August 13, 2017

August Days

August days are harvest days for me, filled with picking, preserving, and this year, also writing. Sandwiched between morning and evening chores, my days are full and fulfilling.


On the first of the month I got my last picking of blueberries. It wasn't a gangbusters year for blueberries, but we've eaten our fill fresh, in pies, and in pancakes every Sunday morning. I froze two-gallons worth, and had my granddaughters over for a blueberry picking party and blueberry lunch. I sent a gallon home with my daughter-in-law, so I'm satisfied with the season!

Blueberry harvest lasts for about a month, whereas I only get a week for figs.


I think this has been my most abundant year for figs yet! Flavor-wise they are kind of bland, so we don't eat many fresh, but I did nail my recipe for fresh fig pie (which I'll share next time). Most of our figs are canned to eat with breakfast or lunch, dehydrated for baking, and frozen for winter jam making.


It's time to pick elderberries too. I know there are quite a few green ones in there, but I have stiff competition with the birds for these. They don't mind eating them green, so I have to get at least some before they're all gone! But I've got three gallons of berries so far, which is the most I've ever gotten. I freeze them for jelly  making in the winter.

Tomatoes and cucumbers

We're enjoying our tomatoes: green ones to fry and red ones for eating fresh and for making pizza sauce to can. If I can't get to them right away, I freeze them and work on the sauce later. We've been eating cucumbers once or twice a day too, plus I've restocked the pickle and cucumber relish shelf in the pantry.

Okra and yellow summer squash

I only have a couple of squash plants, so both harvest and eating are manageable for just the two of us. The small ones we eat fresh in salads, medium ones are sauteed as a side dish, and when I get a few big ones I'll make stuffed squash.

Of okra I planted three rows, and it has done really well this year (after two years of not). I'm not keen on stewed okra, but we like it oven fried or sauteed. I slice and freeze quite a bit to accompany winter meals, and also I've been able to can okra pickles!

Okra pickles with garlic

My green beans slowed down in July when it was so hot and dry. August has brought both cooler temperatures plus welcome rain (over 4 inches so far!), so bean production has picked up again.

We love them steamed with butter and salt, plus I can them. I know folks usually prefer their green beans frozen, but I don't have any room left in my freezer. Plus I love to grab a jar to make my Green Bean Caesar as a last minute side dish.

The only dry beans I planted this year was cow peas.

I planted them at the top of the corn field. They didn't get a lot of water last month so quite a few of the plants are dead now. But the harvest is enough for us and as a treat for the critters as well.

We don't usually harvest meat this time of year, because processing in warm weather attracts too many flies. But it was time to do something about all the ducks, especially since Mama Duck had gone off to brood another batch.

Of our 12 Muscovy ducklings we ended up with nine adult ducks: five females and four males. Big Duck (our drake) had rounded up all the lady ducks for himself and was constantly chasing the males. The chickens were constantly pecking and chasing them too. (Poultry can be pretty ruthless toward one another.) They were destined for the freezer anyway, so when the forecast was for an overnight low of about 60°F (15°C - a real treat for us this time of year) we decided to do the deed. Muscovy tastes more like beef than duck or chicken, by the way.

So those are my August days so far, how are yours? Are you picking and preserving like me, or in the planning stages? Do let me know!

August Days © Aug. 2017 by Leigh


Goatldi said...

Looks like you are having a well balanced year in the garden and kitchen. I always canned my green beans. Like them better that way. I have fig envy. I must say I do miss all the mature trees we had on the Golden West Side outside of Fresno. And a fig was one of them yummy. Sounds like a fun blueberry party with the grand girls.

You are correct about the flavor of Muscovy I like it better than the other breeds of ducks I have had and not as fatty either.

Paula said...

Oh man! you have to try okra and tomatoes, which I learned how to do when I lived in Jacksonville, Florida. One of my all time favorite things to stick in my face, although I have to eat it over cauliflower now that I can't eat rice anymore. It's good on cauliflower too, though.

Start water for rice. When it's boiling, add the rice.

Dice and fry 6 slices of bacon. Saute a diced onion in with that, and when they're translucent, add a 15 oz can (or a pint of home canned) diced tomatoes and a pound of cut okra. Cover and lower the heat and stew for 20 minutes, which should be the timing on your rice.

Serve the veg over the rice. So freakin' good!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, sort of balanced, LOL. The days are always busy and long during harvest, but it doesn't seem like work to preserve so much good food for ourselves. :)

Paula, so bacon is the secret ingredient! I've made and even canned okra and tomatoes but bacon never occurred to me. Bacon makes everything taste better!

Mama Pea said...

Yup, August is definitely the month of harvest around here, too. Even though I've had some disappointments in my garden this year (shell peas and raspberries the biggest), I'm very grateful for all that is rolling in right now.

Our blueberry season hasn't peaked yet, but we've had a good picking. Green (and yellow) beans are in full swing. Beets are waiting their turn as soon as I have the time. Lotsa fresh cukes for eating (yum) and some pickling ones for fermenting.

I've never tasted a fresh fig but we like dried ones I get at our organic co-op. Your pickled okra intrigues me as I like pickled most anything.

We have many ducks and chickens to butcher, but as long as things stay peaceable in the poultry yard, we'll wait until fall to do that task.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

How fun to have a blueberry party with your grands! Our 15 year old granddaughter from Virginia will be in town this week so that will be fun. Your harvest and preserving looks wonderful! Enough to almost make a person envious! Wish my shelves were filled with goodies! I know you will enjoy all your hard work this winter. Nancy

Unknown said...

Elderberries have been a big challenge for us. First the deer eat the bushes so we put fences around them. When the bushes get big enough the make berries the birds eat all of the berries while they are still green. This year I decided to harvest the flowers to make tea and tincture. At least we will get something out of it.

I have always loved fresh green beans with butter and salt as you described but last year I started making garlic butter to use on green beans and other veggies (mashed potatoes, corn of the cob...)I mince the garlic and let it set for about 10 minutes to let the flavor develop before mixing it with the softened butter. This should be used right away or kept refrigerated.

Mrs Shoes said...

Oh my, *envy*.
My gardens have not done so well this year...
We had a very cold June & not much warmer beginning of July, combined with lack of rain. Peas & cucs have done alright, carrots & beets I'll leave in the ground til the last minute, test pull showed smaller than average veg. Zucs I have, but my tomatoes & tomatillos have not done well either, for the first year ever. Out of a dozen pepper plants, only 2 of them fruited at all, so yesterday (in anger) I pulled the others up, threw them between the rows, & poked some strawberry plants in there, probably too late, almost certainly too late, but I've gotta try. So sad.
I did plant some new raspberry bushes that I've been babying along and, though they are only a foot high, they fruited their heads off!! Resulting in handfuls of berries only, but pleased me for just newly planted.

This HAS been a good year in our hay fields though and so, at least, our livestock will be well fed. Today Mr Shoes & Boot are hauling & shedding another 200 smalls (did 200 yesterday) and THANK GAWD(!) I found & bought them a bale elevator for Mr Shoes is not getting any younger & anything that speeds up farm work for Boot is much appreciated. The round bales are put up already and a good number, but a second cut will not likely happen without a prolonged warm fall, which is not likely.

That's farming though; most years are good, some years are fantastic, and some years are catastrophic. We just keep on single-footing, praying, & being thankful for whatever comes.

Florida Farm Girl said...

You have been a busy lady. I much prefer canned green beans to frozen ones.

Sharon said...

I'm right there with you. Made enough relish this yeas, to share for gifts. plus pickles and the cucumbers don't stop. tomatoes are strong right now and going into the freezer as is until later. We froze 60# of blueberries, which was terrific. And 10 new sheep arrived yesterday.

Rain said...

Hi Leigh! Oh the figs look great! So does everything else. My garden is not harvestable just yet. The tomatoes are still green. The yellow beans did nothing, the cucumbers are still flowering...but the root veggies did thrive! At least I know what works here! :) I went to the market to buy tomatoes to can...last year I got 20 pound boxes for $8. This year? 16 pound boxes of greenhouse tomatoes are $17!! and the field tomatoes are $37!! Crazy! I won't be canning this year! Just goes to show how bad the weather is affecting everyone in this area this season.

Ed said...

I just finished up canning 8 quarts and 8 pints of spaghetti sauce and will probably do another round here this week since we were completely out. I still have tons of tomato juice, chunks and sauce from last year so I probably won't can any more of that.

I love canned green beans but haven't canned any in years. I need to remedy that. I do like to pickle green beans and asparagus because the jars pack so well compared to other greens like okra, which I also love eating pickled.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, peaceableness is a good indicator of the time frame! I'm always hoping you're having a productive growing season up there. Sometimes you get it too cold and we get it too hot. Always a challenge1

Nancy, you haven't had the best of luck with your new garden, have you. Hopefully you'll get it figured out and have your own goodies next year. :)

Ruth, garlic butter sounds like a lovely idea! Deer and birds can do a lot of damage, I can relate. I lost my sweet potatoes and beets for a number of years to deer. Birds like all the berries and figs!

Mrs. Shoes, in turn I'll envy your hay crop! We've done well with hay, but just can't seem to grow and harvest enough of it. Or maybe I have too many goats! Very true about the ups and downs of gardening. We just have to hang in there during the bad years and be thankful for the good.

Sue, yay for canned green beans! I find I usually wait too late in my dinner planning anyway, so with canned I don't have to wait for anything to defrost. :)

Sharon, 60# of blueberries! Wow, that's fantastic! And congratulations on your new sheep! That is exciting news.

Rain, that's a huge price jump for tomatoes! Was the weather that uncooperative up there? Hopefully you'll still do well with your garden.

Ed, that's great! It's really nice to get several year's worth canned at a time, isn't it? Helps balance out the poor years with the good.

Rain said...

Yeah, we had snow until mid-May, June and July were cold and rainy and we are finally getting hot days, but since it's August, the nights are really cold. Not a good summer for summer veggies! Next summer I may stick to root veggies, depending on how my tomatoes go. I'm currently covering them with poly-tarp every night now to keep them toasty!

Leigh said...

Rain, that's a good idea about covering the tomatoes. I hope you get some ripe ones for all your troubles! Learning what grows well in one's area seems to take several years of trial and error. I don't experiment much any more, I just stick to my local basics.

Chris said...

Thanks for mentioning the pickled okra. I'm trying to grow it for the first time, this year, and it's not something I've cooked with before. I do love dill pickles though. So I might have to try it with okra.

I've already got my okra seeds to successfully germinate under a heat mat, and they're in the nursery, growing more, before they make it into the garden. I hope they do well. They should. I hear they're a hardy crop, and I've got the natural conditions to test them in. ;)

Quinn said...

Glad to see you're having a pretty good year, Leigh. And the okra picture made my mouth water! I had dreams of pickled okra this year, but the plants are just a few inches tall NOW, in mid-August. What a "season." Raining again today, but I'm lucky I was able to borrow a truck and get a load of hay from the hayman yesterday, when my Occasional Helper was here to do all the loading and unloading.
Still hoping for a crop of candy roaster squash, and if I get it I'll be pureeing and freezing and maybe slicing and drying, too...fingers crossed. A body's got to eat!

Leigh said...

Chris, I should think okra will do very well for you, considering that you and I have similar growing conditions. If you love pickles, you'll love pickled okra! It's a real treat.

Quinn, always thankful for a good year! So sorry to year you're not having one. :( I love the name "candy roaster squash." I think I'll have to try some next year!

Living Alone in Your 60's said...

Our fig tree is behind yours her in the UK as the figs are still green but it won't be long before they ripen. My beans slowed but are now producing again thanks to additional feeds and some rain.

Leigh said...

Tania, interesting about your green beans because mine are doing the same thing! I hope your fig year is as good as mine. :)

M.K. said...

What a beautiful harvest! I like that you are freezing now, and pulling it out in winter to work on jellies, etc. That's smart. I sometimes work myself up, trying to can so much stuff right now.

We still have some tomatoes. Our cucumbers are pretty spent. It's been very hot here, plus tons of rain the past 2 or so weeks. Our sweet potatoes are looking very good, and we just put in new green beans and white potatoes. We are preparing our garden for the fall when we'll put in different things.

Leigh said...

M.K. I need to get started on my fall garden too! The freezing really helps with the work load. Plus it's nice to save some of the cooking and canning until colder weather!