Farm Fresh: One Month of Harvest Season

Farm Fresh: One Month of Harvest Season

I started a little garden club at church and I've been trying to keep up with that and also learning to use Instagram, so this family focused blog/journal has been neglected.  Sorry! I wish that I had been able to keep more on top of it.  However, looking back at all the pictures of what we've done in ONE month of harvest season has been pretty amazing.  It's definitely a nice pick-me-up to see how far we've already come.   I'm embarking on our annual grape picking pilgrimage to upstate NY this week.  And I will return home to do the biggest most exhausting batch of canning in my year -- usually about 90 quarts in 2 days. 

First some numbers.  Since my last post on August 15th I have (mostly using things we grew or harvested from kind friends)
  • Chili Con Carne - 28 quarts
  • Loaded Potato Soup - 12 quarts
  • Minestrone - 42 quarts
  • chicken stew - 14 quarts
  • hamburger stew - 10 quarts
  • Tomatillo chickpea curry - 32 pints (16 quarts)
  • tomatillo salsa - 16 pints (8 quarts)
  • Fiesta Salsa - 12 quarts
  • peaches in extra light syrup - 42 quarts
  • elderberry syrup - 14 quarts
  • pears in light and ameretto syrup - 25 quarts
  • pear juice - 3 gallons (12 quarts)
  • pear sauce - 7 quarts
  • apple pie filling - 14 quarts
  • applesauce - 9 quarts
  • rhubarb pie filling - 9 quarts
*Total of 274 quarts canned (between 8/18 /21 and 9/24/21)

  • 16 pounds of corn
  • 10 gallons (ziplocs full) of green beans
  • 4 gallons of raspberries
  • 2 gallons of rhubarb
Dehydrated and filled:
  • 2 quarts of figs
  • 2 quarts of sweet peppers
  • 1 gallon of apples and pears
  • 2 gallons of summer squash
It has really been a banner year! In 2018 I read about how Amish families have about 1000 quarts of home canned food in their pantries and then set myself a goal to try for 500 quarts. I finished out 2019 having canned 508 quarts.
In 2020, I was very pregnant and only canned a couple batches of pickles and did a small amount of dehydrating and freezing.  Between Covid-19 and having a new baby we worked our way through almost all of the excess food from 2019 and lost our comfortable cushion by this spring. 
Luckily, 2021 has been a year of many windfalls of fruit! Four different family friends/acquaintances have invited us to come and pick excess fruit, including asian pears, pears, peaches, and apples. And the garden has grown in size and productivity -- allowing us to grow more than ever.  Our total quarts canned for 2021 is already at 439. I still have my big grape juice and applesauce canning to complete. Plus rabbit, borsht, and a bit more spaghetti sauce to can as the tomatoes continue to produce.  I doubt I'll hit the 1000 quart mark, but phew! I feel prepared again and also ready for a long winter nap!

Things that I wish I had more of (notes for next year); 
  • I never seem to grow enough peas, carrots, or potatoes.  The second and third rounds of potatoes were duds this year.  
  • More cucumbers. They did so well last year and failed spectacularly this year, despite multiple plantings
  • Onions! Never enough. I love leeks. I will plant even more next year to dehydrate and use in place of onions.  I am also planning to try several varieties of perennial onions.
  •  More than half of my fenced garden will be in perennials by next spring (espaliered apples, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, French sorrel, onions, and asparagus).  I have found myself increasingly drawn to perennial crops as a fairly low maintenance food source. 
  • I should have planted a couple fall cabbages to coincide with my beet harvest for making and canning borsht.

We harvested enough sweet corn to enjoy all we wanted fresh and have 16 pounds (about 4 gallon ziploc bags full) of corn in the freezer. 
I practiced and will continue to tweek this recipe for candied dehydrated rhubarb, 
Baby A has done a lot of harvesting and tasting in his first year of life. 
All this harvesting and canning made tons of compost -- I have been kicking myself for not having a pig to feed it all to. 
Amaretto Almond Pears and pears in light syrup. 
We grew several rows of carrots, but there never seem to be enough.  I decided to finish out the fall with a test run of growing carrots in 25 gallon grow bags.  An IG friend had great success with it, so I thought it was worth a try. 
We harvested windfall apples and asian pears at a friend's orchard. Many of them needed to be used right away.  The juicer and dehydrator helped me get through them quickly.
Here are all the jars that that windfall of fruit produced -- including applesauce, pear sauce, apple pie filling, pear juice and fruit leather. 
We have been picking raspberries by the quart. The everbearing varieties produced two big crops and they're still coming. 
We had a good crop of tomatillos that turned into a yummy roasted tomatillo curry sauce and also salsa verde.  The green beans, carrots, chard, zucchini, and tomatoes that we grew combined to give us a full quota of minestrone soup, one of our favorite meals in a jar. 
Our one hundred winter (high tunnel tiller) chicks came in the mail. They are Barred (Plymouth) Rock breed. It's a dual purpose breed. At 6 weeks old they will move from our basement brooder to the high tunnel. They'll grow up in the high tunnel eating bugs, spreading fertilizer, and tilling it all up. We plan to eat the extra roosters, keep a few layers, and sell the extra layers. 
The kids have got the chick arrival routine down. As they take each chick out of the box they dip their beaks in the water to show them where it is and help them rehydrate after their long trip.  They also identify any sick chicks that might need extra TLC. 
I planted Savor melons late in the growing season. The harvest has been good so far, started harvest about 2 weeks ago and more than a dozen waiting to be harvested. 
An evening's fall veggie harvest: Rainbow Swiss Chard, Danvers Half Long carrots, Detroit Red Beets, and Musselburgh Leeks. 
Harvesting beautiful organic apples at the orchard of a friend of a friend.
Rhubarb pie filling, apple juice, and applesauce. 

Peaches from a friend's orchard

Canning those beautiful white peaches in extra light syrup

Blanching one of several batches of green beans
Dehydrated squash. Ready for adding to soups and sauces this winter.
I expanded my juicing repertoire a lot this year. I've done grapes for a few years.  Last time (2019), I added some elderberries to the grape juice. This year I tried juicing all the extra elderberries -- such a time saver since I didn't have to pull them off the stems. I also juiced apples and asian pears for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised by all the things that I could do with the pulp (sauce, fruit leather, jam, or fruit butter).

Brother S planted watermelon seeds for a cub scout activity.  We transferred them to deeper pots and put them under the grow lights. Then Brother S transplanted them around the base of our Nanking cherry (to keep the roots cool).  I've lost count of how many of these big beauties he grew.  It was 10 at last count. 

After waiting 4 years, our pawpaw trees finally blossomed and fruited, despite the cicadas. 
We enjoyed our first dozen delicious pawpaws and hope to have enough for paw paw ice cream next year. 

 Quails. I was not planning to raise quails. A friend needed to offload her flocks in a hurry and I accepted them.  We separated out the extra roosters and I sent them (18) to freezer camp. We built 2 little quail tractors and put a covey of 5 hens and 1 rooster in each. 

I can understand why people raise quails for the eggs.  They are so pretty.

The fig tree produced a fantastic crop already and it is still making more! I made several delicious desserts, but have resorted to dehydrating them in order to keep up.

Strawflowers.  They've been lovely and are drying well too. I'm saving the seeds to plant more next year. 
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