Sam and I picked strawberries at Carrandale Farm in Oregon, WI on a hot, humid July 5.We pulled in 39.8 lbs. Cost was $2/lb for $78.44. I also had to buy jars for this goaround.
We netted 35 jars of jam from 28 cups of crushed berries, 21.5lbs of sugar, and 7 pouches of Certo pectin. I also added about a half cup of lemon juice to the recipe because the berries were very sweet.
I planted 3-year blueberry bushes in my garden. The third year is when the bush starts to produce fruit. The plants cost more (about triple the cost of a 2-year plant) but you get blueberries right away. My lovely bushes are two varieties: “bluecrop,” and “northland.”
They set fruit, which now means I am in a never ending battle against the birds and other critters that want to eat my fruits.
My first line of defense was to put the garden fence around the bushes. That will keep the deer out. Next was to build bird netting cages to keep the birds at bay. I finished them this evening to good success. I recycled leftover garden fence into two cyllinders. Then I covered them with bird netting. Here is hoping I get a few cups of berries from my bushes.
This spring has brought a large expansion of my vegetable garden. Illustrated above is a map showing what is planted in my new, bigger garden.
Onions. Asian – style peapods. Snap peas. Their space here for pepper plants once it gets warmer.
This is a round bed constructed of recycled bricks. I have planted annual herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro, shiso. I also put garlic chives in this bed. I was worried they would cross pollinate with my standard chives.
Onions. There’s reserved space in this bed for cucumbers.
This is the cooking greens bed: spinach, Swiss shard, kale, tat soi, and bok choy. These cold – loving crops of the only thing green in the garden right now that isn’t a weed.
There’s nothing in this bed right now. Once my squash transplants get larger they’ll go out here. Since it’s on the corner of the garden, the plants can ramble all over.
This is one of the two original beds from last year. My carrot bed continues to live here, and I planted rhubarb. Additionally, the backs of the two large raised beds have asparagus. Since these raised beds are extra – deep the tomatoes will go in here when they get transplanted.
This is the other original raised bed from last year. There’s asparagus in the back, but I’m waiting to put my tomatoes in.
Hard to see in the picture, but I planted two blueberry bushes this year. My hope is they will bloom and I may get a couple blueberries this year.
I still have about another week until we are definitely pass the last frost. After that, I’ll be able to put out peppers, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes.
I know you’re looking at those tender vegetables and thinking, aren’t your deer going to eat all of that? Yes, if I don’t get out there quick and get my fence in place. Since we expanded the garden so much, I don’t have an a fencing to go around all of it. I’ll need to go buy some more.
I should have seen this coming. I left the garden gate open for one night and BAM the deer ate the tops off my swiss chard. I was letting those leaves grow really big and fleshy to make my stuffed chard. Now I guess I’ll have to fashion some recipe that just uses the stems. And wash off the deer spit before using.
Late August is the only time that New Englanders lock their car doors. If you leave your car unlocked, somebody will leave you a box of orphan zucchini on your front seat. (Photo from greenstag.net)
We have the first week of our CSA where we don’t have lettuce and do have more zucchini (and other summer squash) than we expect to eat in a week. This marks a big move in our Summer eating. Up until this point, we have new vegetables trickling in for the first time – the first cucumber, the first tomato, the first zucchini. We’ve now reached the peak of novelty and descended into bounty. We must smash tomatoes into jars because there are just too many to eat. The cucumbers get huge, bitter, and neglected on the vine. The lettuce, spinach and other greens have gone to seed and are bitter and inedible. We now have to hide zucchini in other foods. We now move into crisis mode. There are vegetables coming out our ears.
I have a lot of strategies for handling the bounty. Of course, you’ve read about my adventures with canning, drying, and other odd types of preserving. I also have strategic approaches for cooking that use up lots of vegetables. I went through some of my recipes for using lots and lots of greens, and now over the next few days, I will let you in on my secrets on how to cook a lot of zucchini.
Yes, I will share my recipe for chocolate zucchini cake.
Even given my kvetching, Sandor Katz fermenting workshop had a strong influence on me. I guess I may be developing my skills as an amature fermento. I have now fermented:
The Kimchi is clearly my biggest fermentation success. Yummy yum. I think I got the balance of spice and saltiness, and since we had the space to let the stink dissipate, I was able to let it ferment for a month and get very sour. Next time – more ginger, for sure. I have enjoyed eating my kimchi on pizza. The flavors of kimchi are very similar to the flavors of pepperoni and pepperoncini: hot, tangy, and salty. In fact, some pepperoni are actually fermented by being inoculated with flavor-enhancing molds!
Mixed vegetable kraut we made at the Katz workshop. It’s shredded carrots, radishes, white turnips and onions. I have let it sit for a few weeks and flavors have mellowed and gotten more sour. The onion smell was initially very strong – I was slightly worried I would get a charge on my hotel bill for cleaning out the stank. But over a few weeks the onion smell has become milder and richer with more umami. We have been eating it all along the fermenting time and I think it gets better every time I eat some.
Blueberry Soda was demoed at the workshop, so after picking blueberries, I used some to make my own soda. I used about 1/2 cup of sugar, a pint of blueberries and about a quart of water. I mixed it together without crushing the berries and kept stirring over 4 days. The final product went into a growler and has been hanging in the fridge. It’s a light pink color with a mild effervescence, kind of like kombucha. It’s OK, but I wouldn’t want to drink a lot. I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks, but it would be a good mixer.
I found an accidental glut of cucumbers in the garden last week and decided to try to make half-sour pickles. The cukes were too big for whole pickles, so I cut them into spears. Whole cucumbers will ferment for weeks or months and still stay slightly crisp, but fermenting cucumber spears will inevitably lead to mushy pickles after a week or so. I decided to make half-sour pickles, which are in a stronger brine and fermented for a short period. Into big quart jars I added two crushed garlic cloves, a big sprig of fresh dill, and a 3% salt brine – about two tablespoons of salt for a quart of water. They hung out on the kitchen counter for 4 days. They came out crisp, yet salty and a little tangy. Sam seems to be a big fan of them.