I made this little stop-motion video of my son and I planting garlic in circles last week, so I’m adding YouTube to my collection of social-media platforms now. It’s my first YouTube video ever, and VERY simple, so please be kind! This is a big […]
Today I stood barefoot
On the baking mulch pathway
Of my garden’s path in old woman’s summer
Filling myself with raspberries
Engorged and dripping
Their last triumphant burst
Before the autumn rain
Memories of summers
In my grandmother’s garden
Unaware of the evidence
Of the juicy lipstick that painted my guilt
Vines propogate the souls
Of those whose love only lives on
An heirloom for my sons
Who will never hold their ancestor’s hand
But will taste her berries
Today is the first day that feels like fall. It’s a cool, misty, sweater-wearing, tea-sipping, stew-eating, book-cracking, back-to-school kind of morning. It’s also the season of preserving: fermenting, freezing, and seed-drying. Not to forget eating too! I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately because I’ve been busy with all these things, in addition to getting my son ready for his first day of preschool (!!) and fall activities, family visits, and birthday parties. So, let me pick up from a couple weeks ago and tell you the tales of all the preserving I am doing this season.
As I mentioned in my Summer Drought post, I’ve been really excited to be doing more lacto-fermentation this year. If you are, like, “lacto-what? milk? huh?”, let me explain a bit. First of all, “lacto” has nothing to do with milk. “Lacto” is for Lactobacillus, a naturally-occuring bacteria that is present on all produce. Lacto-fermentation involves putting your vegetables in a salt-water brine that inhibits the growth of harmful bacterial and supports the growth of helpful probiotics such as lactobacillus. After about 5-7 days at room temperature, these probiotics create a satisfying natural vinegar flavour that preserves the food and makes it oh-so-yummy and good for your gut.
In past years I have made my own sauerkraut using this process, but this year I have tried cauliflower, carrots, beans, beets, and garlic. And, of course, sauerkraut too using purple cabbage from my own garden (pictured at the top of the post).
The raspberry canes are dripping with berries right now. I’ve assured my son that he can eat anything he can reach, but thankfully this second annual raspberry harvest is primarily taken from the top of the tall canes. I’ve been picking about every other day or so and individually freezing them on cookie sheets.
My husband has also been out berry-picking for blackberries. He’s freezing pound and pounds of them, with aspirations of making blackberry wine!
I’ve been making huge batches of pesto with my Genovese basil and freezing in in small jars. With my Thai basil, I’ve been lightly blending in oil and freezing in in ice cube trays so that I can make My Favorite Thai Basil Stir-Fry and Thai Basil Salmon Patties all winter.
Perhaps the best thing I’ve frozen this summer has been “Gelato di Melone” (melon gelato). I used this honey-sweetened recipe and, let me tell you, this stuff tastes soooo good! It’s all the deliciousness that summer has to offer, in frozen form. When winter rolls in and it is cold, wet, and grey, I will be dishing out some of this to remind me of summer.
There are three things I’m drying right now: my pole beans, various lettuce seed, and my San Marzano tomatoes.
I’m drying the pole beans (Rattlesnake) both for seed and for cooking. My son loves cracking open the dried pods and collecting the seeds. It’s such a great calm-down activity for him if I see him starting to get worked up about something.
Pictured below is the seed I threshed from my curly green lettuce. I should have more than enough to spare! I’m thinking of growing some flats of baby salad greens indoors under my grow lights this summer, so this seed (in addition to two other lettuce varieties I’ve yet to thresh) should keep me well supplied.
Finally, I’m drying my San Marzano tomatoes in our food dehydrator. Apparently, it’s too humid on the coast to make true “sun-dried” tomatoes, but the dehydrator does the job.
Finally, in addition to preserving, we are eating so much yummy food right now I can’t possible blog about it all. Plum cake, soupe au pistou, stir-frys, grilled veggies, and fresh tomato salads are just a few of the wonderful late summer treats we are enjoying. I’ll just leave you with this……
Okay, this may not be the most beautiful and delicious post in the world, but it’s an important one. And it is of the utmost importance in creating all the beauty and deliciousness in the rest of my posts. The topic is composting. Yep, decomposing garden […]
Okay, okay, I know it’s been a while since my last post. There are a few reasons for this. First, we were off on vacation for a while (as seen in my last post about the demo garden at Science World). Second, my three year old has decided to start giving up his nap, meaning the hours that I have to sneak in some blogging are shrinking. Finally, like my garden, I’ve been feeling a bit of summer drought.
I both love and hate August in the garden. I love the abundance of harvest: tomatoes, beans, melons, cucumbers, and basil are really at their peak right now. At the same time, though, I hate how messy everything seems to get in August. I love the newness of spring gardens: delicate pea tendrils, tender baby lettuce, and seedlings pushing forth with such excitement and hope for the season to come. In August everything begins to yellow and die back as it puts forth its fruit before the cool fall weather sets in. The tomatoes are full of almost-red fruit on ugly, twisty, mottled old vines. The melons are musky and sweet but the vines are no longer growing at a foot a day. The beans are setting fruit so fast I can barely keep up with them and get a little discouraged at how much ends up in the compost when I can’t get to them quickly enough.
Similarly, my inspiration to write in the past few weeks has been experiencing a similar summer drought. As I noted already, the kids are keeping me busy and my husband is back at work after a nice three-week holiday. It’s back-to-normal here and with that normality come a bit of brownness and slowed growth to my motivation.
But, I push forth. I’m already pouring over the seed catalogues and graph paper, planning my garden for next year. Every year, without fail, I look out at my garden and see everything I would like to do differently next year. I have some very exciting ideas for next year which I will share with you over the fall and winter.
In the meantime, I’m eating lots of greek salads, I’m trying my hand at making lacto-fermented vegetables (I nearly lost my mind on multiple levels watching this video), and I’m savouring every last bite of my honey-sweet cantaloupe melons.
We took our family to visit Science World during our recent trip to Vancouver and, of course, the exhibit which excited me most was their urban farm just to the right of the front entrance. The farm is a collection of various-sized raised beds and chicken coops […]