The end of the gardening season is nearly here.

I’m always a bit sad when such time comes. It’s been a great growing year for many crops, particularly pumpkins and winter squash, as well as a summer squash plant that seeded itself and then proceeded to produce dozens and dozens of patty pan summer squashes.

Every gardening year is different from any of the others.

This year, of course, produced tons of squashes and more corn than I can preserve. My arms have been full of fresh produce for whomever I might meet.

I’m not complaining, of course, but if I can’t preserve it or give it away and it goes to waste, I do feel badly.

Still in the ground are the beets and carrots. They will remain there until the first couple of frosts, then will be pulled and stored in a cool, dry place for use throughout the fall and winter.

Some beets will be pickled for a condiment to accompany meats and poultry.

Carrots, which remain fresh for several months when stored properly, will be used in soups and stews, or roasted, then topped with parsley, butter, salt and pepper.

Since I don’t grow all that many carrots, one or both the vegetable crispers in the refrigerator are usually enough space to store them.

I usually dig up one of my parsley plants, either curly or flat leaf, put it in a large pot and place it on the front porch. Because parsley can withstand many frosts, I usually have fresh parsley for use in soups or stews until Christmas. It’s so much fun to reach out the front door and clip what is needed.

Parsley is easily frozen, too, and tastes nearly as good as fresh when used in soups and stews. I usually cut it up and squeeze as much air out of the freezer bags as possible. It will remain good for up to a year. I’m a big fan of parsley because it is filled with lots of vitamin A.

Beets may also be stored in the fridge or a dry, cool place, but I often can a few jars as well as make pickled beets and can them. (See the tried and true recipe I use, on this page.)

While pulling beets and starting to clean up the garden, also remove as much of the dead garden debris as possible. Start a compost pile with this, if one isn’t already established. The compost that results will make a great addition to next year’s garden.

Late September is also the time to divide bearded irises and day lilies, or to plant some of these. Or perhaps plant some daffodil and tulip bulbs.

Also ready for preserving are myriad apple varieties popping up at farm stands and trucks along the side of the road. Be sure to buy some of these wonderfully flavorful fruits to eat out of hand or to make into pies and crisps.

As September comes to an end, try to reassess what has been planted and how well or poorly a particular crop may have done. This is a good time to have the garden soil tested so that amendments can be made and the soil will be ready for next season.

And most of all, be thankful for all the abundance the magical earth has provided.

Eileen M. Adams has been gardening and preserving for years. She is always amazed at the abundance the earth gives. She may be reached at [email protected]

Eileen’s pickled beets

Makes 6 pints

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons pickling spices (such as a combination of peppercorns, ground ginger, whole allspice or broken cinnamon sticks)

2.5 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

10 cups prepared beets

Procedure:

Tie pickling spices in a cheesecloth.

In a large stainless steel pot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and spice bag.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove spice bag and add prepared beets. Stir and heat in the pickling liquid for a few minutes to ensure the beets are hot.

Ladle beets into clean, hot Mason jars to within a half-inch of the top. Pour pickling juice over beets, again leaving a half-inch of headroom. Wipe rims.

Place lids on jars, then screw on the bands.

Place jars in a hot water bath, being sure that the jars are covered with water.

Bring to a boil and process for 30 minutes.

Let jars sit in canner for 5 minutes or so, then remove jars. Let cool, then label and store.

To prepare beets: Wash well, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Run beets under cool water. Slip off skins. Leave whole if small, cut into quarters or slices if large.


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