Summer has only just arrived, and already we are busy here daily preserving the harvests. My wife is in charge of blueberries, and almost every morning she is out there in the blueberry patch harvesting. She has to ‘suit up’ to keep the mosquitoes and ticks away whenever she is working outside. The mosquitoes don’t seem to bother me as much. Ticks are another story, and I’ve had my share this year.
We have several varieties planted that tend to mature at different times. Right now Chandler, Patriot and an unnamed variety (planted before we got here) are giving us most all of the ripe berries. So far we have gotten over 15 pounds of them, and the season is not yet half over. We are eating them every day, and freezing what is left. The birds get a few, but not enough to hurt anything.
This week I started cutting some mint for drying. I began with spearmint, with chocolate mint and peppermint to follow. I use the dehydrator to dry it, which is a bit faster than hanging it up in bunches to dry. The end result is the same, and I will store the mint in glass jars for use this winter in teas. The whole house smells of mint during this process!
A few days earlier the whole house was smelling of garlic, as I sliced up and dried the last of the 2012 crop of garlic. We don’t use a lot of dried garlic or garlic powder, but it does find its way into a few things, like our blackening mix for Blackened Salmon. The 2013 garlic will be ready soon, and I have already used a few bulbs early. It was time to move out the old to make room for the new!
It’s also time to begin harvesting some of our lavender. Again, this is my wife’s specialty, and she is in charge of that operation. She prefers to hang it in bunches to dry in the garage. I do believe that’s the best way to preserve the most of the essential oils. The papers bags help to keep the buds from falling off the stems when they are dried. We will use the dried lavender for infusing in oil, for soaps, and in the kitchen. That’s Melissa in the below photo, which is one of our favorite varieties for culinary uses.
The first summer squash was quickly followed by the second, then the third, and next thing I knew I was freezing it! I have also cooked some of it, sauteing one batch and making Squash Fritters with another. We use the frozen squash in a number of ways, and I am currently working on another use for it in summer time. I will share that one when I work out the details. I will say that the taste testing has been ‘sweet’!
Out in the garden there’s a whole lot of vining going on. The early maturing pole beans have reached the top of the trellis already, as they start to bloom. The tall ones in the below photo are Helda and Musica. Trail of Tears is to the right, and not quite as tall – yet.
I’ve got vining winter squash growing in the corners of the vegetable garden, so they can vine up and on the metal fencing. The Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash (aka neck pumpkin) is in one corner.
Waltham Butternut is in another corner. I am growing it again for the first time in years, now that I have more room to let it ramble around. I can already see female blooms forming on it already. I mulched these vining squashes with big pieces of cardboard, which should help keep down weeds.
Tatume is a Mexican heirloom squash that pretty much vines all over the place. It can be used as either a summer or a winter squash, though I prefer to use it like I would zucchini. I’m trying to head the vines over towards the fence to keep it from taking over the garden. It has proven to be a trouble-free grower here, though it does like to ramble.
And last but not least is another vining plant that is not edible but still worthy of mention. The Wave petunias I grow each year from seed are looking good. That’s Purple Improved in the below photo, planted in an old wheelbarrow.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what we’ve been up to this week. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.