Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tallying the 2016 Harvest

I'm going to interrupt my streak of Christmas posts to squeeze one in here that I always like to get done before the end of a calendar year: a record of our harvest for this past year.  :)

As always, I am astonished at the abundance of this good earth we are blessed to live on, and my heart wells up with gratitude for the produce that springs forth from it.  Growing things never lose their hint of the miraculous in my mind.  Putting old dry seeds in dirt, then seeing delicious food spring forth from that?  Amazing, every single time!  :)

I never claim perfection in these lists, as it is possible I made a mistake and didn't record something accurately during the course of this year; but to the best of my knowledge, this was our harvest for 2016.

1. Onions
2. Green onions
3. Lettuce (several kinds)
4. Cilantro
5. Strawberries
6. Spinach
7. Peas
8. Broccoli
9. Cabbage
10. Cucumbers
11. Zucchini
12. Tomatoes
13. Potatoes
14. Bell peppers
15. Jalapeno peppers
16. Basil
17. Cantaloupe
18. Watermelon
19. Green beans
20. Grapes

1. Strawberry jam - 7 pints (we never grow enough strawberries for all we want to do with them, so we always buy some additional ones from a local Old Order Mennonite farm so we can have plenty to eat fresh, eat in pies, eat in strawberry shortcake, etc...and yes, to even make jam with some) :)
2. Strawberries - 3 pints
3. Peas - 40 pints
4. Broccoli - 7 pints (I think this is the first time we've frozen broccoli)
5. Blueberries - 35 pints (we picked these at a local blueberry farm)
6. Creamed corn - 36 pints (for my own records, I want to note that the first 20 pints were from 92 ears of corn, and the second 16 were from 70 ears)
7. Apple butter - 4 pints (a first! I made this in my crockpot)
8. Grapes for pie - 20 pints (a time-consuming project, but so worth it!)
9. Applesauce - 43 pints and 4 quarts
10. Pumpkin - 5 pints (Jeff's mom cooked a couple of pumpkins during her November visit with us; she used some of it for pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, but we had quite a bit left over so we froze it)

1. Dill beans - 20 quarts (I canned 21, but one jar broke)
2. Green beans - 12 quarts
3. Salsa - 43 quarts
4. Applesauce - 75 quarts (we made more applesauce than usual this year, in part because our local orchard did not have any peaches because of a late frost, so the money and time that would have normally gone to putting up peaches went towards applesauce...hopefully next year, the peach harvest will be good!)
5. Grape juice - 8 quarts (it would have been higher, except I used most of the grapes for pie filling this year)

One new thing I did this year was drying apples; and oh my stars, they were good!  We did this in November while Jeff's mom was here, and she helped peel the apples for drying.  She and I both felt like the apples were even tastier dried than they had been fresh!  It was so easy, too: I didn't do anything but core, peel, and slice the apples--didn't dip them in anything to keep them from turning brown (although I did sprinkle cinnamon on some of them just for fun).  I was very pleased with how they turned out and am eager to do more next year.  I've been rationing the dried apples because we could have eaten them all up very quickly; I still have this jar in the cellar (although as soon as I post this, I'm going to go get a few slices from it, so by the time you read this, the picture won't be entirely accurate).  ;-)
Jeff experimented with two new things in the garden: okra and artichokes.  Neither did well.  I'm not sure what happened with the okra, but the artichokes got choked (ironic, right?) ;-) out by several ENORMOUS zucchini plants that took over about an acre (more or less) of our land!!  ;-)  I expect Jeff might want to try again with them next year.  :)

One thing that's been unique this fall is that the guy who normally shoots a deer (or two) and trades the meat for haircuts hasn't gotten a deer yet.  I normally can that venison, but haven't had to do that task this year.  We still have quite a bit from last year, so we aren't likely to run out.  Although if he still ends up getting a deer, I won't complain.  ;-)

One area that I failed in this fall was bagging up leaves.  We only managed to collect a dismal amount of 8 bags which is NOTHING compared with the amount we really could use on the garden as mulch next summer.  I don't know why I did so poorly with this.  It seemed like the leaves maybe clung to the trees longer than usual this year.  I do know the colors weren't as brilliant as we get sometimes.  When they did fall, we had quite a bit of wind, and that sent them scurrying across the land, rather than settling into nice tall layers of leaves under the trees which are relatively easy to rake up.  Besides those factors, maybe I just got lazy.  ;-)  Next year, I'll do better!  Which is the battle cry of optimistic gardeners everywhere.  ;-)

One more tidbit about the garden: I confess that we didn't really do a great job at keeping up with the garden this year, and weeds nearly took over the whole thing.  It sure didn't look pretty!  But in spite of that, we kept getting an abundance of yummy, healthy produce from it, almost to the point of surprising us with how much good stuff we could get from such a mess!  Jeff and I both had feelings of discouragement about it at various times; and one evening in particular, Jeff was telling me how down he felt about it all.  Just then, a friend of mine named Tarah (a homeschooling mom whose paths have crossed with mine through various homeschooling venues through the years) came to our door to drop by a biology book for Josiah; and as we stood there chatting, the subject of gardens came up.  She began telling me how discouraged she was about her garden because the weeds had gotten so high and she felt so behind, but amazingly, they kept getting lots of food from it...the exact same thoughts that Jeff had expressed just moments earlier.  We sort of laughed about it all, but inwardly my heart was encouraged.  "We're not the only ones!" I rejoiced!  :)

And anyway, there's always next year...  ;-)

From previous years... 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015

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