In my little corner of Pennsylvania, it’s not unusual to find home-canned goods lining the shelves of pantries. If you tally up the cost of processing, I’m not sure canning food is a cost-effective endeavor. Still, it’s nice to know what’s in those jars (and what isn’t).

Canned red beets.

Unlike the tins you buy in the store, glass jars can be reused. The flat lids must be purchased new each year, of course, but just recently, I saw a local store selling reusable ones. I intend to try them soon.

Mulberry jelly. I tried drying some berries this year, too. Tasted gross.

Dill and cilantro in the dehydrator.

Shredded cabbage transforming into sauerkraut. It smells so bad in here my husband thought we broke a sewer line.

There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about growing and preserving the harvest. I always feel a bit like a frontierswoman when I’m shredding cabbage for kraut or gathering berries for jam. I have a feeling my ancestors would laugh at that. After all, if my harvest fails, a drive to the store can replace it.

This year, I planted a row of snow peas next to our kitchen door. They were about a foot high when this happened:

Rabbit destruction.

In a single night, three rabbits devoured the entire row. It annoyed me, but the loss wasn’t a huge catastrophe, since I only planted enough to eat fresh. It made me pause to think about our forefathers, though (Let’s face it–everything makes me pause to think about them.). Our ancestors got one shot at a successful harvest. An assault like this–be it animal or otherwise–meant calamity for families relying on their bounty to survive the coming winter.

Those who plan to survive must adapt. We raised our beds, which ended the rabbits’ reign of terror.

We may have won that battle, but the war goes on. Insects aren’t ground feeders, so the raised beds did nothing to thwart them. Right now, we are under a major cabbage worm attack. I refuse to apply insecticides, so I’ve been trying natural repellents. I can tell you with certainty that garlic spray, citrus spray, and diatomaceous earth did not work for us. We hand pick the caterpillars each day, and still, some get through. Today, I’m trying Bacillus thuringiensis. Hopefully, that will do the job.

Have you tried something natural that works for these monsters? I’d love to hear about it.


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