Preserving Beans By Freezing

 

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This year the green and wax been plants have done very well.  We have ate beans much more often then the children would prefer.  I have also given bags of beans to my parents.  However, there were still multiple gallon zip lock bags of beans in the refrigerator.  Since we had so many beans on hand I decided to freeze some of the beans.

The first step is to clean the beans and remove any damage sections.  I had a few beans that had some spots where bugs had helped themselves to my beans.  There were also a few beans that had touched the ground, and had sections that didn’t look nice.  This is also a good time to remove the ends of the beans were they had attached to the plants.

For me the second step is to cut the beans into smaller sections.  I make them as close to bite size as I can.  Since these beans were fresh, I was able to just snap them into pieces.  You could do this at the same time you remove the unwanted parts from the beans.  I don’t do it that way because I have a way of mixing the unwanted parts with the good beans.

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Breaking the beans into pieces
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Beans broken into sections

While you are breaking up the beans you can start some water boiling.  You will probably need a big pot if you have a large number of beans.  Put enough water in the pot to cover the beans you are going to put in it.

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Boil the beans for about 3 minutes.  This process is called blanching.  I don’t fully understand the science behind this process, but somehow it helps the beans preserve better.  It helps preserve the color and texture of the beans during the freezing process.

After 3 minutes, remove the beans from the boiling water and quickly but them into ice water.  This stops the cooking process, so the beans don’t get over cooked.  You still want them to be mostly crispy when they are frozen.  This will give them a better texture when cooked later in the year.

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After the beans have cooled, they need to dry.  I usually just leave them in a strainer for awhile.  They can also be laid out on a cookie sheet.  They don’t have to be totally dry, but you don’t want to put them in the freezer soaked.  If there is a lot of extra water, then you will end up with ice.  To much ice can cause freezer burn over time.

I separate the beans into bags based on how many we will use for a meal.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal the bag, and place into the freezer.

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Beans are an easy vegetable to preserve, and the process doesn’t take much time.  At the end it is satisfying for me to be able to save some of what I grow for later.  That is less vegetables we will need to buy later  the year.

-Joshua

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Wednesday In The Garden: 07/05/2017

It is hard to believe that 2017 is now over halfway gone. We are now entering the hot season. It isn’t as bad as some places, but most days will be in the mid 80s to upper 90s for the next few months. This is still a great time of year because many of veggies are ripening. 

I don’t have a ton of pictures today since I was busy making ice cream yesterday. 

My first pictures are of passion fruit flowers. The passion fruit vines were one of the great surprises when we moved in. We had no idea what the fruit was at first. Thankfully, Google makes it easy to find things like that out. 

The vines originated in one of our neighbors yards, but we were able to reap the benefits of their plants. Sadly, the other neighbor next to them built a huge ugly retaining wall which killed the passion fruit vines.  

Over the last year or so, the passion fruit neighbor has been bring back the plants. He started from seeds, and put about 10 plants along the fence line. Those plants are growing well this year and have started to flower. Hopefully those flowers turn into passion fruit this year. 


I also have some pictures of our pumpkins which have started to ripen. One of them is inside the pallet I used as a trellis. I just hope I can get it out without causing damage. 


I hope you all have a good week in your gardens. 

-Joshua

Wednesday in the Garden: 06/28/2017

Our weather in the past week has been a bit of a roller coaster.  For instance, on Monday the temperature was around 100 degrees F and today was 78 degrees F.  I think these ups and downs are going to have a negative effect on some of the plants.  I know that the really hot days made a few plants unhappy.

In spite of the weather changes, the garden is growing well.  We have a number of things that we are harvesting and eating right now.  In particular we have green and wax beans to pick just about every day.  We also have more chard then we can use, which is nice because I have been able to share quite a bit of it with my mom.

My daughters flowers are growing well, especially the snap dragons.

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The pumpkin plants are over spilling their area and growing everywhere.  I don’t think they like the heat very much, and are starting to look fairly wilted.  Hopefully a few cooler days will bring them back to life.  I think I could get some pumpkins out of the plants right now if they died off.  However, I would prefer to allow the pumpkins to ripen on the vines.  Last year we had our pumpkins ripen towards the middle of July, so that is what I am aiming for this year.

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I am thinking I will be able to pick some of the Desi Squash in the next couple of days.  They taste quite a bit like zucchini, but are round rather then long.  I do have to be careful not to let them sit to long, because they quickly go from good to tough and woody.

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I think these plants seeds came from a packet that was marked as Desi Squash, unless I planted the wrong thing.  However, they are very different looking plants.  As you can see from the picture above the Desi Squash is bushy in nature.  They plants below are vines and want to trail up things.  I am wondering if they are some kind of melon.  I guess I will just have to be surprised at what we get.

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We are getting many green and wax beans. I have been able to give quite a few to my parents, while still having enough for us to eat often.

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The 3 apples on our Anna Apple tree are getting to be a good size.  I don’t know how long they take to grow and how large they will get.  I am having fun watching them grow though.

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My 10 year old son’s garden bed is doing well.  I have been able to get quite a bit of chard from his bed, and a couple of carrots.  I probably picked the carrots to early, but they tasted real good.  Store bought carrots are not nearly as good as home grown.  His melon plants have gotten very large, and have started to put on melons.  He is excited about those, because he really likes melons.

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Our 13 year old son’s garden bed is still doing well.  His flowers have done well, and have a number of beautiful blooms on them.  His corn has ripened and we picked it today.  I will have a few pictures of that later.

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I picked the rest of the beats and the corn from my 8 year old’s garden bed.

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I hadn’t realized that our corn had gotten ripe until last night.  I was probably a couple days late picking the corn, but it was really hot this weekend so I didn’t get around to checking.  Unfortunately, most of the ears had a caterpillar in them.  The caterpillars hadn’t had much of a chance to eat the corn yet, so I squish them and then cut of the chewed up parts of corn.  The unaffected parts look really good and I can’t wait to eat them.

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I have harvested some things throughout the week, but today I did a pretty good sized harvest.  My parents are watching the oldest two boys tonight, so I wanted to give them some things.  I was able to pick the corn, arugula, chard, beans and mustard leaves.

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Tonight for dinner Lynn made pancit using all vegetables from our garden.  There was garlic, red and orange carrots, green and wax beans, and kohlrabi.  I get a feeling of accomplishment from growing enough plants to do a whole dinner.

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-Joshua

 

Wednesday in the Garden: 06/07/2017

I was negligent in posting garden pictures last week.  I have some animal, I think an opossum or racoon, that likes to dig in my garden beds.  It seems to be going after beetle grubs that live in them.  Unfortunately, that means a lot of uprooted plants and seedlings.  Last Wednesday, it dug a lot.  There were a number of destroyed plants so I didn’t feel like taking pictures.

This last week, we have had typical beautiful San Diego weather. The May grey I spoke about last time has continued into June Gloom.  I am sure you will all feel very sorry for us.  It has been a bit overcast with temperatures in the low 70s.  Very gloomy I know.  It is ,however, perfect plant growing weather.

First I have tomato pictures because my mom really wants to have fresh tomatoes.  The second picture isn’t very good, but it is a Wagner Blue Green tomato.  I grew those last year, and they were a favorite for every one that ate them.  I think this is my only one that survived this year though.

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Pay no attention to the weeds in the background.  All the extra rain this year has made the weeds go crazy.  I have cut them much more then I have had to for years, but they keep coming back.  In this garden bed is green beans, peppers, purple basil, and some flowers.  The crazy plant in the back is our New England Sugar Pie pumpkins.

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The pumpkin plants are spreading all over the ground, and already have pumpkins growing.

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This bed has more beans, Desi squash, patty pan squash, carrots, and some cauliflower plants that is still hanging out.

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The Desi squash is a lot like zucchini, except they grow round rather then long.  They are at their best when they are about the size of a baseball.  We are starting to get a couple of Desi blossoms.

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This week I picked 5 wax beans.  Mostly there are just blossoms on the bean plants though.

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Last week, my 3 year old daughter and I picked out some flowers to plant.  She wanted to be like her 3 biggest brothers and have her own garden bed.  Her favorite color is purple, so there is a number of purple flowers in her bed.  She also went with some pink since that is also a nice color.

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My 13 year old’s garden bed is going well.  He mostly has corn and each of the plants has some healthy looking ears on them.  His plants are pretty short though, so I am hoping that is just due to the type of corn.

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My 10 year old’s bed is doing well.  He has been dug up multiple times, killing many of his plants.  Finally, it seems like his plants are getting ahead and growing well.  In particular his Madhu Ras melons are doing well.  They have blossoms on the plants right now.  He is really looking forward to eating the melons. I added some Swiss Chard to his bed to replace some of the plants that were dug up.  Between his chard and some others I plants, we will soon have chard coming out of our ears.

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Everything in my 8 year old’s bed is growing well.  He is very excited about how tall his corn is.

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The last pictures will just be some random ones from the beds.

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I hope that all of your plants are growing well right now.

-Joshua

Black King Pansy

I figured this flower is pretty enough for its own post.

Black King Pansy

It is called a Black King Pansy.  I bought the seeds at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  This is the first time that I have grown pansies from seeds, and this flower is well worth the effort.

-Joshua

Wednesday in the Garden: 05/24/2017

Our little garden is growing really well right now.  This is a great time in San Diego County for plants.  The sun shines for well over 12 hours a day, and the temperatures are generally mild.  We did have some fairly extreme temperature jumps this week.  Last Wednesday our high was only 67 degrees, but by Sunday it was about 95 degrees.  I had to make sure I kept the soil from drying out and allowing my seedlings to die.

I also had a problem with something digging in my garden beds.  I have some sort of beetle grub that lives in the soil.  The grub seems benign, but occasionally there will be holes dug all over the garden beds when some animal decides grubs are on the menu.  At least I think that is what is going on.  When I find dug up spots, I just attempt to put the dirt back in place and resettle the plants.  Generally, the plants do OK, but I do miss out on seeds sprouting when they are disturbed.

 

Our lemon tree is growing and putting out many lemons.  Three years ago the lemons looked diseased and were inedible, now there are more lemons then we can keep up with.

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I think we might actually get blood oranges for the first time. The fruit seems to have set and is growing larger right now.

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The key lime tree I bought at Costco has blooms all over it.  I planted it near the end of the summer last year, and got a few limes off of blooms that were on it when I bought it.  I think we will get a lot of limes this year.

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My Anna Apple tree is blooming again.  I was surprised to see more flowers on the tree.  It is the first year I have this tree, so I have no idea what to expect from it.

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The almonds continue to look good.  They really don’t look like almonds at all though.  The part we eat is safely protected inside of its large fuzzy shell for now.

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I really hope this plant is an artichoke and not some lesser cousin.  I think the seeds blew in from my neighbors yard, but I haven’t been able to ask them yet.

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This garden bed has a large cauliflower plant in it that I think is finally going to give us something to eat.  There are also green beans, carrots, Desi Squash, Patty Pan Squash, Long Beans, Pok Choy, and Swiss Chard.  I had some Kale plants, but lost them when that part of the bed got dug up.  I might have a couple pepper plants going, the seedlings look like peppers, but I planted the peppers so long ago that I am not sure.

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The large plants you see in the bed are New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins.  We grew this type last year and got 19 pumpkins out this small area.  There are also 3 kinds of peppers in the background, and green beans in the foreground.

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The brown plants in the back of this bed are my garlic.  They look bad, but seem to be growing well.  There are also three types of flowers, mustard greens, kohlrabi, and some kind of cauliflower.

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This is my long bed.  It has a number of things planted in it. Unfortunately, this one got dug up pretty badly twice.  I probably lost the carrots I planted in here and some of the green and wax beans.

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My 7 year old’s garden bed is growing like mad.  Some of his corn plants have corn on the stalks already.  Earlier this week I harvested two of his beets to make room for the other beets.  One of his cauliflowers was eaten by caterpillars so I replaced it with two chard plants that I bought.  His other cauliflower is getting chewed up by caterpillars too, even though I try to look for bugs to kill on it every day.

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My thirteen year old’s garden bed is also growing well.  His corn is also starting to have fruit on it.  His cilantro didn’t like the mid 90s temperatures from the weekend and looks like it wants to bolt.  Cilantro is very heat sensitive, which I find interesting because it seems only be eaten in places where it is warm.  His Black King Pansies have started to bloom a little.

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Here are some pictures of a tomato plant since that is what my mom and my wife really want me to grow.

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There isn’t much growing right now that we can eat, since I didn’t do well in the transition from winter to spring.  There are a few things that I was able to pick.

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Chioggia Beets

 

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Arugula (rocket)
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Pok Choy

This afternoon we had a decent sized California Kingsnake on our driveway.  I wasn’t able to get much pictures or video of it since it quickly slithered into our ivy.  There are a number of gopher holes near the snake, so I really hope the snake slaughters some gophers.

 

I hope that everyone that read through all this enjoyed the pictures, and I hope your planting endeavors are doing well.

-Joshua

Wednesday in the Garden: 05/17/2017

Today our second oldest child turned 10 years old. Having two kids in double digits makes me start to feel old.

We have had great weather the last week here in San Diego county. Traditionally the month of May is cool and has many overcast days. It is often called May gray, and that is followed by June gloom. The last few years we have not had May gray, but instead very hot weather. In fact, last year there was even some large wildfires in May. This year we are experiencing May gray, and even have had rain this month.

This is great weather for my plants. There is a perfect blend of low 70s temperatures, sun, and some natural dampness.

The pomegranate tree continues to flower.  Many of the older flowers have started to turn into fruit.  I think we are going to have many more pomegranates then we did last year.

I am finally getting somewhere with my tomatoes.  I lost many plants to pill bugs and had to start over.  In one of the pictures there is a clear plastic cup.  I had to put those over some of my seedlings to protect them from the bugs.  Eventually, I had to resort to using a little bug spray to thin their numbers.  In large numbers, pill bugs are seriously destructive to young plants.

I have a large artichoke plant growing in my yard.  It is a volunteer from my neighbors garden.  I have had many of the plants grow in the last few years, but didn’t know what they are so I pulled them up.  I really wish I had know what they were before.

The plants in my 8 year old’s garden bed are growing well.  He had one cauliflower plant get eaten by tiny green caterpillars, so I replaced those with some store bought chard.

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Somehow I got my thumb in the picture of my 13 year old’s garden.  His is also growing well, even the petunias are looking healthy.

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My newly minted 10 year old’s garden is starting to make a comeback.  His has been the bad luck garden bed.  First we had the miscommunication where he cut back most of the plants.  Then he had bug issues requiring more replanting.  I also put some chard and store bought flowers in his bed.

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My own garden beds are finally planted.  I am starting to see seedlings poking through the ground.  Since I got a late start, I planted mostly things that can deal with the heat that could show up at any time.  As the plants take on their individual characteristics I will put pictures of them up.

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I had to trim a few branches off my lemon tree so I could have a shed put in the driveway.  Since it is lemon season for this tree we now have many lemons.  Soon we will have many times this number ripe and needing to be used.  I think we need to do some lemon themed recipes.

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I also was able to harvest a few Pok Choy, strawberries and chives.  I am thinking a stirfry using the Pok Choy and chives would be good.  The strawberries are already gone.

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Happy growing to all my fellow gardeners.

-Joshua

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