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I hope you enjoyed the grand tour of my edible garden that I created in my side yard.


Today, I would like to show what is happening in my original vegetable garden…


As you can see, there is a lot growing in this area.

Among the vegetables is a giant sunflower, pots filled with ornamental plants AND vegetables and hollyhocks that have finished flowering can be seen alongside the garden.

Off to the right side, you can see my container corn.

And yes, those are plastic patio chairs inside my vegetable garden.  (I’ll explain why later.)


This edible garden is actually made up of three parts.  My original vegetable garden was a fenced in square space.  Like many gardeners who like to grow their own food, I realized that I needed more space – so we added on an extension a couple of years ago…


The third part of my edible garden consists of vegetables growing in containers along with ornamental plants…



I currently have zucchini growing in the closest pot along with a jalapeño plant, parsley and sweet potato vines.

The middle pot is filled with a Thai pepper plant, chives, cucumber, celosia and kangaroo paw.

The third (and my most favorite container) has a bell pepper plant, cinnamon basil, green & purple sweet potato vines, dianthus and angelita daisy growing inside.


The outer vegetable garden is filled with sunflowers and bush beans.

Our family loves to eat ‘string beans’.  They are easy to grow and to freeze for later.


Here is something that you may not know about growing beans.  “They make their own nitrogen, so you don’t need to add any nitrogen fertilizer.”  

In fact, if fertilize them with a fertilizer that contains nitrogen – it can cause them to grow beautiful leaves, but not beans.  That is because there needs to be a balance between the other major nutrients – phosphorus and potassium.

If you do apply a fertilizer, make sure that contains a low amount of nitrogen.

I have lots of cucumbers growing in the original vegetable garden along with a couple of pumpkin plants.

As a child, I grew up calling cucumbers ‘gurkens’, which is what they are called in German.  I spent some time when I was young, in Germany, visiting my grandparents while my grandfather was working over there.

I love cucumbers and we eat them 3 or 4 times a week.


It can be a little hard to spot ripe cucumbers.  Most of my cucumber plants are growing up onto the trellis, but sometimes you can find cucumbers growing on the ground.  You need to move the leaves aside to see them.

I like to eat cucumbers with salad, using my grandmother’s top secret’ salad dressing recipe.

I only wish that I could grow cucumbers and leaf lettuce at the same time….


Okay, back to the patio chairs sitting in my garden.

Why on earth would I place chairs in my garden?

Well, they are an easy way to provide shade for vegetables that quickly wilt in the full sun.


And so, that is what is going on in my edible gardens this summer.

**I am excited to share with you a gardening video that I made for Troybilt as a part of my involvement with the ‘Saturday 6″.
I’ll debut it for you on Monday 🙂

I always think of the week of Memorial Day as the first ‘unofficial’ week of summer.  The weather is getting hot, the kids have their last day of school and it is also a time of harvest.

For the past few weeks, my tomato and bush bean plants have been fruitful.  
Every week, I blanch my tomatoes by putting them in boiling water for 45 seconds, which makes peeling them easier.
Then I remove the green part of the stem and then ‘squish’ the tomatoes to get rid of the seeds and excess liquid.
What remains the tomato, is the delicious part and I put it in a plastic freezer bag (making sure to get all the air out).  Then I freeze it until I am ready to use them to make sauce.
*My tomatoes aren’t flowering any longer, because of the hot weather – but the tomatoes are ripening.  By mid-May, you should put some sort of shade cloth protection for your tomatoes.
I am thrilled with how well my bush beans are producing.  I have six plants and they produce enough for us to eat for dinner once a week.  I take the extra and blanch them for 3 minutes and then place them in ice water before freezing them as well.
The end of May is also time that I start canning.
The peaches at Double S Farms (my mother & sister’s family residence) are heavy with sweet fruit.
The trees are so generous that my other sister and I have plenty to make into jam, even after my mother has made hers.
I made three batches so far and have also tried my hand at making ‘Peach Cider Vinegar’, which I will share later.
Soon, the plums at Double S Farms will ripen and then the apples, which I will can as well 🙂
Last Sunday was my son, Kai’s 10th birthday.  We had a family celebration with his grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins present along with his best friend.
Monday morning, Kai went on a flight in a two-seat airplane based at our local airport.
Kai was excited, but also a little nervous.
His best-friend’s father was the pilot.
Kai was strapped in and all ready to go.
Up in the air and having a great time!
After his flight, we headed to Target with along with his best friend so he could use his gift cards.
Not surprisingly, he used them all to buy more Pokemon cards….his friend also bought some too.
Kai had the best day organizing his cards and trading with his friends.
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I hope you all are having a great week!

Earlier this week, I stepped into my new vegetable garden and was pleasantly surprised to discover that my bush beans were ready to be picked.

I was so excited.  
You really have to look underneath the leaves to see the beans.
So, I ran into the house for a basket and got to work, picking beans.
This will be enough for my family for dinner.
But, instead of eating them now – I decided to blanch them and freeze them.
Why?  Well, so I could show you how to do it 🙂
You may wonder what ‘blanching’ is?
 ‘Blanching’ is the process of submerging your vegetables in boiling water for a short period of time.
This is important to do before freezing your vegetables because:
– it halts enzymes, which decreases the flavor and texture of your vegetables.
– it cleans the surface of your vegetables and kills any germs.
– it improves the color of your vegetables.
– it helps to retain vitamins.
So, how do you blanch vegetables?
Well, the process is pretty much the same for most vegetables with the only difference being the amount of time they need to be submerged in boiling water.
To blanch green beans:
 
Cut off the stem ends.
Add to a pot of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.  This step varies depending on the type of vegetable (check here for more info).
Immediately scoop out your beans and submerge in ice water.
Keep in the water for 3 minutes until the beans have thoroughly cooled.
Drain off the water.
Aren’t they a pretty green color?
 
Pack into a vacuum-sealed bag or put them in a plastic freezer bag.
It is very important to remove all the air, or your vegetables will get freezer burn.
To do this, close the zipper more then halfway and then carefully ‘roll’ your beans up, pushing out all the air and then seal the bag completely.
You can see all the air is gone and now my blanched beans are ready for the freezer.  They will last up to 9 months in the freezer.
But I’m so excited about my first harvest this year that I think I will serve them to my mother on Mother’s Day.
To cook, I will simply add my frozen beans to boiling water (the same way I cook frozen beans from the grocery store).
I grew Bush Blue Lake 47 Beans.  I bought the seeds from Burpee.  I planted them in late February, although you can plant them through March in our area.
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Guess what??
Only 6 days to go before my road trip with my mother.
I’ll share our destinations next time 🙂