Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Accidental Garden

It was a totally unexpected garden. I wasn’t planning it, but I always wanted to have one when the time was right. Sometimes things happen that are not part of your agenda in life and you have to adapt and be ready to take on new responsibilities.  Fortunately the reward at the end is worth all the nurturing and hard work. Yes, I am still talking tomatoes and cucumbers and how I got my accidental garden.
I felt obligated to the little homeless plants and decided that if they wanted to live they would have to survive in the untilled, untreated, unfertilized, boring rocky soil in my front yard. Some went in large containers, some went in the flower bed and many were relegated to the pathetic soil on the slope of the side yard. The seedlings arrived unmarked from an excess purchase a dear friend made and didn’t have space for in her garden.  I didn’t have a clue what half the plants were that were being haphazardly planted in the ground. But they grew indeed: tomatoes, yellow squash, cantaloupe, spaghetti squash, peppers and lots and lots of cucumbers. And they made me excited, so I ran out and bought a few more. Soon four tomato plants turned into a dozen, hot peppers join the sweet and I couldn’t forget a hopeful (and still struggling) pumpkin vine while I was at it.
I began plans to expand next year. No space was safe. Fences would have to go up and irrigation lines put in. Maybe berries and corn and peach trees! I even fantasized about my own beehives and chicken coops. No doubt it’s fabulous to know where your food comes from and the can-do spirit is addictive, but seriously! I have my hands full already and am thoroughly content in this year’s crop. Besides, I discovered some local farms that have a done a fabulous job for me! Sometimes, though, all it takes is one homegrown tomato to help you discover your inner pioneer spirit!
So when life gives you unexpected cucumbers, what better thing to do than make pickles! Here’s my simple version of a popular recipe. I’ve played around with it this summer several times and find that I like the dried dill better than fresh and some white wine vinegar adds just the right vinegar taste. I don’t like it too sweet either and many recipes call for much more sugar. It’s your call on that one. If you have other veggies, you can throw them in, too. I love to add hot or sweet peppers. My favorite thing to serve with this many pickles? Slow cooked barbeque pulled pork. Sweet and sour go great together!

Refrigerator Pickles

3 large pickles, approximately 2 cups sliced
2 c. water
¾ c. white vinegar
¾ c. white wine vinegar
¼ c. sugar
1 Tbs. rock sea salt or kosher salt

(reduce to 1/2 Tbs table salt if substituting)
1 Tbs dried dill
1Tbs dill seed
1Tbs mustard seed

Start by mixing ¼ c. boiling water with the salt and sugar to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and store in fridge for at least a couple hours to marinate. They are certainly better after 24 hours. Many recipes claim they are good for weeks in the fridge, but I wouldn’t know because they never last that long! So give it a try. Change it up a bit if you like. Make it yours, but just make it!


  1. My husband is really into gardening and I love eating the results! So much fun!

  2. Wow, pickles have been a fave of mine this pregnancy, and those look soooo good. Makes me wish I could garden, but it's not pretty when I try.

  3. What an awesome story of the tenacious nature of plants. I'm afraid the only ones we have here are cactus and mesquite trees. LOL But your recipe looks delish!

  4. thanks for sharing the pickle recipe...i'll have to try them!

  5. Yum! My mom use to can cucumbers when I was younger. This so reminds me of my childhood:)

  6. We "made" pickles with the boys this year by cutting up our cucumber and putting in an old pickle jar where we saved the juice our store bought pickles came in. It was quite a hit.