When I read that August’s challenge was low temperature pasteurization or steam canning, I was equally clueless about both options. What the heck? I knew that pasteurization was something done to milk, and since I make cheese, I know how to see out milks that have been only just pasteurized so I can successfully make cheese. I didn’t think the August skill would have much to do with milk though. Similarly, I know how to steam vegetables, but I definitely didn’t know an iota about using steam to can anything.
My husband and I didn’t make our traditional grocery shopping list when we headed out to the farmers’ market at 7:00 a.m. We usually plan our meals and make the shopping list the night before so we’re armed with an attack plan and don’t get too suckered in by the piles of gorgeous vegetables, fruits, baked goods, and even wine! We head to the farmers’ market first to support local farmers and buy fresh regional produce before we head to our local grocery store to stock up on whatever else we might need that week, such as milk or yogurt. Every now and then when we’re at the farmers’ market, we buy something unexpected. Once, it was several beautiful blueberry bushes. This Saturday, we bought 18 pounds of peach seconds.
Small hive beetles are a pest and a terrible nuisance, but as we learned oh so painfully, they can destroy a weakened hive if they become established and do as they are wont to do: reproduce prolifically. I’ve never had a sadder (or more disgusting) moment in beekeeping than dealing with that lost hive. As such, we are working to become better managers of varroa and small hive beetles, the jerks.
While we were on our two-week vacation, the garden was on the cusp of bursting with produce. We kept up with what was growing as we neared our vacation. Mostly. We told our friend who was house-sitting that she could take home all the cucumbers she wanted, but we asked that she chuck any ripe tomatoes into a bag in the freezer if she had the time and inclination. (I’d have offered our peppers, but she’s really allergic… so that suggestion could certainly have been misinterpreted!).
As I described in a post on how to use stock panels as trellises six weeks ago, we set up stock panels with rebar and a mile (okay, not quite) of twine as our pole-bean trellises this year. While six weeks may not be long enough to dub an experiment a rousing success, I am certainly quite pleased with the results so far.
We planted three beds of green beans this year, all different varieties. My Landreth Bush Beans hit the ground running, and we ate delicious fresh green beans in stir fries and as sides before I admitted defeat and canned two quarts of them using the raw-pack method. Now, my Cherokee Trail of Tear and Purple Podded pole beans are producing an equally abundant amount of green beans just in time for the July Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for Hot Pack Preserving.
This year’s harvest of garlic outperformed last year’s paltry crop in ways that aren’t really comparable. We might have hoped this year’s bulbs would be a touch larger than they were, but, really, I’m still quite pleased. Last year’s harvest was so abysmal and small that we didn’t even eat them. The effort of peeling the cloves wasn’t worth mincing such little things, so we just kind of let them sit in a bin in the garage until we disposed of them furtively and with no small amount of hope for bulbs growing away under layers and layers of mulch.