Jul 072010
 

We read a book called Tops and Bottoms quite a bit around here. It’s about gardening so it’s one of my favorites. The plot is this: a rabbit family is down and out but they know this lazy bear who has a nice piece of property. The rabbit (I can’t stand rabbits, by the way) makes a deal with the lazy bear to farm his property. He makes the deal on shares. The bear can have “tops” or “bottoms.” First choice. When the bear takes “tops” the insidious little rabbit only plants stuff like carrots. Rabbit gets the carrots and the poor bear gets carrot tops. The next season the bear sort of catches on and takes bottoms. That year the bloody rabbit plants lettuce and corn. The bear gets zilch again.

This book pretty much explains why I don’t like rabbits. They lack a sense of fair play. Why couldn’t the rabbit have just planted beets? Then everyone could be happy. Beets are the most efficient food you can plant in your garden. There’s no waste. You eat the tops and the bottoms. You eat the entire plant. This may come as a surprise to some people for I’ve heard more than once about folks who buy a bunch of beets then cut off the tops and throw them away. This is crazy behavior. Beets are in the same family as chard and the greens are as good or better.

Last week we started canning beets. We like them pickled. They are a real treat in the wintertime. I planted a big bed of beets with well-separated rows then planted more beet seeds for a later crop in between the rows. We put up ten quarts on the first go around. We had one leaker that didn’t seal so had to crack that open and eat it. I was glad I had a leaker as I didn’t really want to wait until November to start in on them. We saved the tops too. Blanched the leaves for a couple of minutes and dried them on towels and put them in freezer bags.

An important part of growing your own food is extending both the growing season and the eating season. There are lots of ways to preserve food and I’m trying to learn more of them. But the canning and freezing season is underway. We get both the tops and bottoms no thanks to rabbits.

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