I am a complete novice when it comes to the planting and growing of anything. I have in the past tried to plant tomatoes and peppers in large pots but have never had any success. Prior to this year the only thing I had ever successfully grown was thyme. I grew it in a flower box and ended up having so much I made thyme jelly out of it. This year I finally have the space to plant a garden so I thought, what the hell, what's the worst thing that could happen.
This years raised garden
I read a little about the best way to get started and consulted with my sister and good friend Rick who know way more about growing things than I do. My sister recommended when I filled my garden box to start with moss or something that would hold moisture, then compost and manure, then top it off with black dirt. I did just that then sat down with my wife and planned out all the things I would like to plant in my garden.
The first thing on my list was thyme, because it seemed to survive the last time and hopefully it would this time as well. The next thing was brussel sprouts, I love brussel sprouts and if anything makes it to harvest I was really looking forward to them. My friend Rick had told me that zucchini were relatively easy to grow and you don't need to plant a lot of plants to get a lot of zucchini's. I also threw in some green beans, cucumbers, dill, jalapenos, and cayenne peppers. What I was hoping to accomplish was to grow enough things to do some canning and have some fresh veg for the family.
So far this year the only thing that isn't thriving is my peppers, both my jalapeno plants are still about 8 inches tall and just won't grow. My cayenne pepper plant is about the same height but has three huge peppers on it that are already laying on the ground. Everything else is booming, especially my zucchini's. We have been eating a lot of zucchini already this year, I could probably give you a Forrest Gump like list of all the dishes that we have eaten with zucchini in them.
I have been getting enough zucchini that I am finally able to start canning some of it. The first thing I wanted to make was a zucchini relish. I made this last year and absolutely loved it, so I was really looking forward to repeating it this year. I used a recipe out of a canning magazine that my sister had given me and was looking forward to putting my own spin on it this year. Knowing that I was getting a surplus of zucchini I picked up some red onions and some peppers at the farmers market this week and got to work.
This zucchini relish recipe is really quick and simple and goes great on anything you want to grill. Burgers, Brats, hot dogs even steak or chicken, its just awesome. I like mine with a little more heat than the recipe had so I added the one lonely jalapeno I grown so far this year to the batch with some red pepper flakes.
5 cups diced zucchini
2 peppers diced (green, red, yellow doesnt' matter)
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup pickling salt
When you dice the vegetables try to get an even size dice for all so you have an even texture, about a 1/4 inch squares. After you dice all the veggies sprinkle with pickling salt and cover with cold water, then let it stand at room temp for 3 hours. After 3 hours rinse the veggies and drain. Add the vinegar, sugar, water and spices to a large pot and bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. THen add all the veggies and bring back to a boil then simmer for ten minutes. Laddle into jars and process in a water bath for ten minutes.