Radish Stew

A Central Texas Gardening Journal

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weed Pulling

We are having great weed pulling weather. The combination of big rains followed by days of sunshine and then more rain contributes to a lot of weeds to pull and soft ground to give them up. We collected another 2.6" rain yesterday, so I was out pulling weeds today. The trick is to decide what to cull and what to keep. A weed is only a plant which is out of place. Of course, some sprouts have no place in my yard. Among them are chinaberry, hackberry, ligustrum, and anything with a sticker. The trick is to know what needs to go, what can stay, and what can be moved.

These sprouts came up in the walkway of the garden. Weeds? Actually, they are bluebonnet sprouts. I have transplanted about 50 of them already and will continue to move them to more appropriate locations. One gardener's weed is another gardener's favorite flower.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apple Butter Recipe

Delicious Apple Butter to make 17 half-pints

12 lbs Red Delicious apples
2 tsp. dry lemon peel reconstituted in
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
2 cups raw organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)

Peel, quarter, and core the apples
Put through large grinder attachment (or cook the apples and strain or puree them)
Heat the apples slowly in a large stainless or enamel pan
Add the lemon peel, vinegar, spices and the sugar
Transfer mixture to a large crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours (or cook on stove top, stirring constantly for 2 hours)
Cook until desired thickness
Pack in hot jars and process 15 minutes in hot water bath.

Canning Equipment

The equipment which I use for canning is pictured here. On the left is the granitewear pot which is specially made for canning. The white rack in the middle front fits into the pot and holds the jars in place. One may certainly can without this tool, but I encourage its use for safety and convenience. This pot is sized for pint jars, but I have another for quarts. The canning pot holds seven jars. The blue enamel pot in the back and the stainless pot next to it are used to cook the  vegetables and the vinegar solutions. The pointy strainer is popularly called a china Cap and is a heavy duty strainer. The green plastic tool in the front is used to fill jars. Tongs are important for handling hot jars, lids, and caps. Another tool, standing in front of the stainless pot, is a jar lifter. Even though the rack for the canning pot has handles which can be used to lift the entire batch of jars out of the boiling water, I prefer to lift them one by one with the jar lifter.

The jars shown are pint with a regular mouth, pint with a wide mouth, and half pint which has a regular mouth. I usually use wide mouth for pickles and regular mouth for relishes and jellies. The wide mouth jars fit very tightly in the canner, making the regular mouth easier to handle. Jars are sold by the dozen. They can be reused if they are in perfect condition. The rims hold the lids in place during canning. They can be removed after the lids are sealed, but I always leave them to be used after the jar is open. The lids are not reusable, but the rims are. It is possible to buy lids only or lids and rims together for times when you reuse jars.

When I am canning, I always have another pot of boiling water on the stove. I use it to boil the jars before filling them and to add to the canning pot to cover the lids of the jars if I have underestimated the amount of water necessary.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chow Chow

A rainy day is a good time for canning, so I picked peppers and prepared chow chow. I combined these peppers with 3 onions, 1 red bell pepper, and one small head of cabbage, all chopped. These varieties are all generally mildly spicy, but I found out that some were hot. I should have used gloves to prep them! I salted the mixture and left it overnight.

By morning we had received 2.3" rain and the chow chow was ready to can. I call it Cha Cha Chow Chow.

I made labels for the Apple Butter and Chow Chow. I got the idea from another blog, Lelo in Nepo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delicious Apple Butter

I purchased 12 pounds of Red Delicious apples and made 17 half-pints of Apple Butter. I peeled and cored the apples then ran them through the grinder. I then heated them slowly with the spices and 2 cups of Evaporated Cane Juice sugar. I let this mixture cook 8 hours in the crock pot, then canned it. Delicious!

I keep a file of all of the recipes I use for canning. Please let me know if you would like me to share a recipe.

Mexican Mint Marigold

The blooms on this herb are a compliment to the beautiful weather we have this week. I have planted garlic and radishes in one row and onion seeds in  another. Some of the lettuce and kohlrabi which were chomped by the cabbage loopers are recovering. Today we have wonderful light rain. I have picked the first butternut squash.  It's a good week in the garden.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Tools

These new tools were given to me on October 15th for my birthday. The small pruners are very lightweight. I have been keeping them in my pocket to use for picking vegetables and trimming plants. The other tool is a mini-mattock. It has many uses, from cultivating beds to removing unwanted bushes, because it is small and handy but also tough and sharp. Only a fellow gardener could have chosen such excellent tools!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Today I added hardwood mulch to the main paths through the garden. I was inspired by an additional .9" rain which we received in the last two days. The garden has a better chance of success when I check each plant each day. Small green caterpillars (Cabbage Loopers I believe) have feasted on the small lettuce and kohlrabi plants while I wasn't looking. Hopefully, some less muddy paths will keep me checking on the garden rather than watching from a distance.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stacked Enchiladas

 We received another 1.8" of rain, so the garden was abandoned for the kitchen.

Stacked Enchiladas is quick and easy to prepare. This sauce is Fresh Pepper Salsa. It was made with the peppers pictured diced, 1/2 onion chopped, 2 carrots finely diced, 1 can petite diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar. The salsa could be pureed for a more traditional enchilada  presentation.

The Enchiladas are layered with oil, corn tortillas, shredded cheese (Mozzarella or Monterey Jack), and sauce. They can be baked in the oven or microwaved. Today, we microwaved them 5 minutes on high, 4 minutes on medium, then 2 minutes on high. Let the pan sit for a few minutes before serving. We usually make this dish in a round pan just larger than the tortillas, like Enchilada Pie.

Monday, October 5, 2009


The biggest success of the fall garden appears to be the butternut squash. As shown in this picture, the plants are growing rapidly in all directions. There are squashes 10" long. A large number of the small squashes is rotting on the vine, though.

Cucumbers are about ready to pick. There are only 4 plants with about 20 cucumbers. The plants are struggling, however. I will pick the first beans tomorrow. I have picked a hatful of peppers this week and have about a basketful to pick soon. Tomatoes are blooming and appear healthy.

The winter garden is mostly planted. this week, I planted the rest of the broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower seeds. I planted a wide row with collards and carrots. These seeds are sprouting with the help of .35" light rain received in the last two days. I planted the new deeply dug  row with beets. I also planted a few of the 2 year old Swiss chard seeds. I prefer that type to the new kind that I have planted. The old ones are heirloom white rib chards with a thick strong stalk. The new ones are multi-colored chards with thin delicate stalks.

I also thinned the lettuce row by transplanting some small plants into another row. I still need to find room for more lettuces. They had a high percentage of germination, which is good, because I left the packet of seeds in  the pocket of my work shirt which went directly into the washing machine.