Strawberry Syrup from Strawberry Hulls and Tops

Strawberry season is coming to an end in Michigan.  Downstate it ended a few weeks ago. When we were Up North for the Fourth we could still find local strawberries, but that will probably end in a few days.  When the berries were in season downstate a few weeks ago my son, Mom and I went and picked 21 pounds of "teensie tiny" strawberries from Middleton Berry Farm in Ortonville, MI. I left for vacation 2 days after so I ended up freezing the majority of them (learn how here). Because … [Read more...]

Summer Canning Series; Preserving the Harvest, Week by Week

It's the middle of peak canning season and I have NO time to do it :( On top of all of the things that normally keep you busy during the summer in Michigan (fun things like vacations up North, boating, etc) my family has been crazy doing other stuff.  I got my real estate license, my son has had to start patching his eye for 6 hours a day (long story and I'm not going to go into it), my Etsy business has been doing pretty well (Wedding season, you know?) AND my husband and I started a business. … [Read more...]

Why are my Collards, Broccoli, and Bok Choy (Brassicas) Wilting? How to Manage Cabbage Root Maggot

I had quite a bit of trouble trying to diagnose what was causing my collards, bok choy, and broccoli to wilt. There are a few different things that can cause it. My first thought were fungal pathogens. I've dealt with them before, primarily root rot with squash when I was living and gardening in Chicago.  I've never had root rot affect my brassicas though. Some more research made me thing that it was perhaps clubroot, which is common in brassicas (like collards, bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, … [Read more...]

Why are My Seedlings (That Were Doing Great) Dying?

Well, I finally have a minute to sit down and write a gardening post, unfortunately, it's an organic gardening mishap! I'm so sad, all of a sudden, all of my cauliflower and most of my Waltham 29 broccoli wilted and died...completely out of nowhere (I also accidentally killed the majority of my peppers but I blame my 18 month old for turning on the heat mat when I didn't know it so they dried out super quick). Both germinated great using the same method I have used for the last 4 years. I … [Read more...]

How to Grow and Harvest an Organic Garden; Index of Posts

Every year I try to start all of my seedlings inside. Some years I've been more successful than others and I always wished that I documented everything so this year I'll be documenting everything I'm growing week by week. Check out these posts as I'll be updating them all summer! Hopefully most will survive....unfortunately I managed to kill my celery, celeriac, and peppers because (1) I didn't water enough and (2) my 18 month old helper turned the heat mat back on when I wasn't looking :) … [Read more...]

When to Harvest Jalapeno Peppers? My Organic Garden

When do you harvest jalapeno peppers? Since they're picked when they're green (most of the time), it can be hard to tell. Peppers can be tricky to grow and a lot of years I end up spending more money and time than it's worth to even plant them, except for jalapenos. I'm not a huge fan of hot stuff so usually by mid-season I'm giving extras away to my heat loving colleagues.   I never really knew when to harvest them so I'd pick them whenever.  There is a "correct" time so this year, I'm making … [Read more...]

When to Harvest Banana Peppers? My Organic Garden

So, I've be scouring the web trying to figure out if my peppers are ready to be picked.  I've read multiple things but I was getting anxious to pick a few, especially because I want to make sure that I encourage growth of more.  Well, the mail man made the decision for me yesterday and decided that instead of walking the extra 20 or so feet around my garden from my neighbors house - he would walk RIGHT THROUGH it.  I'm so mad! I have literally been dedicating time to these now large pepper … [Read more...]

When to Harvest Beets? My Organic Garden Harvest

This is my first year trying my hand at growing organic beets.  I'm not a professional gardener although I've been gardening every summer for the last few years.  Growing these guys was pretty easy. In fact, next year I'm growing more. Why? You ask.... Well.... There are plenty of reasons to like beets other than the taste...Some people think beets taste like dirt.  I never realized it until a friend who had never tried one before stole one off my plate last summer and made a nasty face. I … [Read more...]

My Tomato Seedlings Have Purple Stems (Is that Normal?): My Organic Garden Mishap #2

So, the only thing that seemed to grow well in my old seed starting tray this year were my tomatoes. Specifically, the 4 Break O'Day tomatoes and 9 Tess's Land Currant Tomatoes that were planted about 4 weeks ago (there was supposed to be 12, check out my heat mat experiment to see how much better my 2nd batch germinated in it). These were planted about 2.5 weeks ago on a heat mat...Unfortunately both batches stems are turning purple... … [Read more...]

How Much Does a Heat Mat Speed Germination? My Organic Garden Update

The heat mat WORKS! Ridiculously well, so well in fact that I’m definitely buying a second one next year. I’ve had the batch 2 of my seedlings going since 3/20 – it’s now 10 days later and everything seems to be growing strong! … [Read more...]