At the very end of July we finally got all the beans picked and the stalks pulled out. The last picking was done by friends (thanks Cindy!) Our total bean harvest resulted in 40 canned quarts and about 60 frozen quarts (not counting what we ate and what we gave away). At this point we also put away 30 pints of bread and butter pickles and 42 quarts of kosher style dill pickles – cucumbers are still growing, so we may make more. Just picked another 2 buckets of roma tomatoes to start our 3rd batch of spaghetti sauce – each batch makes about 20 quarts, depending on how much we eat before canning 🙂
Bread and Butter Pickles (sweet)
4 lbs cucumbers, cut into slices (use food processor slicing blade)
2 lbs thinly sliced onions
1/2 cup canning salt (do NOT use regular salt)
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. mustard seed
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon ginger
3 cups apple cider vinegar
- Place cucumbers and onions in a large bowl, layering with salt. Cover with ice cubes and let stand for about 1.5 hours, then drain and rinse twice.
- Combine spices with vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil, add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil.
- Pack hot pickles and liquid into pint jars, remove air bubbles, adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
After a wonderful week at the beach we returned to PA to find out that everything on our farm had a major growth spurt. It rained over 5 inches while we were gone – lucky for us we had just gotten the new rainspouting installed on the barn the day before we left for vacation. The vegetable plants, as well as the weeds and grass, had grown incredibly fast. We got home around 10 am on Saturday after a 12 hour drive from South Carolina, took a short nap and got to work in the garden. By that evening we had picked and cleaned 1 bushel of green beans and pulled all the weeds out of the herb garden and the flower beds around the house – 6 wheelbarrow loads of weeds for the compost pile! We picked and processed another bushel of beans on Sunday and altogether froze 24 quarts. These were the earlier variety of snap beans, the second variety we planted is just now in blossom.
We also picked 3 buckets (the 5 gallon size) of cucumbers, and loads of zucchini as well – shared much of this weekend’s harvest with friends. Luckily Rachel and Zach had kept up with the zucchini while the rest of us were at the beach – Rachel baked 12 loaves of zucchini bread that week.
On Monday evening, after a spice shopping spree, we made our first batch of “bread and butter” pickles and canned 7 pints. We have not made pickles for a long time, and our plan is to experiment with different recipes and methods, from fermenting, to fresh pack (like the batch we just did) to refrigerator pickles. We’ll have to wait and see which ones turn out best. Even the fresh pack pickles take about 4 weeks in the jar in order to develop their flavor. Here is hoping that they stay crunchy after being canned 🙂
Temperatures soared up to 110 degrees this afternoon, it has not rained for days and there is not rain in the forecast – luckily we have irrigation in our blackberry rows and the vegetable garden. Both are doing great:
Finished picking and shelling peas this weekend as well and froze 10 quarts (we really only planted the peas for fresh eating – just had a few extra). Continued harvesting red beets, potatoes and onions for immediate use.
Last weekend we did some major grading, pulling the artificially high “flower bed” that had been created around the front of the house away, to allow for better drainage of rain water after major storms. The flower bed had been edged with large field stones, which looked to have come from an old foundation or stone wall. Sam had the idea of building a new stone wall as a border between the back yard and the adjoining field – where Tina had started to create some sort of shady flower beds under the existing tree line. None of the guys were keen on this idea (probably realizing that they would have to help with the heavy lifting for a project bound to take months), but Tina found basic instructions for a mortar free stone wall – with pictures – and the first stones were sorted into piles. There are literally tons of such stones around the house and fields, so theoretically, the wall may become a reality.
We also ended up rototilling and raking the newly graded front yard sections, sowed grass seed and covered the seeds with some of the left over dry hay from the barn. We had to water this for two days, until luckily it rained all day Wednesday. Hopefully this grass seed will sprout OK – to match the rest of the front yard, which we seeded a few months ago (first grass appeared right around Easter)