After writing about the paltry harvest I had foraging the backyard, my neglected garden decided to speak up. This year I had only managed tomatoes and cucumbers. The peas and beans fell victim to the local vole and chipmunks. The two pepper plants were overshadowed by volunteer sunflowers so much that they have only now started to produce.
But the cucumbers and tomatoes have not disappointed. We were getting so many cucumbers we’re having a hard time keeping up with them. In fact I keep coming across overripe ones that were hidden in the depths of the vines. (Those go into the compost.) We’ve been eating salad at lunch and dinner every day. I’ve even started a jar of fridge pickles, dumping slices of cucumber into it every time it empties.
The tomatoes have been only slightly less plentiful. It won’t be long before we’re equally buried in mounds of them, though. The plants grew so tall they tipped over the cages I had (belatedly) placed around them. I ended up pruning a good third off of each plant to keep them upright. And that has driven each one to put more resources into the remaining tomatoes. So far I’ve pulled handfuls out as soon as they show red (to keep them safe from the squirrels). I know that soon I’ll be hauling them in by the basketful. Fortunately, I have a great recipe for making tomato sauce.
The lesson isn’t lost on me: abundance comes in various forms and rather than mourning what I don’t have enough of right now, I can choose to focus on what is being handed to me. I don’t want to come across as trite here. It can be extremely difficult finding abundance when life insists on being stingy with its opportunities. Nor am I viewing this in a “law of attraction” bullshit filter. Instead I’m looking at this as a witch: I did not put effort into the yard from which I was foraging, but I did tend to my little garden bed (if haphazardly). And, I like cucumbers and tomatoes so it’s not like I was given a harvest that I wouldn’t be grateful for.
Sometimes we get so hung up on the image of ourselves in our heads–in my case the hedgewitch wandering the forest collecting herbs and other ingredients–that we can be blind to the reality of our lives. And as witches we can often focus on exotic herbs and resins, rather than the plants we have right on hand. Cucumbers have healing magickal properties, certainly a good thing to have in abundance in the middle of a pandemic. And tomatoes carry within them elements of prosperity and love, two more things that I want more of in my house.
Much of witchcraft is just shifting one’s perspective to see the world in a different way. In that vein, I am taking the lesson of my often overlooked garden to heart … and eating more salad.
Refrigerator pickles are one of the easiest ways to preserve cucumbers (and other vegetables). The combination of sliced cucumbers, vinegar (with its properties of securing and preserving health) and sugar (which is used to attract energies) also make them an easy bit of kitchen witchery for keeping healthy during the late summer/early autumn months when seasonal colds start to crop up.*
You’ll need a large jar with a lid. In the jar add equal parts vinegar and water, half as much sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add a few shakes of black pepper if you desire. Keep in mind that you’ll be adding cucumbers to the jar so only make enough of the brine to fill it halfway full. Screw on the lid and give the contents a shake. Taste the mixture and adjust the vinegar and sugar levels to taste.
Next, peel and slice your cucumbers. Add them to the jar. Replace the lid and give it another shake. Store your fridge pickles in the refrigerator, giving them a couple of hours to soak before you start snacking. The pickles will keep for about a week, although if you are like our household they won’t last that long. You can keep adding cucumbers to the jar as it empties.
*You need to do more than eat pickles to stay healthy. Get your flu shot, wash your hands, and wear your mask. Witches know to use science and magick.