Putting up with the "Putting Up"

Part of the utter bliss of having a garden is the big harvest that comes at some point in the growing season.  I would have to say that our harvest is now.  We have eaten just about all of the squash and zucchini we can for now and I have several plants that are just too big to do anything with and are on the last yield of the season (see basil above).  This is time to decide whether you will give it all away because you can't look at one more veggie or can or freeze it, or as we call it in the south, "put it up".  My experiences with canning have been positive overall, if you can call HOURS of being in a steam bath kitchen with cucumber juice up to your armpits or tomato skins clogging the sink or the smell of vinegar and pickling spices burning your nose hairs "positive", which I do.  A negative experience would be all of that time and work with the added insult of the jars not sealing properly or whatever was in said jars turning bad at some point and you have to throw all of them in the trash, thus wanting to break things and hurt whomever told you what a good idea this whole thing was.  

In my growing up years I can remember canning at my granny's with my momma and putting up pickles for the winter.  When I was grown, I canned a couple of times and put up tomatoes and salsa.  I will admit that it was pretty great to pull out tomatoes from the garden to cook with in January or make Bloody Mary's with homemade tomato juice in March.  Very satisfying indeed.  Also the biggest, hottest mess know to man.  Freezing is MUCH easier and I absolutely prefer it 10 out of 10 times, if it won't compromise whatever it is you are putting up.  It is a mess in the kitchen for awhile, but it takes minimal time compared to the canning process and I always am so glad to open the freezer and see the bags and containers all lined up in there waiting to be summoned to join a menu.  I feel so freaking organized.  Who knew?   

Here on Payne Street, it was time to put up the squash and zucchini and make some pesto with the gargantuan basil plant that was growing on the garden.  The harvest was massive, as you can see in the above pic, and the smell filling the kitchen was intoxicating.  Aside from the few stunned bees that accidentally were brought in with the basil (they love those flowers), it was a great harvest and it yielded about 6 cups of pesto when it was all said and done.  The pesto recipe is one I have used from the Dean and Deluca cookbook and it has just the right bite to it.  This recipe will make about 2/3 cup, so double or triple accordingly.  


1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
2 Tbs pine nuts (I toast mine)
2 tsp minced garlic
6 Tbs good olive oil
4 tsp Parmesan, grated
Salt to taste

Throw it all in the food processor and process away.  The finished products are nice to have and it makes you really glad its all done. 

The squash and zucchini I just blanched, dumped instantly in an ice water bath and put in smaller serving bags and then put all of those in gallon bags. It yielded about 2 gallons of veggies to be used later in the fall and winter.

We also have re staked the tomatoes and peppers this week and I believe we are going to get one more big yield from them.  I know the peppers will anyway.  I have renewed my pepper dreams.  It seems they worked out their differences with the tomatoes for now and are LOADED with peppers.  I know you don't believe this, but Steven had to get 10 foot stakes for the tomato plants and they are climbing right on up almost to the top.  We had about a dozen or more green tomatoes as casualties when the un-ravelling happened with the tomato vines.  I believe Fried Green Tomatoes are on the menu soon.  

We are having a glorious break in the weather with temps in the 70's today, but are scheduled to heat back up next week so I have some high hopes for the last of the tomatoes.  For now I am headed out to weed for awhile and commune some more with the leeks and peppers and wallow in these last days of sunshine and warm dirt.     


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  1. We turned our garden back over to the earth this weekend. As much as we wanted to try our hand at fall gardening, the summer heat just did us in this year. We went on vacation a couple of weeks ago and the poor plants just couldn't survive. We do have 1 roma and 2 strawberries still giving it their best shot but the other toms, peppers and cukes were screaming for mercy. I'm really sad about this b/c I really enjoyed our small harvest this year. Oh well, we can probably start planting in late winter here so I have that to look forward to, I guess!

  2. Oh no! That makes me so sad to think about. I know when mine is all said and done, there will be some mourning going on. I'm not ready to let it go yet. I hope the fall crop does ok. My pumpkins are not happy right now. Lettuce goes in next week, so we'll see. You can start the planning now for next summer:)