My SPIN farm plans have not panned out this season. Harvesting is underwhelming: I’ve come to admit that none of my cucurbits will be producing any squash, melon, or pumpkins for me this year, except for one cucumber plant that isn’t even for pickling. I should have eaten the flowers all along. Here is the normal state of affairs for any one of them:

The sumac that I planted last year is now about my height, and the lower leaves are beginning to change colour for fall. In addition, more wildflowers are creeping into my soon-to-be meadow.

At least the cherry tomatoes are producing a respectable harvest, and the small Roma plants, too. I have one yellow tomato coming through on another front-yard bush. The featured photo (at the top of this post) is a large beauty of striking colour, where you can also see a healthy basil plant, and the red clover.

Every day, I put the rabbits out if they show the least bit of interest. The girls usually do. Kaori is my confident lady. Elizabeth is, too, in a different way – as an escape artist that has finally understood the concept of herding. Kaori just trusts that the world isn’t that scary a place, and knows that she can do no wrong, because she hardly ever does. Except now, she’s decided to get into eating the pepper plants. She got enough time chomping down on the plant for me to take this photo. I picked her up and put her down in a different part of the yard.

Two nights ago, I took the last of the Ontario corn and transformed it into corn relish. The recipe was not the same as last year’s, and it called for too much flour in the sauce, so I am afraid it’s too creamy a relish for my liking. Still, corn relish is better than the green relish you get at the store, and it’s homemade by me, which is better than just any random corn relish.

So, pickling! Yesterday’s efforts began with slicing cucumbers, peppers, and onions to make a batch of bread-and-butter pickles (7 jars). Cucumbers are surprisingly hard on your knives! I have a sharpening stone, for which the traditional lubricant is spit. I also found out that ceramic is an excellent knife sharpener. I sharpened the big butcher knife twice, once with the stone and once with the pestle from my mortar-and-pestle. Here they are, pre-salting.

And then, I got ambitious enough to make a batch of sauerkraut with the very large head of cabbage I bought last week in Ontario. I chopped up the whole head and salted it in this pickle crock.

I used the instructions from Boing Boing, whose creator sounds like the kind of guy I’d get along with — he wrote a book about making everything. You can read all about it at the bottom of the “How to make sauerkraut” instructions. (I have not read his book.)

I had a problem: I have no 9-¾” wooden disk to push down or cover the contents of the crock. So I phoned Dad to ask him to cut me one, “and not out of plywood.” The old man actually sounded happy to have something to do, which is surprising because it was a favour for me and usually he’s like “screw you, I’ve enough to do, make it yourself.” But in this case, I can’t. It requires a band saw or at least a jig saw, and a belt sander to smooth the edges.

A 3 gallon crock from Medicine Hat, Alberta

So I tried to weigh down the cabbage with a plastic bag filled with water, but the bag leaked. Now I have more watery contents in the crock pot, but that’s OK because I added more salt, and it helps keep the environment anaerobic. The plate I inverted keeps most stuff from floating. I have no “bloom” on my stuff yet, and that’s a good sign. One week later, my sauerkraut-in-the-making still looks like this:  

And that’s done. Unless some something like an excess of green tomatoes happens, the pickling is over for the year.

This is the end of my 2012 garden adventure. Each blog post has “Previous post – Next post” navigation buttons at the bottom. They take you through my writings in chronological order, but the previous garden adventure blog post was A Few Garden Photos – The Harvest Slowly Begins. I hope you carry on reading my adventures in cooking and other house projects through the winter.

If you want more garden adventure stories, click “Gardening” from the File Folder icon icon at the bottom, or the Category on the top right of the page. It’s got everything I’ve written about it.