Why we bought our All American Canner

Why we switched to an All American canner

Last year we retired our Presto canner and upgraded to the All American canner, model 930.  Our little Presto was a low end unit we bought at Walmart and it served us well.  That little Presto just wasn’t able to keep up with the amount of food we needed to put in our pantry.  As a result we needed to upgrade.

After watching lots of YouTube videos and reading more than a few blogs we decided on the All American model 930.  It is a 30 quart unit that can hold 19 pints or 14 quarts jars.  Canning 14 quarts of those green beans put a big dent in what we have picked for the day.

One good canning session with our All American model 930 would have required 2 sessions with our old  Presto.  While the 930 isn’t the largest model available, yet it still cut our time canning in half.  Additionally, the All American has a pressure gauge and is made in America.

 

30 quart all American pressure canner
This is a great choice for a dependable pressure canner

When we have a lot of canning to do we set up our canner outside.

 Can you use a pressure canner outside of your gardening season?

Absolutely you can.  If you catch a great bulk sale on meats, vegetables or anything else which you can pressure cook and add it to your pantry.

In addition to what you grow or raise at home, local stores will put items on clearance or have a bargain on  items like beans.  Use that All American canner, and get it added to your pantry.  Watch your local grocery stores for really great sales.  If you keep looking you can probably find enough sales to use your canner often.  Good luck and happy canning

Pressure canner setup outdoors

Setting up a pressure canner outside

A pressure canner like our All American is an invaluable tool for the self reliant gardener. When we have a large quantity of vegetables, like this mess of green beans, to can you’ll find our canning operation moved outdoors. To do this inside occupies the stove for the day and makes the AC work over time to remove all that extra heat and humidity coming off that pressure canner.

We setup our pressure canner is setup right outside the back door to allow us to sit inside enjoying the comfort of the AC while keeping an eye on the pressure gauge and the fire.  This makes it possible to continue our daily routine and still prepare meals in the kitchen.

 

Using a pressure canner on windy days

On especially windy days we do have to set up a wind block. A strong wind pushes the flame to one side of the pressure canner and makes controlling the temperature and pressure more challenging.  The wind makes it harder to get the canner up to operating temperature, that makes for a longer day of canning.  A strong wind will also cause you to burn more propane.

If its a windy day and you’ve got to put food in the pantry you can setup a wind break.  A crude frame with some sheet metal or even scrap lumber can be fashioned into a functional wind break

I had this camp stove out already but have also used a single burner fish/turkey fryer to run our All American pressure cooker. It’s closer to the ground and actually makes it easier to reach inside the pressure cooker to load it or pull out the finished product. The single burner is about half the cost of this two burner stove I’ve got in the picture below.

All American pressure canner setup outdoors for canning green beans
Pressure canner setup outdoors

pole beans ready for the pressure canner

Kentucky pole beans ready for the pressure canner

It’s always an exciting time when we bring in our first big batch of Kentucky pole beans for the year.  We eat the small batches in the early part of the gardening season.  When those pole beans are picked in mass we break out the pressure canner.

We’ve had several smaller batches of green beans from our garden so far this year that we’ve enjoyed as part of various meals. As you can see below, our pole beans have really begun to come on strong and it’s time to break out the pressure canner and start putting it in the pantry.

After making this blog entry the All American canner is going to get setup outside.  During the summer months and with big batches of food we do all our canning outside.  This prevents a lot of extra heat and humidity from being inside our house

 

Our canner will soon be fired up to preserve these green beans
Green beans headed to the canner

Pole beans are new in our garden

This is our first year growing a Kentucky pole bean.  Last year we grew bush bean for the first time with the Mittleider gardening method.  The sheer amount of beans we grew in a thirty foot row absolutely overwhelmed us.  Our little Presto canner had to be upgraded to handle the 60 plus pints we harvested each week.

After spending so much time bent over that row of bush beans we decided to try growing vertically this year with a pole bean variety.  My back is so very grateful!

Bush beans grown in a Mittleider garden
Bush beans nearly ready for harvest

 

Kenyon hoe needed sharpening

The mighty Kenyon 2-way hoe

The Kenyon hoe is known by other names.  It is also called a scuffle hoe or possibly even a stirrup hoe.  Regardless of the name it is one of the most used tools in our Mittleider garden.  From time to time the edge gets beat up due to normal use and needs fixed.  It is an easy process and only requires a small file.

The edge of our Kenyon 2-way hoe was getting a little beat up and becoming difficult to pull through this very dry heavy clay soil.  Rather than throw it away or paying someone to repair it we elected to do it ourselves.  A quick dressing took us just a minute or two with a file and as a result we got the edge back in good condition and working better.

Using a file to sharpen a Kenyon hoe
Sharpening a Kenyon gardening hoe with a file

To fix the edge of your Kenyon hoe with a file

It is an easy process and a decent file is inexpensive.  If you don’t have one this flat file is just $6.21 and will do the job.  Keep the file at the same angle as the edge of the hoe.  A few passes will remove any burrs and dress that edge back to serviceable condition as a result of your effort.  During normal use you will hit small rocks and other such debris that will slightly damage the cutting edge.

Stanlet mill file
A good file choice for sharpening a Kenyon hoe

Do you want to put your own Kenyon hoe together?

In this YouTube video I show you how I assembled our Kenyon hoe and gave a quick example of it working in the garden.  These are an amazing tool and should probably  be present in every garden.  The Kenyon hoe allows you to remove the same amount of weeds from your garden with far less work than a traditional hoe.

 

Mittleider garden – grow in your own soil

Grow in your own soil on a budget

We are putting together this video series on how to grow a Mittleider garden cheaply and to grow in your soil.  Most homes already have the tools needed to grow in your own soil.  With a little of your labor you can have your own beds in and ready for the next step before planting.

With these tools you can grow in your soil
With these tools you can grow in your own soil

You don’t have to garden in grow boxes to have a Mittleider garden

There seems to be this misconception that one has to have expensive grow boxes to grow a Mittleider garden.  That is absolutely not true.  You can grow as good of a garden in your own soil for a lot less money.

Grow in your own soil
Using the Mittleider method allows you to grow in your own soil

But you don’t understand, my soil is horrible

Those words are heard a lot when trying to convince someone to stop amending their soil and grow with the Mittleider method. You can grow in your soil.  Because we provide all the nutrients the plant needs on a weekly basis the lack of nutrition in your soil is entirely irrelevant.  With the Mittleider gardening Method the soil is used for the following:

  1. it provides the plant with anchorage and protection for the roots
  2. Holds air and water for the plant
  3. It stores the nutrition we apply to the soil beds
  4. regulates temperature
  5. provides drainage
Grow in your own soil with raised Mittleider beds
Raised Mittlieder beds allow you to grow in your own soil

Get the 7 lessons on growing in your own soil for FREE

Jim Kennard and the Food for Everyone foundation has been gracious enough to offer the first 7 lessons out of the new Mittleider Gardening Course book for FREE !!  Just use my link and download your own copy in a searchable PDF file.

YouTube video series – grow in your own soil

This is an ongoing series on how to grow an inexpensive garden in your own soil.  Be sure to subscribe to see future videos to learn how you too can grow in your soil.

 

Geothermal Greenhouse in NW Missouri

A look inside a geothermal greenhouse

We know the owners of this geothermal greenhouse located in NW  Missouri and I get to go over and poke my head inside from time.  It seemed like a terrific idea and I was excited to even go watch it going up.

Yesterday we went by while we in the area to peek inside the geothermal greenhouse.  I was amazed with the progress of the plants inside.   These tomatoes, 5 different varieties if I remember correctly, were planted back in the first week of April.  They’re easily 3 times the size of my own tomatoes that are growing outdoors.

Tomatoes growing in a geothermal greenhouse in NW Missouri
Tomatoes growing in a geothermal greenhouse in NW Missouri
tomatoes grown vertically in a geothermal greenhouse
Tomatoes grown vertically using the Mittleider method in a geothermal greenhouse

About this greenhouse

This greenhouse is a Mittleider design as seen in the Mittleider Gardening Course book.

grow spaghetti squash vertically

Grow spaghetti squash vertically

Growing spaghetti squash vertically is easy.  Going vertical reduces the likelihood of tripping on or breaking vines while maximizing the use of space in our gardens.  Here in our NW Missouri Mittleider garden we grow vertically whenever possible.  This system allows us to grow more plants in a smaller space by going vertically.

One of our favorite vegetables has become spaghetti squash over the last year.  The children are very picky eaters and I was amazed when I gave them a sample of spaghetti squash and they asked for more.

This year we are going to grow two crops of the spaghetti squash with the second one being inside the in the garden green house.  The first crop is out in the soil and many of the plants are already over 8 feet tall.  Our best plant went over 17 feet long this year. Here is just one of the many squash growing in our garden.

Grow spaghetti squash vertically in a Mittleider garden
Grow spaghetti squash vertically in a Mittleider garden

Why grow spaghetti squash vertically?

Going vertical with all the crops in our garden has made our garden more productive and has put more food in our pantry and on the table.  Getting the squash off the ground makes it so much easier to control the weeds.  Those days of stepping on vines while trying to pull weeds from under it are long gone.

Having the plants growing vertically makes it easy to access the plants for pruning, spotting insects, inspecting for insect eggs and it makes harvest so much easier.

What string or twine will you need to grow spaghetti squash vertically

We use a baling twine rated at 170 pound test that has UV stabilizers added.  Twine like the Tytan International wont deteriorate out in the sun and will last you several seasons.

Shredding zucchini for freezer storage

Shredding zucchini for freezer storage

Lets face it, zucchini is one of those garden crops that is always abundant.  Your family and neighbors so as to avoid being given yet another couple zucchinis.  Because we have so much we are finally left with taking care of all that zucchini.  Rather than let ours go to waste we have taken to shredding our zucchini, putting two cups into a quart sized bag and then freezing it.

What are the best ways of shredding zucchini?

Initially we used a box shredder we had on hand to shred our days harvest of zucchini.  While it worked and didn’t cost us any money the darn thing was VERY time consuming to use.

Box shredder for shredding zucchini
Box shredder for shredding zucchini

As a result of this guy growing tired of using that thing we talked it over and finally decided to break down and purchase a food processor.  Without a doubt, it is far less work or time consuming to use our little food processor.  Because I’ve seen how much faster and easier the food processor makes this task I’ve absolutely got to recommend it.  Unless you only plan on shredding a few zucchini the process is the only way to go.

In addition, I might add that we decided to go with a low end food processor model and spent around $30 total.  Any food processor you can find capable of shredding will work.

We put two cups of zucchini in each freezer bag

Today we sat down and shredded the zucchini from the garden.  At the end of this little project we had 22 cups of it to put in the freezer for zucchini bread we all love.  To date we now have over 100 cups of shredded zucchini processed.

Our favorite recipe calls for 2 cups of zucchini so we pre-measured into into quart size freezer bags.

Shreddeing zucchini for freezer storage
Shredding zucchini and placing in quart bags for freezing

Here they are ready to go into the freezer.

Why shred and store in quart sized freezer bags

Shredding your zucchini and storing in freezer bags like shown in the above picture really maximizes space in your freezer.  It stacks well with very little waste space.

Most noteworthy, we have discovered that as a result of shredding and putting two cups of it into each baggie that it becomes easier to offload on friends and family.  They’re more willing to take it when it requires no work on their part.

Do you want to maximize the amount of zucchini you get from your garden and make it easier to control insects? Pruning your zucchini will help.

My case against 4 foot wide grow boxes

Why I don’t like a 4 foot grow boxes in a Mittleider garden

I’ll be honest here, I don’t like 4 foot wide grow boxes.  They’re popular and you will see all kinds of articles and videos where they are recommended.  They require too much bending over of the gardener for my liking.  For a Mittleider garden I think they’re generally a mistake.

It is difficult to tend to stuff in it and you can’t reach from one side to the other.  This becomes particularly evident when things are grown vertically.  Reaching towards the middle of the box to prune or harvest from a mature plant is near impossible.  Sure, you can push through and get it done but you risk damaging plants.  you could even knock off nearly ripe vegetables.

The top of these tomatoes in the picture below are a little more than 3 feet apart.  I can only prune and harvest easily by going down each side of my grow box.  Growing these tomatoes in a 4 foot wide grow box would prevent the easy access necessary to properly care for our plants.

grow box in a Mittleider garden
tomatoes grown vertically in an 18 inch wide grow box in a Mittleider garden

Are there good uses for 4 foot grow boxes?

There are indeed.  First, if you’re on a very tight budget yet determined to have a grow box the wide grow boxes will work.  For the cost of two 18 inch wide boxes you can build one 4 foot box.  But if you’re on a budget I’d highly recommend growing in your own soil.

The only time I might recommend a 4 foot wide grow box in a Mittleider garden is for growing potatoes.  We have heavy clay soil here in Missouri.  Our grow box dedicated to growing potatoes allows them to sprawl and makes harvest a breeze.  It is isolated from the rest of the garden and is used only for potatoes.  In this picture below we grew sweet potatoes last year.

4 foot grow boxes filled with sawdust and sand
Sweet potatoes grown in a wide grow box. Grow boxes are a great option for growing all tubers

What size grow box do I prefer?

That’s easy. An 18 inch wide grow box is ideal, particularity for vertical crops in my Mittleider garden.  We built these grow boxes in our in the garden green house.

 

Our quest to be self reliant and grow a healthy garden