I just read somewhere that September is the big month for preserving food. That might be true for me some years, but not this one. The garden finished up early, thanks to the weird weather, and I am done, done, done. Sure, I want to dry apples eventually (maybe), score some butternuts from a farmer, and perhaps order a bushel or two of broccoli (if we can empty out our freezers enough before then), but only if I feel like it. It’s not my priority.
Even so, that comment about September made me a little anxious. Should I be doing more? Am I missing something?
It’s true, I was a little more moderate in what I put up this year. For example, even though we still have oodles of tomatoes out in the garden, I stopped putting them up because it seemed like we had enough. And we do, I think (I think?), but I can’t help worrying that I should maybe do a little more. Just in case.
When I start getting Guilty Gardener Pangs, you know what I do? I soothe myself by chanting, There are grocery stores. You won’t starve. There are grocery stores. You won’t starve. It works pretty well.
And then, if there is any lingering guilt, I tell myself, “You always over-preserve anyway. You’d think you lived through the Great Depression in a former life or something. Geesh.”
So anyway, this month is shaping up to be pretty relaxed, garden-wise.
A lazy September? What a novel idea!
I think I like it.
2012 Garden Stats and Notes
spinach, frozen: 12 10-ounce bags and 11 4-ounce bags
strawberries, frozen, sliced: 31 quarts
mint tea concentrate: 16 pints (and another batch that I didn’t count)
sour cherries, frozen: 3 quarts
blueberries, frozen: 37 pints
sweet pickle relish: 3 pints
sweet pickles: 17 quarts
pesto, frozen: 17 batches
green beans, Roma, frozen: 29 1½-quart bags
green beans, Tenderette, frozen: 57 1½-quart bags
applesauce, canned: 86 quarts
corn, frozen: 36 quarts and 12 pints
corn, roasted, frozen: 3 1½- pints
peaches, canned: 45 quarts
peaches, canned, roasted: 5 pints
peach jam, canned: 18 pints and 2 half-pints
red raspberries, frozen: 10 quarts and 1 pint (and counting)
zucchini relish, canned: 5 pints and 2 half-pints
tomatoes, roasted, frozen: 4 quarts
tomatoes, chunks, canned: 27 quarts and 2 pints
salsa, canned: 16 quarts
roasted garlic pizza sauce, canned: 23 pints and 6 half-pints
roasted tomato sauce, canned: 6 pints and 2 half-pints
ketchup: 7 half-pints
grape jelly, canned: 24 pints and 5 half-pints
grape juice, canned: 15 quarts
trumpet squash, frozen: 4 pints
*Don’t bother planting spinach. It’s much more effective to buy it in bulk from the neighboring farm.
*The old strawberry patch is done. Plant a new one already. And you don’t really like the Sparkle strawberries that you planted last spring. They’re sweet, but have zero shelf life—they can hardly even make it into the house without going all mushy. Plus they’re taking over the asparagus.
*Next year, take the time to make some strawberry jam.
*You didn’t get blackberries this year because the dam got mowed. Make them a priority for next year, please.
*One huge row of cucumbers and another of red beets was a brilliant move. (Thanks, Dad!) Finally, you got your fill of cucumbers.
*About those red beets: don’t hesitate to harvest them for their greens and tender little babies. When it comes down to it, you don’t need many full-sized beets to make you happy.
*For the love of fresh corn, do not cook all the corn at once and then let it sit on the cob while you scramble to play catch-up! Because then your delicious sweet corn ends up tasting like cobby sweet corn. (The horrors.)
*For the first time ever, the zucchini didn’t keel over and die. Four plants provided enough zucchinis for a whole summer of eating without ever being overwhelming. It helped that they were picked small, too.
*Roasted garlic pizza sauce is divine.
*There were no nectarines or apricots. Do lots next year.
*Finally, enough green beans! And, thanks to the rain, they kept producing and producing and producing! Who knew green beans did that?
*Two bushels of potatoes is just about right. You’ll run out in a few months, but you don’t like them when they grow whiskers and get all wrinkly anyway.
*It would be nice to have some sweet potatoes. Try not to forget them next year.
*Mulching the garden with straw was very, very worth it. Hardly any weeds and no watering (though that was partly due to the dripping skies).
This same time, years previous: rainy day writing, NY trip, family pictures, how to clean a room, almond cream pear tart, blasted cake, fruit-on-the-bottom baked oatmeal, grilled salmon with lemon butter, oven-roasted shallots, drying pears
Good golly, Miss Molly! I can't imagine what a HEAVY canning/preserving year would look like at your house.
I knew green beans did that. That is why I started pickling them, because I couldn't give them away anymore, my family wouldn't eat them anymore and I still had them. They were my gateway pickle too. Beware the green beans…
You Can Call Me Jane
You left me in the dust this year. Don't feel guilty about stopping. You did amazing.
But…but…the apples! You have to have applesauce!
I already done did do 86 quarts! Any apples I get now will just be for fresh eating, baking, and possibly drying.
Strawberry freezer jam is where it's AT! I really appreciate a cooked batch of clear, glistening jelly, but strawberry freezer jam tastes JUST like strawberries you plucked off the plant and rolled in a bit of sugar. All. Year. Long.
*Highly recommended on ice cream and english muffins and on a spoon.