June 30, 2011

June Harvest

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
by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/

You can also read this post at Before It's News


Valerie said...

Have you tried making okra pickles? I've never made them, but I've eaten them. yum!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Sounds like you are pretty well in line despite the strange goings this year. I was comparing the canning and the photos from last year and it is so different and I feel extremely behind the 8ball. I keep hoping it's one of those "careful what you wish for" years and that all of the sudden we will have lots to harvest. So far...nothing.

bspinner said...

Honestly Leigh, everytime I read your blog you make my mouth water. Everything looks so good!!!!!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Just wondering what you do with all those lids you save?

City Sister said...

This year seems quite fruitful already! We're not quite where you are, but just did put up a year's worth of strawberry jam!

Leigh said...

Okra pickles! Valerie that's a very good idea. I will definitely have to try them. Thnkas!

APG, I reckon we'll all just take it as it comes, wished for or not, LOL. Years like this are probably why it's a good idea to get more than one year's worth put up if possible. Even so, harvest is right around the corner!

Barb, well, I didn't think anyone would want to look at fruit worms, LOL

Jane, actually I only save the Golden Harvest and Kerr, because they don't have the BPA coating like Ball's do (I'm trying to get away from Ball's for that reason, until I can finally get some Tattlers). Mostly I save them to use with rings when I need lids for dehydrated goods, dried herbs, seeds, or legumes, or when I want a clean lid for a jar in the fridge. They do seem to pile up though.

City Sister, hurray for strawberry jam! The year does seem to be off to a good start, doesn't it? :)

Mama Pea said...

This post brings up the fact that we are all gardeners trying to provide food for our families on a year-round basis, but we have to do it so differently because of our widely divergent climates. We can't winter anything over in the garden (I've tried and been tremendously unsuccessful!) and even getting veggies to go to seed is a challenge because our hard, killing frost comes so early.

I still wouldn't give up gardening for anything though . . . and it's so, so interesting to read about your adventures in a more tempered climate.

pelenaka said...

Don't yeah just love the lids with no or minimal graphics.
This year I'm working on using Ball lids that I bought with coupons & a store promotional which made them free. But I have to use white labels because it's so hard to read when I write on the lids due to that dang floral graphic.

I had at one time saved all my lids because I was thinking that I could use them as shingles on a rabbit hutch.

Wonderful canning efforts !

Doyu Shonin said...

Ha ha, everyone does that ONCE with the chard; I certainly did. Nowadays I dry almost all of it and crumble it into my homemade "Italian seasoning." Otherwise I have to be careful how much I use in salads or whatever, so people don't figure out what it is and run away screaming.

Nina said...

mmm fresh peaches. They won't be ready here until August. Do you can food and keep it for more than a year? I've always thought it better to preserve what I can eat in a year and the start fresh the next year. It always seemed like a lot of extra effort and waste, to put up more food than we could use. That being said, I still have one of last year's chooks in the freezer. He's turning into stew next week!
Nobody here really likes strawberry jam anymore, although they ate it like mad when they were young. Instead these dyas, they prefer peach, blueberry and raspberry. I still make way more than we can eat but luckily it makes great gifts and potluck contributions.

A Wild Thing said...

I hope to get bunches of tomatoes for canning this year, last year was a bust in Iowa with all the rains we had, the markets down the road didn't fare well either, but I'll have you know I ate my first heirloom tomato this afternoon and just picked another, 'Jaune Flamme', an orange fruit with terrific flavor...but who doesn't savor the first tomato of the season...I was in heaven with a salt shaker for 60 seconds!!! Now I could use some peach pie!!!

Marissa said...

Wow! Loved reading all about your preserving. I did my fair share yesterday too.

We also try to find a balance between seasonal eating and storing food for the winter. We can grow such a wide variety of things year round that I don't want summer squash, okra or eggplant in the winter. I also don't want beets, turnips or kale in the summer! But herbs, potatoes, tomatoes and fruit are things I will go out of my way to have year round. I've yet to have potatoes or tomatoes enough to last all year. I'm hoping to change that this time!

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

Maybe you mentioned this before, but I missed it. Do you grow any sweetpotato, and if so which variety?

Judy said...

Okra pickles are easy and tasty! Have you tried pickled green beans? Also very tasty!

Green tomato salsa? Would you mind sharing your recipe? My mother always made green tomato relish with her end of season green tomatoes. I like it better than regular sweet pickle relish.

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh my goodness what a wonderful harvest. You are so far ahead of us. Your pickles look awesome!

Tami said...

When are you planting your root crops Leigh? NC Extension says to plant carrots July 1-15th. Seems weird to me in this heat. I'm also thinking I'd like to do another batch of potatoes. Like you, I'd like to take advantage of the "in-ground technique" for over winter storage. (No root cellar here, dang it.) This worked well last year for my (undersized) carrots

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, that is something I've really enjoyed about the internet for quite some time. It's very interesting to see what others are doing and when! Personally, I admire your rhubarb. :)

Pelenaka, good point about the Ball lids. That's another reason I don't like them, no room to write! I reckon they figure everybody buys their fancy jar labels. Love the idea of the rabbit hutch roof, LOL

Risa, LOL, I suppose that's true. We really do like canned greens, but Swiss chard just isn't as tasty as canned spinach or lambs quarter. I do like your dehydration idea for them. I even have over a gallon dried (at your suggestion) but I need to get into the habit of using them!

Nina, I hear you about food preservation. The idea behind canning so much is to have a surplus in case we have a poor crop the next year. My goal is to have enough food and seed in that event. Of course frozen foods don't keep all that long anyway, as they develop that "freezer burn" taste. I'm clearing out my freezer of those kinds of things by making jam of the berries. Mostly I like my freezer for meat, grains, and now milk!

Wild Thing, oh for a taste of your first tomato! Mine are just beginning to turn red. Like you, I'm hoping for bunches to can.

Marissa, thanks! I think Dan and I need to approach our preferred food choices the same way. I froze summer squash (because I had extra) but we didn't like it that way. I can see the same for okra and eggplant. I agree with you on the potatoes and tomatoes. Also pickles and jam!

MTS, yes! I have two kinds of sweet potatoes: Porto Rico and Vardeman. I'll have to post some pix in my July garden tour.

Judy, I'm convinced! Pickled okra it is. The green tomato salsa recipe came from Farmgirl Susan. Link here - http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2005/09/saving-harvest-green-tomato-relish.html

Alicia, thanks! Interesting how location makes the difference, isn't it?

Tami, yup, July and August. I can't believe it's time already! I agree it seems weird to plant fall crops in this heat. Actually, I haven't figured out where to put mine yet; I'm still getting the beds defined. I do find in ground storage works well, since our ground never gets very deeply frozen. Do plant fall potatoes! One can never have enough potatoes, no matter what time of year it is!

* Crystal * said...

Leigh pickled okra rocks!!

My kids grandma grows 10-15 rows of okra per yer specifically for making pickled okra....We always get 3 jars & its hard to ration them out lol. She pickles a few garlic cloves in each jar & the argue over who gets it. lol

What variety of peach tree did you plant? We want to add fruit trees, specifically peach, apricot & plum...haven't found a good local source though so I think I'll have to buy online..

Peach pie sounds divine right about now :)

Judy said...

Thanks for the link for the green tomato salsa!

Jody said...

This was my first visit. You have a very impressive blog. It's hand on, informative and still personal. I couldn't resist becoming a follower. You comment about peaches stood out to me. We have 1 acre and 6 peach trees. They are the crown jewel of our central Appalachian acre.

dr momi said...

My mouth was watering at your peach pictures....that was just teasing us "up north" people!! lol

Leigh said...

Crystal, I definitely need to try okra pickles! Can you or anyone suggest a recipe?

The peaches are a July Elberta and a Starking Delicious, but I don't know which is which. I was supposed to write that down, but ??? We got them from Stark Bro's along with apples, pears, strawberries, red raspberries, and later a Stanley prune-plum and crabapple tree. We've been very happy with what we ordered from them.

Judy, you're welcome.

Hello Jody, and welcome. I appreciate your very kind words. How wonderful that you have 6 peach trees! I would love to plant more myself.

Dr. Momi, just wait though, soon you'll be showing off your yummy fruits and ours will be long gone! LOL

Anonymous said...

When I use a jar of home-canned food, I also think about what I was doing on the date on the lid. It looks like you are doing a great job of putting up food. Discovering what and how much to preserve comes with experience. We are trying to do less canning and more solar drying and eating seasonally. Nevertheless, I canned snap beans this month.

Leigh said...

Cindy, you are so right about experience. Like you, we're going to try to eat more fresh, but I still hope to keep more than a year's worth of vegetables and fruits in the pantry. I'm nowhere near ready to can green beans, thanks to this year's weather. :)

Unknown said...

Wow! You have had a busy summer so far.