Some of my fondest memories growing up revolve around my grandmother’s kitchen and garden. I can still see and smell the fresh vegetables on their way to soups or preserves or just a big pot steaming away with a myriad of possibilities.
She also had a root cellar with shelves of rainbow-colored jars ready to remind us of summer in the cold winter days. Eating a luscious purple beet or fruity, flavorful jelly awakened the taste buds and made a meal seem like a celebration.
I carry on that tradition in a small way growing mostly cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. When everything ripens around the same time (which can result in random zucchini drops) you look for methods to preserve it. Making refrigerator dill pickles to give away as Christmas presents is one of my favorite pursuits.
If you are a beginning canner, there is an article in the August-September library magazine “Mary Jane’s Farm” that gives you a basic guide on canning procedures by Sundari Elizabeth Kraft.
Just looking at the photographs in the book “The Art of Preserving,” by Lisa Atwoow, Rebecca Courchesne and Rick Field, will make you want to buy a flat of something so you can enjoy making the recipes. They also cover the basics of home canning, fruit spreads and pickling.
If you think there must be a limit to what you can pickle, you will change your mind after poring through “The Joy of Pickling – 200 Flavor-Packed Recipes for All Kinds of Produce from Garden or Market” by Linda Ziedrich.
Another method of preservation is drying your food. Author Mary T. Bell has taken a rather unique approach with her book “Food Drying with an Attitude – a Fun and Fabulous Guide to Creating Snacks, Meals and Crafts.” It even includes recipes for making treats for dogs, cats and birds.
Check the library’s website, www.rapidcitylibrary.org, for more resources.
For excellent advice on all types of gardening, our own Rapid City Garden Club website, www.blackhillsgarden.com, has gathered links to cover everything from composting to handling the heat of August in your growing spaces.
If growing food is not an option and you want to find sources for healthy, locally grown food there are numerous farmer’s markets throughout the area. You can find a listing that includes times and place on the Dakota Local Food Network, https://dakotalocalfoodnetwork.com.
One of my favorite writers expresses how I feel about gardening:
“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.”
― Wendell Berry, "The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays"