Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Millions of peaches..but not for free

I totally butchered that song for the title...*sigh*

This weekend I'm getting a case of peaches from my local u-pick and farm. I wont be picking them sadly as they are brought in from another farm for sale at this farm. I will be picking raspberries (hopefully) though.

My plan is to make some spiced peaches (per Wendy's suggestion) and some raspberry jam. The jam and peaches will part of my ongoing hands on canning lesson plan with me as both student and teacher. I will use my "extras" for Christmas gifts this year for co-workers and teachers at the girls school as well as our day care provider for The Boy.

Family will also receive some as gifts along with other small presents this year. I'm trying to make this a more local, more "organic" holiday season and that requires planning to start in July and August.

Luckily I have a massive amount of Strawberry Jam in both "regular" and Strawberry Vanilla flavors.

I'm also thinking of turning some of the peaches into peach butter but we will see how ambitious I get. I STILL need to finish processing some of the strawberries into jam.

On other news my garden continues to thrive and surprise me. My cucumbers are pretty much dead which I had anticipated by this point being that it's so warm here this summer. The tomatoes are doing amazing and daily I am able to harvest a handful of cherry tomatoes. Sadly my picky palate doesn't appreciate cherry tomatoes and so when my eldest daughter isn't around I bring them to work and give them away. (Eldest child loves cherry tomatoes but I think our harvest this year is testing her).

None of the "regular" tomatoes have turned red yet except a few of the Roma's. Next years larger garden I think will contain more Roma's and less cherry tomatoes. I never seem to have enough Roma's to turn into sauce sadly.

I have spotted my first Jalapeno pepper in the garden and am excited to see it although again, not to eat it. Luckily my husband enjoys his food spicy so I will be able to add it to some of his meals from time to time. (Hopefully).

Aside from that onions, carrots and radish all are still in the garden and underground. I'm unsure as to when to harvest those but I'm certain it's not in August.

Goal this weekend:
Pick raspberries
Process raspberries, peaches and strawberries
Clear some space around the backyard and prep for at LEAST 1 tree

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The weekend of Berries

This Saturday I rose uncomfortably early and headed to the pick your own located about 30 minutes from my house sans children. While I do normally take a child or three with me on these excursions I decided against it this time since it had been such a tough go of it last time with just the one child.

In June when I picked berries at this same local they were small and tough to find. I was anticipating much of the same but I was determined. My goal was to put up tremendous quantities of strawberry jam. I wanted to make some as gifts for people this year for Christmas and also for my own family.

From my first June batch of jam I had given away 2 half pints of the sweet stuff and it had been well received. In fact I had even received one of my jars back empty it was so well received.

I got to the fields and much to my surprise was met with these kinds of berries:

I was delighted. These were large and easy to reach and they were everywhere!

The woman who drove the tractor out to the fields with us pickers on board informed us that these were "pre-berries" and that the actual crop would come in later this month. I can't even imagine how many strawberries they will have then.

Within 30 minutes I had this:

I took them back to the farmhouse, picked up another flat and 2 smaller boxes and went back out. Within another 45 minutes I had filled the entire flat plus and was done. I was also pretty badly sunburned because my skin is the color of fishbelly and since I hadn't brought children I had also not brought the bag with sunscreen in it. Lesson learned there.

Beginning Saturday night and also Sunday we cleaned and processed the entire first flat plus 2 smaller boxes and made them into Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam. I made small 4oz jars and also larger 8 oz jars for gifts and for consumption. Initial home taste testing indicates they are amazing.

I'm unsure if I'll freeze the remaining strawberries or just go ahead and process those as well.

Whatever I do I need to do it soon. The pick your own informed me that raspberries will be ready by August 17th and peaches by the end of the month.

I love canning!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Update as such

The garden continues to produce, albeit not much. I have probably another 3 or 4 Roma tomatoes to harvest tonight and my surprise cherry tomatoes have begun to go from green to orange. My oldest daughter is beyond delighted at the idea of fresh off the vine cherry tomatoes. Well, as delighted as a 14 year old goth can be.

My mind is already racing for the garden next year and what I hope to accomplish. I never did get my raspberries or apple trees in the ground which sets me a year behind my goals for food production. I of course still have time to ready the ground and plant but I'm not sure if planting in 90 degree weather is good for those trees or bushes.

Hubby has agreed to a square foot raised bed next year for the back yard. Again, this wont give us the entire amount of food we need but it will certainly be a little easier. I'm also looking for places/ideas on how to sneak more food crops into that yard.

The front yard has stalled but once the weather cools a little more I hope to get more prep work on that done as well. I think we are going to raise part of the bed there with herbs and helpful insect attractants to the top and possibly surprise root vegetables to the bottom area. But we shall see, my mother in law is a garden/landscape guru so it's just conversations between her and I trying to figure out what we want to accomplish.

I feel a lack of inertia at the moment and also feel the pull of two "worlds" at the same time which makes a lot of this stressful and hard.

One the one hand, I want to be self sufficient with a garden, with home defense, with items at the ready should the world end etc. But if I were to tell my family and friends that I was storing seeds I know I would suddenly become the "odd" duck. I've put out feelers and certainly no one feels the same way about self sufficiently, eating local or prepping.

The other hand, I want to plan for a trip to Disneyworld. I want to live as if there will always be cheap energy and cheap oil and money and food will always be plenty. It's so nice to play like that. But as soon as I get a little money saved toward that goal I worry that I should be focusing that money on other self sufficient items.

It's rough.