On ripening harvests as the sword of Damocles

What can I blame it on, the weather?  food ennui?  or perhaps the lack of a deadline?  I am talking about my sincere disinterest in canning this harvest year 2011.  Maybe it’s the CSA (sure, I can blame them, those blameless people who pay me to consume my food) but I haven’t felt the normal pressure I feel at this time of year to can. freeze. dry. and pickle.everything in sight.

Striped Romas, ready

That’ll change this weekend, though:  it’s Peach Season.  Oh, and the tomatoes are here too.  Oh, and the corn.  OH!  Pressure!!  Better get moving! Here’s wishing you all bountiful harvests.

Incidentally:  I am trying a new method of tomato staking this year.  In each of the 3×6′ greenhouse beds I usually grow 6 plants and have hated doing 2 individual stakes for each one (that’s 76 plants, or 152 stakes, if you’re counting) so this year I tried Shepherd Ogden’s method of hanging them, vertically.  Basically, you tie twine around the base of the plant and hold the plant upright, twisting the twine around the stem to some jerry-rigged overhead support.  My overhead supports are tilted (4′ at low end, 7′ at high) because, well, the greenhouse roof is curved.  Upside:  I only drive 2 stakes for 3 plants!  It’s working very well so far:  no real work for the gardener once they’re up.

Update:  The meat chicks are a bit more than a week old, so they spend their day outdoors in the mini tractor (an old chick coop I rigged for my first chickens five years ago now:  they lived in it until we built the Taj Mahal).  Nights are spent in two big plastic storage tubs with 60-watt incandescent bulbs in the brooder lamps:  no need for real heat overnight, and hopefully in a week no light at all.  And I still have them on bath towels in those overnight tubs until I can trust them not to eat their wood-shaving bedding (another week hence).

9 responses to “On ripening harvests as the sword of Damocles

  1. I’ve never seen the striped Roma’s…they’re quite pretty!

  2. Invite everyone over for a canning party! After you take ONE whole day off to do nothing except sit on the porch and eat the fresh peaches, and have tomato sandwiches for dinner. Enjoy!

  3. I’m not so motivated yet, either. The tomatoes will get me going; they’re almost in. I use the same system you do here; it’s annoying at first because I have to build the frame, but then as you say once twined they’re no-maintenance. Soon it will be time for the blanching bags and bags of mirepoix to get through the winter.

  4. I have been pretty good about turning everything in sight into jam and jelly, but the real work is just about to start. Four rows of beans and three of peas was maybe being just a little bit enthusiastic. Four rows of potatoes was definitely over the top, but at least all we have to do with them is get them into the root cellar…

  5. I was fascinated by one of Elliot Coleman’s books, in which he confessed that he and Barbara don’t bother much with preservation any more. They’re wired enough to have the seasons’ food available, and it’s enough. For myself, if I ever ‘get there,’ I could see following the same path. Dried tomatoes, frozen basil, a few frozen berries….

    Yes to catsup, chutneys, jams, dilled beans, – the ‘special stuff.’ But just normal canning/drying/freezing? I’ve done tons of it in the past, but if I have fresh food I’d rather make a meal of that.

    But in the meantime, no matter the weather, there’s canning to be done!

  6. I already started making jams out of peaches, blueberries, and raspberries and debating if I can make mulberries taste worthwhile. I still have green tomatoes on my plants but will try the vertical hanging technique next year. I’ve been using 4 6′-stakes in tepees and tying a plant to each tepee. But this year, they’re growing taller than the stakes! Too much compost I guess. I am going to make a few jars of peach and blueberry “bachelor jam”: a base of ripe fruit, sugar and liquor, and sealed for 3-6 months. I made a sample batch using cherries and rum, and although I felt the rum overpowered the fruit, my tasters loved it. Looking for a good recipe for watermelon rind. It’s the one taste of summer I haven’t been able to replicate

  7. I was just reflecting on the same thing and posted an “I can’t can it’s too hot what should I do with these peaches” post just yesterday. I’m blaming the heat. Nice to know I’m not alone in resisting the canning this season! I’m counting on peak tomato season to kick my butt into gear because I can’t imagine a winter without tomato sauces and canned tomatoes around.

  8. I’m actually kind of psyched to get started this year. I think its the late arrival of ripe fruit causing a high level of anticipation.

    I took a class with multiple tomato trellising techniques–so I’m trying a hybrid (several stakes, weaving with twine in-between plants). Yours looks good, I saw a similar method with wire across (instead of a board) and twine looped up and over to each growing stem using clips as the plants grow.

    76 plants!

  9. Sue, they are pretty, aren’t they? They’re a really meaty paste tomato with a very thick skin, are prone to blossom-end rot, and are hard to peel. But, I love them!

    Shelley, what a fine idea. The CSA people are always asking to help out, and I thought I would save their efforts for weeding, but this might be a better idea! happy summer.

    Peter, indeed, mirepoix is a wonderful thing to have on-hand always. (Fortunately for me, the greenhouses spare me from the summer tedium of blanching; I just go out and harvest it in the winter. A good plan.) And I am glad to hear you like the hanging method. Because mine are indoors they can be pretty flimsy (no wind to knock em over) and believe me, they’re flimsy.

    Hi JJ! Well, I guess you’ll have to define a “row” for me to see if it’s over the top or not: four 100′ rows of potatoes, definitely! But aren’t you glad you did plant everything? yum.

    Hayden, yeah, I can second what Eliot and Barbara say: I am a lot less dependent on my canned goods/frozen stores in the winter if I can grow fresh things year-round. It’s a good thing! But yeah, tomatoes, gotta have them; other things too, can’t do too much about it 🙂

    It’s funny, JoAnna: Milkweed (comment after yours) just put up the most delightful looking “bachelorette’s brandied peaches” that I might just have to duplicate: I did do the cherry bounce though (cherries in a pint of whiskey, with sugar) that should make for some fine Christmas sipping. I might have to try your boozey jams, though!

    I thought your peaches post was fabulous, Milkweedy. This weather can do in anyone’s fine ambitions…but sometimes you need to rally. Like today, I have about 7 quarts of tomatoes to can from their oven trip last night! And it’s supposed to be sweltering. Oh well. We won’t starve this winter.

    Sara, yes, I am crazy. I decided to grow the school’s tomatoes here: less work for me! That, and I am growing my mom’s for her too so there are a lot of Other People’s Tomatoes going on outside right now. But I hear you: this later start to the canning year should be motivation enough.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s