Our backyard garden had its struggles this year. Some success and some failures. For instance, we did not get one single solitary "red" tomato yet from the dozen or so different varieties we planted. So disappointing. I guess it was the same for a lot of folks from what I hear. In early spring, Grace had very patiently and carefully started the seeds indoors under a gro-lite to give them plenty of time to mature. Because, after all, this is the northwest--not exactly tomato growing country and experience has taught us a few things. When it came time to move them into the greenhouse we were hopeful because we've had such good results in the past. Only this time they failed to thrive. Our summer (mostly) consisted of cloudy days, sprinkled with warm days, and cool nights. They just lost their momentum.
However, on the other side of the garden, we had peas, carrots, beets, celery, and a variety of amazing salad greens that we picked daily to round out our meals. Wonderful "cool crops" all summer long.
Here is our wall of green beans that we are enjoying now. The Mister added a lot more vertical growing space along with the raised-bed boxes, for which he got the biggest KISS of appreciation from me! It's been fantastic for the pole climbers like these. And saves my knees.
The biggest surprise came in the form of the pickling cucumbers though. Like the tomatoes, they took their time. After many weeks had come and gone with little change, I just figured the vines probably weren't going to do anything and gave up. Once I turned my back on them though, just look what they did. Sneaky things. These are supposed to be small. They weighed in at over a pound each! Which reminded me of the pickles my Grampa would buy for a quarter, back in the 60's when I was a little girl. Those gigantic pickles were kept floating in brine in a big wooden barrel at the neighborhood deli. My Grampa would fish one out, wrap a paper towel around it and hand it over to me like I had just won the lottery! No wonder I have such a fondness for pickles. They are the grand prize!
But anyway...I looked at these awesome cukes and wondered what to do with them. No wooden pickle barrels handy. My canning jars were too small. However, I did just happen to have an empty gallon-jar sitting on my kitchen counter and that gave me the idea of making a smaller version of the "pickle barrel". So, those cucumbers got quartered and stuffed into the jar with 1/4 tsp. white peppercorns, 5 sliced garlic cloves, several sprigs of fresh dill, and bathed in brine--and voila!
These are basically 'refridgerator pickles'. No processing necessary. And--after only three days--the pickles are ready to eat. So good. Crunchy Dills at their finest. (I'm using a small butter dish to cover the top here because I was afraid the vinegar and salt brine would rust the metal lid.) For the brine, I used 6 cups of water, 2 cups of distilled white vinegar, and 1/2 cup pure pickling salt. Heat to a boil and pour over all ingredients in jar, so that it covers the tops of the pickles.
What's next? Sweet Relish, maybe.