The Weekly Digs #173

by Becky

The best part of this week can be summed up in one word, RAIN! I never thought I’d be so happy to see it. Sometimes it works against us but after our long 8 weeks of dry weather a good soaking of the earth is just what we needed.

The pigs are rooting more, the chickens and turkeys are happily pulling up bugs and worms, and the cows are out roaming more now that the weather has cooled and the earth is soft and wet. I am so grateful it finally happened! 

We are quickly approaching the busiest time of the season. I’m cooking, gardening, and preserving pretty much nonstop when I’m home. We also got to celebrate a birthday in our family last week and have another one next week! School is also right around the corner for my kids.

We do a little bit of homeschooling in the summer, mostly audiobooks as we drive around and also do history lessons. But around mid August we’ll start the core subjects again.

In the Garden

  • Direct sowed carrots and kale, a 50 foot garden bed for each. I’m taking advantage of wet soil and cool temps to get some fall crops going!
  • The kids and I have been working hard to weed our strawberry patch. I don’t like plastic covering the soil on a long term basis so we used mulch instead. The method my sister Amy used worked really well! I have way less weeds than last year and they are easier to pull out of the soil. If you want more information on the method, I originally talked about this HERE and linked to Amy’s blog detailing it in that post.
  • Harvesting tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, a few potatoes, a couple ears of sweet corn (they were a little immature but I wanted to test them), and watermelon. Cruz grew the watermelon and gave it to Cam for his birthday because he loves it! It was perfect timing!
  • Using duct tape to remove harlequin bugs from brussel sprouts, and using it to remove squash bugs and eggs from squash. Blister beetles I still see around here and there but not in the same massive numbers so the damage is minimal.
Carrots on the left, kale on the right
Cam’s watermelon for his birthday. Cruz wrapped it and everything! Crown was made by Kian. I don’t think Cam wants this picture to be on my blog but I needed the visual 🙂

Preserving

  • 6 pints pizza sauce
  • 12 pints dill pickles

I have 20lbs of tomatoes I picked today, they are next for preserving.

Other Homestead happenings

  • Cam got the hot wire hooked up at the top of the garden to keep the raccoons out, just in time for the corn to finish ripening.
  • The onions and garlic finished drying and over the last week we’ve been cutting and trimming onions. I’m going to braid some of them when I get time, haha, which will probably be next month. They all dried in the garage for 2 or 3 weeks now I’ve brought them in where it is room temperature. The onions will eventually go in the cold room but for now they are still finishing curing.
Lots of onions this year! I haven’t weighed them yet but I’m thinking it’s around 200 lbs based on how much I can usually fit in these crates.

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11 comments

Katie C. July 31, 2022 - 1:44 pm

Good job! Rain has been somewhat lacking here in northern Virginia too. Sometimes we get some but it seems to go around us. 🙄 Looking at the news, it seems like feast or famine rain wise.

Would you please share your pizza sauce recipe for canning? I finally got a pizza stone so we have been starting our pizza adventures 😋 I just put up 7 quarts of tomato chunks yesterday but I need to do more. Our plants aren’t really producing this year so I’ll have to get a box of seconds at the farmers market.

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Rachel E. July 31, 2022 - 6:58 pm

Where in Northern Virginia? We moved to Arkansas from Amissville in May of 2021.

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Laurel M. July 31, 2022 - 3:36 pm

It’s supposed to rain here I Utah this week. I’m thinking I’ll follow your lead and plant fall carrots tomorrow. All of my cucumbers were murdered by ants, so there won’t be pickles, but I’m thinking I need to cut back on the canning just for this season anyway. My oldest just got her mission call to Tampa, Florida!

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Kat July 31, 2022 - 11:17 pm

Your onion experiment worked!! Or was that last year you started them in the ground late? Haha! I just LOVE your posts, writing and pictures. I could watch a two hour long video honestly. It’s just so natural and there isn’t any “please like subscribe and comment!” I’m glad you’re original and so humble 🙂 only one thing, would love if you posted more blog posts, I love these but I would love longer ones too! But I’m sure you are super busy so I’ll cherish what you are able to share! P.S. your potato bug issues really helped me not to be discouraged with spider mites 😖. As a Christ follower, I’ve been praying a lot for plants and for rain this week for you!!! Made me happy to see you guys got some! Praise God!
Happy Sunday!!

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Bobbie August 3, 2022 - 7:27 pm

Hi Becky, I read your blog post “Canning Recipes that Actually Taste Good” and thought I would try the Roasted Tomato Lime Salsa Recipe. So I got the book Foolproof Preserving. I saw in your pix that you used Whole Foods 365 Organic Lime Juice. I bought it but it doesn’t say anything about the level of acidity. Should I look for that on the Juice bottle? It says not from concentrate. THANKS for your help!!!

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theseasonalhomestead August 4, 2022 - 2:46 pm

I’m so glad you mentioned this. I believe they used to test for acidity and place it on the label but it doesn’t look like they do anymore. The only other organic lemon and lime juice that I know DOES test and have it on the label is Lakewood Organic. This is what I used last year. Thanks for making me aware of this!

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Bobbie August 4, 2022 - 5:49 pm

Kinda confusing because I guess Ball came out with recipes using fresh limes . See https://www.healthycanning.com/fresh-lime-juice-all-new-ball-book-of-canning/

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theseasonalhomestead August 5, 2022 - 1:46 am

Interesting! I’ve seen fresh lemons and limes used in fruit jam recipes, I suppose because they are already acid and it’s more a flavor add on. The fresh limes in salsa is definitely new. But since Ball tested their specific recipes in a lab, I trust it. I always err on the side of caution (perhaps too much) so I would probably still use bottled lime juice for the recipe in the book Foolproof Preserving. But maybe the stuff you bought from Whole Foods is just fine…

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Susan Freeman August 5, 2022 - 2:54 pm

Bobbie, I’ve been making this Roasted Tomato Lime Salsa since Becky recommended it last year. It’s delicious! I quickly learned that I need to can pints, not half pints, as we gobble it down so quickly. My granddaughter loves to “shop” from my home preserved pantry and never fails to grab a jar of this salsa.

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Kristin August 6, 2022 - 6:17 pm

I love your videos and blogs! So down to earth. I have a 3 year old, and you guys have inspired me and my husband to continue our seemingly strange idea of trying to be more self reliant. I’ve began canning. We have chickens on the way. It truly has been driven so much by what you have so generously shared. So, thank you!

Quick question.. I bought the Foolproof canning book specifically for dill pickles based on your recommendation in one of your videos. I made the bread & butter recipe, but they taste off. I’m wondering if I used the wrong type of apple cider vinegar if that’s even a possibility? Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. It’s hard to explain but they taste nasty! Possibly like the vinegar is too overpowering. Any thoughts? Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your life. It’s so helpful in an era where lots of these skills are being lost. May God continue to bless you and your family.

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theseasonalhomestead August 6, 2022 - 9:30 pm

Thanks Kristin! Vinegar in canning recipes is generally pretty strong because they have to have it a certain ratio to make it safe to eat, usually 50% water 50% vinegar. They might taste bad because pickles need time to marinate so to speak. Usually they say to wait at least a couple weeks before eating. I can’t think of why else they might taste bad, sorry I’m not more help than that!

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