giardiniera: italian for gardener

somehow lately i've turned into a crazy garden lady.  every day after work i go out to pick ripened tomatoes, peppers, and carrots, and check on the progress of the other veggies.  i also pull weeds, trim off dead branches, and de-flower the basil (ha).
it's become a labor of love as everyday i learn more about normal growth, the proper ways to harvest, and how to manage garden insects (my answer so far is spiders - they're the best).  the ever growing stalks keep me creative as i continuously have to invent new ways to prop them up.
^^this is an onion flower.  did you know onions made flowers?!  it is so pretty that i left it when i harvested all of the others, and it's still blooming.^^
bumper crop
the onions were all ready at once a few weeks ago, but everything else is just starting to be ripe here and there.  on friday, when i came home, i found belle in the garden (i know chicken wire isn't that much of a deterrent, but it's kept them out so far) helping herself to anything and everything!  our biggest loss was the broccoli, which she had completely pulled out of the ground and devoured.  she also helped herself to a couple of tomatoes, but we have lots to spare, so not as big of a deal.
it seems that when she got to the peppers she would pull one off, realize it was hot, and continue on just pulling them off and dropping them.  we had jalapeƱos and anaheim peppers lying all over the garden bed.  i love to cook some spicy food, but what was i going to do with 14 peppers??

and then it came to me.  spicy pepper relish (aka giardiniera).  like the kind you get on your sandwiches at potbelly or snarfs.   i crave these spicy pepper mixes and would eat them on everything if i could.  and thanks to belle it was looking like there was a good chance i'd be able to do just that.  between the garden and our fridge we had hot peppers, bell peppers, carrots, and celery, so i picked up some green olives and cauliflower and we were set!
full confession, i have never canned or pickled anything before... and after chopping up all the veggies, i googled how to do so and got a bit of a surprise.  it is much more complicated than i imagined.  thankfully, canning has become more popular lately so there are many resources out there.  i mean, i bought a canner at bed, bath, and beyond, and had multiple options to choose from.  thank you, hipsters.
^^this is a canner with my jars in it.  i had no idea.^^

i will say, it was adorable that i was approached by two separate older ladies who asked if i needed any help or advice.  they said they were happy to see someone still out there doing it besides themselves.  i talked to each of them for about 20 minutes and even got one of their phone numbers.  never thought i'd have a contact called Joan the Canning Lady.

overall it went pretty well.  the peppers are very tasty and i didn't even have to call joan :)
hot pickled peppers
i'm so happy we planted the garden.  when we started i was a little skeptical that anything would actually grow, especially from seed.  but it has!  so now i've bought seed for our winter vegetables and am ready to plant as soon as there is space.

here's a before of the garden.  it looks vastly different now that the tomatoes and corn are both taller than the fence.
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