Being a child born in the summer, it is my favorite season of the year.
I love watching my garden grow and produce fresh vegetables. I equally enjoy watching my neighbors’ gardens grow tall and fruitful. My children are out of school for several weeks and fewer commitments leave me less to worry about. We enjoy splashing in pools, rivers and lakes in the area. My husband starts putting up hay and the days are long. The barbecue grill is a busy place for cooking and fresh lemonade and sweet tea is plentiful around here.
I start my garden in early March. As soon as the ground is thawed, I’m bent over digging in the soil. I really don’t care if I have to wear long-johns to get it all ready. From lettuce to cabbages and tomatoes to snap peas, I carefully plot out each raised bed to squeeze our favorites into the ground.
Every plant is staked, trellised and spaced for maximum production.
I strategize ways that kept pests and critters at bay from the year before and make my plan. I’ve dueled with potato beetles, squash bugs and aphids. We’ve scared off deer, raccoons and even a hissing groundhog.
Finally in June, the produce begins to arrive and the picking begins.
Each year, I tell myself I’m going to cut back a little and make it more manageable…yeah right! One family doesn’t really need eight zucchini plants, 100 cucumber plants or 30 tomato plants, or do they? The first year I had a garden I quickly learned that less probably would’ve been more. I made all kinds of new friends as I was pawning off zucchini on everyone I met. Even my grandmother kept sending me zucchini recipes to help with my plight. It was too much.
I quickly figured out how to blanch and freeze things, which was simple enough. The idea of canning terrified me. Then one day, in the lonely food preservation aisle of our local Wal-Mart Super Center, I met Presto-the-pressure-canner. She and I have been having a love affair with food preservation ever since.
Presto came with an instruction manual, which I read carefully. I sought wisdom from Facebook, YouTube and other websites. I was ready for canning!
Faced with a mound of tomatoes and cucumbers, I set about turning our small farm kitchen into a production facility. I recruited my husband and children to wash, scald and peel things until they finally learned to run when they saw me heading back from the garden.
The first year went well and I put up pints and quarts of spaghetti sauce and a few kinds of pickles. Then at year two, I decided to streamline my operation. The passion turned into obsession. Before I knew it I had canned over 100 quarts of pickles and was still going. It was insanity! I made freezer jams, froze berries, canned sauces and pickles like a mad woman. We called it can-a-rama and the party has gone on every summer since.
I hope you’re having a great summer and if you need some zucchini, I’ve got you covered, neighbor.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here