Boy, this season has really flown by! It's been an interesting year for gardening for us. This is our first summer season at this location, our temporary homestead in Sam's Valley, and it was our first year to garden with entirely raised beds/imported soil. We had lots of success, and quite a few disappointments. Overall, our garden has been very productive, and it's been hard to keep up with all the veggies it has provided us.
We froze quite a few peas when those were coming on, and Laura also made a whole bunch of pesto, which we also froze. We haven't done as much canning this year as we usually do, but we've made up for that with all the sun dried tomatoes we put away instead.
We have done some canning. I made a few jars of salsa, and then Laura went crazy with the tomato picking one day, harvesting some 150 pounds, which took her most of the day to clean, cut, and blend in the vitamix before filling every large pot we have for cooking down. Vitamixing the tomato chunks isn't necessary, but it prevents big chunks of peel from ending up in the sauce. Some people peel their tomatoes before cooking them down, but man, I can't even imagine how much time and effort that would add to an already labor intensive process.
We started off with about ten gallons of blended tomatoes, and it took about ten hours to cook them all down. It takes less time if you only use sauce tomatoes, but because we have so many more tomatoes than we can eat, we put in a bunch of slicers too, which have way more water in them, slowing down the process of cooking them down.
When finally the time came to season and can the tomato sauce, we boiled some water in the water bath and sterilized our jars and lids. After ten hours of cooking tomatoes, our stove top was splattered with red gore, the cleaning of which would later be one of the most difficult parts of this whole process. But we ended up with eleven quarts of extremely tasty organic tomato sauce.
Keeping up with all our squash is a whole issue. I've already throw several yellow crooknecks over the back fence (sharing the abundance with the wildlife) as we can only eat so many. We went out of town for a few days and came home to discover that several zucchinis had gotten huge, which makes them much harder to eat. (The seeds get tough, and it's almost impossible to eat a whole zucchini in one sitting when they're that big.)
And then we discovered a winter squash (the variety of which I don't know) that had been hiding under the foliage in the volunteer patch growing out of and around our compost area. It's hard to imagine that we missed this one, because when I finally pulled it out of it's hiding place, it was enormous. It must have weighed fifty pounds. I'm not sure what we're going to do with it.
We've been very much enjoying eating our own corn, potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, parsley, and kale. As is usual by this time of year, we're getting pretty tired of tomatoes and summer squash. Unlike tomatoes, squash has no easy way to be preserved, so over the fence it goes.
We've also enjoyed all our beautiful flowers this year. We have been saving the seeds from many of them so we can grow them again next year, or whenever we next have a garden again. (We plan to travel for much of next year.)