At the End of Another Wet June

By fallspark, June 26th, 2011 | No Comments »

As did many in our area, I got most of my garden planted late this year, and here we are at the end of June, with things moving slowly in the yard.  The purslane and thistle are going gangbusters, of course (I have the usual bumper crop)—nothing intimidates weeds. 

At least the tomatoes are starting to take off, my two potted peppers are setting a few blossoms, and the pole beans and cucumbers are reaching up to grab the new trellises I am using for my first attempt at growing upward.  These plants are at long last sending out curly tendrils as anticipated, and if the bugs don’t destroy them, I may have a harvest yet, may have cucumbers just as I finish my last jar of homemade bread and butter pickles put up two seasons ago.  

Still, my Swiss chard is just sitting there, as are the red cabbage plants a daughter gave me, half of a 4-pack she didn’t have the room for herself, and both are looking very small and sad.  Even the usually robust herbs appear to be disappointed at the lack of warmth and sunlight. I am looking at the extended forecast for this week, and Thursday promises to be something close to normal for this time of year.  Although I don’t personally like the heat–as a child of the fifties, don’t care for air-conditioning, I am pulling for the plants just now, and so will keep my fans going and welcome it as it comes.   

More rain is in the forecast, alas, but I am holding to optimism. I think the old saying “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” is a good one just now, and it is the anticipation of a warm and dry September that keeps me out there, pulling the weeds from a muddy plot and watching for signs of insects.  I so love that time of year in the yard, that I think I plant my small garden solely in anticipation of those cooler nights and warm days full of sunshine, and the sight of home-canned jars of amber peaches (purchased from somewhere far from South Dakota, of course.  I hailed long, long ago from northern Indiana, where we had easy access to all the fruit in Southern Michigan), pickles and colorful Mason jars of my own “recipe” consisting of oven roasted tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, garlic and sweet onions, supplemented with my own garden herbs.  I use the latter in everything from a mild salsa ( I give it a few spins in the blender) for my breakfast tortilla wraps to a flavorful sauce for all manner of baked meats and poultry.

I am penning this today, as on most Sundays, at my desk at the rear of my home, and even in a light mist on this dreary afternoon, there is beauty in the yard.  Since I cannot see the mowed down stubs of the weeds in the lawn from my upper window location, it looks almost pastoral out there, bright green and sloping down to the perennial beds in back.  My neighbors have really lovely yards (much nicer than my own at this particular time) and I so enjoy seeing the array of roses and clematis they have planted, flowers that unlike my somewhat sickly looking wave petunias, seem to savor the wet and cool conditions. 

With married children and grandchildren expected in several shifts for visits next week, I am glad to see there are some tomatoes available at the Market, as well as asparagus and rhubarb.  I’ll take full advantage of this as well as pick up some good bread to use throughout the week. 

 And for future use, here is a rough recipe for the tomato mixture mentioned here.  It does not need to be exact and is very forgiving.  Just get the canning right for safety’s sake.  

Versatile Canned Tomato Recipe

Cut cleaned and cored tomatoes into chunks, keeping juice and seeds.  No need to remove the peels .  Put these on a large cookie sheet 

Add large chunks of Anaheim peppers, seeds and all (Poblano peppers would also be good, or throw in a jalapeno or two per cookie sheet if you like the heat).

Chunk cut several large sweet onions (Spanish onions work well, as do Vidalias)   

Add a generous amount of peeled garlic cloves, at least two or three whole heads, separated into individual cloves  

Toss lightly in a good vegetable oil, or olive oil, and season with coarsely ground black pepper and salt.

Put in a 425 degree oven and bake until the onions and peppers start to brown around the edges. Add some oven dried basil, oregano, or whatever herbs you like.  You can certainly use commercially dried herbs here in place of your own.  I’ve always done this at the end of the season, after oven drying my own herbs, but I am sure fresh would also be very good.  Just use a little more (about two to one), as they are less potent than the dried.

 Ladle the hot mixture into sterilized canning jars, pushing down with a fork to release juices.  If there is not enough juice to reach 1/2 inch from the top of the jar, add some commercially canned tomato juice to fill.

Process in a pressure canner to seal. 

 *Note:  I have hot water-bath canned these for years, and survived wthout incident to happily share the recipe, but recently went to a pressure canning seminar facilitated by county extension educator, Sandra Aamlid.  I was advised that while the tomatoes are high in acid and fine to process this way, the peppers, herbs and onions are not, hence, take the side of safety and pressure can!  The Minnehaha County extension may be reached at 605-367-7877 if you have questions or need up-to-date canning literature.  Or visit for more information.  Sandra Aamlid is the county extension educator to contact for the latest safe  canning information..  And please note, if you have the opportunity to attend one of her evening canning classes (usually hosted by Ace Hardware at the Minnesota Avenue and 41st Street location) please do so.  She is just awesome, and you will learn alot. ~Georgia Totten-Sioux Falls

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