.  If I want to eat fruit--and I do,  we need fruit for a healthy balanced diet--I will have to buy it.  Buy it in larger quantities than I have in the last five or six years, since there will be none grown at this little place here to start my cellar stash with. 

Knowing that I stopped buying peaches by the half-bushel for canning when they rose to $18 per 1/2 bu, I wince when I think of what this year's price will be.  Time to tighten down the budget again so I can squeeze out more money for the grocery portion.

Fruitless is not a desirable state to be.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bee Sting Remedy: Quick, Easy & Free!

While out working in the garden this morning, I got stung by a little bee.  Bigger than a sweat bee, but smaller than a honey bee.  Not sure what kind it was, it was a fast little bugger who got me in the inside bend of the elbow while I was yanking some weeds it had been hiding in.

Even as it zipped away, I could all ready feel the burn begin where it had stung me.  A small red spot was barely visible.

I took off my gardening gloves (not to keep my hands lily white and soft as a baby's bottom--HA! that's a hopeless cause with me, no to protect them from thistles that might be lurking) and scooped up a small amount of dirt.  About enough to fit in the tiny dish of my palm when I cupped my hand.

Then I proceeded to salivate real well, and spit into my hand several times.  Using the index finger of my opposite hand, I mixed the dirt and saliva into a paste-like mud.  It was this mud that I used as a bee sting remedy. 

Using my index finger again, I spread the mud onto the bee sting and surrounding area, about fifty-cent size.  Then I continued on with my weeding.  As it dried, the mud provided instant relief, drawing the venom, taking away the sting and keeping away swelling.

This is the quick, easy, and free remedy I use for bee stings (except for my bug-sensitive-ordering-on-allergic DD, who gets a good dose of Benadryl).  I've used it for decades, since my born in eastern Kentucky in 1911 grandfather showed it to me as a child who got stung while out in the fields at his place.

It is so effective that I do not buy over the counter insect sting creams.  Nope, nothing cheaper or more readily available than dirt and spit!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cherish Your Childrens' Friends

Moms, we know we should cherish our children. It's not always easy to do when they are running us ragged, testing our patience, or depriving us of sleep. Yet they are our children, and so we do cherish them.

I want to tell you now to also cherish the friends of your children. You don't have that mother-love connection with them, and as other-people's-children, you probably sometimes wish your child didn't even know them.

Cherish them anyway. You never know what the future will bring.

The morning of July 14th, a 20 year old friend of my kids was in a very bad car accident. He was airlifted to the major hospital nearby with multiple injuries (collapsed lung, broken jaw, damaged kidneys, head wounds, I don't even remember the whole list). For days, the doctors fought to stabilize and save him. On Thursday afternoon, he was finally stable enough to go through cat scans. Unfortunately, the test results were not favorable, and the diagnosis was that this young man had suffered brain damage so severe that he would not be able to survive if taken off of the life support he'd been on since arriving at the hospital.

His parents had to make the agonizing decision to pull the plug.  Friday evening, he passed away. Immediately, as per wishes he'd made clear many times throughout his short life, his organs were harvested and donated. As shortly as an hour after his death, one of them was all ready on it's way to a matching person in need.

I've known this young man since he was seven years old. He was a fairly good friend of my DS2, my 19yo son; they went to each other's birthday parties, they had sleepovers, they were in the church youth program together all of their schooldays. Did I necessarily appreciate him during those years? No; sometimes I saw him as annoying.

Now, however, I mourn his passing. I think of the hours he spent with me just six weeks ago, in my dining room pitching Cutco knives--his summer job to earn money for college where he was studying Criminal Justice. I'm glad I (grudgingly at the time) gave him my evening so he could practice his sales technique--and sell me a boning knife and some steak knives I really did need. I'm glad I fed him a sandwich made from pork leftover from DD1's graduation open house that he hadn't been able to attend a few days previous. That young man sat at my table more recently than my own sons. Yet, I will see my sons again, speak with them again, hug them again. I won't be able to do that with him. At least, not here on earth. My comfort is that he was a very stronger believer in Christ, and now resides in Heaven.

Cherish your children's friends.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


After watching the last three storms go around us, we finally have some rain at this little place here. 

Yesterday was quite hot and humid; temperature according to my Suburban at 2 p.m. was 99 degrees.  In the evening, storm clouds began to build, and as dusk fell, we could see something off to the north that looked like it might resemble a coming rain.  But yet, it didn't come.  Before bed, I took a shower to cool off, then because the house was so stuffy, I ended up going outside where there was quite a nice breeze.

In a sort of free form poetry sounding way, here's the notes I wrote down when I finally came back in the house:

10:30 on a summer night
sitting in a white plastic chair
in the middle of the front yard
enjoying the breeze
no lights except for
the storm to the northeast.
No thunder, all is quiet
other than the leaves rustling in the trees
calm, relaxed, refreshed.

This morning, that storm finally rolled in around quarter to six.  Lightning, big cracks of thunder, and rain, blessed rain.

Since then, we have had waves of rain off and on through the morning.  At 10 a.m. the sky is no brighter than it was at 6:00.  Not a one of us is complaining, we need a good day of steady rain.  Things have been very dry here.  The USDA was in our state several days ago examining crops and I believe declaring a state of emergency for our farmers.  Hay yields are down; it's been thirty days since my own hayfield was cut, and yet it has only grown back to ankle deep so far.  Cornfields look parched and like the corn is dry enough to cut for silage (a September event, normally) even though the ears are just now starting to form.  Yesterday at the Ag Expo going on at Michigan State University, DD2 and I overheard several dairy and cattle farmers saying if we didn't get a significant amount of rain this week, they would have to sell cows next week because they couldn't afford to buy the predicted higher priced feed and hay in order to feed them all this coming winter.

I hope this rain today is enough to help somewhat. I know what it feels like to worry about the increased grocery prices this drought will bring; I know I have been worried about the fate of my own small crop out in the garden, I know that second cutting off my hayfield is looking like a maybe now instead of a sure thing. With no second cutting, there definitely will not be third. I have all ready had to tell one of my hay customers that no, I will not have any more hay to sell to her this year, I barely have what I need for my own animals at this point.  My heart goes out to those whose livelihood depends on the weather, those crop farmers and livestock producers who are wondering if they will have enough yield to pay their mortgages. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stop and Smell the Milkweed

Yep, you read that right.  Milkweed.  Not roses, milkweed.  Did you know that milkweed, when it blooms, actually has a really pretty smell?  I didn't, not until a few days ago.  That fact amazed me.  Partly because it really is a good smell.  But mostly because I've known what milkweed was since I was a kid.  I've been around it for decades.  But I had never gone up to a milkweed plant in bloom and taken a sniff.

Boy, have I been missing out!  No wonder monarch butterflies love that stuff.  I think next time I find some that has flowered, I will pick it, bring it into the house, and put it into a vase so my home can smell lovely.  Really, it smells that good!

The last few weeks have been busy at this little place here, but I've also been away from home more than I have been in probably the last five years combined. During my time away, I've had alot of 'down time', alot of contemplation time, and alot of playing time.  Playing time is not something that comes naturally to me.  I'm a person who sees endless lists of what needs to be done, what should be done, what nobody else is doing that I feel I therefore should do. . .

Being a mother of four, most of my adult life has been spent in high gear, fighting figurative fires and averting crises made by other people.  I yearned for slow and steady wins the race, but instead, have mostly jack-rabbited from one thing to another, then crashed in exhaustion.  When barely recharged, just enough to drag myself back to my feet , I jack-rabbit around again to repeat the cycle.  However, with DD1's graduation, open house, and softball tournaments behind us,  DH and I finally took some time for play.  We went away.  Far, far away.  Not on business, not on kid-related sports or college travel, in fact not to any relative at all.  For three whole days, it was just he and I and no responsibilities other than feeding ourselves, if we felt like eating.

The first day, I felt like a hedon. A bad mother.  A horrible, selfish person.  The second day, I actually caught myself looking out a window and not thinking.  This was a novel thing, to catch myself not thinking.  My brain always seems to have twenty different things going on, many thoughts jumbling and vying for my attention.  Many "should do's" and "don't forget to's" and "have to make sure's".  To just have mental quiet, what an experience!  It was enlightening.

The third day, I started to notice more little things. Being away from home and kids, garden and animals, work and bills, my eyes were opened, my brain was calm, my first reaction to everything wasn't negative or dread.  I realized I was open to possibilities, and not as limited as I've always assumed I was. 

I'm learning to slow down, to not run all the time, to stop and smell the milkweed. Life is spread out before me, welcoming me rather than shoving me from behind into places I'm not always sure I want to go.

I highly recommend everyone takes a minute to get out of their normal everyday routine, and find some milkweed.  It's eye opening.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Daunting No More: Refried Beans From Scratch

For many years, I've been telling myself I need to learn to make refried beans from scratch instead of buying them in cans.  I knew the price difference was huge, and the effort little, from switching from canned chili beans to making my own with a bag of kidney beans and some chili powder and other spices.  Yet, the idea of refried beans from scratch was one that I found daunting.

So daunting, that even though I knew I should (and could, with practice) do it, I kept putting off the actual attempting of this dish.  About two years ago, I tried it with a recipe I found somewhere.  Sounded simple enough: soak beans, cook beans, season beans, mash beans, serve. 

And it was simple, but it tasted like, well, crap.  It was awful.  So awful I put off trying again for a few more years.  I even found another recipe (with more seasonings) in the meantime, but was afraid of failure again, so put it off some more.

Until last week, that is, when I finally tried that newer recipe.  This time, with this recipe, I found success.  Refried beans really are easy.  You can make them from scratch, and they can taste good.  So good that my teenagers (teens are notoriously tough critics) loved them and requested them again just two short days later!

It seems that there are two secrets to 'like from the can' refried beans: season them before cooking, and whir them up in the blender instead of mashing them.

Now that I've shared those two revelations with you, here's the recipe:

Refried Beans

  • 1/2 pound (or 1/2 a one-pound package) dried pinto beans
  • enough water to cover them in a 2 quart sauce pan (4 cups or so)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp chicken bouillon (I used the powdered kind, but I imagine a bouillon cube will work too)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Sort your beans for stones, bad ones, etc, then rinse.  Place in a 2 qt pan and cover with water to about an inch above the beans.  Let soak overnight or 8 hours.

Add a bit more water if beans soak it all up, then stir in seasonings.  Don't add the butter yet.  Bring contents of pot to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Simmer 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.  Once beans can be mashed against the side of the pot with your stirring spoon, they are done.

Get out your blender, and scoop about 1 cup beans and the tablespoon of butter into it.  Make sure to get some of the bean liquid in there too.  I set mine to "grind" and let it pulse for about 10 seconds, then shut off, stir, and add another 1/2 cup of beans and a little liquid if needed, pulse again, etc, until all the beans have been 'mashed'.

Voila!  That's it, you now have refried beans!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Walk Through My Garden

I'd like to take you on a walk through my garden now that I've gotten fairly caught up on weeding it. Despite the heat wave of the last two weeks and our extreme lack of rain this year, my garden is actually doing better than it's done in years.  I have to acknowledge that I'm giving it alot more time and care than I have in recent years, in terms of regular weeding and watering, so that probably has alot to do with it.  So far, too, I haven't had many insect problems.

Let's go for a walk! Approach from the house, which is north of the garden.  Please excuse the very tall weeds I haven't gotten to yet. . .

 Enter the garden through the opening in the rock wall on the north side of the garden. Watch out for the small thistles that sprouted up in the opening while I was in South Carolina. . .

The rock wall is a work in progress for about five years now, and started with piles of rocks we'd picked from the yard area when seeding that to lawn in 2004, and from the five acres of pasture/hayfield we developed one acre at a time over several years (handpicking rocks as well as hand seeding the grass/clover pasture mix).   It is about 120 feet long, and about a foot tall so far.  Eventually I would like it to be 18"-24" tall, but mostly it's just a visual barrier between the yard and the garden (and to help keep the lawn from encroaching into the garden).  Sorry it's so overgrown in weeds at the moment; my focus has been on weeding the veggies and not the wall so far. . .

Now that we've entered the garden, on your left (east) you'll see the nice patch of sweet corn.  It's my 'nice' patch because I planted it first and it's doing the best of the several patches of corn I have scattered around.  In fact, because it's doing so much better than the others, it is the only one I took pictures of!

Last year, in the interest of saving space, I inter planted some of my corn with squash and pole beans. It worked great; all grew well as predicted--the whole idea was that the nitrogen loving corn would be nourished by the nitrogen-fixing beans, the beans would grow up the corn and the squash vines would protect the corn from critters like raccoons--so I planted it that way again this year.  In the above picture you can see the squash plants just starting to vine between the corn rows.  In the picture below, a bean plant has found it's corn neighbor and is starting to twine up the stalk.

Continuing south in the garden, past the corn is one of my new strawberry beds.  Unfortunately I got no berries this year (week of hard frosts in May killed the blossoms), but the plants look to be strong and healthy, so hoping for an abundant harvest next year. 

Next to the strawberries are my short rows of onions, which are struggling.  The cold in May killed most of my starts even though I covered them at night.  The ones that are left are okay, but with the drought I don't think they will get as big as I'd like.

Oops!  Forgot to point out the row of gladiolas I tucked in between the strawberries and the onions.  My 'just for fun' flower planting, although digging them up in the fall isn't all that fun.  One is starting to bloom this week, soon the whole row will be ablaze in color.

Okay, now that I've pointed out what's on the east side when you walk in the garden, let's turn our focus to the twice as deep left side. . .  Starting when we walked through at the rock wall:

Several short rows with swiss chard


and beets.

Also a row of rutabaga, and several rows of peas I forgot to take pictures of.  Just imagine them.

Then we have, approximately opposite the strawberry bed, my potato patch.  Doing very well this year, have only had to hand pick potato bugs about four times over a two week period.  Much fewer potato bugs this year.  Maybe because this year I planted a clump of horseradish at each corner of the potato patch?  I read horseradish repels potato beetles. . .

potato patch

Moving along, we have about a row and a half of broccoli.  Planted two rows, but somehow lost half of one.

Also is a row of cabbages, which something appears to be putting holes in the leaves.

Past the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc), you will see the tomatoes.  Doing very well this year; they love the heat.  I have several varieties. . . okay probably ten or twelve varieties and can't remember them all without digging out my list.  Mostly heirlooms, let's leave it at that for now.

I have not seen evidence of a single tomato worm so far, maybe because I planted a stinky marigold at each end of each row of tomatoes. 

Sorry to hustle you through the rest of the tour, but I just discovered we're out of bread!  So, need to get some baking done today.  Here's the rest of the garden that I have photos of:

more squash, different variety than what's in the corn

just one of the many cukes

hot hungarian pepper

watermelons, just one row of many

eggplant with a bloom


cluster of grapes

Hope you enjoyed our walk, and aren't too out of breath from me race-walking you through the final sections of the garden!  Got to get that bread dough going; you're welcome to join me in the kitchen if you wish.