Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden notes

I'm pretty sure we've set records for heat the past week or so.  We've had heat advisories almost daily, with the heat index reaching as high as 120, but averaging just above 105. Today and tomorrow promise to be cooler, with highs in the upper 80s.  It'll be merely stifling outside for a change.

Last week was insanely hectic.  Eöl went back to work. Great news financially, but everyone here misses him, none more than me.  We've never had such a long stretch of being together, and we enjoyed it even more than we thought we would.  There were a lot of projects that didn't get finished, due to the budget begging to be shot and put out of its misery.  We did get some things accomplished, despite spending a large amount of time holding hands, goofing off, and throwing beans at each other. ( Picking produce has never been as lonely as it was today.)

On top of the return to work, I had to be somewhere. Every. Stinking. Day.  When Eöl was home, I was gone, and vice versa.  Skipping sleep to see him at least an hour here and there caught up with me Saturday evening, when I ended up in bed, shaky and nauseous (or is it nauseated? I can't keep those straight. Either way, I felt pukey.), most likely from sheer exhaustion.

Thanks to the insanity, bouncing from one thing to another like a rabid ping pong ball (you don't ever want to be bitten by one of addition to the shots, there's some sort of paddle involved), the heat, and the heavy rains, the garden went into overdrive.  I was left in the dust.

The two+ bushels of beans we picked Sunday were bigger than I prefer.  I like my beans tender and small, but these were huge and beany.  I managed to give away a bushel, and the rest will be labeled for the freezer so that I know to cook them differently.  They are still edible. In fact, the beany stage is when most people pick them.  What can I say? I'm a picky bean picker.

I picked about two bushels of cucumbers today.  I'll probably make some more refrigerator pickles, which will thrill Eöl (not really), as he says there's already no room for actual food in the fridge. I've argued that pickles are on the food pyramid, right next to pork rinds, but he doesn't believe me. *rolls eyes*  I do want to try to make some spicy pickles, with horseradish, and then I'll consult our list to see if there's anyone we know that is not already buried under a pile of our cucumbers.  I'm pretty sure my garden is responsible for the local vinegar shortage.

The zucchini also got a bit out of hand.  How can they go from teensy to ginormous overnight??  They weren't quite big enough to enter in the fair, so I can at least shred and freeze them for future zucchini bread.  Thankfully, I planted a quite reasonable 6 or 7 plants this year.  One year I had over 20 plants; wheelbarrows, crates, boxes, bags, and cars, all filled to the brim.  I learned my lesson.

I have pics to upload of the huge bag of bell peppers I harvested.  I still had some in the freezer from last year, and the tomatoes aren't ready for salsa yet, so I came up with a recipe for a basil marinade for the peppers.  Something else to go in the fridge. Ha.

I picked about a half gallon of blackberries this evening. There were more, but I had other chores to tend to.  The rules of blackberry picking are:

  • The blackberries will always be ready on the hottest days.
  • The biggest, juiciest, tastiest berries will always grow in the sharpest, thorniest, ouchiest part of the bush.
  • Mosquitoes use blackberries as bait to attract delicious humans.
  • Mosquitoes will always bite you in the most painful places when you have one hand full of berries and the other hand full of briers.  If you give in and smack the little bugger, you will either have a huge berry smear, or some ouchy prickers.
These berries are destined to be berry vinegar, which I may actually can, so that Eöl will have room in the fridge for food, including the leftover duck from yesterday's dinner. I'm still debating if said duck is going to be egg rolls or pot pies.

Oh...I almost forgot the actual reason for this post.  We got our first ripe tomato today!!  It won't be long until time for salsa.

It looks like the corn is nearly ready.  I'm afraid I may end up processing corn and salsa at the same time.  As well as trying to keep the produce picked.  And the laundry done.  And the yard mowed.  And the house cleaned, or at least manageable.  And errands run.  And appointments. And the critters cleaned, fed, and watered. And then the hazelnuts will be ready. And then it's butchering time...and...and....AUUUGGGHHH!!!

No, really, it may seem like chaos, but that's only because it is.  Fortunately, it doesn't last long.  Once all is done, I'll have three full chest freezers, a full pantry, and a fridge full of pickles.

It's nothing short of amazing to be able to walk right out into my yard and gather all the ingredients for a gourmet meal.  Ok, maybe not so gourmet, though I occasionally get adventurous, like with the marinated peppers.  Usually, I'm in the middle of making lunch, when I yell, "I'm going to the store for onions!"  Which actually means, "I'm headed to the garden and will probably get distracted, so please don't let lunch burn."

Harvest would be a lot more fun, though, if I weren't allergic to almost every thing in the garden.  Yes. It's true.  Corn pollen gives me a migraine.  I get contact dermatitis from everything else: the cukes, the zukes, the peppers, but especially the tomatoes.  I have pics of my lovely rash, if you have a strong stomach.  But right now, I'm too tired to go find the camera, download, resize, and upload pics.  Maybe tomorrow...


theldara said...

So that's what's going on when I get all red and itchy after touching tomato plants (and cucumber... I don't really mess w/ any other plants).

I hope you get some rest soon!

Country Wife said...

Fels Naptha soap helps take off the itchy residue. A good soaking with rubbing alcohol helps, as well.

Rest? Can I get that to go? lol