Saturday, August 6, 2011

Garden Produce

There has been much written about eating local, I have written on the subject myself.  This has proved much easier to do in the summer when the garden is producing so well.  Lately we have been eating from our backyard; the berries, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, and peas have been producing abundantly. This afternoon I was able to spend much of my time out in our gardens.  The temperature finally cooled down, we have had temps in the 90s with humidity to match, or close.  The gardens have become a jungle of growth, making up for lost time with the very cool June we had.  I always think I am leaving enough space between the plants in the spring and about this time of year I am struggling to get between plants well enough to pick the produce.

These bamboo poles have worked very well, holding the weight as the plant grows and produces fruit.  As I was weeding, adding more lattice to the shed for the grape vine to cling to, dead heading flowers, and picking produce, I was also grazing.  That's right, lunch directly from the backyard.  I ate blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peas, and green beans, not necessarily in that order.  From plant to mouth, fruits and vegetables at their peak, which means they were at the peak of their nutritional value, as well as their flavor.  The green beans and peas have been particularly sweet this year, likely due to all the rain we have received.

I have only watered the garden once this summer, rain has provided all the water the garden needs, and then some.  I pulled some small onions this afternoon because they were sitting in an area that was consistently water logged and I was afraid they would start to rot.  Hopefully the other row of onions will be able to stay in the soil long enough for some serious growth.  The raspberries have been producing like gang-busters, we have eaten them fresh, frozen them for winter baking and smoothies, and I have baked with them.  I made raspberry muffins late this afternoon for Sunday morning breakfast, the recipe will follow later this week (if I have time).

We have been eating much of the green beans fresh and raw, they are so good there is no need to cook them and destroy vitamins.  I have also blanched and frozen a few pints for winter meals, this afternoon I added another pint to the freezer.  Food preservation has not moved into high gear yet, the corn is not ripe yet and we have only had enough ripe tomatoes to eat fresh, with the exception of cherry tomatoes that I roasted and froze, more on that later too.  Once the majority of the tomatoes on those 20+ plants start to ripen I will have my hands full with canning.  I should have a little more time to tackle that project then since that will be closer to September and I will be "retiring" from the library at the end of August and working part time managing my parents health food store.

This was our dinner; fresh vegetables picked or pulled from the garden and placed on homemade pizza dough.  As you can see, we do not eat completely local, the cheese on the pizza and the olive oil in the pizza crust are not local, but this time of year much of what we eat comes right from our backyard.  That saves us money, it tastes better, and it is better for us and our environment.