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I can’t seem to get back to this blog over the gardening break; but I’ll be placing my seed order in the next few days, so there’s no denying it’s coming back soon! Thankfully, my mom sent a lengthy and positive review of the fruit relish I made last fall. So, here’s my guest contributor, Mary Liechty ­čÖé

I have the blessing of being the recipient of several great canned items from Glacier gardens. It doesn’t hurt that I’m the mother-in-law, mother, and grandmother of those that work coaxing bounty from that piece of earth.

Yesterday we had a gathering of family here in Texas, it was for the winter birthdays. We decided to do tacos, after all we do live in Texas. With our tacos I set out two items from Glacier garden. I had a jar of jalape├▒os. I also had a jar of fruit salsa.

No problem with jalape├▒os in Texas. They were heartily appreciated. The unexpected surprise was how much everyone loved the fruit salsa. I expected a few of the gals to try it. However, I was very surprised by the responses of the guys in the room.

Skeptical eyebrows went up as each took a “taste.” Then those eyebrows went up further as eyes widened while the fruity delight gave a new and refreshing experience. There was very little left at the end of the party. I saved it just because it was sooooo good.

We like our salsa hot and spicy in Texas. We like our tacos the same way. Yet, this chunky version with it’s sweet and tangy savor hit a cord here and was appreciated by all.

Can’t wait to see what the new planting produces.

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I’m trying to imagine what this blog will be during the few months of complete garden inactivity. We are still working in the garden – yesterday Jordan was cleaning the garden of all rocks, markers, forgotten tools, twine, etc, to prepare it to be tilled before we get real snow cover. And as soon as the snow melts in the spring we will prepare the ground to be tilled again.

During those short, sometimes house-bound, months, we remember the bright green days of the garden at mealtime. There is a lot of satisfaction in carrying an armload of mason jars into the kitchen to prepare a meal, especially when the food is for friends and family who were part of your journey. They visit the garden, linger at the market to ask how everything’s going, listen to you talk about this or that specialty variety, maybe even help you weed once or twice.

So during the garden’s winter rest, perhaps this blog will veer slightly and follow the path parallel to the garden: the table.

Another market last tuesday with some great visiting vendors – one offering fresh cut flowers by the stem and in arrangements. She also had the great idea to spray paint a mason jar with green chalkboard paint and put the arrangements in that. You don’t need a card when you can write “get well soon” on the jar! The second vendor was “the watermelon gang” as I keep calling them. They had a huge selection of different varieties of watermelons. Very fun.

Other than that, we’ve been canning. We picked 19 dozen ears of corn – all that was left – and made freezer corn and canned corn. 19 pints of canned and 20 2 cup freezer bags, 5 3 cup freezer bags, and corn chowder for supper that night ­čÖé

We also picked 17 gallons of Roma tomatoes that I will make into salsa and sauces. That starts tomorrow – oy vey!

However, the big news is: last night we popped our first ear of popcorn for this year. It was ready to pop from the field – amazing. This was the early maturing variety, Dakota Black Pop. We have to figure out a better strategy for shelling though, because this variety is spikey. Last year, Jordan shelled most of it barehanded, which won’t work with this.

It was SO DELICIOUS! So crispy, not that sticky feeling in your teeth, when you have to chew popcorn instead of crunch it. We didn’t even use salt or butter because it was so clean and light tasting. Mmmmmmmm. Fresh from the field popcorn is a GREAT experience.

We are eating┬ácantaloupe┬áeveryday right now – not a bad deal!! I feel like I should plant them staggered next year, because they are really coming all at once now. I picked 11 just today! We’ve already done 22 pints of salsa, and I plan to do another batch tomorrow morning along with another batch of salsa verde. I’ll post my recipes after I work out some kinks tomorrow. I also canned 25 pints of just tomatoes to cook with. We still haven’t even started canning/freezing corn.

But what you really need to know is that we have a “presence” in the garden. Creepy, YES! Check this guy/gal out!

Are you as freaked out as I am right now, because I’m CERTAIN that thing was born to KILL! It has occupied a spot very advantageous to its health and ever-increasing girth, right in the middle of the tomatoes. Every time we walk by, we scare up a bunch of grasshoppers and one will reliably get caught in its web. He runs down, wraps up the unlucky prey, and starts sucking its carcass dry. There is a pile of grasshopper carcasses below his web — eeeeek!!!! You can be sure that every tomato in this spider’s immediate vicinity will fall to the ground and rot before I consider reaching for it. While picking the tomatoes, I never let this guy out of my line of sight. I’m just certain that the moment I turn my back, he will rush me!!!!!

Jordan thinks it must be a pregnant female spider because it has gotten so┬ábulbous, but I’m not sure spider reproduction works that way….

Anyway, I’m fond of it, kind of like I’m fond of Breaking Bad — I like it, but I’m also pretty uncomfortable around it.

Speaking of bulbous, check out these butternut squash:

Just for comparison, I could easily hollow this out and wear it as a shoe. That would be a truly great pic. Soon they will get that lovely orange hue and be ready for eating.

During my online absence, we had Windfest here in Kulm. Here’s our really exciting float!!!:

We’ll work on making it even MORE exciting next year, but, as you can see, that probably won’t be possible. This picture really captures the excitement of the float by snapping the candy in mid-air! SO EXCITING! Did I say that yet??

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!!!!!

The garden is LUSH these days. It seems like we are picking and eating more than tending. Tuesday I blanched and froze about 2 gallons of green beans. Alice’s job was to pick beets, and then yesterday I pickled 17 pints of them!

While we were working, Patty Bartle from the Edgeley Mail came and interviewed us about the farmers’ market we started in Kulm. It is in the current issue, so pick one up!

Lynda has also been pickling cucumbers like mad. See her current stats and some new recipes here. Cheers!

Just a heads up. There’s a new recipe on the “WCYDWTV” page inspired by all the green tomatoes i had after pruning this week. Delish!

New gardening post coming after the weekend. Cheers!