Harvesting and Preserving

Oops, July is gone. I blinked a couple of times, and poof! It was over.

August is for harvesting. Cucumbers, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, green beans, green peppers, and eggplant — the abundance is overwhelming. This is the time gardeners have worked for. Starting seeds, repotting, planting out, weeding, watering, and pruning was all for this time. Let the harvesting begin.

There’s no other month like August. The fall sounds are becoming loud during the evening and night. Crickets chirping, locusts buzzing, and all the other night sounds are telling the gardener that it’s time to start thinking about fall. Even the temperatures are entertaining fall. The nighttime temps here in Nebraska are in the upper 50s and 60s, while the daytime temps are in the 70s and lower 80s. It’s quite a relief from the heated temperatures of July. Light rain showers have only caused the humidity to stay above 80 percent and have not really benefited the soil moisture much.

As you can see, the cabbage has grown really well this year. It’s now time to make some kraut, don’t you think? Based on the articles I’ve read and the Mother Earth News sessions I’ve attended, making sauerkraut is relatively easy and it stores well. So, I’ll be eating a lot of kraut this winter. I have some gallon glass jars I’ll be using to make and store the kraut. It’s not exactly the traditional crock method, but I’m sure it will be OK. 

Well, it’s amazing how much processed cabbage can be packed into a 2/3 gallon jar. I used three heads of cabbage to make this jar of kraut. Making sauerkraut is about as easy as it can get for preservation of a garden vegetable. The ingredients are cabbage and salt. The cabbage is just chopped up and sprinkled with salt, then packed into a non-plastic container. I use a zip-close bag filled with water to weight down the cabbage while it’s fermenting. In about three weeks it will be kraut, but the longer I can wait before eating, the better it will be. Gardening and preserving require patience sometimes.

This is one of many harvests to come. The dreaded vine borer didn’t happen this year for some reason. I planted squash, cucumbers, and sweet corn all together. It became a tangled mess, but perhaps the vine borer was confused about which plant to attack and just gave up. The tangled web method seemed to benefit all three crops and production of all three was abundant. I have such a big harvest that I’m not sure what exactly to do with it. I will most likely give much of it away.

There’s the first of the preservation. Five quarts of pickles and seven quarts of green beans. I left the rest of the green beans to mature and dry out on the vines for dry beans to store for winter soups and such. The cucumbers were soaked in a salt brine for a week and then processed using Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle mix. The three week waiting period is just about up to sample the pickles to see if I want to make more. It’s my second attempt at making pickles. The first attempt last year was OK, but I like crisp pickles and they were wimpy. The brine solution is supposed to make them crisp, so we will see. I might have to resort to the alum method if the brine method doesn’t work. 

Can you guess what’s happening here? Every year a block party is planned for my neighborhood. Four years ago I made ice cream for my contribution. One taste of the real thing and everyone requested that I make it every year. I always tell them there is nothing in the ice cream that’s good for you. It’s filled with whole milk, sugar, condensed milk, and all real ingredients. It doesn’t seem to matter, they eat it up just the same. My grandson made the comment, “Grandpa, it melts really fast.” I responded, “It’s supposed to melt like that. Store ice cream isn’t real ice cream.” The kid is getting a real education about food while living with old Grandpa. I haven’t been able to get him interested in helping with gardening just yet. But, neither was I until I was in my 20s.

It’s time to get back in the garden and find something else to preserve.

 See ya next time.

  • Published on Aug 14, 2017
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