There is a feeling of success when harvest begins to provide for the table, but more so when some of it can be put away for future use. Lettuce and asparagus have been coming to the table fresh for a couple of weeks now, but they must be eaten fresh or in the case of the asparagus, lightly refrigerator pickled. I don’t care for frozen or canned asparagus, so they are enjoyed in season, then replaced with other green vegetables.
In the fall, the garlic is planted. Last fall’s planting was a block of an unknown variety of soft neck and an unknown variety of hard neck, plus some Romanian Red and German Hardy hardnecks. The unknowns are because I didn’t save the tags from the prior year, but they were good flavorful garlics, so I planted from last year’s harvest. Yesterday afternoon when I was moving the blackberry barrels to the garden, I noticed that the hardnecks were producing the scapes. Scapes are the flower bud of hardneck garlic and though pretty if left to open, they take so much energy from the plant that the bulbs don’t produce well. I would rather have good bulbs of garlic than the flowers, plus the scapes are good eating. Last weekend, a friend who’s garden is always ahead of mine, gave me a handful and we enjoyed them chopped on the pizza I made on the weekend and the next night in stir fry. When I first started growing garlic, I read to remove the scapes when they curl over, but didn’t know you could eat them, so they were sent to the compost. Now I await them almost as anxiously as the first asparagus tips. This morning in the cool, drizzly early day, they were clipped off and brought into the house.
Thirty six garlic scapes found this morning, fresh and plump. They were snipped into 1 to 2″ pieces and put in a container for the freezer. They can be used anytime I would use garlic, roasted, in a recipe, or to make pesto. They are the first food put by from the garden.
While doing some weeding last evening, I noticed that the older blueberries are full of fruit. I should probably get some bird net and tent it over them before the berries ripen. It looks like a good harvest from the original bushes. The two new ones, planted this year have put out good foliage, but they won’t fruit until next year or the year after. It will be great to have a succession of berries coming from the garden where I don’t have to fight the ticks and thorns and where the deer can’t help themselves.
With the onset of late spring showers in the forecast, the hay may still be standing when the wineberries (thimbleberries depending on where you grew up) are ready, they are the first to ripen of the wild berries. Berries will be harvested as they appear and frozen, a single batch of mixed berry jam will probably be made and the rest saved for smoothies and to top oatmeal next winter when berries in the grocer come thousands of miles and cost your soul to purchase. Strawberries are coming in at the Farmer’s Market, but I rarely get there early enough to score any and no one I pre-order from has them.
The grapes have tiny clusters of potential fruit. I will have to figure out how to protect them. Last year, though I got some grapes for jelly, the chickens and the deer discovered them and I had to compete with them for the harvest. I am toying with trying to make some wine vinegar from the grapes this year. Other than the Asian pear marmalade and Fig preserves, I don’t use much jelly or jam so I still have jars of grape and raspberry from last year. Son 1 doesn’t use much, daughter likes fig that I offer, and blackberry but makes her own, and her son will only eat commercial strawberry jam. Son 2 and his wife buy them at their farm market and I think may make some of their own. Some fruit vinegar’s would be a nice addition to the larder.
Soon there will be peas, then green beans, potatoes, onions, garlic bulbs, kale, later tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, cucumbers, ground cherries, and cabbages. Beds will be replanted as harvests are made with more beans and peas, and the potato bed with it’s deep sides will be a fall garden that can be covered and protected from frost to maybe extend this year’s garden into early winter. Hopefully, the hydroponic systems will provide herbs and salad through the winter. I’m working towards a year round system of fresh food in our home.