I love enjoying nature and working outdoors most of the year but July and August are like January and February to most other folks around my area. I’d rather be inside reading a book. Mid-summer’s heat, humidity and mosquitoes are just the pits! I almost like January and February’s cold better because at least the bugs aren’t attacking me. But I’m not complaining really. It’s just part of the year’s cycle and so I adapt.
My garden is growing strong. I have tomato plants that are well over 6 feet tall. I can barely walk down the walk-ways.
The weeds are growing, too. I’m a horrible weeder. I do some here and there but I’ve never been consistent or thorough about it. And you know what? It hasn’t mattered. Most of the weeds in my garden are edible anyway, even though there are some that I haven’t actually tried yet. I happily pick wild spinach (aka lamb’s quarters) almost daily as well as purslane for salads. I’m fine for them to go to seed — actually I want some of them to go to seed for new plants next year.
I’ve got at least two types of amaranth — haven’t gotten around to researching how exactly you prepare and eat the green shoots. Same for black nightshade. Not deadly nightshade (that would be belladonna). Of course, there is debate about the edibility of black nightshade. I plan on trying some of the ripe berries this year but I’ll probably wait until next spring to try some of the properly prepared shoots.
Back to weeding. I’m not sure if it’s because I have very rich soil (thank you, chickens) or because it really doesn’t matter but having lots of weeds in my garden has not stopped my cultivated plants from producing bumper crops every. single. year.
So, I don’t put a high priority on weeding, especially when it is hot, humid and buggy. The mosquitoes are merciless (even with my homemade bug-off formula) and I don’t like to be out in my garden except long enough to check the plants for growing (and ready) fruit and for problems (such as pests or falling over and needed to be staked/trellised/tied up better). I want to say that it was Steve Solomon who wrote that the best fertilizer is the gardener’s feet. It really is good to check on the garden daily — which is why being on vacation for 6 days in early July was a dumb move on my part. I won’t make that mistake again!
Yesterday I had it with the mosquitoes and I determined that I would gear up this morning so that I would not get eaten alive. I got my DriDucks rain jacket with hood on and a mosquito head net over that. It WORKED! Oh those b*st*rds tried like crazy to get me but they couldn’t get through the barriers. It was hot but I’d rather have hot and sweaty than a bazillion mosquito bites.
So, I am
hiding inside enjoying my time inside reading some really great books. I’m almost done with Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes. I will most definitely be reading through it again and will be posting more on it in the coming months.
But really I am researching and reviewing preservation techniques in anticipation of another bumper crop of food. I already know how to can and freeze and do some fermentation. However, I have borrowed a book called Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante. The appeal to me of these techniques is that they use less energy to process and store than canning and freezing. They also hold promise to taste better than canned food. Personally, I’m not a big fan of canned food but it does have its merits. And, lastly, they are uncomplicated; they do not require fancy or expensive equipment. I’ll be sure to post on my successes and failures in trying these methods.
Some of the recipes that I have ear-marked are: cherry tomatoes preserved in oil, vegetable medley preserved in oil, Pistou (a French version of pesto), tomato puree balls stored in oil, and whole tomatoes preserved in brine. I’m still reading through the book so I’m sure that there will be more recipes that I’d like to try.
Lastly, a few days ago I started 2 quarts of sauerkraut using only cabbage, caraway seeds and Real salt. Thanks to my blogging buddy Survival Sherpa for the terrific post on how to make sauerkraut. I’ll let you know how it tastes.
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PS I know y’all down South think I’m a wimp about the heat and bugs but at least I know my weaknesses. 😉 I suspect that I might be part Eskimo 🙂 Have great day wherever you are!