I have a question about carrots. Mine are flowering BIG TIME. Some look like they are going to seed and some are just simple dainty flowers. The carrots with the heavy flowers have a thick stalk-are they ok to eat? Are they going to seed, and can I save them somehow? I haven’t seen this before.
If your carrots are flowering, they do want to go to seed. This is unusual for first-year in the ground carrots; they usually require two years to produce flowers and seed. Usually carrots that go to seed put their energy into the flower/seed and the roots get tough and sometimes bitter. Check out one of yours and see if that has happened. If your carrots do set seed, enjoy it! Yes. You can save them. What I do is to gently cut the seed head so you don’t shatter the seeds, and place them in a paper bag. Then put your hand in the bag and rub the seeds free of the seed head. When you have your seeds, shake out the seed heads and discard them. Pour your seed onto a cookie sheet and pick out any bits of debris. Often you can pour the seeds through a sieve onto a cookie sheet to do this same thing. Leave the seeds on a cookie sheet in a protected location out of the wind (they are quite small!) until you are sure they are completely dry. Store in a dry place. If you don’t have any wild carrots (Queen Anne’s Lace) growing in your area, these seeds can be planted next year. However, if your first year carrots went to seed instead of making carrots, you might not want to plant them, as they might duplicate what happened this year. — Jackie
I’ve been reading about a gardening method called Hugelkultur, and wondered if you have tried it, how well it worked, etc. Do you keep adding wood and soil as it decomposes? It seems to have a lot of benefits such as little irrigation, and using up old wood to amend the soil. Any suggestions would help a total novice gardener to get started will be greatly appreciated!
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Well, yes and no. We have started several gardens on land that was previously raw woodland. So, yes, we did chop and till in plenty of rotted and even not-so-rotten wood pieces such as smaller stumps, branches, etc. We pre-burned some and worked in the resulting charcoal. Most we just plowed, tilled, and dug into our soil. I would not really recommend doing this if you don’t need to because you’re making a garden out of raw woodland or as some of our garden once was, stumps, logging waste and tree roots. It’s a lot of (I feel) unnecessary work. You can get very good benefits by using composted manure, natural mulch, which will break down and add tilth to your soil, and green manure crops that you grow on your own garden plot. (Do be sure your bedding has not been sprayed in the field with herbicidal chemicals which will damage your garden!)
Recommendations for a beginner gardener? Keep it small at first so you can learn without becoming overwhelmed. And buy and use my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food, for a whole lot of tips for every vegetable and fruit in your garden and for your livestock as well. — Jackie
Canning meatballs and a squash soup recipe
Your meatball recipes on Page 191/192, of your Growing and Canning Your own Food book — how do you can them without sauce? (Plain meatballs) Also, I would like to use them for Porcupines — can I do tomato soup like I do the mushroom soup recipe? For sweet and sour meatballs, how can I process since I am not suppose to use corn starch?
A while back a reader asked about a canning recipe for Squash Soup. I have one from “The Fresh Girl’s Guide to Easy Canning & Preserving” by Ana Micka Page 76
Creamy Squash Soup (Makes about 5 quarts):
5 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch cubes
5 carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 onions, chopped
2½ lbs potatoes (red or other boiling potatoes)
5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. salt (I split the 2 Tbsp. between my jars)
1. Sterilize jars, lids, and equipment.
2. Peel and cut potatoes into ½-inch cubes. To prevent darkening, soak in an asorbic acid solution of three 500 mg Vit C tablets crushed into 2 qts water.
3. Boil squash and potato cubes for two minutes.
4. Pack squash, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery into jars. DO NOT MASH!
5. Cover with boiling water, leaving a 1-inch headspace.
6. Follow pressure canning steps. Process pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at pressure listed for your altitude & canner.
7. When you are ready to eat, drain squash/potato mixture. Add it to a blender with a cup of milk, cream, or water per quart of canned vegetables (more or less, depending on how thick you like your soup). Pour into a pan and heat. Add additional spices at this time according to your taste. Curry or ginger adds great flavor. This is delicious.
Red Lion, Pennsylvania
To can plain meatballs, lightly brown the meatballs, then pack hot in your hot jars. Make a broth from the pan drippings with water. Heat to boiling, then ladle over meatballs. I used to can plain meatballs with no liquid, but they sometimes tasted too dry, no matter how I used them. So now I always use a broth, juice, or sauce. Instead of using tomato soup concentrate, I’d use a seasoned tomato sauce, instead. The flavor would be nicer, in my opinion. — Jackie