Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Curr(a)nt Harvest Happenings

I thought I'd post a bit about what's currently happening around here. Karey's kitchen is so amalgamated with Karey's garden and greenhouse. On my calender this month I've recorded that I've frozen snap peas, sliced zucchini, currants, raspberries, kale, and pesto. We'll soon be cutting grape clusters in the greenhouse and bagging the whole clusters for the freezer - tiny grape popsicles! And there's so many tomatoes trying their darnedest to ripen, but our nights are going down to 40 degrees now, and that slows the process. Lots of green beans are coming too. I need to go check out our old garden.

We actually started our old garden before we built our house 25 years ago. As I said in a rhubarb post, rhubarb and chokecherries were already here. There's evidence of an old homestead. In fact, Monte's writing a book called The Secret Of Singing Springs incorporating some historic stories fictionally intertwined with some of our own stories. One historic occurrence in the vicinity is with Jessie James. Our old garden has a 6 foot fence to keep elk out. If we could keep voles and pocket gophers out it would be almost perfect. We put an old sink in the garden which adds to the atmosphere being next to the woods of pine, fir, blue spruce and aspen. There's springs in that thar woods - thus the "singing springs" (we sing ... and I guess the breeze thru the trees sings - we named the road we live on Singing Springs Ln).

That garden used to be our only garden, but now I've planted a lot of fruiting bushes and small trees: native plums, saskatchewan bred cherries and blueberries, black and red currants, and gooseberries. Besides the chokecherries on the back fence and rhubarb, there's asparagus and raspberries. Next spring I'm going to plant more strawberries. Monte's tending this garden. He's weeding it and keeping all the cabbage family watered: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, rutabaga, cabbage, and then leeks - are what we planted there this year. One year I froze 30 pounds of broccoli. This year will probably be one of those years! I planted some fruit bearing siberian mountain ash trees, but don't know yet if the voles killed them.

The currants we just harvested and froze were from one bush, an old bush. The newer planted ones aren't bearing much yet, and I've just been eating them. They're sure tedious to harvest. I wrote on my calendar that I froze 13 cups, having first spread them on cookie trays to freeze, then bag them up. We like them in homemade ice cream, and I have homemade yogurt every morning with frozen/fresh fruit, and dried sprouted flax seed. Wow, when the others do start bearing, we'll have a lot. Maybe I'll consider drying some. Dry or frozen currants could be used in muffins and quick breads. Currant pie? Hmmmm...

I grow and harvest kale for its nutritive value, not that I love it - like vitamin C and calcium, for example. We have it in all our salads, including spinach, beet greens, and occasionally mustard greens. I just froze the red tinged kale, next I'll be doing the curly kale, then tuscan. I'll be freezing spinach pretty soon too. Greens, as do most veggies, need to be blanched a few minutes, before freezing. It's been tested, and they retain more vitamins when blanched first. Monte likes to pull a small bag from the freezer, chop it up, saute, and add parmesan and lemon juice. I'll add it to lasangas and stews.

This year in my closer kitchen garden I planted five varieties of beans. The four pole beans are planted together, for their varying colors, climbing the bamboo teepees. Scarlet runner beans have bright red flowers and larger beans - I'm trying to pick these before they get large. Then there's two purple varieties: the Hyacinth bean has purple vines and deep purple flowers, the other has pale violet flowers. Neither are purple bean pods. Then I planted some bush beans because they bear earlier than pole beans. But the Scarlet Runner beans are a close second. Then there's these Fortex pole beans I've never grown before. They sure are skinny. It's all so fun!

I made spaces in my kitchen garden, pulling out older greens and volunteers, and harvesting things so I could plant more salad stuff seeds to carry us into fall, and by covering with floating row covers (a white cloth looking like sewing interfacing) these greens might grow into winter. I did some stripping of tomato branches and leaves too - to allow more sun to get at the plant base for more warmth, and to force plants to focus on ripening tomatoes.

We've got these volunteer squash. I pulled out most, but some were growing where it was ok to let them do their volunteer thing ... But what are they?! They're starting to turn from green to yellow ... and maybe orange ... are they pumpkins? We shall see ...

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