Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Harvesting and Canning Starts

The drought that has hit the Mid and Southwest continues unabated and agriculture is in the beginning stages of big trouble in our area. We are down 7 inches of rain for the year and at our farm we have had 1/5 of an inch of rain since April 1. Temps have been record breaking with this week having 3 days of over 100 which is unheard of here in June. The first cutting of hay in the area was about 1/3 normal and no one expects another cutting unless the weather really changes...even the weeds are dying! I was talking to a cattle farmer today that is thinking of selling off a good portion of his heard because he is now having to feed supplemental hay.

I relate all that so you can appreciate the effort that we have expended in keeping our truck garden irrigated and producing. But even with irrigation the corn is stunted and with the high heat wont be very sweet, the sorghum is only about 6 or 7 inched tall when it should be a couple feet tall, and everything else just needs constant attention. So far water availability is good from both the county we are connected to and our two wells but who knows what late summer will result in. And on top of that, I am a fireman and the fire danger is extreme. But our gardens are producing and we will at least have enough to freeze and can  til next year...just not much to sell.

I really dont know why but our cucumbers are doing great in all this heat and they dont taste bitter. We are making dill pickles, sweet pickles, relish, we eat them in salads, and I like to make a greek spiced yoghurt with cucumber and minced garlic....good stuff.
Each year we try different dill recipes and this year we added garlic cloves. We are pickle people..we like all kinds of pickles and its satisfying making your own.
These black berries we picked yesterday and some others from a couple days ago will go into jam. I plan on picking some more tomorrow but the heat is really drying up the berries on the vine and the vines themselves look like someone sprayed Roundup on them.
Another thing in this heat is you have to harvest when the crop is at its peak and delay of even a day or two can ruin the crop. This was our first harvest of peas and we will have to pick again tomorrow and then a couple days later to keep them from getting ruined on the vine from the heat.
I shucked the bowl on the right and Holly did the one on the left.....hmmm.
We blanched all these today and put up 7 bags in the freezer. I used to hate peas and still cant stand the thought of those gross things we used to get in school lunches (remember those and the memory of the kid who vomited in the lunch room on a warm day? or is it just me?). Now I love fresh peas, just lightly blanched or steamed with a bit of butter and salt and sometimes some miced mint.

Today we also harvested leeks (will be for a roast chicken dish and sauce), beets (canned some and the small ones will be lightly pan roasted and eaten tomorrow) and yellow onions for the larder and for a customer.

And finally, this is our second crop of peaches but I forgot to take picturees of the first bunch. We have a couple more trees of peaches loaded but not ripe yet, the pears are hanging on, and we have two apple trees loaded with apples though they are really small this year. These peaches are soft and juicy, they taste like your imagination thinks a peach should taste like, and you can smell their peach smell from about 5 feet away.

Soon we will be awash in tomatos, our cabbage will have to be made into Kraut and slaw, the cauliflower looks good and then we should be harvesting corn soon after....but man we need some rain.


  1. Do you have a suggestion for an apple tree that does well in the Ozarks that isn't affected by cedar apple rust? Our golden delicious, Fugi (or was it Gala) get it every year, but the Arkansas Black seem to come through every year without a spot on them.

    Praying for rain!!

  2. Actually the apple trees that are doing well for us have been here since the 1940s so I am not even sure what they are. They are tart and small but make great pies. We too have the fungi/gall problem and this year we fought fire blight. 1/5th of an inch of rain since April 1......