This year was my second year with a full garden, not just pots and hanging baskets, but a real garden. Last year I put in a 5x12 foot raised garden and got quite a bit out of it but felt like I could do more. So this year I added four 4x4 foot raised beds and one 4x6 foot raised bed. I started everything from seed and almost everything came in. The exception to that was all of my herbs. I didn't get shit for herbs this years. I tried to plant about eight different types of herb and put in probably 3-4 of each type but all I have to show for that is one thyme and one sage plant. All of the other herbs didn't make it and because of our late spring this year by the time I figured it out it was to late, or I was to disinterested in starting herb plants. I am still pretty new at this gardening thing so I think what I learned this year is that I should just buy all my herbs and not worry about starting them from seed.
Everything else in my garden is doing pretty well, we have an abundance of green beans which I have canned, froze and pickled and my rattlesnake beans did really well for a while and then kind of faded. My zucchini and cucumbers are just now starting to produce large amounts of produce although my regular zucchini's are a bit slow and my yellow summer squash are coming out on a daily basis. The first thing I got this year were my radishes, I planted two types of radish, purple radishes and breakfast radishes. I ended up with so many radishes all at once I had to find a way to can them and found a really delicious radish relish and a honey pickled radish that I will be making again next year.
I planted two different types of beets, both beef's blood and chiogga beets and both did very well and I have been using beets quite a bit this summer with plenty left over for canning and freezing. I made a coffee pickled beet that I am really excited to try but the recipe recommended that I let them sit for a few weeks before diving in. Perhaps my most lucrative harvest are the Paris market carrots, they all grew in and I have so many carrots that I didn't know what to do with all of them. These are different than regular carrots in that they are small and round as opposed to you typical carrot. They are also sweeter in my opinions and I really enjoy them roasted in olive oil with cumin. After picking the first batch and making them into ginger pickled carrots I felt kind of bad for throwing out all the greens so did some research and found out that they were edible. As it turns out they make a very tasty pesto that can be kept in the freezer, so I will have enough pesto to last quite a while.
I think that my favorite thing to do with these carrots is to make a carrot jam, and yes, you read that correctly, I said carrot jam. In fact I have made two different types of carrot jam this year and have only picked about half of my carrots. The first jam is a carrot cake jam and uses shredded carrots, pineapple and pears with cinnamon and nutmeg. It is easily the most versatile jam I have ever come across. So far I have used it in an Ice cream sundae, on cheese cake, in oatmeal, on corn cakes and am thinking about trying it in a milk shake. The other carrot jam is much simpler and is just carrots, brandy, sugar and lemon juice with the sure-gel pectin mixed in. I love this last carrot jam, it is so simple but it is also one of the best things I have ever eaten. On a piece of crusty bread with a little salted cold butter it makes a perfect snack or even a late breakfast.
Carrot Jam (Adapted from a recipe by Laura Caulder)
2 pounds fresh carrots (peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks)
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1 package of powdered pectin, like sure-jell
1.boil the carrots until tender then drain and add the lemon juice and smash to a rough smashed consistency.
2.add the sugar and bring to a boil
3. once at the boiling point add the sure-jell and bring to a rolling boil and boil hard for one minute
4. remove from heat and add the bourbon and pistachio's
5. stir to combine
6. transfer to sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes