Fall garden

Picking out my seeds for the fall garden! I think I’m running a little late on this, but just you never mind that.

It’s going to be mostly container gardening since I still have summer plants running at full steam, but I think that may work well for me after I get them set up.

The seeds will come from the good people at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in Virginia. They have great information on planting to help you plan a garden. After considering what sorts of things we like to eat, how well they might grow in a container, and how late you’re allowed to plant (procrastination is always a factor), I decided to grow beets, carrots, snap peas, and several varieties of greens and lettuces. Now I’m off to appropriate every container in sight to fill up with dirt and future dinners.

One of these things is not like the others.

This year I am trying to expand my repertoire of preserving techniques, starting now. I’ve got freezing down, but outside of that I’ve only tried a few batches of jam. The list of canning gear can get expensive if you want all the bells and whistles, but I really wanted to keep costs down. I found a tip somewhere that said “water bath canner or stockpot with old canning rings on the bottom” and figured I was set.
Armed with this information I set out to pickle some yellow squash using Canning For a New Generation’s “Hot Cumin Pickled Squash” recipe with my stockpot, some Ball jars, and a huge heap of squash. The recipe makes 7 pint jars of pickles and my stock pot fits 4, so I had visiting friends bring along another pot (as I was in the middle of the recipe and hadn’t thought things through well.) The pot was too short so I improvised by sterilizing more half pint jars to use in the other pot at the last minute. No biggie, right?
We filled, wiped, and sealed the jars. I was just peering contentedly into the pot when I noticed cumin seeds floating gracefully up around the jars. As we pulled out a jar to check the seal, the bottom stayed in the pot. It didn’t make any cracking noises or turn any colors, it just sort of fell off. Almost like it had melted, but the two halves were solid, smooth, and a perfect fit to each other.
I panicked and retrieved all the jars from the pot, but I wasn’t fast enough. The last one came apart the same way and all the pickles poured back into the boiling water as it emerged.
I had forgotten to put the canning rings on the bottom of the second pot as I improvised. Apparently it’s called thermal shock breakage. Oops.
This was a pretty cheap lesson, though, because I’m still up to my eyeteeth in pickled squash.