Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1, 2011

Just like the crescendoed climax of a great symphony, we have come through peak garden harvest and are enjoying the little surprises and turns of the year as the season winds down. August for us is traditionally a month to take a break from the dizzying pace of July gardening; it is too hot, buggy, and muggy to work outdoors.  But even if the weather is uncomfortable we wouldn't want to miss out on some late summer treats.

Two halves of a sweet-as-sugar honeydew,
and Roma tomatoes on one of a dozen bushes
Our jungle of plants is starting to look dull and worn out.  Sweet corn is finished; whatever we didn't harvest is bloated and already past prime - the stalks will make nice autumn decorations dried and bundled into shocks.  Green bush beans have slowed production, although we had enough to once again pressure can last week.  We decided that will be the last time, and although we will try to keep picking beans to encourage more, we need only enough to eat fresh through August.  By September we will let our plants set pods that ripen seed to plant next year; we've been planting the same Blue Lake snap bush beans from saved seed now for five years.

Bushels of tomatoes ready to process
Melons and tomatoes are still the focus as we change to late summer.  The garden ripened four melons per day last week!  Despite canning tomatoes a week ago, there were twice as many this weekend.  We use a food strainer/sauce maker that screens out seeds, skins, and stems from raw tomatoes without having to cook, peel and core, which cuts canning time in half...well, almost, if you don't count the spurts and squirts and equipment that need to be cleaned up.  We end up with rich tomato sauce that gets cooked only in the canning.  The strainer comes with screens that also work on apples for sauce, pumpkins for puree, salsa, and berries.

Whole tomatoes, sauce, and juice
Bell and jalapeno peppers are still coming regularly (salsa!), and cucumber bushes are hanging out a third harvest on the cuke fence.  A second crop of zucchini planted from seed at the end of June are finally ready to start producing, and now that we've had a break from zucchini, we are ready to appreciate it again especially in spiced zucchini bread.  Speaking of spiced breads, there are a few New England Pie pumpkins already turning orange in our pumpkin patch.  When a pumpkin fruit sets, we keep it off the ground by placing a roofing shingle underneath - this protects the developing fruit from insects that like to bore holes and cause soft rot.  'Heritage' red raspberry produces two crops per year and is now in bloom for its fall crop; new canes are still growing up that will produce later in the season.  Indoors, brussels sprouts seedlings are ready to be transplanted into larger containers and moved outdoors.

New England Pie pumpkin resting on a roofing shingle

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (