And boy, the rain does slow down things ripening in the garden. We should have crates of ripe tomatoes right now, but there are really very few — just enough to eat, cook with, and save seed from. Everyone around here is having the same problem. We had such a hot early spring the tomatoes blew their first wave of blossoms and set them later on. So even though we have hundreds of very large tomatoes, they’re still green. Even our star, Bill Bean, has dozens of huge green tomatoes on the vines, but not one has ripened yet and they’re usually about the third variety to do so. There is an up side though. Because we had such weird weather, everything is much larger than usual. We have foot-long sweet corn ears, lots of very large tomatoes, big fat beans, and giant peppers. So it all evens up, I guess. Today I picked a Giant Aconcagua sweet pepper and while they’re usually very big, this one was a monster! I’m going to dice it up and add it to the corn I’m canning this afternoon. We love our “Mexican corn,” which is sweet corn with green and red sweet peppers added.

Although we have huge tomatoes — like these Bill Beans — ripening this year is slow.
Check out this huge Giant Aconcagua sweet pepper!

We grew Nadapeno this year, a new open pollinated jalapeño flavored pepper with no heat. I think I’ll add some of those to that Mexican corn. I’m always trying something new!

These are ripe Nadapeno peppers — jalapeños with no heat.

I went over to my friend, Dara’s house yesterday to take Alisha for some spinning lessons on the spinning wheel Dara gave her and was awed by her garden. Like ours, hers is fantastic this year with huge sweet corn ears, tall Seneca Round Nose corn plants, and some squash she’ll have to use a dolly to move into the house, they’re so huge.

Will’s busy hauling big round bales home on our hay transport. He can haul six at a time so that makes lots of trips up and down our very muddy, bumpy driveway.

We’re so glad to have such a good watchdog as Hondo.

Hondo chased a fox or coyote out of the goat barn last night. I was going out to lock everybody in their pens for the night when he shot past me, barking like he meant business. He tore through the yard, down the hill, chasing whatever it was, through the pasture and into the woods where he stopped and continued barking. When I went into the center aisle of the barn, I could see where someone had been digging at both the goat’s pen door and the door to the chicken coop. Not seriously yet, just some of the loose hay and dirt. Whew, I’m so glad we have such a good dog! — Jackie


  1. When l was working, we had a tomatoes patch so we could make fresh guacamole when we needed to for our dinners. Fall came and we still had alot of green tomatoes left and rather than letting them freeze, we put them in a box with an apple and had fresh tomatoes until We ember. Jackie, you guys keep up with inspiring home gardeners and homesteaders alike. I think you guy are awesome.

    • Thank you so much, Kathy. Not only do we keep crates of green tomatoes to ripen in the house but I also can up a bunch as green tomato mincemeat, dill green tomatoes, etc. Then I make lots of green tomato (fake apple) pie that nobody can tell from apple. Then there’s fried green tomatoes….. Darn, now I’m hungry!

  2. Years ago we had large green tomatoes that did not ripen in time. I wrapped them each in newspaper and put in a very large tall box. They did ripen and I ended up canning them in much cooler weather. Also they did taste good.

    • I agree. Those home-ripened tomatoes are so useful and also tasty. I used to wrap them in newspaper but when I got too many to do that, I quit and they ripen just as good without the newspaper.

  3. Hi Jackie – You have inspired me to put aside my fears and learn to can. Could you clarify one thing though. In you book Growing and Canning Your Own Food pg 77, you suggest thickening tomatoes for sauce in a roasting pan on low heat. Is that 225 or is it less than that? My first effort produced 2, 1/2 pint jars of sauce. Now I know that’s a ridiculous amount but you wouldn’t believe how proud I am of those 2 little soldiers standing on my kitchen counter! I added Italian seasoning and garlic to make Italian sauce. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the heart to open the jars up to use them!

    Hope someday you decide to do your seminar again. That was really one of the most useful and enjoyable events I have attended.


    • I use the lowest setting in my oven, which is about 200 degrees. I do stir the sauce when I get up at night to use the bathroom to prevent the top of the sauce from scorching. No two half pint jars is NOT ridiculous, it’s a wonderful start!!! Now you’re off and running. Go girl!!!
      We’re discussing doing a seminar next fall so we’ll see what shakes out.

  4. Here in NW AZ, Zone 8b, our gardens have exactly the opposite reaction to rainfall. When it rains everything wakes up and takes off. I figure it’s because the water we normally water them with is so hard and the rainfall is soft.

    Our garden so far this year has had major production problems. None of the tomatoes or corn I got from you grew well or produced–but I’m not blaming you because nothing except three hybrid tomatoes (Bonnie’s Select, Juliet and Sweet 100), some Black Beauty zucchini and your Hopi Grey squash produced anything. I compost every year in my raised beds and this year I even dumped my veggies scraps directly into the beds to try to get some extra nutrition to my plants.

    The plants were so stressed we ended up with bug and wilt problems which I combatted with Safer sprays and Dawn detergent. Nothing worked to perk them up and I even used my seaweed foliar spray and fish fertilizer on them. Everything I’d learned in 50 years of gardening failed. Any ideas?

    The only crops that produced well for us were Spring crops (Mammoth Melting Snow Peas, Green Arrow Shell Peas and Russet Potatoes) as well as our Mary Washington and Purple Passion Asparagus, but then we had a longer, cooler Spring than normal.

    Oddly enough we also had bumper crops of Mulberries, Raspberries, Apples, Peaches, Nectarines and Plums this year–and our Fig trees finally produced a small crop.

    • The only idea I have is to wait till next year. Sometimes you just get a bum gardening year. That’s why I try to keep 2 years worth of food canned up. Just in case….. But as you found out, sometimes another perennial crop will help make up from your crop failure. I wish you a much better gardening year next spring.

  5. Jackie, not sure how far back you check replies on your posts but wanted to say thanks for sharing this information on your Cowboy Candy, Cowgirl Candy and Vaquero relish. Your recipes are so good. (I am still hoping that I can buy one of your cookbooks somehow, someday, but they are not available through Canadian book sellers and the one copy on Amazon Canada is $150. While you are worth it, that is way out of my budget and the shipping cost to order through BHM is more than double the cost of the book!)

    One clarification regarding your Vaquero relish. What proportion of syrup to chopped peppers is used? I wasn’t sure if I just pack the jars the same way as I do with the sliced peppers, then fill with syrup or if I need to measure a certain amount of syrup to the peppers since they are minced and pack down well in the jar for the Vaquero relish.

    Thanks for your help. I am not sure if the east coast hurricanes affect your rainfalls in Minnesota but wishing you all the best on your garden harvest.

    • With the Vaquero relish, I just pack the relish raw in the jars, then ladle the boiling syrup over it slowly. You often have to repeat as the thicker syrup takes awhile to ooze down over the relish so that it eventually covers it a bit.
      If you’ll check our Seed Treasures website, you’ll find our shipping to Canada is much cheaper than that $150 Amazon book. Holy COW! Someone is making out like Jesse James!

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