I guess you have to be bit crazy to get excited about the first batch of canning for the season, but we do …every year!  We started off the 2012 canning season with strawberry jam – 20 pints of it.  We use the low sugar “Sure-Jell” kind, and pretty much follow the instruction verbatim.  EXCEPT:  we make the regular jam (NOT the freezer kind), – but then store the jam in the freezer.

We like the taste and consistency of the regular low sugar jam, but the color and freshness that the freezer provides. We also do this for nectarine and peach jam  – they all loose their color and flavor too fast if not frozen.

Our second canning job were the peas this weekend.  Between ourselves, our family and friends we ended up picking 24 buckets of peas, or 15 bushel.  We never did finish picking the entire patch, we simply ran out of time and volunteers….but then the peas were supposed to be a cover crop anyhow, to get nitrogen into the soil.  The pea pods were just a happy by-product.  We canned 50 quarts of peas between Friday night and Saturday.

Prolific Peas

Much better harvest than last year – probably 2-3 times more pods on each plant!  Luckily our family from Bedford visited today to help pick – they picked 11 five gallon buckets of pea pods, which made 2.5 buckets of shelled peas.   But this accounted for only 1/3 of our pea patch….the rest will have to wait until Friday evening and Saturday.

Luckily there are still mechanical pea shellers available for custom shelling, for just a few dollars – and within a few minutes – we got all our peas shelled at a farm in Newville.

Melons and Sweetpotatoes

Just a quick update on our garden progress at the end of the weekend:

  • Scooped up remaining soggy hay with tractor and added it to our compost heap, which probably tripled in size
  • Planted remaining sweet-potato vines, for a total of 100
  • Planted “Black Beauty” heirloom zucchini
  • Planted heirloom “Boston Picklers”
  • Fertilized 3 potato rows, spring onion and red beet row (via irrigation, about 4 lbs of 20-20-20 per five rows)
  • Planted 34 “Aphrodite” cantaloupes
  • Planted 13 “Shiny Boy” watermelon
  • Planted 16 “Yellow Doll” watermelon

All Tomatoes – 199 – are Planted!!

Spent most of the day planting garden (not done yet, but made progress):

  • 2 rows of TEMA green beans in the plastic (about 3/4 of a pound, still have 1/4 lbs left)
  • 40 sweet potato plants (still have 60 to go)
  • 45 Roma tomatoes
  • 24 Black Plum tomatoes (heirloom)
  • 34 Amish Paste tomatoes (heirloom)
  • 31 Brandywine tomatoes (heirloom)
  • 4 Striped German tomatoes (heirloom)
  • 4 Lemon Boy tomatoes
  • 2 Supersweet Cherry tomatoes
  • 55 Oxheart tomatoes (heirloom)

Bought irises and pussy willow plants at a yardsale, and got a flat of melons, gooseberry and currant bushes and a black raspberry plant at the greenhouse.

Planting Corn and Trimming Grapes

Now that the wedding weekend is done, it’s time to get caught up with our garden and grapes.  Jeff and Duff installed the second level of catch wires for the Chambourcin grapes earlier in the week, and started trimming and thinning the grapes.  We finished the last row this evening.

Earlier today, Jeff picked up more fertilizer (at the Cumberland Valley Co-op), and planted our first “batch” of corn – 5 rows of Spring Snow, an early sweet corn with only 65 days to maturation and as the name implies, it is a white corn.  Funny thing is that this variety was not sold by weight, but by the number of seeds – we bought 5000 seeds and used straight 10-10-10 fertilizer (about 100 lbs of fertilizer for this section of ground).  He also planted 3 full rows and the short rows behind the pea patch with “Incredible” corn.