It's high harvest time for our summer gardens. Tomatoes, corn, beans, squash, potatoes, onions, and so on have been making their way to the kitchen by the basketsful for the past few weeks.
Vegetable soup, 16 quarts now completed. In the pot,
and in the jars.
Onions, dehydrated and stored. We're trying this method this year, as we seem to lose so many stored onions to rot. I've also tried freezing them, but it's difficult to keep them from smelling up the whole freezer. So we'll see how we do with the dried ones. This is about 2 bushels of mixed yellow, white and red onions--they sure take up a lot less room this way.
Pasta sauce, 16 quarts so far and I am hoping for more before the tomatoes give up. They looked so pretty in the pan prior to cooking down!
They've done well but the heat and humidity have made it touch-and-go as far as the various blights, etc that might attack. So far so good, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We've had our best crops from the German Pink and the Cherokee Purple so far. We also planted Mortgage Lifter but have had only a few tomatoes from them so far.
Broccoli, about a dozen bags so far. The plants continue to produce although the flowerettes are getting smaller and smaller. Larry has taken good care of these plants and we're hoping they'll make it through to cooler weather and continue to produce.
Cabbage: we grew a half dozen heads of Late Flat Dutch, to make sauerkraut. When they were ready last week, we spent hours "butchering" them, as I call it, because they were so huge! We used 4 of them to make 8 quarts of kraut--there was a good bit of waste due to bug and slug damage--and the chickens enjoyed the last two because we were worn out with working on them. It would not have been so bad but we did those after putting up ten quarts of corn.
Corn has been excellent but now the raccoons have found the patch so we won't get much more. We have 20 quarts put up so I am satisfied. The first raccoon damage was only about 5 ears, but the next night they had a party out there. My friend John Rushing of western Virginia has a theory that the first coon goes home with sweet corn on his breath and the others smell it and make him bring them all back the next night! I think he's got something there. Larry was so determined to finish up the last wagonload that he worked under an umbrella in the rain.
I've also frozen 20 bags of shredded zucchini to add to soups, stews, chili, and to make zucchini bread. This is a new venture too, something I've not tried before but I am hoping this will turn out to be a good way to preserve the zucchini bounty.
I've tried freezing squash but don't like the texture when I've used them. I've also tried dehydrating them and pickling. The pickled zucchini is very good but we can only eat so much of it! So I am hoping this frozen puree will be worth the trouble. I also ground up zucchini and added it to pasta sauce which I canned. I think this is going to be great in casseroles this winter.
And lastly, we got a little bit of garlic this year. I want to focus on this more next year and perhaps figure out a better place to plant it. These were wildlings that had seeded themselves in my flowerbeds.
Our second planting is coming on: late beans, corn, squash, carrots and onions seem to be thriving. Pumkpins and melons are doing well too, but it will be September before we taste our first melon. Ah well.
We still need to plant the fall greens, and I hope we can get to that in the next week or so. We have the seeds ready, just waiting to get the potatoes dug and a few other things pulled out and the ground tilled.
Two things that are different this year: I have made no jam or jelly yet. We've frozen a lot of berries and have been eating them fresh, but with so much jam still in the cellar, we really just don't need any more. Kinda makes me sad because I love to make it, but it's just silly to make what we don't need. I have yet to put up any pickles, either. The first cucumber plants turned out to be those long burpless once and they have done terribly. The Chicago Picklers are just now starting to come on, so later this week I'm pretty sure I'll be pickling.
Overall it's been a good garden year, partly due to having a lot of rain, partly due to the horse manure Larry spread last winter and to the fact that he has mulched most of the garden this year. He has really become a good gardener and I leave it to him anymore because he really enjoys it and I can see it's good for him--he relaxed when he's messing around out there.
So what's going on in your garden? Good year or bad one? Surprises or disappointments? Do tell!
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