Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Harvest season

Harvest season is in full swing here, with greens and tomatoes, beans and herbs, onions and potatoes.

Just some of our heirloom tomatoes.

Again, our onions are not much bigger than the ones we planted.

We need lots of sage for our sausage in December.

Basil really shrinks down once dried.  Need lots.  For all those tomatoes.

The Swiss chard was outrageous this year, with some leaves more than 3.5 feet long.

The chard stems are huge, to be chopped for stews and casseroles.

Blanched before freezing to destroy enzymes that will break down the vegetables, even in the freezer.  To blanch, put a pound of veggies per gallon of boiling water for the time recommended on a list from a cookbook or online.  I did 3 minutes for the chard stems and leaves.  Then the same amount of time in a cold water bath to chill and stop the cooking process.

Drain well.....

Mark the bags, bag the veggies in portions you will use, and transport to the big freezer.

Go back outside and pick more!

If you don't have a garden, you may find big boxes of veggies and fruit at your local farmstand or farmer's market, boxed up especially for freezing and canning.  This is a great way to learn.  Then go out into your yard and find a very sunny spot for a few tomato plants, and maybe a cucumber and some green beans, and plan on preparing the ground this fall.  Then you'll be ready for buying started plants at your local garden center in the spring.  Even in some apartments you can have a couple of plants....if you have a sunny balcony or porch, there are varieties that are well suited to grow and produce in large pots.  There is nothing like fresh produce, grown and picked yourself, eaten fresh right off the vine!
The hubster and I had a small garden at the apartment house where we lived for the first several years of our marriage.  Some plants were in the ground in a small plot that the landlord allowed us to cultivate, and a few plants were in pots.  This is where I first learned to make these wonderful containers.

When I was a kid, my folks gardened a town away at an older gentleman's place.  His garden was too big for him as he got older, and they helped him while growing their own stuff.  The house we lived in had a tiny yard and too much shade to grown vegetables, and this was a great solution.  Be creative!  It is SO worth it!

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