Putting Up the

Putting Up the Garden Harvest

It’s been a crazy busy summer over here! (Can you tell? My blog post frequency has plummeted.) I’ll be back at it in full force soon, especially since I have very exciting news to share in the next few days.

In the meantime, I’m ready to give a new garden update. Only this one is a little different, and it’s the most exciting one yet! That’s because I’m finally able to move away from focusing on the plants themselves and instead enjoy the bountiful food they are producing for us.

There’s just one problem. I haven’t cooked a meal in three weeks.

Possibly the most unique facet of our homesteading situation at Big Laurel is that we will and work at a nonprofit that hosts groups throughout the year. (Interested in coming? Be sure to contact me!) Summers are summer camp season, meaning that in three weeks we have been inundated with three very different groups that have led camps, performed service projects, and learned about Central Appalachia. These groups are the best part of our jobs, but they don’t leave much time in our schedule for things like gardening and cooking. And because all our food is provided for us when we have groups, there’s honestly no reason to do either.

I’ll have to change my whole agricultural mindset. Lettuce has been bolting in the garden because I’ve planted more than we can possibly eat, (though that makes for some very happy baby bunnies!) The radishes are staying in the ground because we can’t be bothered to take the time to clean them. Worst of all, the weeds are thriving and vigorously outcompeting everything from the melons to the onions.

Things will be different next year. I’ll plant smaller, focus on things that we can preserve, and maybe even put stuff in straight lines. Don’t hold me to that last one.

But in the meantime, we’re working with what we have. I’ve put up quite a bit of food this past week, which has been extremely exciting. I didn’t grow up in a house that put up food like this, so I’m learning as I go. Mistakes have been made (the jam didn’t set right), but I’m learning a lot and will a little luck, am putting aside some summer calories for us to enjoy this winter- with no botulism contracted.

Enjoy this first look at some of our garden produce!

Jam-Making and Cucumber Pickling

It’s a little ironic that the most prolific crop on our property took absolutely no effort from us. The wild berries are thriving, and easy to pick along the road if you can handle a few thorns. Ian and I have been picking them every few days: munching on them raw, throwing them in the freezer, and one time, turning them into jam.

wild blackberries
Just a small sampling of the gorgeous berries we’ve been picking (and eating!) everyday for week.
The fridge was starting to fill up so it was time to do something about it.
wild blackberries
Washing and straining out the berries.
My most favorite part- smooshing them to smithereens.
Boiling the berries on the stove creates an incredible smell…yummmm
Ian’s OCD means that I had to cook TWO batches- one with blackberries and one with black raspberries. Jokes on him though, ’cause I never labeled which jar was which!!
fruit pectin
We used this brand of pectin and super cheap sugar. One of these two things is responsible for our jam not setting properly, and my neighbor’s best guess is that it was the cheap sugar.
Here’s to hoping that these taste good because I definitely didn’t follow much of a recipe.

Blanching Greens and Carrots

It was time to get at some of our greens before the cabbage moths got to them all first. Since we haven’t been making many sautés recently, I blanched the whole batch to provide a base for crockpot recipes this fall.

Some of the bountiful produce all wasting away in the garden
Blanching the greens!
The amount of leaf actually preserved is sadly pretty paltry.
All those stems for such a small amount of greens! they really shrink down.

Our first batch of carrots were also harvested! They were blanched as well and put into the freezer, though the house smelled heavenly when they were cooking.

Paris Market carrots
I grew a Parisian market variety that is known for growing short, round carrots- perfect for our clay soils.

And finally…some things are still better eaten fresh

My dinner, on one of those rare evenings when I needed to fend for myself.

Independence Day tomatoes, Biet Alpha cucumbers (an Israeli heirloom) and Thai sweet basil, all drenched in a cinnamon balsamic vinegar. Perfection.

So what’s been growing in YOUR garden? What great recipes am I missing out on? Honestly, I’d love to hear from you.

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One thought on “Putting Up the Garden Harvest

  1. Lydia …did you use any under ripe berries and/or did you use lemon juice??? to make jelly you need a certain amount of acid to get the pectin to set up… if you used ripe to over ripe berries and did not add lemon juice you may have gotten too little acid. just an idea also cheap sugar in my experience makes very little difference as long as you add the correct amount? but these are only ideas

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