Freshly canned balsamic fig jam with black peppercorn
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. If you’re a canner, you know that little pop! of your lids sealing after coming out of their boiling water bath is music to the ears, amiright?!

It’s been insanely hot and humid this week in Southern California, but I’d promised my friend I’d teach her how to can, so I was so thankful that Ball sent me their electric water bath canner to try. Instead of heating up the stovetop (and the rest of the house) with a huge pot of boiling water, I just plugged this canner in — near the door, where we had a cool breeze — and putting up a small batch of balsamic fig jam was totally bearable in this heat wave.

I liked it so much that I ended up donating my old enamel canning pot and will be bringing the new one to Oregon with us. It’s surprisingly lightweight, and the electric base nests neatly inside the pot (along with all my canning tools), so it’s just one tidy package to store. I’m looking forward to canning in my new backyard when it’s nice out!

Tomatillo plant in the garden

2. Every season, there’s a different star crop in the garden, and this season it’s tomatillos. I had trouble growing them for a few years due to flea beetles, but they finally took off this summer and I just adore seeing the little green “paper lanterns” in my raised beds. (And if you’re wondering what I did differently this season, I can’t really pinpoint any one tactic I tried, but I suspect my new mesh pest control popup may have helped early on.)

Hybrid strawberry plant with pink flowers

3. Most of my strawberry plants have white flowers, so I love this lone strawberry plant in the garden that bursts with pink blooms every season. (The unusual color only occurs with hybrids.)

By the way, did you know that strawberry leaves are edible? Traditionally they have been used for medicinal benefits, and a common way of ingesting them is by steeping the leaves in hot water to make tea. They’re high in vitamin C and said to be a digestive aid, but I honestly cannot tell you much more than that.

However, what I can tell you is since I know the whole plant is edible, I often don’t bother to hull the strawberries before I eat them, and I never do when I blend them into smoothies. Less work + more nutrition = always a good thing in my kitchen.

She loves homegrown strawberries as much as I do

4. I guess I’m not the only one who loves homegrown strawberries! Yep, she pops the whole thing in her mouth, strawberry tops and little stems and all.

Harvesting seeds for Garden Betty's Ark

5. It’s that time of year… seed saving time! (Here’s a guide on how to select the perfect specimens for your seed harvesting, if it’s your first time doing it.) With a big move on the horizon, I’ve been collecting more seeds (and cuttings and plant divisions) than usual around the yard in hopes of growing them up north. I’m calling it Garden Betty’s Ark, and if I can get it together this month with photographing what I need, I hope to have a few posts coming in the fall with how you can start your own “ark” too.

(Any guesses on what this seed head is? I usually let these plants self sow, but I’m gathering seeds for the first time this year to take with me!)

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  • I am collecting Calendula seeds in my garden as well, they are just drying out on the heads. I cannot imagine moving a massive household like you have but one day when we have a house of our own I bet I will be collecting and repotting and taking as much of the garden as I can. I look forward to hearing more about the Ark. Aren’t you sad that you are leaving the avocado trees etc?

    • Yes, I’m very sad about leaving the avocado, fig, feijoa, mandarin, orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, etc… but then again, those trees were here before I ever moved in, so I don’t feel as bad because they’re not “my” trees. All the fruits I did plant in my time here were planted in containers, and are small enough to move with us, so they’ll join us in our new life. It’ll be a little tricky to keep them going for the next couple of years since we won’t be in our permanent home yet, but I’m really looking forward to the day we settle into our new homestead and can really build it out with a beautiful garden. 🙂

  • Some Dude

    Congrats on the big move northward. I’m sure you know that gardening will be different in a cooler climate. BTW: bought the book, Kindle edition, from Amazon. I think it was from the tiny link at the bottom of your email. I haven’t read it yet because it’s only been like 30 seconds or so, but I’m looking forward to it.

    Best of luck with everything 🙂

    • Thank you so much for buying the book! You’ll have to let me know what you think of it!

      And yes, gardening in Bend will be challenging, to say the least… mostly because it’s a high desert, and not what people typically think of when they think of that wet and cool PNW climate.

  • Joanne Toft

    Calendula – Ginny I love that you have a peach colored one – mine are all yellow or orange . I was afraid mine did not self seed but not worries they are taking over a corner of my garden. Linda I love the idea of a electric canning pot – may have to look into that. Thanks

    • My calendula takes over my garden year-round; in fact we just cut ours back and already see a colony of new babies sprouting up from the mulch! They grow so easily in zone 10b.

  • Ginny

    Calendula seedhead! Do you know if they seed true, colorwise? I love the sort of apricot/peach toned ones and collected seeds from that color only. Planning on growing them in the flower beds next year instead of the raised veg beds.

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