This year, I had every intention of doing a better-than-normal garden—to save on money! to reduce our carbon footprint! to cut down on our pesticide consumption!—but it didn’t go so great. We planted green beans not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times, and even then, only bits and pieces of a few rows made it. We plodded along, picking a little here and a little there. It wasn’t nothing, but it wasn’t great, either.
And then we didn’t pick the sweet corn in time. (Alice was decimating the corn patch, but we thought she was just picking it young because she didn’t know what corn was supposed to taste like. Turns out, the corn was ripe.) Also, the peppers, basil, and tomatoes got frost-bitten (I planted too early, my bad), the kale got eaten, the tomatoes got a fungus, and the strawberries drowned in weeds.
So, all in all, it was a fairly ordinary year.
Rhubarb, chopped and frozen: 1½ gallons
Strawberries, sliced with sugar: 19 quarts and 2 pints
Strawberry freezer jam (4 batches): 9 pints and 4 half-pints
Sour cherries from our trees, frozen: 20 one-cup bags and 8 quarts
Sweet cherries (picked 33 pounds for a total of $61): 7 quarts canned with sugar, and 9 quarts frozen with sugar
Zucchini relish: 7 pints
Swiss Chard, steamed: 7 eight-ounce bags
Green beans, frozen: 36 quarts and 1 pint
Sweet pickles: 6 quarts and 2 pints
Corn (overripe), frozen: 28 quarts
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pizza sauce: 25 pints, 1 half-pint
Blueberries (ordered from afar, 4 scant gallons for a total $80), frozen: 27 pints
Nectarines (4 bushels at $32/bushel): 41 quarts canned, 5 quarts frozen, 12 pint bags dried
Tomatoes: 31 quarts, 5 pints
Peaches, Glohaven (2 bushels at $32/bushel): 23 quarts
Salsa: 49 quarts, 6 pints, 1 half-pint
Roasted tomato sauce: 33 pints
Grape jelly: 9 pints (weak), 7 pints and 17 quarts (good)
Grape juice with (⅓ cup per quart) sugar: 6 quarts
Grape puree: 7 three-cup freezer boxes
Applesauce: 2 bushels Lodi for 40 quarts, maybe (I forgot to record this) and 2 bushels of Super Gold, Golden Delicious, and Stayman for 39 quarts
Oh yeah, and TWO BEEF.
*The children are at the age where they can be counted on to do much of the picking. My older daughter, especially, picked a huge portion of the sour cherries, green beans, and strawberries.
*Skip the fancy heirloom cucumbers and get one basic kind. Plant a lot of them, in a row (as opposed to mounds). And then do at least 14 quarts of sweet pickles. Because potato salad is so much better when loaded with tons of chopped sweet pickles.
*Hopefully we’ll have enough salsa! (My husband thinks we should reduce the garlic a little. I don’t agree.)
*Finally, we like our grape juice, because I’m adding plenty of sugar (in the form of a simple sugar syrup) to the jars before topping them off with juice.
*Next year, buy four bushels of Lodi apples to turn into sauce. It’s our favorite, now and forever, amen.
*The strawberries are slowly killing us. We can’t seem to stay on top of the weeds. It feels like a losing battle. Are we doing something wrong?
*I didn’t do any pesto because I had a bunch left from last year. Even had about a whole pesto torte left over!
*Our tomatoes, especially the juice ones, get hard white spots. A fungus, yes? They are still edible, and perfectly fine for canning, but they’re not the most attractive. Maybe we should plant in a different part of the garden next year?
*Peppers got nipped by a frost. Totally underwhelming.
*On recommendation from a friend, I planted Red Russian kale. It was delicious—so sweet!—but then it got utterly destroyed by some super-aggressive bugs. Oh well, the chard, at least, never wavered.
*Next year, watch the dogs—when they start stealing the corn, it’s time to pick.
*I LOVE BEEF.