Here are some facts about my garden and me:
- I always start with at least a loose plan of planting in the spring, but by the time I’ve planted the tomatoes, peppers, and beans, I just start planting wherever. But I generally know where things are.
- I would plant things all summer, if I could. Or all year. But I don’t want to live in a land without seasons.
- My garden is never weed-free, even after I’ve weeded. I just get the biggest ones and spend an hour-and-a-half weeding once every two weeks instead of 10 minutes a day. Of course, it doesn’t help that it keeps raining here.
- I have a love/hate relationship with the pumpkin plants taking over my garden. Any semblance to a planned plot (see #1) is gone. Let’s just say that come this November, I don’t think we’ll just be chucking the jack o’lanterns into the garden to decompose over the winter…
- Three or four years ago I planted my first packet of basil and had an amazing crop and discovered my love for basil from the garden–fresh and dried. In each growing season since then I’ve planted not one but at least three packets of basil in the hopes of growing a forest of basil; I’ve never had a crop as good as the first. 😦
- I’ve started planting radishes in the garden for a few reasons:
a) they grow quickly and allow me to pick something while I’m impatiently waiting for everything else to grow;
b) planted around the base of squash and cucumber-type plants, they’re supposed to help keep the enemies away (i.e. squash bugs, cucumber beetles, borers, and anything else that kept me from the many cucumbers/pickles I was hoping for last year, since I love pickles); and
c) when all washed and cleaned up, they look pretty in a bunch.
I wouldn’t say I grow radishes because I adore their taste. I appreciate them sliced and tossed in a salad. I’ll eat a couple plain or with a sprinkle of salt or dipped in a healthy glop of ranch dressing, but I really don’t go reaching for one upon encountering a veggie tray at a potluck. It’s at this point that if the real-life voice of my husband doesn’t chime in, the husband’s voice in my head does: Then why in the world are you growing them? For my point #6 above.
So after harvesting, cleaning, and sharing a good bunch with my friends at church, I still had a bowl of them sitting in my fridge, taking up space. What to do, what to do? Thinking back to my point #6 and the reason for planting them — to keep my dreams of pickles intact — would slicing them, nestling them in a jar next to sliced garlic, young onions, and fresh dill, and then drowning them in a sweet & sour vinegar solution be the answer?
This easy pickling can be done with any veggies of your choosing. Jalapeños and banana peppers are especially tasty. Green beans are also delicious. Toss with lettuce salads, top burgers and sausages, eat straight from the jar… all good! Why not make a pickled mixed veggie salad and toss with pasta for a quick meal? The possibilities are as limited as your imagination.
As for my garden, well, we’ll see what I can find growing in the pumpkin jungle. I’m working on nursing my tomato vines to ripe abundance; I’ve picked several jalapeños and a handful of green beans. I excitedly saw a few purple and dragon tongue beans almost ready for picking. There are a few small cucumbers hiding in there. And I spied the turnips poking their purple heads up out of the dirt the other day. Have I grown or made anything with turnips before? Well, no! But #7 in my garden list is that it gives me the chance to economically experiment with foods I’ve never dealt with before. That, my friends, is my kind of fun!
As for these radishes, I’ve been stealing slices from the jar ever since… 🙂
Pickled Radishes with Young Onions, Dill, and Garlic
- radishes, sliced thin (about 3/4 cup)
- 3-4 young green onions, tops removed about 2″ from white bulb
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 sprig fresh dill*
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup boiling water
Cram as many radishes and onions as you can in a clean pint jar with the garlic and dill . Add salt, sugar, and vinegar. Add enough water to fill jar. Cover tightly and shake to dissolve sugar and salt. Keep in refrigerator, shaking every couple of days to mix. You can eat them as soon as an hour or so after mixing; the longer they sit, the more pickle-y they become.
*If you don’t have dill, it’s okay. The pickled veggies will still taste great!