My canning jar lids tell a story. They tell the story of what I've preserved and when I preserved it. I can rummage through my old 2010 lids and tell you that last year, my canning season commenced in May with strawberry jam. It ran the summer gamut of vegetables and fruits, and ended in November, when I preserved the last of the green tomatoes after first frost, as green tomato salsa. In June the green beans were in, and I can recall that every day I was either picking, cleaning and snapping, or canning green beans.
This year will tell a different story. It will be different because I planted different things, and because I planted them at different times. Chapter one in 2011 is still strawberry jam, but June turned out to be different.
It started with fresh peas, which we'd been eating since mid-May. Last year I planted Little Marvel, but out of a 30 foot double row, only one plant grew. This year I went back to Wando, a proven variety for the South. I planted one packet, and would have loved to have eaten more fresh and frozen some. We did eat several delicious pea and pecan salads, but the rest, I saved for seed. Next planting I'll have more to plant and a larger harvest for preserving. This is a slow way to increase, but it's more economical than buying larger seed packets.
Next it was peaches.
This is one of the two peach trees we planted in December of 2009, and is the first time we've gotten fruit. Unfortunately they were plagued with fruit moth larvae, a problem I will need to deal with if we want a decent harvest next year.
Preservation? None, but we managed to get a fabulous peach pie and have fresh peaches on our morning cereal and yogurt. I have to admit that in spite of losing much of the fruit (which the chickens loved), these were so delicious that I'd like to plant another peach tree or two.
Cucumbers starting coming in too. These are Marketmore 76, a different variety than I planted last year. Very prolific and very tasty.
So far, I've been able to preserve 11 pints of dill pickles, complete with our own fresh garden grown dill. This is the same amount I put up last year, and we still have 6 pints of those left. Sweet pickles was a different story. I put up only 2 jars and had only 1 left. I've got 10 pints of sweet pickle chips canned so far, and I'll do at least another batch. Ordinarily we would go through a lot of pickles, but instead, we ate quite a bit of sauerkraut and sauerruben (lacto-fermented turnips) over the winter.
Swiss chard. I planted this last spring. It survived the winter and I've been wanting to let it go to seed. The problem is that it will cross pollinate with beets, which I'm also wanting seed from. I keep cutting the Swiss chard back, to give the beets a chance, and finally decided to try lacto-fermenting it. The raw leaves had the strong flavor of an old plant, but fermented, they are quite tasty.
Swiss chard, is something I don't plan to can this year. I still have 26 of the 33 pints I put up last summer. I did plant some Ruby, a different variety from the Fordhook I'm showing you here. Next summer I plan to save some seed from it, and have two varieties in my homestead seed bank.
At the tail end of the month, the first okra pods were ready to pick.
Surprisingly, I wasn't terribly excited about them. This is because I froze 25 quarts of okra last year, which we've been eating it right along. Plus, I still have 11 quarts in the freezer. This said something to me about the joys of seasonal eating. As much as we need to preserve a winter's supply of vegetables, I am hoping to focus more on root crops this fall. These, we can mulch heavily, leave in the ground, and pull during the winter as needed. We enjoyed fresh carrots, turnips, and beets this way. I'd like to add parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes to that list as well. And, if we put some row covers over cool weather crops like kale, collards, and broccoli, I can put up less summer vegetables and we'll enjoy fresh, year round seasonal eating more.
Of the 11 remaining quarts of frozen okra, I think I'll defrost them when the tomatoes are ripe, and can them as tomatoes and okra. I put up three quarts of that last year, and they were a tasty change of pace in our diet. We ate them with black turtle beans and corn bread, a hearty meatless, complete protein meal.
In addition, we harvested our wheat earlier this month (which I already showed you). We enjoyed the last of the strawberries and lettuce, plus volunteer turnips and potatoes (no photos). I've also been collecting seed from last year's fall garden: broccoli, turnip, lettuce, radish, carrot, and hopefully those beets.
Hard to believe June is over, isn't it? We've been having adequate rain, so things are growing well! July should prove to be very busy with the harvest indeed.
June Harvest © June 2011