Taking Stock

| 7/21/2010 5:56:14 PM

BountyI admit, I have spent a little too much time lately thinking about what our garden(s) has NOT done for us this year. There have been moments of frustration, bugs galore, long, hot days, and rotten fruit.

Despite it all we have managed to get a great start on our fall/winter preserves. To date we have put away 45 lbs. of yellow onions, 8 quarts of strawberries, 4 gallons of peaches, 3 gallons of blueberries, 3 gallons of blackberries, 37 heads of lettuce (both european and buttercrunch combined), 13 quarts of bell pepper, 8 quarts of crookneck squash, 2 quarts of zuchini, 5 quarts of green beans, 11 quarts of zipper peas, 2 quarts of butter beans, 10 gallons of sweet corn (purchased from a local farmer), countless fresh herbs which we dried, ground, and put in the cupboard, 7 quarts of dill pickles, and 6 quarts of stewed tomatoes. We have also made 14 quarts of apple butter, 7 quarts of strawberry freezer jam, 1 quart of pesto, 8 quarts of blueberry jam, and 4 gallons of okra ready for frying.

WOW! Just seeing it in writing has gotten me excited. We have already exceeded last years bounty and it is only mid-July. We still have a solid month of beans, peas, potatoes, okra, etc. And that isn’t to mention the fall crops.

We also started a flock of “meat chickens” about 13 weeks ago so they are about ready to process for meat and stock which will go nicely beside our side of grass-fed beef and our portions of locally harvested pork.

None of this comes easy though. We have worked hard; both before planting and during the harvest. Not to mention the hours of peeling, chopping, stirring, and processing. It isn’t easy at all but it sure is rewarding.

My one hope though is that everyone who reads this post is experiencing their own wonderful bounty -  be it one tomato plant or 500 acres of soybean.

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

          – Ralph Waldo Emerson

7/27/2010 11:41:27 AM

@Dave - I grow buttercrunch up until about mid-August. There are a couple of variables though since they don't handle drought, extreme heat, or direct sun well in these conditions. We use soaker hoses for our garden so they get a nice root bath twice a day (early morn and early evening) and they are planted in the shade of our beans so they don't get much direct sun at all; if any. Now, they do grow quick so you don't get a huge head as you do in the spring but you do get a good taste. We just plant a little more than usual and harvest it quicker. I don't have many suggestions for your region as we are gearing up for our fall garden which is comprised largely of kale, collards, and romaine. A salt house is nothing more than a storage area where meat and fish are salt cured and stored for later eating. There are some great accounts of salt houses in George Washington's Mount Vernon journals. Thanks buddy. May you also be blessed!

Nebraska Dave
7/27/2010 11:11:07 AM

@Andrew, what kind of lettuce do you grow in the heat of the summer? I haven't tried to do that as folks tell me that it will bolt instead of produce edible lettuce. I have space to plant another crop and I'm thinking about something for a cool weather fall crop. Any suggestions? I don't really know what a salt house is and smoke houses are not too common here in Nebraska. I think that diversity is always the best thing in all that we do. If something happens to one part of the food preservation plan it doesn't ruin all the food. Canning is probably the most safe but it does require a lot of energy in fuels and in labor. Deydration can be done with solar energy. Freezing is the easiest but has some vulerability involed with it. In your case you have backed up your electrical system which is a good thing. Have a great day and may God bless all that touches your hands.

S.M.R. Saia
7/26/2010 10:50:54 AM

Aha!! That makes sense. Thanks!

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