In Food


Posted by: on Sep 26, 2013 | 5 Comments

Canned SalsaIt feels like fall weather has officially settled in. We’ve had temperatures in the 70s with lows overnight in the 50s out here on the coast. I absolutely love this weather. It feels so good to throw on a sweatshirt in the evening and sit on our deck with the chiminea burning. Actually, it feels a little like Maine did a month ago. My husband has begun transitioning our crops from summer to fall/winter. We’ll be growing lettuce and herbs inside and kale and broccoli outside. At least that’s the plan so far. Which means, it’s about time I reported on our summer growing efforts.

Back in the spring, we planted several kinds of tomatoes, jalapeños, a bell pepper, a small orange pepper, and a lone cucumber plant in gravel in old fruit buckets. My husband set up a water reservoir and pumped water through pipes to the buckets. He also set up a return line so the water would recirculate through the system. It worked surprisingly well once the leaks were all caulked up. Our deck was the talk of the neighborhood and maybe the town. Even the UPS man stayed an extra few minutes to admire our vegetable jungle.

Unfortunately, early on we had a significant problem with aphids on one of our tomato varieties. On the plus side, the aphids were really particular to the sauce tomato we had planted. On the down side, they pretty much decimated those plants. I like to think of it as a sacrificial offering: To have some delicious tomatoes we had to give up a few to nature. We finally got the aphids under control using neem oil after attempting to introduce a colony of ladybugs and praying mantises, which did not work. We also had some root rot issues because of rotting tree matter that fell into the buckets before we covered them. Talk about a learning curve. Next year we’ll be more prepared. Nevertheless, the Black Krim tomatoes did really well and were extremely delicious but not high yielding. The Tomato Berry were tasty and produced well. We harvested enough tomatoes to satisfy our salsa addiction and make a few salads.

Pepper PlantsThe peppers did well all around. We did not have bug problems or even root issues with the peppers. And the jalapeños outshone everything else we planted. We harvested them twice and got several pounds each harvest. The jalapeños were also very spicy. I enjoy spicy food and think I’ve come along way in my heat tolerance. However, the first jalapeño we harvested found its way (the whole pepper) into a batch of salsa. I had to eat a lot of guacamole with that salsa (darn ;)). In contrast, last year’s jalapeños were rather mild. We now have endless jars of HOT pickled jalapeños.Pickled Jalapenos

In addition, we experimented with herbs. The herbs were in our little ebb and flood system that we grew kale in last winter and the tower my husband constructed. Early in the summer we had cilantro and basil growing. Both were pervasive until it got too hot for them. The parsley never really produced enough to harvest. The mint and lemon balm took over. I harvested both along with marigold flowers for herbal teas this winter.Herb Tower

We’ve been working on preserving as much fresh produce as we can for the winter. I found a recipe for pickled green beans or dilly beans and we did a batch of those. We threw some garlic and a jalapeño in for good measure. Although, I love picking fresh produce and using it immediately, part of me wants to horde the harvest as much as possible so that in the middle of January I can open a jar and taste a little sunshine and heat. With additional tomatoes from the market and from friends, we have put away a few jars of Max’s Blue Ribbon salsa (he won the Onancock Farmers’ Market contest this year!). We also stuck roasted and dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer, which will be beautiful in soups, salads, enchiladas, and all manner of other dishes. Nevertheless, even as I try to hang on to the summer’s bounty, I find myself craving pumpkin and fresh kale and admittedly scheming how to get enough pumpkins to have pumpkin smoothies, pie, and muffins all winter.Salsa ingredients


  1. Chelsea
    September 26, 2013

    Ok, come do all this for me now.

  2. Grandma
    September 26, 2013

    What a beautiful blog post! Your photos are amazing, as are your very creative efforts with your garden. Wow.
    At the farm, many years ago now, our “bible” for preserving food was a book called “Putting Food By.” I don’t remember the author. If it’s still in print, I recommend it.
    Happy eating & love,

  3. Botkins
    September 26, 2013

    Le noms extreme!

  4. mom
    September 29, 2013

    Harvest of photos! Now make a quilt in those colors!

  5. Betsy
    October 26, 2013

    Those pepper plants look amazing! Too bad about the tomatoes! I used to grow yellow pear cherry tomatoes in my garden in Westminster West. They easily grow to nine feet tall and produce heavily… dinner on the vine! I imagine they also make into a preserve… but I never had the time to try it! We used to make tomato jam on the Farm!
    The mint family of herbs loves the wetlands… they take over when allowed! It is a good thing they are so desirable or they would be a weed for sure!
    I hope you find your pumpkin Nirvana…. !


Leave a Reply