Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Harvests: when, how, and preservation

I've spent an amazing amount of time harvesting and preserving in the past 24 hours, and I thought my practices might be of interest to others. Beans, peas, and raspberries need to be harvest "now" when they are ready.

I froze my 12th serving of Roma bush beans of 2010 this morning. They are growing as they never have before -- like the weeds! But such nice weeds. I remove strings if there (not many), and par boil them for 3 minutes. This is supposed to preserve vitamins better. Then they don't need much cooking when you serve them in winter. When I pull them out of the boiling water in their strainer container, I run it under cold water and let it cool for a few minutes. Then I run it under cold water again. After the third time, they are ready to put in ziplock bags in my kitchen refrigerator's freezer.

It won't be too late to plant bush beans for a couple of months. I planted these after the April 24 Open Garden because I wanted to show visitors my cold frame and its contents then. I started harvesting the beans last week, an incredibly quick growing season.

It's pretty obvious when to harvest beans, and they wait a couple of days, but peas are more challenging. I try to harvest sugar snaps when they are bulging, but not withered or dry. It means checking them over at least once a day these days. As I harvest, I pull down on the strings to remove some of them. Removing the rest of the strings before par-boiling is a much bigger job than for beans. Then I precede as for beans.

Raspberries need to be harvested when they have turned dark and come off the plant easily, but not TOO dark. They last only two days in the refrigerator, so picking raspberries takes lots of my summer time -- pleasantly! One should always nibble as one goes, of course.

I've never frozen raspberries before, but this morning I put some rolling separately in a container in the kitchen frig freezer, as my 8th grade friend told me last month she does. I'll then put them in a ziplock bag and see how many I actually use this winter. They roll out of the bag separately, Ann says.

I also made my first batch of pesto this morning and froze it. Last evening when I harvested the basil, I was startled to see that the basil around my pea-tomato circular fence was dead and dying. This morning I was even more startled to see it had risen from the dead. I guess basil doesn't like heat. The basil not far from the neighbor's fence was wonderful to harvest last evening. I gather now that basil likes some shade. I'm not sure how much.

However, tomato plants have popped up on my compost heap and under my apple tree. I think I'll let them live and see how well they thrive. I know from the front yard that tomatoes don't need nearly as much sun as advertised. If the newcomers bear...

A garden is full of surprises.


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