Garden Harvesting and Freezing

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Life has gotten really busy this month.  I am constantly feeling like I am behind.  I finally got to spend a nice a peaceful morning working in the garden and harvesting a ton (or in this case around 25 lbs) of fresh veggies and raspberries.  Some things should have been harvested a week ago like a few zucchinis that could be mistaken for baseball bats at this point.

So this weekend I am playing garden catch up.  I spent time weeding, training cucumbers to grow up, working on pathways, and harvesting as much as I can.  I am starting my freezing projects with zucchini and green beans.  I am hoping to freeze a bunch of both this year to enjoy over the hopefully not as long as last years winter.

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The zucchini rows managed to rebound from the cucumber beetle infestation and are now growing like weeds. It appears one is doing so well it is growing a basketball as well.  I took 18 lbs of zucchini out the garden and with a couple pounds still in the refrigerator I decided to start “putting up” for winter.

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Shredding zucchini to freeze is really simple and I think the best thing to do with large zucchinis.  This way I can thaw and use to make zucchini bread, zucchini cake, zucchini crumb muffins, zucchini patties, and probably some other cool stuff I haven’t thought of yet.

All I do to prepare the zucchini for the freezer is grate it, then press out as much water as possible by pressing down a large bowl into the colander of zucchini.  That forces the water out the bottom and then I pack it into gallon freezer bags.

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I try to take as much air out as possible before sealing.  I saw this trick were you put a straw into the bag all the way on one side and seal the bag up to the straw.  Then you suck as much air out of the bag thru the straw, pull it out and seal the rest.  It sounded pretty good but I used a straw that was to big and proceed to inhale a bunch of zucchini shreds.  After a few minutes of mild choking and muttering swear words I just sealed the bags like a normal person.

I still have a few small bags of zucchini in the freezer from last year so I believe I made it a whole year without purchasing any which feel like a win.  I put 3 bags 18 lbs total in the freezer to start my stash for this winter.

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The beans are growing like mad and some are a little too big now so I managed a heavy harvest to get as many big ones as possible.  I do not want the plants to stop producing.

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From my harvest I set aside 4 lbs (2 each of green beans and yellow beans) to blanch and freeze.  After snapping the top off, washing and slicing I prepared a pot of water for blanching.

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Once the pot is boiling I add a little salt and pour in the beans.  I give them 2 minutes in the boiling water then strain and add to a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking anymore.

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After their ice bath I strain them again and place them on a large towel to dry off as much as possible.

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I used my vacuum sealer to seal up 1 lb portions of each.

Last year I lost my whole bean harvest to some garden enemy but the year before I had managed to freeze quite a few bags to eat over winter and I look forward to having that option again this winter.

Elsewhere in the garden….

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The cucumbers are starting to come on strong.  I can easily find a few ready everyday from my around 90 plants.  Soon I will be harvesting by the wheelbarrow full (if I had a wheelbarrow).  They are climbing their homemade trellises pretty well with only a few cases of twine not being strong enough.  The photo above is of one of my pyramid trellises loaded with “lemon” cucumbers.  I have only pulled a few ripe ones so far but the plants are loaded with tiny fruits and harvesting those is about to explode.  I really love these cukes.  They are larger then golf balls, round, and yellow.  Norah adores them and they made great refrigerator pickles last year.

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It looks like I might just get some corn this year.  I honestly kind of hate growing corn.  I love corn but it just never seems to work out for me in the garden.  Maybe this is the year it turns around!

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My “Roma,” “Jet Star,” “Black Krim,” and “Garden Peach” tomatoes are all looking good and loaded with not yet ripe fruits.  I am harvesting cherry tomatoes now but so far just the “Sun Gold” variety.

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The peppers seem to be slow growing this year but I have harvested some green peppers and sweet banana peppers.  A good amount of the sweet peppers will get earmarked for freezing.

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Plenty of not yet ripe cayenne peppers are dotting the plants.  Most of these will get dehydrated and used in my homemade cayenne powder and red pepper flakes.

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My pole beans are growing good but have run out of space to climb.  The worst part is I knew that would be an issue and I have thus far done nothing about it.

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Ground cherries are popping up all over my three plants.  This is such a cool plant to grow.  Once the berries are ripe they fall right off the plant in their little husks and you collect them.  Last year I tried dehydrating most of them into what I thought would be like a raisin to use in granola bars.  It didn’t work out great, they are pretty bitter so this year they are all going into a jam.

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With adequate groundhog defenses this year the broccoli patch is looking great but no heads growing yet.

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The Swiss Chard is growing great again this year but the seeds I direct sowed barely came up.  I should still have enough of this wonderful green to keep us happy until winter.

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Kale has been my superstar this year.  We can cut it everyday and have been.

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The celery plants I thought I might have killed by leaving them in the greenhouse to long are back to thriving in containers.  That is good news because I need celery leaf for my homemade garden herb mix.

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We picked almost 2 lbs of raspberries this week off of just one plant.  I haven’t even started picking the ones behind the garden but I have to get to that asap.  The maniacs have been enjoying the raspberries tremendously.  You might wonder why I would call such an innocent looking baby girl a maniac well I will tell you.  Just moments after the photo above was taken the happily stuffing her face with raspberries baby realized the bowl was empty and let out a series of shrieks and cries that if translatable would have been a series of curse words followed by GET ME MORE RASPBERRIES!  She is a maniac too, for sure.

It has been a busy month but we have a few things on tap coming up…

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We went on a pick your own strawberry adventure and loaded up to make homemade strawberry jam. I already messed it up once so I am giving it a few days to make sure batch number two sets properly.

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I am also working through a whole pork loin.  The plan is 10 dinners from one $24 pork loin.  I fed the first one to the maniacs last night a Parmesan topped Pork Chop.  Recipes soon to follow.


Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.