Friday, June 17, 2011

The Drought Garden

Good Morning!  Despite the weather forecasts, we remain hot and dry.  This is having a really interesting effect on my garden. With the exception of the tomatoes, which actually prefer drier conditions, everything has started producing when it is only about 6 inches tall.  My bell pepper plants are loaded, as are my chile and jalapeno plants.  Yesterday I noticed okra that was not far from being ready to cut.  And yet none of the plants are over 6 inches in height. 

The hot temperatures are also stressing my tomato plants to the point of producing blossom end rot.  We have already applied 1 bag of agricultural lime to the soil.  We will now try sprinkling it over the entire plant.  I have never had this occur before.  Since tomatoes are my primary canning ingredient, this loss could prove to be harmful to my "stocking up".  We have been on a heavy watering schedule for the last few weeks, but I know that no amount of artificial watering can replace a natural rain.

We will be digging our potatoes today.  With no rain, it doesn't make any sense to leave them in the ground.  They are not very large, but will serve well for canning purposes.  Since we don't own any machinery, we will be digging them the "old-fashioned way", with a shovel and our hands.

Canning has become my storage method of choice, my main reason being that I am trying to move as close to off grid as possible.  I have learned a lot over the last 11 years and continue to learn more every day.  This past year was my first time canning meat.  It has made such a difference in my meal planning as I can now plan a chicken casserole without having to plan thawing and cooking time for the chicken itself.  And the pressure canning has made even the 2-year-old layers I put up extremely tender. 

I've also learned that not everything has to be done right away.  This past winter I thawed out some of the turkeys we slaughtered in the fall and canned them.  This freed up quite a bit of  freezer room.  In addition, I was able to make blueberry and fig jam out of fruit I had put in the freezer.  With a busy garden and plenty of livestock to care for, I just hadn't had time during the summer.  It took quite a bit of pressure off of me and allowed me to do it at a less busy time of year.  This is something I will definitely be doing more of.

Canning is not difficult by any means.  There are some really great books out there.  I didn't have anyone to teach me, so I just followed the directions.  By far the best book for beginners is The Ball Blue Book which is available everywhere.  It gives step-by-step directions and even some illustrations for how to can the most commonly canned foods.  All of the equipment is readily available now, especially the jars.  There are also some kits available which allow you to get everything you need to get started canning.  Don't allow your preconceived notions of difficulty to keep you from enjoying your gardening efforts right through the winter.  Set a goal and start canning today.

Well, the livestock is calling.  A busy day is ahead.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day.


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