I’m kind of a dill pickle snob. Well, no. I should own it. I am a dill pickle snob. Always have been – ask my mother. And those sweet pickle things people eat? Ick. So, imagine my hesitation when my outdoor cucumber plants that folks said would never grow in Alaska started to produce lots of little baby pickling cukes. What do I do with these now? Make pickles? But they will be gross? The horror!
I decided to take a stab at a simple dill pickle recipe and lo and behold – it’s awesome. We broke into the first of many jars a few weeks ago and they are super delicious. And this is coming from me. Me! The pickle snob!
- Wash and scrub the little nubs from your tiny cukes and set aside. Make sure of course to remove all blossoms from the cuke – it will cause gross stuff to happen later.
- Clean and sterilize a jar the appropriate size for your pickles (lots of little jelly jars this year as this is about the amount of what was available at once in the garden.) ** Pickling cucumbers larger than your thumb will begin to get bitter – pick when smaller.
- Husk and smash 2 cloves of garlic and add lots of dill from the garden – add dried or fresh peppers as per your preferance
- Pack all into the jar of your choice.
On the stove, bring to boil: 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 1/2 TB pickling salt. Remove from heat as soon as it boils, and pour into your jar (you can of course cut the recipe in half or add other complicated math depending on how much solution you need). Immediately cap the jar and set on the counter. The top should pop within a few hours and voila! Your jar is sealed and your pickles are good for the next few months. I would advise letting them sit for 2-3 weeks before you break in, just to make sure they absorb that delicious dilly and garlicky goodness. Refrigerate after opening. Stuff face. Repeat.
It has been a fabulous season, not only our own little urban garden, but for Alaskan gardeners in general. The weather has been amazeballs, which is producing amazeball veg at great prices from the farmers market. But of course, all good things must come to an end at some point…and last night that meant I was a panicked picker using the light from my iPhone and a headlamp to pull the green tomatoes from our hanging planters and bring the large pots inside…..there was a freeze warning. I had been tempting fate the previous 3 nights as people threw around terms like “frost” and “harvest” and “do it, really, or you’ll be sorry.” But when measuring the level of heartbreak and waste my little attitude could cause me, I decided it was do or die, and raided the garden at 10pm after orchestra rehearsal (that’s what you do, right?)
These little beauties just came from the 4 hanging plants and will slowly counter ripen on their own. We will use them as they are ready. The additional free potted toms have been moved into the Living Room Tomato Spa to ripen on the vine. Many are close and have a few starting to turn – the warmer temps should help that along. And it’s funny to look at the dog through all the foliage – she looks like some sleek little carrot eating jungle cat. Or something.
But of course there is always a little dish of partially ripe orphans on the counter throughout the summer. Things get bumped, or the wind kicks up…or those stupid magpies get a little crazy…I just love the colors. Without sounding sappy and sentimental, isn’t nature pretty? And of course, delicious too.
Summer has officially arrived in Anchorage…and it’s making up for lost time or something because it is HOT. I know 80* to other folks doesn’t seem bad, but to us, it’s a bit like Hell and the surface of the sun all rolled into one, sad, sweaty, ball. However, while we slowly die in a pool of something gross, the plants couldn’t be happier.
The plants at the shop are loving life and throwing fruit like no other. According to the thermostat, it’s getting into the 90’s in there at night and they are thinking it’s great. This was my first year with the minibel tomatoes and I’m already quite pleased with their production. The plant will grow no bigger than a small bush and doesn’t require support. Of course we have yet to see how these taste, but so far it’s a winner.
The filius pepper was also another first for this year. Another small bush plant great for small spaces and urban gardens it will produce crazy hot peppers for over a year. When the peppers first form they are out of this world hot, but cool down when they turn from purple to red. Several of these plants are growing and all of them are loaded.
Remember Audrey the giant tomato from last year? I think the title has been taken by this cabbage. Though I have 6 growing, this is by far the largest and happiest. Can’t wait to see how big it gets!
The first french radish harvest happened in the garden just before the heat hit. I had never been a fan of radishes – admittedly I hadn’t put one in my mouth in probably 20 years – but gave these a try and they are awesome!! The husband now has to fight me for his share as I initially grew them for him… The first zucchini is finally showing itself and the cayenne peppers should be ripening to red any day now. Loving all the green!
Garden containers are expensive! And I’m not even talking about the nice Ming dynasty rip off ceramic pots. All of them! Why not scour your local thrift stores for cheap household items that not only become functional food and plant producers, but also become a stylish conversation starter?
Sure, fresh basil in your kitchen is awesome. But basil in a coffee pot is super cute as well as functional.
Many fruit producing plants can be grown in containers and most don’t need to be as big as you think. This Filius Pepper plant is going to do just fine in this blender carafe. And it cost .33c. I’m not even kidding.
Every time I go to a thrift store I see matching canisters for flour, sugar, etc and I finally grabbed a coffee canister last week. Again, .33c. And with $1 worth of seeds we will be in cilantro for months.
Save the giant cans from tomatoes (people love it when you grow tomatoes in a tomato can) and coffee. Add some pebbles for drainage and bam! You’re ready to get your garden on.
We haven’t had much of a winter up here in Alaska. In fact, we have been steadily warmer and more pleasant winters here in Anchorage than most of the country for the past 2 seasons. This leaves me in a weird mood re: this season’s garden. I know I should have had things starting weeks ago but since it never really felt like winter, it doesn’t really feel like it’s time to grow stuff. But after requesting some tough love from my Facebook friends, I finally got my ass in gear and started the tomatoes, peppers and some other goodies that require a bit more time.
The seed trays will hang out on my kitchen counter with heating pads and attention until they start to sprout, when they will be moved to my storefront windows which get a ton of light and great heat from the sun. Some of these plants will even spend the entire summer there – increasing our yield even more.
I went a little crazy ordering new things this year as our neighbors took down a crop of trees last year, vastly increasing our available light and growing space. I checked out Rare Seeds and promptly threw all of my money at them. Heirloom seeds and fabulously cool veggies to choose from. I can’t wait to see what we end up with.
I had a few jalapeño plants for sale at my shop, but when they didn’t have any takers are were starting to sprout some baby peppers they became fair game for me! Unfortunately they had a bit of an aphid problem that seemed to come out of nowhere, and instead of battling the little buggers I decided to harvest the peppers and toss the plants. I can’t wait to dig in!!
Well, technically there is some fun in the garden. Some fun-gi. I went out to putter in the boxes this evening and was surprised to find this nasty little fungus taking over one of my carrot boxes. And it popped up basically over night as I poked around last night as well. The horror!
After asking my local Farm & Food group gurus if it was time to panic, I was told this particular fungus is called auricularia and shouldn’t pose any threat to my carrots – just looks kinda gross. It is also known as the Jelly Ear, or Jew’s Ear. And I’m sure no one is surprised that folks in China eat it. Seriously. I don’t think I will be eating it any time soon (or ever, thank you) and will instead be pulling it out of the box with rubber gloves and a possible gagging sound (I overreact, ok?). You can find out some more information about this pretty-anywhere-else-but-not-in-my-garden growth here.
Loving all the green in our little urban garden!
Our little urban garden, which takes up the majority of our deck, is coming along nicely. I think we will be having our first salad tonight! Not bad growth for Anchorage Alaska without the use of a greenhouse! Hooray!