Of all the months of the year, July is my official least favorite.
I hate being hot. I hate being sticky. I hate waking up when it's already near 80 degrees, and only going to get hotter. I hate having to stay inside so much because it's too hot to go out.
I hate this month. And I use the word hate deliberately. I really do hate it.
In winter there is no sweat, and no bugs or snakes.
In summer, we swat, dodge and curse the bugs and keep a wary eye out for any unexpected movement in unexpected places.
This week the temperatures will be in upper 80's to mid-90's where I live. Not terrible, but add in the high humidity and it's like breathing underwater. So outside work has to be done early, and even then the humidity causes us to sweat and feel a lot hotter than the thermometer says it is.
This summer I have canned not one jar...yet. We have frozen berries and broccoli and cabbage and eaten lots of fresh vegetables. But no canning, because the cellar is still so full that it seems ridiculous to put up more. I must have over a hundred jars of jam out there, more than we will eat in two years. There are jars of pickles, beans, and who knows what else. So we have been concentrating on eating what we have, and not, for a change adding much to it. That will change soon, as the tomatoes (the one thing I do need more of) begin to really come in.
We planted only a short row of beans because I just don't need them, so this year they will be for fresh eating. Corn will be ready next week and that will be frozen. And I will use the corn, tomatoes, green beans, onions and so on to put up some vegetable soup, something we both love and eat a lot of.
It's been nice to have a break, I must admit. We planted a little late when we saw how my summer schedule would play out, so that the bulk of the veggies came ripe in late July/August when I would not be on the road. What a blessing! The pressure that usually comes from bushels of vegetables sitting while I am gone really made July even harder to deal with for me. But this year, I've been able to concentrate of the storytelling and a little booth work, and not have to worry about canning and preserving.
One thing we've come to realize: we just don't need that much food. If we plant for early eating gardens, and late gardens, we can cut back on how much food we put up by a large amount. If I freeze the summer's berry crops, I can make the jams and jellies in winter when the extra heat from the stove is welcome.
So we've been trying, these last few years, to plant smarter, and it's worked to some degree. Last summer the late drought meant the late garden failed. I am hoping this summer's late plantings have better luck. Right now, late corn and beans are sprouting, and the second crop of cucumbers is taking off. The broccoli is still producing and I hope we can nurture it along into fall. The third planting of lettuce is ready for picking right now, and we will be putting more seeds out as soon as we have room.
I really do hate July. But this year, since I haven't had to do any canning yet, I don't hate it quite as much.
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