Some friends of our have offered to let us come pick blackberries of their vines, so in the cool of the evening we did just that. Our fingers were stained as well as some of our chins! We froze the berries on trays, then put them into bags. During the winter, we will surely enjoy a taste of summer berries in our morning smoothies!
This week…. carnage. Racoons and opossums have found the corn. We enjoyed a few meals with sweet corn on the cob, then the next day I found this. I am not sure what to do differently next year to avoid this problem. I don’t want to pick more corn than we can eat in a meal at one time. But as soon as it is ripe, the varmints attack. Tommy set a trap with a freshly caught fish in it, hoping to catch something, but no luck so far. One night I went to the garden late in the night to turn the soaker hose off, and I saw two raccoons eating the corn. I hollered for Jeremie, but he didn’t hear me. By the time I went to the house to get him and his gun, the looters were long gone. The next night, he shot one perpetrator, but most of the damage had already been done. Onto happier news, we are enjoying fresh melons! And salsa! And ketchup! My pumpkin vines have suddenly started to look like this. Do they have a fungus or mildew? Or is this simply what happens when most of the pumpkins are turning orange? Two nights this week we had nothing but garden veggies for dinner… beets, potatoes, beans, cukes, corn, tomatoes. Every single one of my kids wondered out loud..”where’s the beef?” Insatiable carnivores, lol!
Have you ever canned garlic? It is easy, so easy to do! I really have no good way to store garlic. It always seems to dry and shrivel up. So I kept back a little over half of my garlic that I harvested earlier this summer, but then I minced and canned the rest. Do you see that some of the “cloves” of garlic are more like the size of an onion? Why would that be? So anyway, I peeled the garlic (with my fantastic helper!), minced it and put it into the jars with a mixture of water, vinegar and salt. Into the water bath canner for 5 min. and done! This will be so easy to use all winter long, while we wait for our next great garlic harvest. Altogether I put up 24 4oz. jars. We’ll see how long it lasts. All the next day my house reeked of spicy garlic. It was wonderful.
Not to much to share this week. The pumpkins are turning orange. Everyday the kids go out there to check on them. And to check on the huge watermelons. They have been the most fun to grow. We are still harvesting cukes, beans, squash, zuchini, peppers and tomatoes. We have picked off a couple tomato horn worms, but haven’t seen too much damage. And the horn worms had these weird white things on them. I am told those are beneficial and will eventually kill the worm. Maybe I should have left them alone, but I wasn’t for sure, so I squished it. I have put in a fall crop of carrots, chard, spinach, beets and corn. This is my view as I sit in the shady corner of my garden. My quiet place.
We seem to have an array of broken items at our house. Broken cars, broken tractors, broken trailers, broken bikes, broken fences, broken boats, etc. ad nauseam. But, lucky for us, we also have a house full of handy men and boys. Today Jimmy (6) and Benja (4) joined the ranks of “useful people”. This tractor toy has been broken for months. The chain that is housed inside the came off. Benja decided today was the day he was going to fix that thing. He took off some items and with a little help from Jimmy, proudly came and told me that he had fixed the tractor. And sure enough, he did! I had watched him, through the window, whacking away at that thing with a screwdriver, so I was quite surprised that now it actually works.
Fruit from a friend was begging to be made into jam. I’ve never made plum jam, never even eaten it. But these plums have been calling me from the refrigerator for over a week. Finally, today, a nice cool day, I got out the canner and set to work. It was suprisingly easy. All it took was time. Time to simmer the fruit, time to strain the fruit, time to thicken the jam, time to admire the glowing garnet jar of jam.
Also, the tomatoes have been coming in the garden. Not enough to can, but more than enough for eating fresh. Not too many of us here like fresh tomatoes, kind of odd, I know. And who doesn’t loathe and dread blanching, peeling, straining and canning tomato sauce, tomato paste, pizza sauce and all the yummy things made from tomatoes. Now I’ve adopted this easy peasy method of preserving tomatoes. Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast them in the oven on high enough heat to blister the skins, and whiz them up in the blender. Now they are ready to be canned as sauce, or made into marinara, or ketchup. The roasting gives a deep, fire-roasted flavor that I love. I don’t roast them quite this much when I am making ketchup because I want a light, bright flavor for that. But pizza sauce? Delic.