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I think my wife really does love me. I was out of town on a job in the Midland and Lubbock areas of West Texas and unable to tend to my gardening chores. I flew home early last Saturday morning and she surprised me with a big basket of my home grown strawberries. Wow, what a gal!!!! I finished filling one of the 1 gallon freezer bags already partially filled in the freezer and started a new bag. I need to make another batch of jam this week and may fill the next bag by the end of the week….. I will be swimming in my heavenly strawberry jam – Yum!!!!

Today was a partial day in the garden and I only sweated through one T-shirt. I weeded, watered and finished pulling up the last of my Detroit Red beets. I still have a very beautifully leafed beet variety that I forgot the name of yet to harvest. Very nice looking tops and we will see about the beet taste soon. I made a pickled beet recipe today to eat like a cold salad – it is pretty tasty.

 I used about 3 + cups of skinned and sliced up roasted beets. FYI – drop the hot roasted beets in ice water and the skins nearly remove themselves. I boiled ¾ cup of cider vinegar and ¾ cup of beet juice….. I poured almost a cup of hot water over the beets in a bowl to make the beet juice. Once that mixture was boiling I added 2 tbs. sugar, 2 whole cloves, 3 whole black peppercorns, a bay leaf, about ¾ tsp. of sea salt and about a cup of chopped red onion. Brought it back to a boil and poured over the beets. Refrigerated for a couple of hours and man, they are pretty darned good! Recipe is almost exactly like one I found in allrecipes.com. Great recipe resource!


The Mason Bees. They are rapidly depositing eggs and filling the tubes. I have about 11 of the tubes filled and sealed. Should have quite a few more next season.

The worms. I checked on the poor guys Saturday when I returned and they were trying to escape. I had neglected both the food they need and the bedding necessary for their comfort. I was able to feed them a big a big batch of strawberry parts and tops – see the comments about my lovely wife above, some old bread, beet cuttings and other veggie scraps….. They seem to be back to work and not complaining now.

My Green Beans. The Kentucky Pole beans are leaping and now blossoming. The bush beans look to be on the same time table.

Asparagus. Slowing down and will let them fern out. I put some Martha Washington in a few weeks ago and they are sprouting.

Tomatoes. Slow but setting fruit….except my Brandywine – I do have a few blossoms on one but I have my fingers crossed. The Juliet tomatoes and Creole tomatoes are doing well.

Cucumbers. I put up twine to let them climb this morning….part of the sweaty shirt stuff. My cucumbers in my friends backyard ( I put a 4×4 patch in his yard) are blossoming and way ahead of mine! Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Enough for now, hopefully blackberry news soon!


Jammin’ with my Jam

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Over the first few weeks of my strawberry season I have been able to gather and freeze enough of the berries that weren’t eaten fresh to make some jam. The first picture show the beginning of the process – the thawing of the berries. I just love how they smell as they begin to thaw and give off the wonderful aroma of “real” Strawberries.  They may not look quite as pretty as those in the store but they make up for it in flavor.

Last night – Friday the 8th of April was my canning night. It takes 6 cups of berries to make the jam and I had thawed a bag containing about 7.25 cups. It is very important to accurately measure when making jam so I scooped out the excess and added it to the bag in the freezer being held for the next batch. Can’t hardly wait to make more jam!!!

  I use “Sure-Jell’ powdered pectin labeled for less or no sugar jams. I use the” less” sugar  recipe, 4 cups of sugar vs. 6 used in regular jams. Not a lot of difference in sweetness but a noticeable improvement in the fruit taste. It gels nicely and is oh so good on my toast in the mornings. I may get frisky on the next batch of strawberry jam and try using a complimentary spice for some variety ……. any suggestions …… drop me a note and I will give it a try.  Look for  report back in a future installment.

A peek at the future – my blackberry vines are beginning to set berries. I have 3 varieties and the season should be a good one. I should start picking at the end of this month and stop near the end of May…… Blackberry jam is my favorite!!!!



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