Dilly Beans in My Steam Canner


I love almost anything pickled as long as it is salty and sour.  These Dilly Beans are both, much like Kosher dills.  I used the Ball recipe and there is also a recipe on NCHFP.  Links below.  You may have to cut and paste the link into your browser.




Posted in Canning Recipes, Harvest and Storage, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Leave a comment

How to Make Leather Britches (Breeches) Part 1

In this video I start the process of making Leather Britches, naturally dehydrated green beans. When the drying is complete, in about 3 weeks I will show you how to store and cook them.

Posted in Harvest and Storage, heirloom recipes, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Leave a comment

Tomato Blight — Again!

Let’s talk about tomato blight.

I have gardened in Georgia for a good long time. Grew up in rural Georgia and my parents and grandparents farmed and my husband and I had gardens off and on for many years. About 8 years ago we started establishing a pretty large raised bed garden in our yard because we wanted tomatoes, lots of tomatoes. We grew, and I grow now, lots of things, but mostly tomatoes.

Gardening in my yard means that rotation is problematic. There is not enough space to do a lot of rotation, so I end up planting tomatoes in the same vicinity year after year and it seems that there is no place in my garden that is safe from blight, so I just prepare to “manage it” every year. Here is my management routine.

Start out with only strong healthy plants. Don’t plant until the soil is warm enough — about 60 degrees a few inches down. healthy plants in the right soil conditions have a better immune system. Clean out any debris around the planting area. Blight is a fungus and it can live in old leaves or mulch for a long time and will just wait for a new plant to host. I plant my tomatoes deeply and set my cages right away to avoid root damage later. I always spray my cages with either a dilute bleach solution or a vinegar solution to kill off any lingering spores.

Be sure to plant your tomatoes so that there will be plenty of air circulation around them and whatever staking or caging system you use, ensure that it does not “bunch up” the plant. This is why I never use the Florida weave method. It compresses the plants and inhibits airflow. I have a video showing my caging method below.

Beginning about a week after planting, inspect each plant and snip off any little branches that might touch the ground. As the plants grow, continue to do this and as soon as they get big enough, about 12 inches,I mulch heavily with pine straw. If you don’t have pine straw available you can add something else, but not something that will bunch up and hold water on the surface. As times passes, you will snip up about 2 to 3 feet. This might delay your first tomatoes, but not much and the lower branches get splash from the rain and that is how blight starts — from the splash.

When suckers start appearing, snip off enough to keep plant from putting off shoots that will droop to the ground. How heavily you sucker the plants is up to you, but only keep those you can train upward. My plants look top heavy, like little trees. You don’t prune determinate tomatoes much, just enough to prevent touching the ground, but indeterminate tomatoes may have to be pruned a lot.


I think most folks water their tomatoes too much. They don’t need nearly as much water as you think they do. About an inch, twice a week. If you get one good rain a week, you may not need to water at all. If your beds are heavily mulched, you may not have to water at all. This is how I check. I stick my index finger as deeply as I can in the soil close to the tomatoes. If I feel any moisture on my finger, I wait another day. I watered my garden once last year, and the tomatoes just twice. When you water, put the hose ON THE GROUND and let the water run slowly until it starts to puddle. Make sure there is no splash. There is a formula for measuring 1 inch. I never bother. Just let the water run slowly until it puddles. How fast it soaks in will depend on your soil and the weather conditions but if it is still puddled after 10 minutes you are watering too much for your conditions. If you have lots of tomatoes, you can set up a soaker hose or sticks of pvc with holes to direct the water down the row. NEVER WATER FROM OVERHEAD. Water the ground, not the plants.

Water early in the morning. This allow a deep soaking before the hot sun starts evaporating the water and lets it soak in, but lets the plants dry off if you had any splash. If you water at night, you are creating a humid environment throughout the night which promotes the growth of blight. If you water in the heat of the day you lose your water to evaporation.

Inspect weekly, if you see black and or yellow spots on the lower leaves. you probably have the dreaded blight. Snip off any signs of blight. It spreads by touch or wind, so be careful to clear away any snipped off debris and clean your pruning tools between plants. I use my fingernails to snip off small branches or scissors if they are bigger.

If you see the beginning of blight, you can start to spay with an organic copper spray or Serenade. Some folks use it from the very beginning as a preventive measure. I did that one year but it has to be refreshed after every rain so I don’t try to do that anymore.

If after all your efforts, your plants develop blight anyway, don’t panic. This is usually a disease of the leaves, not the tomatoes. I have never had the progression of the fungus reach the fruit and I consistently get lots of tomatoes, partly because I pick the fruit at the earliest possible time. Allowing your tomatoes to finish their ripening under the best possible conditions (inside at about 75 degrees) is another topic, but lightening the load on your plants helps them stay healthy and healthy plants are more resistant to disease.

As the summer progresses, pull up any plants that show heavy blight and move them far from the garden. I burn mine but if you can’t do that, bag them. Whatever you do to dispose of them, don’t do it close to the other plants. The spores can be spread by wind.

I know some folks have tomatoes until the first frost. I sometimes do, but I pull up any diseased plants much earlier than that. If you want some late tomatoes, consider a second, smaller planting later in the summer, ideally in a different location.

If you have blight every year, consider planting resistant varieties. You determine disease resistance by the little codes on the plant or seeds. I will post a chart below to “decode” the codes. Let me emphasize, these codes designate resistance, not immunity. Even if you plant these varieties, you still need to follow these instructions.

So, if you see blight, don’t panic. You can handle this.

HR = High Resistance   IR = Intermediate Resistance

  • | Anthracnose | Fungus | Colletotricum lindemuthianum (Beans), C. orbiculare (Cucumber, Watermelon)
  • AB | Early (Alternaria) Blight | Fungus | Alternaria dauci (Carrots); A. solani (Tomatoes)
  • ALS | Angular Leaf Spot | Bacterium | Pseudomonas syringae pv. lachrymans
  • AS | Alternaria Stem Canker | Fungus | Alternaria alternata f. sp. lycopersici
  • | Bacterial Wilt | Bacterium | Erwinia tracheiphila
  • BB | Bacterial Blight | Bacterium | Xanthomonas carotae
  • BBS | Bacterial Brown Spot | Bacterium | Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae
  • BLS | Bacterial Leaf Spot | Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria

Here is an explanation of my tomato support system.

Posted in Basic Gardening, organic gardening, Tomatoes, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Tomato Facts

Why do most grocery store tomatoes taste like cardboard? Some folks think it’s because they were not ripened on the vine or were grown in greenhouses.

Not true. Most commercially grown tomatoes are hybrids that were bred for uniform size and consistent ripening time, to make picking and packing easier. Taste is a secondary trait.

You will notice that your home grown tomatoes ripen over a longer period of time, usually over the whole season, weather permitting. You will also notice that the sizes on any given plant will vary. The differences won’t be as marked on determinate tomatoes, and the growing season may be shorter, but still, you generally don’t want all your tomatoes to be ready at one time. You probably want some for slicing, some for canning, some for giving away.

That doesn’t work well for commercial growers. They want to pick them all, take up the plant and maybe get a second planting, and they want them all to look alike. The cost of staggered picking would make their crops less profitable, so many years ago commercial tomato plants were hybridized to be more profitable.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t want to grow hybrid tomatoes. The hybrids available to home growers are usually bred for flavor and are usually more disease resistant than our yummy heirlooms. You also don’t want to save hybrid seeds because they probably won’t breed true, meaning they will revert to one parent plant or the other because the traits are not stable. Might be good. Might not.

This is why you can’t buy commercial tomatoes that taste as good as your home grown tomatoes–they just weren’t grown for taste.

Posted in Organic, organic gardening, Tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Caprese Salad

A great Summer salad, easy to make and beautiful to behold.
These amounts are for a single dinner salad, but you can make as much or as little as you like.
1 Large Tomato, Sliced Thinly.
1 Slice Fresh Mozzarella Per Tomato Slice
1 to 2 Ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Several Basil Leaves, Chopped or Whole
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Balsamic Reduction (1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar plus 1/2 Teaspoon Brown Sugar or Honey)

Posted in cheese, cooking techniques, heirloom recipes, Recipes, Salad Dressing, Scratch Cooking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pavlova, No Sugar Added or With Sugar – Your Choice

My Pavlova. I wasn’t sure this would work sugar free, but it turns out great with or without sugar. Low carb, gluten free and still delicious. Please watch and share. Thanks.

Posted in baking, desserts, heirloom recipes, low carb, Scratch Cooking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Product Review: The Naked Pig Rendered Leaf Fat

This is a product review of a product that was given to me to try. I am sharing the results here, along with a promo code if you decide to try it. Note: I am not selling this and do not get anything if you buy it. I did get the lard as a gift, which I appreciated.

Posted in baking, cast iron, Organic, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grandma’s Peach Pie

My Grandma had peach trees, but the season is short so fresh peaches didn’t last long.  When we had peach pie it was usually from home canned peaches.  This peach pie is made from canned peaches and it is oh so good.

Posted in baking, cooking techniques, heirloom recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Make a Cheese Press for Aged Cheeses

I have been wanting to start making aged cheeses, but a cheese press is just beyond my budget.  My son, Jim helped me make this one, so aged cheese is on the horizon.

Posted in cheese, Cheese Making, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hawaiian Rolls

These soft and sweet dinner rolls  are almost a dessert bread, but they also work as slider rolls or just alone with butter.  Mmmm.

Posted in baking, cast iron, heirloom recipes, Recipes, Uncategorized, Yeast Bread | Leave a comment