I have done more canning in the last month than I have ever done in my whole life. Having a yard with sun makes all the difference. I am growing so many things that I have never grown before. Of course this means that I am doing many things wrong...but oh well, you learn by experience. Tonight I canned eggplant with hot peppers, more yellow/orange salsa, and made ratatouille for freezing.
When I mention ratatouille, many people look at me strangely. I am sure they are thinking of the children's movie with talking rodents. A few weeks ago, I was asking around on twitter about how I could preserve eggplant and squash. Ratatouille was suggested, and being open-minded, I googled it. I found out that ratatouille is actually a french word meaning 'chunky stew that is stirred'. It can involve any number of things and ingredients, but is based loosely on a similar grouping of vegetables.
I sauteed 2 onions and garlic in olive oil, and then added the following ingredients: tomatoes, eggplant (peeled and chopped), and yellow squash. When the veggies were soft I put in salt, pepper, and dried basil. This can be eaten immediately or frozen for later, which is what I did. I made a lot, to use up my eggplant and squash, and got three meals worth to freeze. I can envision thawing it and adding it to rice, pasta, potatoes, or perhaps spaghetti squash. This is the ultimate convenience meal. Organic and grown fresh in my garden, to enjoy in the middle of winter.
I found these funky beetles being naughty on my oregano today. I assume that is what they are doing anyways. I think the oregano blooms are lovely. I know it reduces the flavor of the herb, but I don't care, it's pretty. One of these days soon, I am going to make flavored herb vinegars.
Here is one of my tallest sunflowers. The window you see in the side of the patio is about thigh high on me when I stand there. I grew three varieties this year, and they are all different. The really tall ones are actually much taller than the mammoth ones, but skinnier, with multiple blooms, while the mammoth have only one head.
The sunflowers grow all along the west side of the house. A few fell over when they bloomed, but I just walk around them. You can see that the heads of the mammoth sunflowers are now so heavy they hang straight down. The other day I caught a gold finch standing on one getting a snack. I will have to try to catch him with the camera the next time.
My guy may complain about my produce piles, but I know he loves me, because he brought me this pretty mum the other day. He was very proud that he remembered to get one with as many closed blooms as possible. It has opened up a little since then, and looks very nice sitting on my porch.
This is my new garden spider. I got him from a friend on Twitter. He looks quite adorable among the carnations. You can go to http://www.homekitchengarden.net/yard-birds if you want to get one, or the cute birds that go with him.
Finally, my pineapple sage. This has to be one of my favorite herbs...it grows fast and smells fantastic. This year I am finally going to make pineapple sage jelly...which I have wanted to do for a long time. I think it is getting close to blooming. Hummingbirds are very attracted to the red flowers. When this sage blooms, I know it is truly fall.