July 24 Garden Update

  • Harvested all green beans – they did not do too well this year, so we pulled out plants while harvesting.  We canned 26 quarts of green beans and made a huge pot of ham & bean soup
  • Besides cherry tomatoes, the first “Beef Heart” tomatoes are ripening
  • Melons are doing well with all the rain, picked a cantaloupe (not quite ripe yet)
  • We are up to 467 lbs of picked blackberries!

July 15 Garden Update

Here is what we harvested last week:

– 20 heads of cabbage
– Cherry tomatoes (maybe a quart so far)
– zucchini every other day for a meal, plus zucchini bread
– still getting onions, red beets and potatoes as we need them
– 280 lbs of blackberries total so far!!

We traded blackberries for blueberries with our neighbor yesterday, and also took 32 quarts to the local fruit auction, just to see how that would work 🙂

We have been lucky and got some rain last week – one day it rained 1.5 inches in less than 30 minutes, but friends a few miles down the road had no rain at all.  And just now we had another heavy downpour, so far there is 1/2 inch in the rain gauge, and it is still raining (which is why I am on the computer and not outside).

Hot, HOT Weekend – Time to Make “Shrub”

Although we did not break any records for extreme high temperatures, we had over 100 degree days on Saturday and Sunday. 
I did check NOAA’s historic weather extremes for the Harrisburg/Middletown region for July and the record they showed was July 3, 1966 for 107 degrees. 
Needless to say, with that heat we did not get too much done outside.   We did pick blackberries very early on Saturday morning – from 6:30 to 9:00 am – froze 30 lbs and made seedless pulp from the remaining 23 lbs.  We decided to freeze the pulp for future jam making when the weather is cooler!  Also kept out 2 quarts of berries for our first experimental batch of “shrub”.  Jeff scoured the Internet for blackberry shrub recipes, and decided to combine several ideas for our first attempt. 

Jeff’s Blackberry Shrub:

2 quarts freshly picked blackberries
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blackberry Shrub Milkshake
(Lars drank most of it before
we could take a picture)

Cover berries with sugar and let stand in refrigerator for 24 hours.  Strain juice (squeezing berries) through small sieve.  Add lemon juice, mix and keep in tightly covered glass jar in the refrigerator. 

This batch turned out to be tart and very refreshing!  Add some of the shrub to seltzer water, sparking wine, ginger ale or mix with sherbet.  Great ingredient for a smoothie that needs a bit of a sour kick.  Can be added to all sorts of mixed drinks – as long as the cocktail can handle the acid from the lemon juice.  The best use we found this evening was to mix some with vanilla ice cream and a bit of milk for a milkshake – the berry flavor really came out – it was delicious! 

We are not sure yet how much this mixture will change flavor over time.  The recipes calling for vinegar rather than lemon juice said that the flavor would change.  The recipes calling for lemon juice did  not mention flavor changes (probably because it was utilized quickly).  We also found a huge disparity within all the recipes regarding the amount of sugar – 2 cups was definitely on the very low end for the amount of berries we used.

“Apache” Blackberry Status

To help us better estimate the start of the “picking season”, we are documenting the progress of our blackberries from blossom stage to fully ripened stage this year.  Actually have had a few black berries – but not fully “filled out”  yet, and the center is still firm.  With other words, they are not fully ripe yet.  Considering there are about 500 berry bushes, and so far we found about one dozen firm black berries, they are not even close to being ripe.  Here is what the “Apache” berry plants looked like this evening:

Trellis Building Done for 2012!!!

We actually finished installing all the posts and wires for the Triple Crown blackberries and the Vidal Blanc grapes. The last wires were stapled in this morning.

Balckberry Patch June  2012

All rows are numbered
Each young bramble is trimmed and tied up