Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tallying the 2015 Harvest

Last night I made a list of a half-dozen or so blog posts that I really must write before the end of the year.  If I don't meet that goal, I suppose the world will keep on turning; but if at all possible, there are some loose ends I'd like to tie up blog-wise before 2016 arrives.  This annual harvest tally is one of them.  :)

When I discovered last January that I was pregnant, it didn't take me long to realize that any gardening/food-preserving goals I had might have to be toned down this year, so I approached the summer with the expectation of doing less than in previous years.  Happily for me, Jeff was once again the driving force behind the garden work; and he spent many hours planting and picking and so forth.  In addition, the boys were more helpful than ever before--a natural consequence, I guess, of them getting older, but certainly a very welcome change!  :)

Because of their good help, I hardly shelled any peas this year (a task I truly love doing, but one which takes up quite a lot of time!); instead, the boys would get set up with buckets and bowls and would shell them while they were watching movies.  Eventually, they realized that every time we had a bunch of peas to shell, they would get to watch a movie, so they were very happy when I asked them to do that task.  :)

Preparing green beans to be canned is hard to do while watching a movie, so in that case, they did the work of beans while listening to some very entertaining Jonathan Park CDs; and that made the minutes fly by while they kept their hands busy with the beans.

In addition to those tasks, they also picked tomatoes often (in fact, they each had their own plants that they had planted, and they carefully watered and nurtured them...Shav entered some tomatoes from his plant in the fair, but there were a huge number of entries in that category, and he didn't place), and did other tasks like dicing peaches, etc.  I could not have accomplished nearly as much as I did without their help, that's for sure!  And what's more, I genuinely enjoyed the time that we spent working together; great family memories can be made around a five-gallon bucket of peas!  :)

This year, Moriah was old enough to occasionally "help," but what was really the most helpful with her is that we could trust her to go into the garden and step carefully; she learned what was a desired plant and how to avoid stepping on them, and that was truly helpful for us--and a change from other years when we haven't given her the freedom to roam at will in the garden!  :)

One of the best treats of our harvest was peaches that we bought at a nearby orchard and dried in our food dehydrator.  They were so very yummy that I had to ration them, or we would have gobbled them all up in a day or two.  :)  I definitely want to make dried peaches again next year!

Another unique part of our 2015 harvest was these purple beans...
...the seeds of which were given to Jeff by one of his customers who got them in Poland, I believe.
The outside of the beans was a rich, deep purple, but inside it was as green as a regular green bean...
...and interestingly, when heat was applied to the beans--whether in the canning process or when I cooked a batch for our summertime suppers--the purple color disappeared, and they looked like any other green bean.  They were delicious, and we really liked having them in our garden this year!
Also of note: on my first or second day of canning this summer, I discovered to my horror that there was a tiny hole in the bottom of the canner, and the water I had put in the canner at the beginning of the canning process was leaking out all over the stove and onto the floor.  That wasn't a fun discovery, to say the least.  Fortunately, a new canner (this type of canner, at least--not a pressure canner) doesn't cost too much, so Jeff made a trip to the store and purchased a new one for us.  I'm not sure how the old one got a hole in it, but I'm grateful for the years of service we got from it, and I hope for many from this new one!  :)
And now, the list (with my customary disclaimer that my totals might not be accurate because I might have forgotten to record something)...  :)

We ate fresh:
~ cilantro (and in fact, despite some heavy frosts recently, there is STILL cilantro growing in the garden, to Jeff's great delight...we had some on our tostadas tonight for supper)  :)
~ strawberries
~ green onions
~ spinach
~ basil
~ lettuce (several kinds)
~ peas
~ mulberries
~ cucumbers
~ dill
~ green beans (and the purple ones mentioned earlier)
~ broccoli
~ tomatoes
~ potatoes
~ onions
~ cantaloupe
~ watermelon
~ sweet potatoes
~ peppers (I'm not sure what kinds, but Jeff probably remembers)
~ I didn't write this on my list, but didn't we grow cabbage this year? we usually do
We froze:
~ cilantro - 19 snack bags
~ strawberry jam - 18 pints
~ peas - 22 pints
~ blueberries - 22 pints
~ peaches - 50 pints (that's a lot of peaches! but freezing them was quicker and easier than canning--although we canned a lot, too--and we had enough room in the freezer, so that seemed the way to go this year, especially because I was dealing with bothersome back pain during part of the pregnancy, and bending over the sink preparing food was particularly painful, so the quicker I could get the job done, the better!)
~ applesauce - 17 quarts
We canned:
~ dill beans - 21 quarts, 1 pint
~ green beans - 7 quarts
~ applesauce - 36 quarts
~ salsa - 37 quarts, 14 pints (as always, this was all Jeff's doing)  :)
~ spaghetti sauce - 5 quarts (Jeff did this, too)
~ peaches - 52 quarts
~ grape juice - 14 half-gallons, 13 quarts
~ grape jelly - 15 pints, 6 half-pints
~ venison - 19 quarts
When autumn came and we started raking up bags of leaves to use as mulch on the garden next year, I began a record of that as well; and according to my paper, we got 11 bags of leaves.  But I stopped recording the day the boys helped our neighbor with her leaves; and from that, we got maybe 18 more bags.  To tell you the truth, there are still leaves on our lawn that could be raked up; but that job hasn't been a priority recently so I'm not sure if we'll get to that or not.  At any rate, I think we have at least 29 big black trash bags of leaves in our root cellar, waiting to be used next summer.

As always, when I look over these lists (like this one from 2012, this one from 2013, and this one from 2014), gratitude wells up in my heart.  What richness!  What bounty we've been given!  Even though I see some gaps as I read through our harvest (for example, I didn't put up any corn this year, because my time for giving birth was drawing near as corn ripened here in the Valley), I feel thankful that, despite my apprehensions that being pregnant this year would keep me from doing much food preservation, our harvest was abundant, and somehow a lot of it made its way into our freezers and our cellar!  :)

Thanks be to the Lord of the harvest who makes all things to grow!

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