A Dill-lightful Time of Year

A Dill-lightful Time of Year

As the world continues to spin in uncharted waters and the rules change daily, I am so grateful for my garden. There is a simple satisfaction in successful growth, big beautiful blooms, abundant harvest and yes, even pulling weeds. The results in my garden are due to my time, effort, and love that I put into it. In the Prairies, we are controlled by the seasons and the weather, our only limiting factors (other than budget and time – but we can work around that). Losing oneself in the caring of a garden is good for your health, mental state, and physical being. Enjoy all its possibilities, and most definitely reap all the rewards your garden offers!

September is a great time to have a look at your garden and determine what worked well, and what needs a little more work; anyone who gardens know that we’re never really done after all. Fruit and vegetable harvests are well underway in most Alberta gardens. There’s been a mixed bag of results on some crops, but those that have been gathering know the feeling of pride in that mixed veg display you have been posting pictures of. With so many new gardeners this year, there is a visible feeling of…now what!? How do I preserve all this vegetable and fruit bounty and make it last past Saturday nights salad or stir-fry?

If you are fortunate to have a family history of gardeners and preservers, you’ve likely been passed on the family recipes and methods as part of your heritage. If not, be sure to do your research and learn how to safely store, freeze, can, dry, pickle or jam/jelly – there are plenty of good resources available. A favourite reference I’ve referred to a lot for all types of homesteading information is Reader’s Digest’s Back to Basics (unfortunately out of print, but used copies are available). A favourite recipe is their recipe for fresh packed dills (basic methods of canning must be followed to ensure edible safety of produce):

Back to Basics Dill Pickles

4lb pickling cucumbers

½ gal. brine (1/3 cups salt in ½ gal. water)

4 cloves garlic (2 per qt.)

8 heads dill (4 per qt.)

4 tsp. mustard seed (2 per qt.)

1 ½ cups vinegar

3 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. sugar

3 cups water

It might seem overwhelming initially to dive into the prospect of preserving your garden rewards, but be sure to take your time, do your research and get the proper equipment to safely preserve your harvest through this winter. Didn’t get a good crop, got hailed out or just don’t have quite enough to make it worthwhile, check out a local farmer’s market to bump up your crop.

Happy Harvest!