August 2, 2011

Independence Days Update—Peaches, Melons, Corn, Oh My!

Copy of DSC_3855 Today I went with our daughter to Black Oak Farms to pick peaches.  I picked a full 3 weeks later than I normally would have, but I didn’t find it in the least bit difficult to pick 40 lbs.  The trees were still full of fruit, and while the birds have been pecking away at some of it, there are still beautiful, unblemished peaches ready for the picking.  We filled 6 bags in less than 30 minutes.  When we went to pay, I couldn’t resist picking up a dozen corn and one of the biggest watermelons I’ve ever seen.  It is really obnoxious how big it is, and for that reason alone, I couldn’t resist.  I’ll have to make watermelon rind pickles with it and puree some to freeze.  Only daughter and I like it, and I don’t think that it is possible for the both of us to eat all of it before it starts to spoil.  Having some preserved will keep it from wasting.

I dropped off some peaches to my cousin who lives near the farm and brought a few around to neighbors when we arrived home. They are so gorgeous that it would have been a shame not to share them.  Daughter and I spent a full hour and a half making jam and setting some up in the dehydrator.  Tonight I made up a few varieties of spirited peaches, and I’ll have more to can in plain syrup tomorrow.  If I can make it to the store to pick up some cream, peach ice cream might be served for dessert later in the week. 

The weather here in East TN has been hot, but we are still quite lucky.  I cringe when I hear the news from the Midwest and TX, and I so feel for my family who live there.  We’ve had hot weather, but at least we’ve had a few rains to wet the ground. 

This time of the year the garden is pretty much left to fend for itself.   While I don’t mind being outside in the early part of the day, it is already in the high 80s by 9:30am, and I don’t find myself really wanting to weed.  Cucumber beetles, bean beetles, and squash bugs are enjoying free rein, while a mischievous bunny is enjoying low hanging tomatoes and zukes.  I rationalize all of this chaos with the thought that those little creatures have to eat, too, and the weeds are at least giving a little shade to more tender plants.  Ha!  I’m afraid that pretty soon I’ll look outside the window and see a overgrown jungle. 

While on the note of garden pests,  Mother Earth News has a fantastic article on garden pests in last month’s edition, along with some great tips on extending the life of stored veggies and fruits.  If you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend this magazine.  For some ideas on what you’ll find there, you can click on the link above and peruse some of their online resources and articles.

What did I plant this week?—Not a thing. 

Planted to date in 2011--

Super Sugar Snap Peas, 7 tomatoes (brandywine, grape, Early Girl, Better Boy), Choko Baby bok choy, One Kilo Chinese cabbage, 4 eggplant, Blue Lake Pole Beans, Christmas Lima Beans, Kestral Baby Beets, Touchstone Gold Beets, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine Lettuce, Matina Sweet Butterhead Lettuce, Galia Melon, Gooligan White Baby Pumpkin, Gourmet Rainbow Radish Mix, Gigante Inverno Spinach, Cavili Zucchini Squash, Milano Black Zucchini Squash, Supersett Yellow Crookneck squash, Sweet Beauty Watermelon, Marketmore cucumber, Genovese Basil, dill, flat leaf parsley, Jenny Lind melons, Butternut Squash, Garlic (planted in the fall), yellow and red onions, 8 bell peppers, 6 jalapeno peppers, 4 cabbage plants, 4 broccoli plants, daylilies, surprise lilies, sedum, 4 o’clocks, hollyhocks, red cockscomb, moonflower, zinnias, sunflower mix, marigold, butterfly flower garden seed mix, thyme, chives, carrots, coriander, horseradish, garlic chives, Peace Vine tomato, another type of basil (friend gave it to me), Sweet Million Tomatoes.

What did I harvest this week?—Peaches, corn and watermelon as mentioned above from Black Oak Farm in Corryton.  Jalapenos, cucumbers, summer squash of all types, all types of tomatoes, chives, basil, parsley, carrots, green beans, and flowers for arrangements.  One day I picked such a large bag of zukes and cukes at my dad’s that I had to weigh them—over 14 lbs!  If that isn’t enough to coax you into gardening, I don’t know what is!  That same amount of food would have cost at least $14 at the store (and that is about the price for conventional, not organic).  Instead we paid a few dollars for a couple of packs of seeds and have harvested much, much more than that this summer.  Granted, I’m a little over dealing with zukes and cukes, but every time I pick one, I think about how blessed we are to have food on the table. 

What did I preserve this week?—I made 6 pints of peach jam, 4 pints and 1 quart of spirited peaches, a dehydrator full of peaches, and I froze the dozen corn that I picked up today.  I’ll hope for some watermelon rind pickles, zucchini bread, plain grated zucchini in the freezer, canned peaches, and some more dehydrated peaches by this time next week.  We’ll see how it goes. 

How did I work to reduce waste and live more simply?— I went to a consignment sale and picked up a few things for our daughter to have this fall.  My cousin passed on some books to our daughter from her girls, and my aunt is bagging some hand-me-downs for me as she cleans out her closet.  We’ll do a little back-to-school clothes shopping, but we won’t have too much in way of clothes that we’ll need. 

How did I work at building and strengthening community food systems?—  I led the coupon workshop for the Coupon Expo at the paper this weekend.  I hope that I provided attendees with information that they can use to help their families save money.

Did I try any new recipes or were there any special meals at our table?— My cousin passed a zucchini bread recipe to me that tastes yummy.  I plan to make up a few batches of it to freeze this week.  Peach cobbler was a fantastic end to our supper tonight.  It has to be my favorite of all cobblers. 

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