Archive for July, 2012

Enjoying THIS Season

The seasons of gardening are enjoyable.  First the planning and dreaming before the ground has thawed.  Then the first dirt on my hands when I  start my seeds indoors, and week after week of watering and watching the miracle of sprouting take place.  Soon preparing the beds and planting the cool weather crops take center stage, and slowly the masses of seedlings near the east and south facing windows begin to find their way outside.  For a while, watering and mulching and hopefully only a little weeding keep time in the garden to a minimum.

Then I discover the first fruit on the vine.  The lettuce is bright with the green of spring.  The broccoli forms baby heads, and the carrots grow unseen beneath the soil.  It seems as though the harvest will trickle in.

The first days of preserving the harvest finally come, canning carrots and then freezing broccoli.  After a while the tomatoes finally arrive on the scene!  At first I try to eat them all, each red fruit a treasure to be savored.  Then I realize I could never eat them all before they rot, and I am canning tomatoes, canning peaches, canning pickles.  The counter tops are covered with zucchini, the freezer is full of frozen cantaloupe, and the fridge always boasts sweet watermelon ready for feasting.

This week I began planning for next year’s garden.  I saved some seeds!  Next year we shall hope to have cantaloupe, watermelon, and brandywine tomatoes as wonderful as we have this year, for their seeds will lie in wait all winter long for the warm earth to bring life from a dormant seed to bear the delicious and life-giving fruit again next year.  I can hardly wait to start all over again.

Life truly does come in seasons.  Amazingly, the transition from one season to the next comes gradually and we often do not know when a season has ended, nor when another has begun.  Like the harvest, it seems it will be a long time coming, but then it is suddenly upon us, and we wonder where the time went.  Today I stood in my garden and soaked in THIS season.  My daughter stood atop a woodchip pile and sang spontaneous worship songs that must have commanded the attention of all heaven.  I know Jesus was listening and beaming.  The water fell on my garden plants and on my soul as I realized how blessed I was today.  How blessed this season is.  And I want to enjoy it deeply, as many moments as I can, never knowing when another season may make this season only a memory.  Surely each season has many things to be thankful for, and today, let us give thanks for the bounty in our kitchens, and the bounty in our lives.



Preserving the Harvest – Canning!

So I wanted a garden this spring.  Not just a few plants out behind the house, but a real garden with beds and significant plantings of vegetables and fruits.  And though it’s no acre garden, it’s pretty big for a first year gardener.  I have enjoyed planting the seeds, watching them grow, keeping them watered, and now we enjoy the harvest.

However, though I may have slightly underestimated the time input needed to get the garden going this spring, I really didn’t know how much time it would take to preserve the food this summer.  I’ve been canning about once a week this month.  Canning is one of those things that by the directions seems like it should only take about 2 hours.  Usually it takes me the better part of an evening, maybe the late afternoon as well.  So far I have a good batch of carrots, a batch of sweet pickles, and a batch of dill pickles.  If I could can cantaloupe, I’d have a ton of that.  Is there ANY way to preserve cantaloupe?  It’s all ripening at once! I’m about ready to do a batch of tomatoes, but really need to see a bunch of them ripen at one time

Sweet Pickles

to get many jars of them, they cook down so much.  I also blanched and froze 10 heads of broccoli, shredded and froze 6 zucchini, and made another 6 into 3 loaves of zucchini bread.  Also, we are grinding our own grain this month with the addition of a grain grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid.  The flour and the bread it makes are amazing!  My zucchini bread was made with organic freshly ground locally sourced white winter wheat, home grown organic zucchini, home grown free range chicken eggs, and locally sourced honey.  It is gooood stuff, and good for you!

So, it’s a bit of a time commitment to preserve the harvest this summer, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.  In fact I have 25 lbs of peaches coming next week from the Oklahoma Food Coop, as well as bushels of pears about to ripen on my sister’s 3 huge pear trees.  Should be a delicious fall and winter we have after all this laying by!

Enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables of summer, and take a few Saturdays to preserve some of it for the fall.  You’ll be glad you did!