By Clif Knight
My family loves homemade dill pickles. I was made aware of that three years ago when my three granddaughters asked me if I could grow enough cucumbers in my garden for them to make dill pickles for home use.
“I reckon I can.” was my response. “How many,” I asked. “As many as you can,” they said. I put cucumber seed on my next year’s garden planting list.
I’d need to give them plenty of room to grow. Their runners grew so long on a prior year that I had to pick them from vines on corn stalks five feet off the ground.
My granddaughters surprised me a couple of months later by presenting me with a package of cucumber seed they found in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the seed failed to germinate in North Alabama soil.
This year’s planting is a gardener’s dream. Three varieties are growing in hills four feet apart in a 125-ft. row. They cover a row five feet wide and still are four feet away from nearest competitor, a row of staked tomato plants. The harvest has netted over 150 pounds in four pickings a day apart, and no end is in sight.
We hosted a pickling party with the three granddaughters last Saturday. They packed and pickled a dozen quart jars, bringing the total to more than 75 jars in four days. The cucumber vines remain healthy and productive thanks to watering and recent rain showers. Pickling will continue this week and the remaining harvest will be made available at Hartselle Farmers Market.
Home pickling has been limited by a shortage of canning supplies at Hartselle stores, while supplies have been available on a larger scale in Decatur.
Home canning seems to be growing in popularity due to inflation brought on by rising food prices.
Our granddaughters demonstrated their approval of homemade dill pickles by opening a three-day-old jar of the pickles and eating them in a single sitting.