Butternut Squash for Northern Gardens

I was pleasantly surprised, no make that ecstatic with the Canesi Hybrid Butternut Squash I planted last year. I ordered it from Jung’s kind of on a whim, since I had given up on growing butternuts in my northern zone 3 garden. In the past, there just wasn’t enough season to get these to mature, at least not in my garden. But lo and behold, the Canesi matured–and how! The largest one grew to 13 inches. This was during a season where my pumpkins didn’t fare so well. I didn’t do much special, except I planted them in a shallow hole I amended with compost; I fertilized and side dressed with 12-12-12. Not only were they big, but prolific, yielding about five fruit from each plant, not bad for here in the north.

The flesh of the Canesi is almost banana yellow, with a mild flavor that is enhanced with a few seasonings. We’ve boiled it so far, but will try baking it. I’m interested in seeing how long it will keep. Canesi for Christmas dinner?

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Plant a pencil? A lollipop?

Here are a couple of items I ran across that are intended to get kids interested in gardening and eating healthy vegetables. They should be of interest to parents and teachers.

Plant a Lollipop?

The first one is VeggiePOPS™. This looks like a lollipop and even has the colored wrappings on each different VeggiePOP™. But don’t eat it! Inside is 3-4 seeds of easy-to-grow vegetables and a little seed starting mix and nutrients to get it off to a good start. VeggiePOPS™ comes with online instructions and a full scale teacher’s curriculum, called Bloomers Island, to help youngsters (and adults) learn more about gardening and achieve gardening success. They also sell VeggiePOTS™, growing containers made from recycled plastic bottles, which  you can use to start the seeds in. The EarthBox® kit, which has been around a while now and sells for about $55, will also work well for growing the vegetables.VEGGIEPOPSSTAND-300dpi

The VeggiePOPS™ are really catching on, according to Cynthia Wylie, Founder and CEO of VeggiePOPS™ and Bloomers Island. VeggiePOPS™ and Bloomer Island is designed to get kids interested in gardening and not see it as a chore.

“Our whole goal was to make gardening as fun and as easy as possible,” says Wylie.        VeggiePOPS™ come in 6 different “flavors,” including Swiss chard, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, summer squash, and bush beans.

Wylie says this is the first generation of kids with a life expectancy less than the previous generation. She thinks this is due, in part, to diet and kids having a more sedentary lifestyle as a result of playing video games and such. Gardening will not only get the kids on their feet, they’ll get eating better.

“Less than ⅓ of kids eat more than one serving of vegetables a day,” says Wylie.

She says they have found that kids will eat vegetables they grow themselves. Parents are very excited about this, which is also driving sales of the product.

“It’s a taste of gardening,” says Wylie. “And invariably what happens is there are a couple of kids in every class that become obsessed with it and those are the kids that you want to encourage, they’re the ones that are going to be the AG majors of tomorrow.”

VeggiePOPS™ sell for $3.99 each or $20 for a package of 6. You can find out more about VeggiePOPS™ and the learning curriculum, which includes a poster that you and your grandchild can use to track the growth of your vegetables, at bloomersisland.com.

Plant a Pencil?

Here is a product that is intended to get kids interested in gardening and start thinking about conserving natural resources. It’s called the Sprout Pencil. It’s a lead-free eco-friendly pencil made of biodegradable ticonderoga cedar. Contained in the top capsule are seeds for different vegetables, herbs, and flowers. When the pencil is down to a nub the capsule is removed and planted. There are over 12 different Sprout Pencils, including colored pencils for drawing, that contain seed for growing herbs, vegetables, and flowers.

Sprout Europe new3619_highres

The idea for the Sprout Pencil originated at MIT, where students were looking to create a sustainable product for children. The MIT students formed a company around their invention and then sold it to an investor in Denmark. The rest, as they say, is history. They now sell over 450,000 of the pencils per month both here and abroad.

“For every tree that is used to make a Sprout Pencil, we plant another one,” says Ed Goldman, who is in charge of North American sales for Sprout World, the parent company. “The nice thing about the Sprout Pencil is they don’t end up in landfills like other writing utensils.”

Sprout World also sells what they call Tiny Gardens, which are shallow containers made from recycled cardboard. Instead of a potting type soil, the Tiny Gardens contain a fibrous hemp mat, which is used to start the seeds of basil, broccoli, cress, radish, and sunflower.

You can also grow microgreens in the Tiny Gardens. Microgreens became popular in the 1980’s among chefs in California. Micro-greens are small plants, which you harvest as soon as they have developed their first set of true leaves. The stem is longer than normal, because micro-greens are grown for a short, intensive period, during which the stems strive for sunlight.

All of these products, including the Sprout Pencil, can be ordered via Amazon. Check for them also in your local garden center. They’ve been featured on CNN and the Today Show, so they could end up in a store near you. You can also go to Sproutworld.com for more information about their products and to find a store.




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Reasons to garden, for those who need a few!

Why Garden? The National Garden Bureau’s Top Ten

Cell phones, tablets, and Fit Bits have become the tools of our modern lives. But it wasn’t that long ago that a shovel, a patch of soil and a bag of seeds were the only tools needed to provide sustenance and satisfaction. Gardening was a part of daily life. Ask any gardener today why they garden and you’ll get a variety of reasons why it’s important to them.thumbnail (3)

1. Garden for safe, healthy food.

Reports of food-borne illnesses and contamination regularly appear in the news media. Growing concerns about pesticides in our food supply have led to an increased interest in organic gardening and availability of organic produce. Processed foods contain additives and preservatives that many consumers want to avoid. The National Garden Bureau believes an easy solution is to grow your own vegetables. It’s estimated that during WWII, 20 million homeowners had Victory Gardens that produced close to 40% of the fresh vegetables consumed in the United States. Start your own garden and know the food you’re eating is fresh and safe with fantastic flavor not always found in grocery store produce.

2. Garden for exercise.

Tired of the gym routine? Get a good workout without even thinking about it. Gardening activities provide both cardio and aerobic exercise. Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 300 calories for women, almost 400 calories for men. For older people, especially women, gardening can help reduce osteoporosis. Mowing the grass is like taking a vigorous walk, bending and stretching to plant a garden compares to an exercise class, while hauling plants and soil is similar to weightlifting. Adaptive tools help those whose physical limitations prevent some activities. And after you’re finished, you see immediate results in your garden even as your physical health improves—without being bored.

3. Garden to add beauty.

A house with a nice yard is a pleasure to look at and satisfying to live in. Your home can be made more inviting simply by adding a container of colorful flowers near the front door. Herbs in the kitchen add freshness to the room, as well as flavor to daily meals. Trees and shrubs not only provide color and shade, but shelter for birds and wildlife. Think of the garden as another room to be enjoyed whether you are inside or outside the house.

4. Garden to learn.

Gardeners find that the more they learn about plants and gardening, the more they want to know. Problems with insects or spots on leaves provide the opportunity to find out the cause and understand how to keep plants healthy. Moving to a new house may mean leaving favorite plants but also provides the opportunity to discover new plants and growing conditions. There are a variety of ways to increase gardening know-how such as seminars, Master Gardener programs, vo-tech courses and formal degree programs at a college or university.

5. Garden to make money.

For some people gardening is a lifelong hobby. For others, the love of plants can lead to a rewarding job at a local garden center, a large global company, or even owning their own business. A garden can be a source of flowers, vegetables, herbs, and other crops that can be sold at local farmer’s markets and roadside stands. And whether you live in your dream home or plan on moving soon, gardening adds value to your property. Real estate agents estimate that attractive landscaping increases a home’s value by as much as 15%. It also creates interest in the house and can mean the difference between a potential buyer simply driving by or stopping to take a closer look.

6. Garden to meet people.

Gardening is a great way to expand your social circle. Whether it’s with someone who lives down the street or halfway around the world on the Internet, gardeners love to talk about plants. Surplus tomatoes, a bouquet of flowers, or an extra plant, are gifts to be shared with friends and neighbors. Meeting other gardeners through garden clubs, plant organizations, and gardening websites is an easy way to share information, ask questions and get involved.

7. Garden to be creative.

Gardening provides an outlet for creative and artistic expression. A garden’s design can reflect a personal sense of style such as a romantic cottage garden or a peaceful Japanese garden, as well as provide a showcase for art and sculpture. Like to try something new? With the wide variety of seeds and plants available in garden centers, it’s easy to experiment with new plants or change a garden’s color scheme every year.

8. Garden to win.

For people with a competitive streak, gardening is a friendly way to show off their skills. Garden clubs regularly have shows that highlight the best flowers grown by local gardeners. County and state fairs provide an opportunity to show everyone the giant pumpkin, beautiful beans or luscious tomatoes harvested from the garden. Competitive gardening is not only fun and interesting, there can even be national recognition and financial rewards.

9. Garden for emotional needs and spiritual connections.

Gardens play an important part in our well being. A garden might serve as a tranquil retreat or private escape from the demands of everyday life. The beauty of flowers can lift spirits, while pulling weeds can be a great release for stress and excess energy. A harvest of colorful flowers or tasty vegetables provides a sense of achievement and feelings of success, while neighbors and visitors often express their appreciation of those efforts.

On a higher level, gardening provides a spiritual connection to life. It’s a miracle to take a tiny seed, nurture it, and watch it grow into a beautiful flower or delicious food for your table. Tending a garden also contributes to improving your own living space, the environment and our planet.

10. Garden for lasting memories.

Yards that once grew gardens have been replaced with hot tubs and driveways. Today’s kids are missing the joy of cutting a bouquet of flowers for their mom or tasting the sweetness of a cherry tomato picked right from the plant. Gardening is a fun activity that can be shared with children and grandchildren, even if the garden is a single container or small spot in the yard. And a garden provides a beautiful way to remember a special person or time of life.augsept09-028


The National Garden Bureau encourages you to discover your own reason to become a gardener. And forget that excuse about not having enough time. Gardening takes less time than that new television show and is much easier than getting a new video game to work on your computer. Whatever reason appeals to you, gardening is a satisfying activity that provides a lifetime of benefits.

We credit Janis Kieft as the author of this article.

Photos from the collection of Neil Moran

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The possibilities offered by a few seed catalogs


I went through the seed catalogs for the first time today. It’s a spring ritual to sit down and seriously ponder the possibility that spring will arrive while choosing what I think will be the best tomatoes and peppers to start inside while the snow is still deep outside

It’s an easy decision. Celebrity tomato and New Ace peppers will make the cut for sure. They always do well in the short season zone and perhaps speak to the predictability I want for my own life. Control? That may be too powerful of a word. Let’s leave it at predictability. More like knowing each day the sun will come up–each year I’m pretty much assured I’ll have some red ripe tomatoes and a boat load of petite, but delicious bell peppers.

After I get that out of the way I can ease out of my comfort zone and look at some other possibilities. The possibility that other varieties of tomatoes and peppers may give good results as well, the possibility that maybe some day we really will get to spend a couple of months away from this snow and cold. Oh, the possibilities!

I like the possibilities that the seed catalogs hold for gardeners in the northern region. Like those new meaty egg plants from Burpees, Meatball Hybrid. Is there still be a possibility I can grow an eggplant here in the short zone 4 season?thumbnail With the weather trending toward an early spring this year and the possibility that I really will get that portable hoophouse up this year, it really could happen. Anything is possible.

There are many varieties of vegies that are possible to grow here in the north. Just make sure you do your homework and order or purchase varieties suitable to the region. Most of the root crops and lettuce greens do well, as do the cool tolerant cole crops, like cabbage and broccoli. Warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers and most of the vine crops will require a little more research on growing requirements. If you’re in the cool Upper Midwest make sure to order vine crops, like squash, pumpkin, and, watermelon, that require no more than 75 days to maturity, unless you have something like a hoophouse or low tunnel to extend the season.images (1)lowtunnel

Approximate dates to start the following crops indoors: tomatoes and peppers (March 15-April 1); cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce (April 1-April 31); Vine crops, cukes, squash, watermelon (April 15-May 15).

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What plants can teach us

Humankind has explored the secrets of plants ever since a caveman saw a plant growing outside of his cave. We’ve discovered the culinary, medical, psychotropic, and the practical use of plants to make things like dyes and clothing from plants.Sprout Europe new3619_highres
However, we’ve largely ignored the life lessons that can be learned from plants. By their very nature plants can show us the way to patience, love, hope, perseverance, and even help guide us as we get older. At least that’s the premise of Gina Mohammed’s delightful little book, Catnip and Kerosene Grass.
Here are a few plants Mohammed talks about and the lessons she says they teach us about the world at large.

Islaya Cactus

The Islaya cactus lives in very dry deserts near the Pacific Ocean. Years may pass with very little rain, the plant surviving off the scant mists that reach it from the ocean. Yet it survives and occasionally even blooms with bright, yellow flowers. Mohammed says we have something to learn from the Islaya cactus: persevere, she says, when we experience our own drought of inspiration, ideas, and hope. Like the scant mist that sustains this cactus, we need to look for the smallest of signs of hope when times are tough.

Trees of the forest

A mature forest represents generations of growth, change and adaptation. Left to their own devices, trees can overcome the worst calamities without our intervention.
For example, after a fire or being clear-cut by loggers, seedlings of Jack pine, birch, and aspen quickly emerge. In the years ahead pine, spruce and hemlock will rise above the forest undergrowth of ferns, mosses, and the berries that offer food for wildlife.
You should take great pride in the contribution you’ve made to the generations that have followed you. Your solid advice, guidance, and giving spirit will help the next generation of men and women grow strong and tall.

Partridge pea

Out on the prairies there is a wildflower called the partridge pea. Though it has lovely bright yellow flowers, they are often hidden under foliage. It is also a sensitive plant; its leaves quickly fold when touched. Do you know people with these traits? They have a story to tell or a gift to give, but are reserved and shy. This person could be your grandchild or a neighbor. Perhaps if you take the time to listen to them they may well blossom.

Be kind and careful

Did you know that a plant can sense when it is being eaten? Scientists believe plants are capable of knowing when it is about to be munched on and raises its defenses accordingly. If we think about it, don’t we put up our defenses when our life is being threatened or when we simply want to be careful walking across a busy street? Take a cue from nature and become aware of your surroundings and be careful!

Kerosene grass

In the Australian outback there is a peculiar weed called kerosene grass, named for its extreme flammability when dry. An outback trick is to moisten its fruit in your mouth and then shove it part way into the sand. Immediately, it starts to swirl, burrowing the seed base into the ground. It does this by employing a clever method whereas stringy strands within the seed structure relax and unwind. This is an ingenious method of reseeding itself after a rain.
When our daily lives become very hectic do we sometimes work ourselves into a tizzy. When this happens let’s be like kerosene grass and unwind from all that stress.

Let’s learn to work together

Like Mohammed, Michael Pollan, author of Botany of Desire, moves beyond the obvious uses of plants and explores, what you might call the “plant psychic.” In a similar way to Mohammed, Pollan’s thoughts on plants transcend the status quo. He postulates in his book that we’re not the conquerors of the plant world like we think we are. In fact, plants actually manipulate us into propagating the species. In his book he writes about potatoes, apples, and cannabis and shows that these plant do their best to draw attention to themselves so we’ll not only keep growing them, but improve the species along the way. It seems to be working! Life lesson? Learn to let go, we’re not always in charge.

Neil Moran is a freelance writer/copywriter. His business website can be found at Green Industry Writer. 


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Amazing new vegetable varieties for 2016

Next to actually gardening, I enjoy going over the spring seed catalogs as they arrive. It certainly helps beat the winter blues and it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s garden.

Here are a few things I’d like to share from the catalogs I’ve been browsing through the last few days, including a great sale.

Yes, Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. is offering 50% off everything in their catalog, including online sales. But you must hurry, as marketers like to say, the offer won’t last (you must order by 2/10/2016). I’ve taken advantage of this offer before and I’ll tell you it’s a good way to get some items on the cheap.

New This Year

I don’t know how they keep coming up with new items in these seed catalogs, knowing how long it takes to breed new plants. But they do and they’re worth a look. Usually, plant breeders are trying to improve on taste, yield, disease resistance and even appearance.



courtesy Burpees

Burpees is one of the leaders in plant breeding and have come up with a new eggplant, “Meatball Hybrid,” which is being hailed as a meat substitute, that is, it is filling and has the texture of meat without the fat or calories. They’ve come up with a new tomato to serve with it, “Madame Marmande Hybrid.” My mouth is watering as I look at the picture of this combination being served with chives sprinkled over top.

blueberries, Razz, Burpees

courtesy Burpees

Burpees is also offering a new blueberry, called “Razz,” which is hardy to zone 4 and has a hint of raspberry flavor to it. While you’re at it, check out Sweet Kiss, a patio type strawberry that produces a lot of berries.

I’ve really come to like Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They’ve been around now since 1973. I feel confident that everything they sell has been tested not only in their test plots, but by other gardeners and market growers. If you’ve had trouble growing anything in the garden, especially crops like cauliflower and Brussel sprouts, check out their catalog. They offer a large selection for different growing conditions and provide detailed growing instructions.


courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds


courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds

New this year from Johnny’s is a basil called Elidia, a container basil that also will do well in a raised bed garden. They’re also offering a new strawberry, Albion. Albion is a hardy strawberry with good disease resistance and fruits the first year, according to Johnny’s. Fidelio parsley is another newbie to check out. They say it’s a compact plant with large leaves for harvest. And if you’re looking for a smaller spaghetti squash, a “personal size,” look no further than Angel Hair. This new variety of one of my favorite vegetables is excellent for a one or two person household. I suspect it was bred to fulfill a demand for a smaller variety of spaghetti squash.

Seeds in bulk


courtesy AAS

If you’re growing for the farmer’s market or need a good deal on a larger quantity of seed, take a look at the 2016 HPS catalog. I like to grow about 100 Celebrity tomato plants for myself and to give away. I’ve found HPS has the best deal for the larger quantity I need. They also have some new products this year, including Spineless Perfection zucchini; Artwork Hybrid, an AAS winning broccoli, and Hestia Hybrid Brussel Sprouts, also an AAS winner. If you’re new to AAS, it stands for All American Selections. I’ve found these vegetables really do live up to the hype. The AAS varieties I’ve grown, which have included Celebrity tomato and Jasper cherry tomatoes, have all been prolific producers of diseased-free fruit.

Well, I hope this has stimulated your desire to get started gardening, at least on paper. If you have any suggestions for new varieties or other comments, please leave them below.



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More than a bulb planter


 5-IN-1 Landscape Plugger

I started planting bulbs using the Proplugger 5-1 a few years ago. I haven’t had to get down on my hands and knees to plant bulbs since.

With this simple tool you can remove the soil from a standing position, drop the bulb in the hole, and then release the soil back into the hole.

The Proplugger 5-1 can also be used to repair lawns by removing a sprig of healthy grass from one area and patching a poorly developed area of lawn in another area. The idea is that the sprigs of grass that are used to patch a bare spot will eventually fill in an area. The tool works great for that and even comes with expandable peat pucks that are used to help root the sprigs.

You might say you get a pretty good bang for your buck from the Proplugger 5-1. This is  a great Christmas idea for the favorite gardener in your life.

You can find out more about the Proplugger 5-1 and access videos and information on planting different types of flower bulbs at Proplugger.com.

Merry Christmas and happy planting.

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Gotham Greens Expands Their Rooftop Gardens To Chicago



Aerial view of Gotham Greens’ 75,000 sq ft rooftop greenhouse located in Chicago’s south side Pullman neighborhood. At nearly two acres, the greenhouse is the ‘World’s Largest’ Rooftop Farm, producing over 10 million annual crops while employing over 50 workers. Gotham Greens is the largest urban agriculture company in the world with facilities in New York and Chicago. Photo Credit: Gotham Greens/ McShane Fleming Studio.

Brooklyn, NY (November 19, 2015) – The pioneers behind the nation’s first commercial urban hydroponic greenhouses are now builders of one of the world’s largest. Today, Gotham Greens announced their biggest and most ambitious expansion to date with a brand new facility, located in the historic Pullman area on Chicago’s South side.

Gotham Greens’ fourth greenhouse facility represents a massive expansion for the company, and its first outside of New York. The state of the art, 75,000 sq ft Chicago greenhouse, located on the rooftop of Method Products manufacturing facility, is powered by 100% renewable energy, employs over 50 workers, many from the Pullman community, will produce nearly 10 million annual crops of local, premium-quality, pesticide-free, leafy greens and herbs.

“With more than $1 billion in venture capital invested in the city in 2014, Chicago continues to emerge as the country’s newest hot spot for innovation and growing companies,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Gotham Greens’ expansion means even more jobs and investment in the Pullman neighborhood; and through cutting-edge agricultural innovation they will provide fresh, healthy and locally-grown foods to residents across Chicago.”

Gotham Greens’ local produce will be available in select national and local retailers across the Chicagoland area including Whole Foods Market, Peapod, Treasure Island, Sunset Foods, Plum Market, Target, and others. In addition, the company has partnered on programs with various Chicago institutions including the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Greater Roseland West Pullman Food Network, Pilot Light, Chicago Botanical Garden’s Windy City Harvest and more.

“We’re proud to expand our footprint and bring Gotham Greens’ award-winning local produce into a new market, particularly Chicago, which is not only where I spent my early childhood, but also currently, perhaps, the most exciting city for culinary innovation, green development and urban farming,” said Gotham Greens co-founder and CEO Viraj Puri. “We’re especially proud to bring so many new jobs to the Pullman area, while also helping to make the local food system healthier and more ecologically sustainable.”

Through their unique brand of urban agriculture, now spanning two major cities, Gotham Greens’ expert growers are able to produce the highest quality vegetables all year round—including in the dead of winter. Sophisticated computer control systems continually adjust the greenhouse environment to ensure optimal growing conditions all year round. For Chicagoans, this means premium-quality, hyper-local produce that often hits store shelves and restaurant plates the very same day it’s harvested, 365 days a year.

“Above all else we are focused on growing the freshest, best tasting produce available,” said Gotham Greens’ Chief Agriculture Officer, Jennifer Nelkin Frymark. “Our commitment to quality and growing excellence is best illustrated by Gotham Greens’ new and long standing relationships with the nation’s best retailers and Michelin rated restaurants committed to providing their customers with the freshest and finest ingredients possible.”

Gotham Greens’ proprietary growing methods yield up to 30 times more crop per acre than field production, enabling the Pullman greenhouse to produce yields equivalent to over 50 acres of conventional field production. Because Gotham Greens recycles 100% of its irrigation water, it also uses 10 times less water than conventional agriculture (while also eliminating all agricultural runoff – one of the leading causes of global water pollution).By growingly locally, Gotham Greens eliminates the food waste and environmental footprint linked to shipping produce long distances.

Gotham Greens, based in Brooklyn, NY, has over 115 full-time team members and is growing rapidly, with projects under development in cities across the U.S. “We’ve raised over $30 million since launching in 2009,” said Gotham Greens co-founder and CFO, Eric Haley. “We now have four operational greenhouse facilities across two cities totaling 170,000 sq ft. This makes us the largest and most commercially successful urban agriculture company in the world.”


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Tomato ripening tip

It’s getting cooler and wetter here in the north country. If that is the case where you garden, pick your tomatoes when they just start to turn orangish-yellow. Bring them inside and place in a south or east facing window or other warm location in your home. By picking them before they are fully ripe you lessen the risk they’ll rot on the advice and I really don’t think it affects the flavor much.tomatoripening

Also, even if there isn’t rain in the forecast, if it is late August and you still have a lot of green tomatoes quit watering and feeding. This will also help hasten ripening. A last resort is to take the plant by the trunk or stalk and give it a sharp pull upward. This will place the plant on pause growing wise and initiate ripening of the fruit.

And don’t forget to check out my (actually my wife’s) salsa to die for recipe in the previous blog.

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Salsa to die for

IMG_2535My mother used do to say “I think we hit a lick” when something went particularly well. She taught my wife a lot about canning produce and would have surely uttered these words if she were to taste our salsa. I’ve shared our salsa with friends and neighbors and even the guys who keep my car running and they keep asking for more. So with no further ado I’m giving away our recipe, one that we’ve affectionately dubbed “Soo Salsa,” because it is made and distributed in the Soo, short for Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.Please bear in mind that the key to good salsa is in using fresh vegetables, particularly tomatoes.

Soo Salsa (enough for 17 pints)

30 medium and large tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 green bell peppers

2 red bell peppers

10 cups chopped onions

10 cloves garlic, sliced

4-5 chopped yellow banana peppers or 1 cup jalapenos, seeded

½-3/4 cup sugar

2 cups vinegar

8 teaspoons pickling or kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

3 cans tomato paste

Combine above ingredients and simmer 90 minutes, stirring often. At the end, add ½ bunch chopped parsley or cilantro. Ladle ingredients into sterilized jars and process 35 minutes for pints or 45 minutes for quarts. Follow usual canning procedures. Or, freeze in plastic freezer containers or bags.

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