Category Archives: Garden

Getting Into Hot Water

The rain here in northwest Georgia this year has been tremendous. The crops in my garden have not. A few tomatoes and a few bell peppers and some okra. Cucumbers? Pfft. Too much rain can definitely be a bad thing. (However, I am not complaining.  I love the rain.)  What do I have the most of? Hot peppers. They are thriving. The irony is, my family, nor I, don’t really eat a lot of hot peppers. Such is life. So, what to do? Give some away and can the rest.

About a week ago, I picked 50+ peppers- jalapeños and cow horns.  The jabaneros aren’t ready just yet. I knew this was going to be quite a task, as peppers are tricky to work with. 


The beginning of the crop.

The difficulty begins in the cutting. You must wear gloves for this and remember not to touch your face or skin! The capsaicin will get you for sure.  Peppers are much like onions, giving off vapors that can affect one’s eyes and breathing. I, of course, was no exception.  After about fifteen minutes, I had to crack the windows and back door to let some fresh air in. The coughing had commenced. Once the cutting was finished, I had to wipe down every surface I had come in contact with in the gloves.  The juice and seeds had managed to spread…

The jars were ready, the peppers went in, and the water bath began.  (10-15 min)


Jars filled, ready for the hot liquid.


Into the canner!

After 5 or 6 minutes, I could really smell the peppers in the air, which I thought was odd. Then I really started to sneeze and cough a great deal.  I glanced at the pot and saw a couple of seeds floating in the water, which was not good, but, curious. I stared to remove them, and saw a jar bobbing in the water! Thinking to myself, surely I didn’t not leave that much air space in the jar that it would float.  In all my years of canning, I have never experienced the problem shown below.  Two of my jars had broken on the bottom! The peppers were continuing to cook and the vapors were filling the air. Not sure why this happened.  I had the jars sitting on a rack, so that they were not touching the bottom of the pot. Funny thing is, I rarely use a rack on the bottom and have never had a problem.  One of life’s mysteries, I suppose.



So, I cleaned the jars off under hot running water and quickly brought a fresh batch of water to a boil. Plan B was to use a vegetable steamer in the bottom.  It worked like a charm and held the weight of the jars beautifully.


Plan B!


Finished product. Beauties!

In the end, the result was beautiful.  My eyes eventually stopped watering and my coughing and sneezing subsided. The peppers were so pretty and now I have lots of gifts to give.

Have you had a disaster in your kitchen this summer? Tell me about it!

Cheers, Olivia

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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Food, Garden, Kitchen


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Edible Schoolyard

Life Skills at work! I need to borrow your copy Jennie and give it a read. 🙂

Hippie Mothers Club

I just devoured the most delicious book, The Edible Schoolyard, about the journey of Alice Waters–Montessori teacher turned restaurant owner–as she transforms a vacant lot behind MLK Middle School in Berkeley CA into an edible oasis where children learn to grow crops, cook and eat together–the story told elegantly with gorgeous photographs. There’s more to it. I can’t do the book justice at all.

Of course, it is everything Reggio is about. In fact, it is the soil of the Reggio garden project turned even more deeply, grown wilder and allowed to reseed itself–with older children and higher stakes.

It got me thinking in goals. 1) Work in the garden with my children on our day off this Wednesday. 2) The school garden is where I belong–either at my own children’s schools or at a nearby public one.

Whereas I’m Christian and I don’t attend services on Yom Kippur…

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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Garden, Reblogged


July Harvest

When I was home at the cabin a couple of weeks ago, I saw lots of progress in the garden. The plants were bigger, the colors more vibrant, and the harvest was definitely underway. Okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, eggplant, squash, mystery vines, plus lots of herbs and flowers abounded. Seeing the fruits of one’s labor is so rewarding, especially in a situation like this.  We get to enjoy my family’s work for a year at a time.  Dad’s tilling and smoothing of the ground with the tractor, the work of mom’s planting, the excitement of the seeds peeking out of the ground, the joy of seeing color for the first time as the plants grow, the harvest, the preservation, and the best part- eating it all!


Here’s the picking from that day.

I’m excited to see the mystery vines getting bigger. These still look like pumpkins at about 6-7″ across. However, one of the other vines has one fruit that has turned a peachy blush color. Any ideas on these? They squaty tiny gourds have since disappeared, so I imagine that they grew into the pumpkins.


The mystery white pumpkins.


Oh wait! They’re getting darker! A peachy tone is developing on this vine.

We’ve had tons and tons of tomatoes come in. I took the ones that I picked that day and canned them. In all it was a quart, plus two pints. Not a huge amount, but I will be glad to have them in the fall come chili and vegetable soup time!


I love the rays of sun coming through this tomato vine.


Tommy Toes!

Having flowers in the middle of the vegetable garden is a nice addition.  Zinnias are a staple in our gardens and have been as long as I can remember.  They grow tall and proud and abundantly! It is one of the best flowers to keep handy for a quick bouquet.  With a mix of colors, you can go with warm colors or cool ones to compliment whatever setting you have.  They just make you smile!


Fuchsia has taken over this corner of the garden! Pretty, pretty tones.


My mom has always had zinnias in her gardens over the years.

Ah, my faithful garden friend, Willie.  Like many cats, he likes to know what you’re up to and get underfoot.  He’s always nosing around out here and loves to dig.  He often comes back to the cabin a much darker color than when he left.


Here comes Willie through the okra.

The turkeys were one of my favorite sights this weekend.  I see them on the property a good bit, but not usually right near the cabin.  Friday morning, there were two of them right outside the front of the cabin about fifteen or twenty feet away, clucking softly and scratching around. They stayed close for about three hours, but kept out of sight for the most part.  On Saturday morning, there were two families that came by.  Below is the first one.  It was a pair with six chicks! the picture is not dynamic and I wish it was better, but you can get the idea.  About three minutes later a mama and three chicks (a little older) walked by quickly into the trees.


Morning visitors! A pair and six babies.

Below are some jars of the tomatoes I picked.  I mixed the red and yellow together and think it turned out to be a good batch. I’ve also put up a ton of the cucumbers and will post separately about the experience with those.


What are you growing this year? Show me or Tweet me a pic @LifeSkillsLivi


Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Food, Garden, Pets, Plants


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June Harvest

This post is titled “June Harvest,” however as it is now the end of July, you can see that I did not get around to finishing this post until now. The good news here is that you don’t have to wait for an update. It will follow shortly! When I came home to the farm from Atlanta a few weeks ago, Mom had gotten an incredible garden started. In addition to that, there were some surprise plants sprouting!


Tons of strawberries in the raised beds.


My faithful garden helper, Willie.


Lots of tomatoes sprouting out.


I love the veil that asparagus makes during this stage. The plants are probably about 4.5′ tall.


There were so many cucumbers! Couldn’t pick fast enough.

We had three cucumber vines this year.  it was more than enough! We had cucumbers coming out of our ears.  I brought a huge amount of them back to Atlanta with me.  Out of those, I ended up making four different pickle recipes! There was relish, hot, sweet, and dill. I am planning to post photos and recipes from that. So, keep an eye out.


Surprise! This appeared in two places in the garden.

This was one of our surprise vines.  Looks like a pumpkin, just white.  Not sure what to make of it just yet.  I’m going to do a little research, but time will be the best indicator of what it is.


Another surprise! A gourd perhaps?

Here’s another surprise vine, and another white one at that.  These are small, about 3″ across.  They look like the decorative gourds seen in the fall.

Update and progress to follow soon. Can’t wait to see what comes out later in the summer.

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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Garden


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As an avid gardener, I thought this was pretty funny. It happens to all of us.


1. Weeds. I was going to say more about that but I think its pretty much wrapped up in the one word.

2. When little sticks and leaves fall down the gap in the back of your pants and gather in your undies. Please tell me that this happens to other people too…

3. Roundup weed killer on the sole of your gumboot. You’ll only discover this in a few days time when you’re wondering how the lawn got that weird pattern of dead spots.

4. When your gloves start to feel wet on the inside. Usually after some enthusiastic hose use. It just feels yucky, ok?

5. When you pull out a ‘weed’ only to discover that it was a keeper and you desperately shove it back in the ground, only to find it a few days later all limp and browning, making you suffer its slow death as…

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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Garden, Reblogged

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