Week of July 16th/ Special Pickle Picture Post

It’s been a busy weekend here, pickling, harvesting and keeping up with the weeding/planting schedule in the garden. Nonetheless, things are moving relatively smoothly. The sauerkraut we made last week is happily bubbling along; maybe this week it will be joined by some crock pickles. Thanks to Sasha’s and Carolyn’s work today, we’ve managed to knock the weeds back for another week, and (theoretically) I’ll be seeding the last of the fall crops this week. If not, well, we’ll be late. Fennel needs to be done, as well as more cabbage, beets (yes, yes even beets— blame Hogsback Farm on Vashon and Brian Lowry’s evil ways for corrupting me so) and kale. The brussels of course are in, and I’m hoping to be able to plant collards next week or the week after as we clear the turnips, daikons and garlic.

Yes, garlic! Today I began harvesting what was ready, pulling a couple softneck varieties that had begun to fall over, and were far enough along to pull. I like to begin harvesting when there’s still a few green leaves left on each stock, and cure the cloves on screens or milk cartons for a week or so before hanging them or braiding them. Harvesting like this means the softneck varieties are nearly always ready before the hardneck varieties, and this year’s been no different thus far. So far I’ve pulled the Inchelium Red and the Nootka Rose— sometime later this week I’ll harvest the Silver Rose (another softneck) and maybe by next week, I’ll have gotten around to digging up the hardnecks— Spanish Roja, Purple Italian, Music, Chesnok Red and I believe one or two others, the names of which are escaping me at the moment. It’s always a good sign when you can’t remember how many varieties you’ve planted off the top of your head.

So I’m feeling rich. I’m adding garlic to my pantry again, I’ve got pickles and jams aplenty, and the tomatoes are putting on fruit. It looks to be not only a good potato crop, but a good squash crop, and one of these days, I’ll have some damn carrots. All things in time, I suppose. The basil went from being rather sad looking and slug bit to being lush and healthy in what seems like a week, and now I’m eyeing both it and my freezer for pesto, trying to figure how much of the hog we’ll have to eat to clear out freezer space for vegetables. Such troubles, my life holds.

Harvesting this week: kale, chard, baby leeks, cucumbers, savoy cabbage, sunflowers, turnips, beets, basil and sad little baby carrots. I’m also thinking about foraging up some chicory for it’s roots soon, in order to brew up a chicory stout a la Dogfish Head, although it might be easier to just buy the flavoring I suppose. Less interesting though. The crop of hops looks to be decent this year as well, so maybe I’ll be able to make a stout with chicory from the canyon, and a fresh hop ale with hops from our garden. Now I just need another acre or so to grow all my own barley, and a malt house, and ….

The perpetual dream of more land rears it’s head once again, walking around campus, looking at the rugby pitching, thinking “That’d make a mighty nice pasture for some dairy goats”, or “gee, do we really need the whole front lawn to be grass?”. But I get along with this little space, and we feed quite a few people off it. Maybe someday, Reed will see the light, and we’ll have a real farm. But for now, we have our corner to dig a few potatoes in, and grow some beans and corn and squash, and we can build it and make it more beautiful and fruitful than anyone thought we’d manage to do three years ago. Or that I thought, for that matter. Surprises all around!

And let’s remember our history: La tierra es de quien la trabaja con sus manos. All structures shift in time; eventually, we’ll pull up the sidewalks and dig up the front lawn of this place, and grow food. Reed was a farm once; maybe it will be once again.

Pictures below:

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The squash is beginning to reach out onto the asphalt.

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Corn, getting tall.

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The sunflowers are starting to bloom; soon we’ll be overwhelmed, and will have more than necessary to grace even the fanciest of tables.

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Hops, also flowering, high up on the trellis.

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The beginnings of a tomato jungle.

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Rouge vie d’etampes (cinderella) pumpkins, just starting out. This variety is good for carving or eating, and is especially good for soups and pumpkin butter, in my experience.

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Summertime splendor.

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New potatoes: Yellow Finn, German Butterball, Rio Colorado, French Fingerling and Silverton Russet.

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Baby leeks, soon to be grilled as a burger topping.

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Garlic, ready to be harvested.

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Garlic, harvested. This variety is Inchelium Red; it’ll be braided once it’s dried and cured, and hung up in the kitchen for use.

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The first week’s crop of pickling cucumbers— I plant Calypso and National Pickling types, and these will soon be combined with…

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…garlic from the garden and grape leaves from the canyon orchard, as well as spices and brine, to make…

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… pickles.

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And pickled beets, of course, have their place in the world too.

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As does a new experiment for this year, green walnut liquer, discovered here. We will see if its worth anything. In true Portland fashion, we used a locally distilled vodka from New Deal distillery, here in Southeast, and walnuts we scrounged from around the canyon at Reed. I’m looking forward to trying it, almost as much as I’m looking forward to making and trying cherry bounce, whenever we get around to it. Gettin’ drunk off local, seasonal goodies, ’tis the Portland way.

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