Steps for Water-Bath Canning

 First of all, thanks to the new friends who came over to visit and help me from Dallas Sustainable Living and Organic Gardening , a MeetUp group.


You are awesome.  For a couple of hours, everyone pitted apricots, cut up broccoli, and chopped rhubarb into one-inch slices.


I started heating some of the apricots with lemon juice, then we agreed to add only half the amount of sugar in the recipe.  (according to the Ball Canning Recipe book, (


After it cooked down to soft fruit in a syrup, we used a wide-mouth funnel to fill up half-pint canning jars.  I took them out of a warming oven where they had been sterilized.   We wiped the edge of each jar with a damp cloth to remove any fruit or syrup.


The lids had been heating to boiling in a small pot on the stove to sterilize them.  Using the magnet from the Canning Kit, I lifted each one out and placed it on a jar.  Then I screwed the rings on, just to finger tight.


About an hour before anyone arrived, I had started heating the water in the canner, a very large pot with a canning rack to keep any jars from touching the bottom of the pot.


Finally, it started boiling.  Using the jar tongs, I placed each half-pint jar in the canner so that none of them were touching.  I had filled the canner so full, I had to scoop out some of the water to make room for all the filled jars.  They still had to be covered by at least an inch of water.


While it came back up to boiling, we talked about Aquaponics.  One of the folks there does talks and demonstrations about Aquaponic systems at the Keller Public Library.  (You can see the times on Dallas Sustainable Living on


Then, while the canner boiled for the required fifteen minutes to process the fruit,  I gave everyone a tour of my permaculture yard – the perennial water-wise front yard, the Texas Wildscape (, and the states and stages of my raised garden beds and fruit trees in the backyard.


We came back inside, used the jar tongs to remove the half-pints and visited some more while they cooled.  When they were cool enough, everyone got to take one home.


I am canning the rest during this week.


It is so much fun to teach and learn in community.  Thanks for all the amazing help!


© 2013 Kathryn Hardage


Master Garden Tour

Today was a delight.

I helped host one of the gardens for the Annual Master Gardener Tour.

It is so uplifting to be in the surroundings of a beautiful garden, and to welcome people to experience it.

The mood and attitude of each guest was one of expectation and of appreciation for beauty.

Each station had a description of some aspect of the garden – light, vegetation, irrigation, fencing, layout and design.

There were benches for meditation.

There were trellises with vines to create natural screens in front of the windows.

The walkways were different textures.

There was creative storage of gardening supplies.

Everything contributed to the overall feel of the temperament of the garden.

What a privilege to be associated with the Master Gardeners.


 © 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Morning Beginnings

This is a post to Your Diamond Mind, one of my inspirational blogs.  It may be found at or at http://www.yourdiamondmind.blogspot.comImage

What is the most important thing I have to do today?


I have to get my mind in focus.


In order to do that, I listen to the Universe.


Just getting in touch with my Higher Power and Higher Self allows me to have a completely different kind of day.


It’s like I am on a parallel track, but one that has all the advantages.


Sometimes I am connected in ways that I never expected.


Other times, my best intentions come to fruition.


Either way, it is completely different from trying to manipulate the circumstances.


I am so grateful to discover this through all my inspired-writer mentors.




© 2013 Kathryn Hardage


Help on Projects

 Sometimes I just can’t get started.

I will have an idea and know what I want to do.

So it is helpful to have someone else around.

Just for community.

I had just such a visit this weekend.

The first project got done through community.

While she visited and we talked, I weeded two garden beds.

They are now ready for mulch and more planting.

Then we took a break and baked Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Bread.

The next garden project was nailing shingles to a 4 x 4 to create a garden edging.

I provided the materials.

She played with the nail gun.

Now I have a sample.

The third project was garden stepping stones.

Since she is an engineer, she read the directions for the Sakrete.

I actually measured out the amount of water she requested.

We added more, of course, until we got the desired consistency which I remembered from helping someone else.

We poured three stepping stones in a silicone mold.

My husband reminded me to go ahead and remove it while it was still setting up.

We washed the mold, the wheelbarrow where we mixed the cement, and the trowels.

They stones have set beautifully.

I will make charming paths throughout my gardens.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Front Garden Activities

As my garden begins blooming, it is also getting a makeover.  I have added more blooming perennial shrubs.  Since I have so much pink and red with dianthus and red salvia, and Texas Sage, pink skullcap, Red Turk’s cap and even red lantana (with some yellow), I added more yellows, coreopsis, Mexican Hat, and….something else that is yellow…

My husband brought me the best present in the world, a load of mulch.  So now, many plants which have not had that benefit, will have help retaining moisture.  He unloaded half of it last night, mostly in the dark, while I spread it around.

Today, I have been pulling up plants around the developer’s required one tree in the yard.  Ours is a Redbud and it is blooming and growing so very tall.  Where I used to need plants for full sun everywhere, I now can add some plants with partial sun requirements.

I started two American Beauty-berries last year.  They are starting to put on some growth now.  They will become understory to the central Redbud tree. With our unusually cool weather, I even have pansies still blooming.  The mulch gave much needed support to the Texas Mealy Sage.  It is gorgeous!  The lavender continues expanding.  Surviving Blue Salvia is getting stronger.  I will add some more.  I ordered it again since it is the only perennial sold by the high school baseball team fund raiser and I still need to fill in some more spots.

I plan to pour a rock-like concrete path using a pair of silicone stencils, basically.  As one is drying, you fill up the next one.  By then, the first one is dry enough to release the concrete pebble formation and you can move it ahead and pour it.  I walked that path several times today, pulling and recycling the plants as mulch along the way and deciding how to create a charming meandering path.

After visiting the San Antonio botanical Garden last month and experiencing their amazing Herb Garden, I plan to create an herbal approach up the sidewalk.  The blend of scents was deliciously harmonious even for a sensitive palate.

There will be more happening in the backyard, but I will begin that tomorrow.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage