Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fall planting; Peach pickles

It's that time again: the time when you know you are supposed to start thinking about your fall garden, but you're kind of burned out on gardening. It's sometimes hard to get motivated to get a spot ready for kale and turnips and fall carrots. Sometimes you can find a good spot for those sorts of things without having to make a whole new bed: under the corn, between the okra plants or pepper plants, under the bean poles.

But yesterday I dug a whole new bed for turnips and carrots. I do this a week or so before planting, to give the weeds time to sprout before I plant the seeds. That way, I can cultivate a few times before planting, and there will be fewer weeds in the bed during the fall. I go back to Houston in early September, and I'm not around to keep the fall garden weeded, so it's important to make sure as few weeds sprout as possible while I'm gone. I also put a straw mulch down before planting, and then push the mulch aside to make little rows about 15" apart across the bed, to plant fall root vegetables. I do the same in another bed, for kale and arugula and mustard. I'll harvest the fall garden in early December when I come back.

Canning proceeds apace. The last time I went to the farmer's market, I got more peaches, and I made pickled peaches. When I was a child, my grandmother always served pickled peaches at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I loved them. I used the recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It was pretty easy: you macerate the peaches in sugar overnight in the refrigerator, then drain the peaches, saving the sweetened juice that flowed from the peaches. To that juice you add vinegar and sugar and pickling spices. You boil that pickling brine with the peaches for a few minutes, then ladle them into the jars.

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