All the recent rain has caused our community garden plot to flourish.
Lexy here from East Tennessee. I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with lacto-fermentation. There are definitely times when multiple shelves in my fridge are filled with jars of homemade pickles. Since we’re heading into the summer months, when garden produce is overwhelmingly abundant, I thought I’d share this with you. Our community garden plot is currently popping out radishes, so what follows is a radish pickling recipe. You can pretty much lacto-ferment any vegetable, so don’t be afraid to try this with anything you have a bunch of.
Last year, Build It Up hosted a pickling workshop with our partners at Shakti in the Mountains (a women’s community organization in Johnson City) and it was one of our most popular. We just had a great meeting with Shakti to plan another series of food and gardening workshops. So far we are planning pickling/kraut making, container gardening, backyard bees, low cost chicken coops, and oyster mushrooms in buckets. I’m looking forward to planning a summer of workshop fun!
If a person puts a shovel in the ground almost anywhere in the South, like as not, they will bring up red clay soil. In East Tennessee it is a bright, redish orange and it supports a thriving brick making industry in my hometown. Show it to a professional grower and you’ll get a strong negative reaction. Clay is no good, they’ll say. You’re better off digging it up and buying topsoil, whatever that might cost. Our soil is dense, easily compacted, often waterlogged and quite acidic. In the spring, it is cold and boggy. In the summer, it can bake so hard that roots have no chance to grow through it.
Transforming the native soil into something more friable takes a lot of patience, hard work and respect for natural processes. It is often worth the effort, as improved clay soil will hold nutrients and moisture far better than its sandy counterpart. I don’t mean for this blog post to be about the technical aspects of improving soil—I just want you to know more about the ground we are standing on here.