Horseradish is one of my favourite things to eat on beef, so last summer on a whim I bought some from the grocery store and planted it in my garden. It was easier and cheaper than buying the roots online from a horseradish-root company. And if it didn’t work, well…. oh well. I like to try new things so it was fun just having the idea.
This year the horseradish grew very well – huge green leaves in my front garden – and now that the weather is turning a bit I wanted to see what was under the soil line. So I dug it up. You can see in the photo that it has multiple roots, mostly pretty skinny. I’m going to try and preserve it anyway, see what happens. I found an eHow article, and I’m going to give it a whirl. If you don’t hear anything about it after this, that probably means it didn’t turn out.
Yesterday I washed and sliced a sinkful of plums and put them in the dehydrator. 24 hours later, we have delicious fruit candy with a bit of a sour taste – it hits the kids’ taste buds right in the sweet/sour spot that all kids seem to have. And the only ingredient is plums.
These are no ordinary plums, either – we get them from a local supplier who picks them up in Niagara, from an almost-organic farm. Normally these types of fruits (think peaches, pears, plums) would get sprayed about 15-18 times in the growing season with all sorts of chemicals. This makes me shudder – and sometimes I get an itchy rash from conventional fruit.
These fruits from the local Niagara farmer are occasionally sprayed – maybe 5 times – and never within the window of time when they’re being picked. The farmer uses organic methods in other ways, even though he’s not certified – he feeds the soil lots of great compost and manure and uses whatever organic methods he can. He only sprays when he absolutely must in order to save his crop. He’s still replenishing the soil from all the years of depletion that preceded him.
I am happy to support his almost organic farm – because this fruit doesn’t bother me like regular fruit does. I don’t get tingly itchy lips when I eat it. And it’s so tasty!
I can’t imagine a garden without beans. It’s unthinkable. My favourite vegetable – green beans when they’re still thinner than a pencil – so yummy. This year, and in previous years, we’ve grown three colours of snap bean: purple, green, and yellow. We like to mix the colours. The purple ones turn green when cooked, but it’s a darker shade of green than the green beans, so there’s still this variegated sort of look to the pile of beans on the dinner plate.
The purple beans also serve a useful function when freezing beans. Blanching them first is a required step; usually they’re boiled for a minute or two to halt the enzymatic processes within the beans so they last longer in the freezer. If you have a few purple beans in the pot, you will know when they’ve been blanched long enough because the purple ones turn green. Handy dandy.
Because I like my green beans skinny, it’s easy to miss the perfect picking stage. But the beans don’t go to waste. If they get too big, I let them keep going until they are big and bulgy – and from there they will dry out and become the dry bean seeds that you see in the photo at the top. My girls helped me shell these from their dry flaky pods, and the cat decided the old dry pods make great pounce toys. It was a family event, saving these seeds. And next year it will most likely be a family event planting them again in the garden.
We planted all three bean colours, which means that the seeds from them will not necessarily produce according to their parent types due to cross-pollination. In previous years after planting the mix, I’ve gotten green beans with purple flecks! Fun. We call them ‘surprise me beans’ because you never know what you’re going to get. Normally I could tell you that the black and brown mottled seeds will produce green beans, and the pale violet-coloured seeds will produce purple beans. However, since they’re not true seeds, they could be any one of purple, green, or yellow – or maybe something else. Like violet. We had those one year too!