The Texas heat has been cranked up and the FarmGirls are fired up!  

We have been filling our shelves with jellies, jams, salsas, pickles and relish! We just made our first batch of sweet relish for the year — this recipe has been a favorite in many of our canning classes and is a favorite for many gardeners too.  

First, the flavor is great and the relish can be eaten on hot dogs, in salads and many other creative ways.  

Second, it is a versatile recipe that consumes the overage from the garden.  

The main ingredient is cucumbers but the cucumber can be substituted or combined with zucchini. Even the oversized zucchini can be used (the one that magically grew to 14 inches overnight!)  

Red and green sweet bell peppers and onions are also combined with a spicy brine. This two-day recipe is well worth the chopping, plus the recipe makes about seven pints of colorful and tasty relish.

Our friend Monica Nyenhuis, our very first garden intern, found this recipe when she harvested baskets of long slender cucumbers.  

That same year, our gardening friend and country neighbor Roy Mers left a bushel of Armenian cucumbers our porch. We canned about 60 pints of sweet relish from that bushel of cucumbers.  

Donelle and I have been preparing for our summer classes.  

We are doing an herb blends class on July 29 in the evening.  

In the coolness of these July mornings, listening to the birds sing, I gather herbs to dry for the class.  I realized one morning that we needed to add in savory and marjoram for our herb blend mix, not something we have planted in our new herb garden.  

I called another friend and great herbalist, Arlene Hamilton, to see if I could pick these herbs for our upcoming class. She graciously shared some clippings and we sat and visited under the shade of the huge pecan tree in her luscious garden, just catching up on our friendship.

Gardening brings the best out in people.  

Bobby Featherston, of Featherston Auto Repair Shop out on Highway 77 has been our DFW Truck Farm mechanic.  

It takes a hard working team to keep the truck loaded down with a vegetable garden driving up and down the metro highways.

The truck has to be in great mechanical condition to travel safely from school to school.  

The DFW Truck Farm’s most recent visit to Featherston was for an extended tune up over the Fourth of July.  

We were concerned about the garden but knew the work had to be done so we filled the Dripping Springs Olla Pots with water and took the truck to the shop. We knew it was a possibility that with the extensive tune up, the truck farm might have plants that would need to be replaced.  

When we arrived to pick up the DFW Truck Farm, we were excited to see that Bobby and his team kept the DFW Truck Farm watered throughout its holiday tune up.

These hard working mechanics repaired tail lights, checked engines, tightened belts, and even watered the garden!  

They seemed as relieved as we were that the melons and squash were still growing.

We find that gardening encourages community. Gardening allows neighbors to share and exchange bounties and friendships.  

We treasure the opportunities that we have had to develop many friendships over our garden gates.  Tune into the FarmGirls Organic Gardening Radio Show every Friday on KAAM 770 AM at 1 p.m. and follow us on Facebook: Garden Inspirations from our garden gate to yours…

FarmGirls of Garden Inspirations, a garden education company are Marilyn Simmons and daughter, Donelle Simmons.  You can email us at and join our weekly email by signing up through our website:, like us on Facebook!  Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. to the FarmGirls Organic Radio Show on KAAM 770 AM.