Monday, September 1, 2008

September 1, 2008

Whew, I am EXHAUSTED!  Today was busy, but productive.  It started at 7 am when the kids got me up.  I like to get up early with the kids the day before going back to work so I can sleep that night.  Today however, I got up and was greated by my mostly risen no-kneed bread dough.  For more on that story, please scroll down and see my special post (and drool your heart out Susan!, hehe).

It actually took much longer than I thought to take it though final proofing to eating, but after lunch, we went to the zoo with the kids.  Boy was that fun. They've been regularly since we're members, but this was the first time in a year that I went.  I've got tons of great pics on my phone, but I'll only bore you with one to keep the non-gardening comments to a minimal.


Yep, he was just on the othe side of the glass snoozing.  WOW, and I'm a cat person.  How cute!  Makes me want to rub his belly.  hehe maybe not.  Anyway, I did manage a few garden-related thoughts and pics out of the trip.  The first was right outside the new butterfly exhibit.  I couldn't help but notice that these simple plants with no pretty flowers on it was COVERED with bumble bees and even honey bees.  I was shocked!  I haven't seen honey bees outside a commercial setting at all this year, and there were dozens at this point of the year when I haven't seen any bee for months.  I have GOT to get me some of these plants!

Another pic I had to take was walking through the rose garden.  Leave it to progressively green Seattle's zoo to take this route!

But it did make me think, maybe I'll find out what they use and start treating my garden with compost tea. I've got compost now. MUAHAHAHA!  hehe.  Heck two birds with one stone as they say!

Lastly, the trip ended with us finding the perfect addition to our little rose garden out back.  My eldest's favorite color is yellow, and this Sunsprite yellow rose is not only vibrant yellow, but very sweet smelling.  If I could find it it would go into our rose garden next year!

So we got home at 7:30 and I was loosing light.  But after everyone convinced me that I needed to freeze my beans, I decided to just do it.  So with the light fading, I went out and harvested 4 lbs. of green beans!

That's me stradling my bed #1 standing on the rails.  Thank goodness I didn't make a 5 foot wide bed, hehe.  While I was out there, with my flashlight, I decided to pick the cukes I passed over last week when I started pickling.  And while I was digging around in the dark, I found two that I totally missed.  One I can't phathom how, because it was as big as the biggest cukes I pickled.  Here is the harvest that I chopped up and added to the brine.

After washing them, and cutting them down, I burried the pieces in with the rest of the marinading cukes.  My garage smells nice, inside this pot is a bunch of dill pickle goodness going on.

And here is the green bean harvest from this evening, mostly from my pole beans, but I also finally harvested my bush beans...

Despite my total and utter inexperience, I came up with a fairly creative process for preping, blanching and freezing my beans.

Don't mind the left over bread mixing bowl.  Today was busy and I hadn't had a chance to do the hand dishes, so it made a good clipping/composting bowl.  But the collander was what the prepped beans went into.  Don't they already look like storebought.  Don't laugh, I've just grown up on canned green beans, which is why I wanted to can them in the first place.  To each their own I guess.

And here is my blanching station.

Yes, that make-shift ice-bath in the middle is also my make-shift la cloche from my baking episode today.  Hehe, it was one of the few big vessels and it was sitting close.  Anyway, it worked great. I blanched the beans for 3 minutes.  The books call for 1 minute, I thought 5, my mother convinced me to compromise at 3.  After they were dry, I spread them out on a baking sheet and putting them in my freezer, where they're currently flash freezing before I put them in zip lock bags for winter eating.

The second batch was much bigger, but I think I harvested about 5 meals.  It's a start. All those Freedomgardeners have made me feel sustainable... hehe.  It's a start.

*Don't forget to read the special post on some yummy bread, and sorry they don't have smell-o-vision for the internet, hehe*

Enjoy your garden!


  1. WOW -- you're pickling cucumbers!!! How neat! I've never done dill pickles before. I've only made the sweet pickles. I can't wait to see how they come out -- let me know. How long do they have to "soak"??

    Your beans look great. You're getting alot of bean from that area there. You'll be surprised because they will just keep blooming and blooming. You'll be picking beans until it frosts.

    Going to read your other posts now!! Hope you had a great Labor Day!

  2. Great looking harvest, dude! Those beans will be worth the effort, when you pull them out of the freezer this winter - and cook them up! I'm growing green beans on both sides of a trellis next year. No more beans in containers for me....mine failed miserably. On the dill pickles, I used the pickle mix - by Mrs. Wages -and got it at WalMart. They are awesome! I've made 22 quarts of those babies.... I'll plant twice as many cucumbers next year.


  3. Judy: I'm doing what the Ball book calls the "Long" method. 4 weeks for these babbies. Worth the effor if I'm to read correctly. I'm not a pickle fan, they're ok, but my wife wanted them, so she's getting them. As for the beans, there are more growing that were too small, but otherwise I picked them all. If they keep going til it frosts I may have one more harvest before mid October when we can expect our first frost.

    EG: I can't wait to cook them up. I tried to grow on both sides of my trellis but not enough light made it to the back of my garage. but boy is the foliage dense from 8 plants per square. And I too plan on planting more pickling cukes next year assuming I don't do corn. 22 quarts is a TON! I think I'll get 5 quarts, maybe 8. I'm impressed!


    Dan: When I was getting my dill from the nearby farmer's market, I saw a few venders there with crates of pickling cukes that were about the same size as the smaller ones I pickled whole. And since I trellis mine, all mine take up 4 SF. Of course I hope to do more next year and will need more space or less veggie varieties. Interesting planning dilema.

    DoubleD: Wow, you blanch in the microwave! Interesting. I kept a pot boiling on the stove through the process. As for the cutting, I kept thinking of my wife who folds and bags over a thousand newspapers every Tuesday. You just grab a bean, snipp, snipp, snipp, drop, repeat. But yeah, but the end I had a new appreciation for all she does every week. She deserves a back rub.

  4. The photo of you picking your beans is almost the same stance I have well picking mine. The hover and pull approach well avoiding trampling anything, lol.

    I would like to try making some dill pickles this year on top of the raw sauce & relish I am making. I watched an episode of Good Eats were Alton Brown made dill pickles that fermented in water, salt & spices to turn sour naturally without the use of vinegar. It seems like an interesting experiment.

    I wish I had the space to grow enough cukes to use my own but that will not happen at this residence. I should really source some cukes soon or it will be to late to find any.

  5. That is pretty much how I freeze green beans as well - although I usually just do them whole (snippng off both ends first) - mainly because I am lazy! I also use my microwave veggie steamer to do the blanching process... I put water in the bottom, put the basket in, put ventend plastic lid on - microwave for 3 minutes... then pull basket out and immerse in ice water to stop the cooking. From there on it is exactly the same process of flash freezing whole on cookie sheets - then into a gallon ziplock freezer bag for final storage. Great way to preserve the beans when you are getting more per picking than your family can eat at a sitting... but not enough to do a pressure canner load.

  6. Wow, I'm eating my heart out alright, hehe. I love green beans, and would hate to pickle them, that sounds gross to me, so I would do what you're doing, and will when I grow them next season. The pics look great ( btw, love the big kitty: I'm a cat person too). I freeze almost everything, and have not really "canned" except for jam, which is not at all like real canning.

    I'm really looking forward to the potato harvest, as that one is one we can't do well around here, and I know nothing about it. I really look forward to your blogs, Sinfonian!