Just get out and do it.

Welcome to my blog, Garden for Your Life! This site will be mostly about my garden, but you can build one just like it in your back yard too. It can be bigger or smaller, just get out and do it. You can do it for fun. Your can do it for your health. You can do it for fresh food in these troubled times. The point is to get out and do it for whatever reason that you need.

Over time I will cover topics like canning and preserving your harvest, soil and beds, bugs, what to plant and when, and much more.

I've been working on this garden on mine and improving on it for over five years now. I will continue doing that for many more. You can too, just get out and do it.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Manhatten Clam Chowder


I found a great recipe for Manhattan Clan Chowder that we just loved when I made it.   So here's a big batch for canning.  I makes 14 pint jars, pressure canned at 10 pounds for 1 hr and 40 min.  Here's the recipe from allrecipe.com.


The recipe calls for onion powder, but I have a lot of fresh onions so I used them instead.  Some other recipies add a little BACON! and a few chopped pieces were added too.  A few drops of hot pepper sauce is called for, or you can add a finely chopped chili pepper if you have one.  Lastly garlic.  No garlic in the recipe is uncivilized.  Add one or two teaspoons if you feel the need.  FYI, if making the whole recipe use a LARGE pot.  Our large pot wasn't large enough so we had to transfer to our waterbath pot.  oops.

Chop everything evenly and add all your ingredients to that LARGE pot.  Heat it up so it all starts to blend the herbs together.  No need to fully cook it as the pressure canning will take care of that.  


Fill the jars leaving 1" head space.

Put them into your pressure canner and light the fire!

Done with the first batch and all sealed well!  7 more and time to make a second batch for 28 pints total.  Yum!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

canning potatoes.

Howdy Y'all !  We've had a bumper crop of potatoes this year, with more to come as the beds were replanted for a seconf crop this season.  Last week I showed you how we dehydrated a whole mess of the potatoes.  Now lets can most of the left overs for use in soup and stews.

First the recipe

Let the chopping begin!  The majority for this batch of baby red and white salad potatoes and a few baby russet potatoes.  The second batch will be all russet potatoes.  No, I don't skin them.  That is where the ruffage and a lot of vitamins are.  You can skin them if you wish, we chose not to.  Into a bowl of water and a teaspoon of ascorbic acid to prevent browing of the potatoes.
Next into a hot pot of water for 2 minuets to remove some excess starch.  Scoop them into your clean jars.  Add salt, 1/2 teaspoon for these pint jars and add some purified water, leaving 1" headspace.  

Don't forget to wipe the rims with white vinegar!  Now seal them and place in your pressure canner.

The first batch, now waiting for that 'tink'.  Its all about the Tink!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Canned Beef and Stew

Howdy,  Lets can up some Beef!  Really this is our basic meat canning recipe.  It works just as well for chicken, pork, elk, deer, rabbit, or whatever.  Now there are two methods of canning meat.  Raw pack or hot pack.  After trying both we prefer the hot pack, which is used here.  First use quality meat.  These roast were bought in bulk and are grass fed and no antibiotics. Each is about 4 pounds each.

Here's DW's recipe.
Cut off the fat for use on something else latter.  Then dice into 1' squares.

Then place in the pot and cook some to boil off the remaining fat.  This is the "HOT" part.

Then comes the canning by scooping into your jars.

Add a teaspoon of salt.  Fill with hot water, the other 'Hot" part

Into the pressure canner it goes.  Don't forget to wipe the rims of the jar with some white vinegar to remove any oil from the rim.

A whole lotta of jiggling going on for 90 min at 10 pounds

Waiting for the PING!

Lets make some stew while we're at it.  
Here's the recipe.

Reserve some of that beef for the stew.  Layer in potatoes, beef, carrots, celery, green pepper, and onions.  Add your spices.  Add hot water.  Don't forget to wipe the rims with white vinegar.  Seal and place in pressure canner.

Stewed tomatoes

I'm all out of stewed tomatoes!  Time to make a batch asap for some Chili Mac.

I start with 20 pounds of Roma tomatoes, 10 large bell peppers, 5 large onions and one large celery.  Chop the onions, peppers, celery and set to the side in the fridge.

I then heat up a large pot of water to scald the tomatoes.

After that they go into a bowl of cold water, and off with thier skins!

Chop them up.  Add all the parts together in a pot.  Add your favorite spices like, Salt, Pepper, and Garlic.   The spices used are done to taste.  There is enough tomatoes for 12 quarts in two batches. The spices I added are 1 tablespoon salt and pepper and two heaping teaspoons of chopped garlic.  Really just add as much as you want to taste.  Feel free to experiment and add some hot peppers for a Rotel flavor.   Cook for a few minuets and bottle.


Into the pressure canner it goes, 10 pounds pressure, and after twenty minuets they are done.  Fresh Chili Mac tonight!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Howdy!   It's been a few weeks since my last blog.  Harvesting has begun so I thought i'd talk about one of the ways of preserving your harvest, dehydrating it.  It's fairly easy to do, especially if you have the right equipment.  I use a commercial 80 liter dehydrator from Cabela's.  The small round ones just don't cut it.  It's fairly highly rated, great tempeture control and timed cycle.  A food processor like a kitchen aid or cuisenart and such.  A dicer, large pots, strainers, and pans.

So here is what we are dehydrating, 30 pounds of red potatoes, and 20 pounds of white salad potatoes.  All fresh from the garden.

I had two bins just like this with 20 pounds each.
We saved 10 pounds for fresh potato salad. very yummy

This to 20 pounds of russet and 20 pounds
of salad potatoes.

The reds were grated and the whites were diced.  

To preserve these and to prevent oxidation the potatoes need to be blanched and cooled before putting them into the dehydrator.  For that you'll need a large pot of hot water, a couple of strainers and a large bowl to hold them until your ready to place them on the pans tp load the dehydrator.

Then onto the pans in a single layer and into the dehydrator.  135 degrees for 10-12 hours.  Rotate the pans every 3-4 hours to ensure even heating and drying.

The 30 pounds of hash browns filled two 1 gallon mylar bag with and oxygen absorber.  I expect the diced potatoes to take two as well because as diced they will be larger after dehydrating.  I also did green peppers.  A 9 by 13 baking pan of them filled a pint jar when I was done.  A test rehydration of the hash browns came out quite well and tasted oh so good.  


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Baby its cold outside.

It's freezing outside!  OK, this is why I live in SE Texas.  It's only freezing here for a couple of days, then our bi-polar weather is back to warm.  But I grow all year around here.  Some things like broccoli and cauliflower handle small freezes without any problems.  Others like my herbs and lettuces not so well.

This was my Passion Fruit. Not much passion left.

Most would have been killed off with these two days of below freezing temperatures.  So out come the cold frames.  What is a cold frame?  Think mini green house.
Whats left of a sage that I no longer need.

All my delicates under plastic

My cold frames are 3' wide and as long as six to eight feet depending on the bed that they are protecting.  They are made of plywood on the ends, 2" by 2" cross supports.  I then cover them with Plastic sheeting and that's held in place with 1" by 2" boards.  All I have to do is place them on top of my beds.  I start by cutting a 4' by 4' piece of plywood diagonally, which gives me four pieces.  That is enough for two frames. My beds are three feet across, so I cut 6" off of each side to fit.
Next is the 2 by 2s for support adjusted to the length of the bed.  On goes the sheeting with the 1 by 2's to hold it and I'm done.  

So the freezing temps ended and we are heading back to the normal 60-70 degree days for a bit.  Off go the frames and set aside.  Nice to see how well they did.  These were under a table covered in plastic.

These are my large potted herbs.  They all did well.  Note the large sage plant just like the one above that I left out.  

This is my carrot (far)  and my mixed parsley and cilantro bed.

My small potted herb bed. All did well except the tall plant on the bottom right.
The tall part, against the plastic, died but the leaves down low survived and it will regrow.
The empty pot was a globe basil that had died before the frost.

Here's my crinkly kale.  I heard my rabbits yell GREENS! when I took the cold frame off.

My Chinese Cabbages

And lastly my lettuces ready to pick and eat.

A bunch of happy three month old American Chinchillas.  All munching away.

Aloha,  Ken