Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Against the grain

Healthy, growing plants, covered with fruit and the promise of more to come.


Generally, that's what gardeners work hard for. I know I do. So it's doing what I don't want to do at a visceral level to tear 'em out. But these lovely Ohio Pickling Cucumbers, from seed at least ten years old, were very productive. Very.

I grew them because Eldest Child had told me that she loved pickles. And I thought, "Why am I paying $2.50 a jar when I have a garden?" Thus, the cucumber patch. At first I thought that I wasn't going to get enough cucumbers. Experiment gone awry! I foresaw myself sneaking into the grocery store, hiding jars of pickles in raincoats to get them into the house undetected.

So imagine my surprise when they started bearing. And bearing, and bearing. . . I made jars and jars of pickles. Hooray! Friends said they tasted good, and I saw, in the soft focus future cinema of my brain, my child hugging me and saying, "You're the best mom in the world! I love them! Give me more pickles!"

Except that's not what she said. She actually said, "I think you overestimated my pickle wants. A temporary pickle eating stage doesn't necessarily mean it will endure for months and months."

Well. I made some more batches, just because I'd stripped dill seeds from the heads outside. And I kept piling up cukes for future pickles. But when a crop becomes a serious burden, and you're pretty sure that you've got enough to last at least into next year plus give away to the nice friends who bring you bags of rabbit poop, and there's 3 gallons still in the kitchen to pickle, it's time.


Out they came, and are now the top layer of the working compost heap. I put some rabbit poop and mixed up the soil -- it's ready for the next thing. The cucumbers left more behind, though:

I'll be making pickles after blackberry jam this evening.

It also struck me that the garden overview pictures don't really do justice to how huge the sunflowers are. I'm 5'6", and granted the sunflowers are 10-12" above the ground in the box, but lookie:


Pretty big.

27 comments:

Daphne said...

I think I have about 10 pints of pickles which is more than enough for my needs for the year. I also have refrigerator pickles which I much prefer. They will last through November when I have to start eating the canned. I still have tons of cucumbers. So I made relish. I still have tons. It has been a very good cucumber year for us, but I think I have a bit too many plants. I can't bear to rip them out though.

Ribbit said...

Very nice sunflowers!! The pickles look beautiful if not bountiful. I'm hoping to get some with my second summer planting in the ground now that won't be eaten by pickle worms. I haven't figured out quite yet how I'm going to avoid it, however.....

Engineeredgarden said...

"I think you overestimated my pickle wants"...hehe, that made me laugh...

Um...is that a skoal can in your back pocket??? J/K

GrafixMuse said...

I hear you on the excess cucumbers. I have made all the pickles I need in a year and they are still going strong.

Erin said...

Can't stop laughing... I'm with E.G. on those points! Great job on the pickles!

michelle said...

I think I still have a few jars of pickles in a box in the garage from a similar experience with cukes a few years back. Gotta toss those one of these days. I've learned my lesson. The more I garden the easier it gets to be ruthless with the under/over achievers.

I love the majestic sunflowers. Someday I'll have to try growing them again. I quit trying after too many experiences with plants decapitated by squirrels. The squirrels don't seem to like to venture into this garden though.

Rachel said...

I've done somewhere near 10 gallons of pickles this year. I found a new recipe though and my husband has been eating them left and right (unlike last year's recipes which we still have tons of jars of). I can't keep up with his pickle eating craze, but I'm tired of pickling!

thyme2garden said...

I'm sure you did what you had to do, but oh my goodness, I can't imagine pulling out a good healthy vegetable plant because it's too prolific and you already have too many vegetables. Maybe that's because I'm still a beginning gardener with a small garden and I keep track of every single harvest in lbs, oz, and in some cases, individual counts (nine tomatoes, seven cucumbers...) :-)

Stefaneener said...

Daphne, if I loved relish, I'd make it. . . but I only add it to tuna and egg salad. And I've already made 8 half pints! More than enough, I'd say. I hated doing it, but I feel better now.

Ribbit, I wish I could give you some of mine. I wouldn't have pulled them if you were here.

EG, my child is nothing if not a deadpan comedienne. We'll see who's laughing when she wants a ride somewhere. No, no chaw; I think it's a wad of cash to pay someone who was working here, or a VW key. These pants are the ones that I first decided that I should never carry anything in my back pockets if I wanted to look anything like sleek. . .

Grafixmuse, so what do you do?

Erin, yeah, we're a barrel of laughs. Or pickles.

Michelle, at least we can learn some lessons. I don't know if there's a way to squirrel-proof sunflowers. Maybe EG's trap?

Rachel, have you posted the recipe? I've got to see how it differs from mine.

thyme2, if you'd like to experience this, I suggest you plant 4-6 zucchini plants. . . It would hurt more if I couldn't immediately seed the bed with something else.

The Chicken Keepers said...

I love home canned pickles too! They are great!

The Chicken Keepers
thechickenkeepers.blogspot.com

Dan said...

nice cucumbers!

GrafixMuse said...

What do I do? Well, I let them grow. Pick what I can and leave them in the break room for my coworkers. We use a few for fresh eating in salads. The ones that grow too large get composted. I wouldn't hesitate to pull the plants at this point if I needed the space for something else.

Heiko said...

After a duff first year experiment I now too have more pickles than you can shake a proverbial at. How do you do your pickles? I soaked them a day under coarse salt, rinsed them, added pickling spice (home-made) and topped with white wine vinegar. However I find them a bit on the aggressive side. Wrong vinegar perhaps, or not enough time left to mellow, or another secret ingredient...?

kitsapFG said...

I am waiting for my surplus of cucumbers to arrive yet. I have a nice wall of cucumber plants with lots of blooms and immature fruits but the production is just ramping up for us (we are always later with the warm weather crops but really late this year) as I am getting about 3 or 4 pickles a week at this point. I think I will be doing my pickle relish (which is a necessity here) around the end of August again this year. I was hoping for more so I can do regular pickles as well, but only time will tell if I get enough to do both before the cold fall rains arrive and stop everything in it's tracks.

Mr. H. said...

That really is a pretty awesome sunflower you have there. It sounds as though you had a very fine cucumber season, ours are just starting to come on like crazy. It's always so nice to have a crop turn out like that, it was tomatoes for us last year...we couldn't give enough away.

Stefaneener said...

Chicken Keepers, I'm almost a convert, but haven't found the perfect mix of spices and brine yet. They're pretty good.

Thanks, Dan.

Grafixmuse, I feel pretty good about yanking them. Now I'm feeling even better because I found a friend who wants the cukes themselves. Hooray!

Heiko, I do roughly the same, although my recipes called for anywhere from a 1:1 to a 2:1 water/vinegar mix. Then salt, garlic, dill, mustard seeds, and peppercorns. Processed in a water bath after pouring the hot brine over the cukes. Pretty easy, but not true lactic fermentation. Maybe I'll try that next year.

KitsapFG, I hope you get plenty!

Mr. H., let's cross fingers for this year. Last year I was flogging tomatoes around the neighborhood.

meemsnyc said...

I am so so so so jealous of your cucumber harvest! I only made 4 jars of pickles with the cucumbers we harvested. I gave most of them away too, so I had to "Buy" more cukes from the market.

I love your sunflowers. So tall and awesome.

el said...

See, I have no problem whatsoever with uprooting plants once I do not need them. Granted, I like to succession-plant and so I look at all garden real estate with a certain rapacious glint in my eye...something BETTER could be growing there, I mumble under my breath, when walking by the zucchini. And so it is, the next day. Buhbye! Off to the great composted garden in the sky for you pesky summer squash.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I must know how you get 10 foot tall sunflowers.

Yeah, I don't always trust my kids when they inform me of their growing desires... except strawberries. I believe them that they want a LOT of strawberries.

I wish I had more cukes.

Susan said...

I have cucumber envy. All my plants died without ever growing an inch. Still chuckling about the non-enduring pickle phase half an hour later.

Kristin said...

I enjoyed the rhythm of your language in this post. I'd love to try a pickle. Perhaps you might want to bring a jar to park day?

Lou Murray's Green World said...

I'm with Thyme and Kitsap. My Tendergreens produced enough cucumbers to make one large jar of refrigerator dill pickles. The Boston Picklers produced nothing. Now my hopes are pinned on a second planting of newly sprouted Tendergreens and some really nice Summertops that just came into bloom. Count your pickle blessings.

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