106 Harvesting the garlic + Strawberry jam

106 Harvesting the garlic + Strawberry jam

Almost every day brings fresh rain around here at the moment. Many days, we are forced to work around the weather–and take breaks when it rains. Or we ignore the weather and go to the garden anyway. On a rainy day, we made strawberry jam, then rescued the garlic from the non-stop rain by harvesting it and sorting it in my living room.

Note: The video version of this post gets released on Wednesday, July 3, 2024.

I woke up to a very ugly day that morning. I had hopes for an afternoon in the garden, but first…
It’s raining again, another really ugly day, so I’m going to learn how to make a jam.

As a proof of concept, I decided to make my tiny amount of strawberry jam in the big canner. I didn’t have a lot of strawberries. The rain, slugs, and fellow gardeners had gotten their share.

I used the heating canner to melt the honey a bit. Oh, yes, I am learning how to make jam without pectin or refined sugar.

This is also not a proper masher but a jar stuffer. It does the job.

I saved some of the skin for seeds.

A friend made this notebook. I’ve been slowly adding my go-to recipes in there. As always, I’ll leave the recipe in the written version linked in the description.

Some lemon peel would hopefully add some natural pectin and help the jam set. The lemon juice will also add some acidity for better storage.

I stirred very frequently while I boiled down the liquid.

Once the canner was hot enough to have sterilized my jars, I removed them from the canner. After making sure not a drop of jam would go to waste, it was time to fill the jars.

The lemon peel I’d cooked with the jam made a great snack later. Yes, you can eat lemon peel. It had been infused with strawberry and honey, so it was delicious.

While another heavy downpour soaked everything outside, I made a quick lunch. More of the volunteer potatoes, some slices of bacon from the local farm, and eggs from the garden neighbor.

When the rain slowed down enough to head to the garden, I grabbed Pepper, and worked on the greenhouse. A lot of the plants in here will need to climb up something.

Melons, cucumbers, Inca cucumbers, some of the unknown tomatoes–they’d all need support soon.

I’ll add some sticks for more support, but these strings will help guide the plants up. I added cardboard back to the center of the greenhouse. I’ll add more layers here soon to keep the grass out.

But I wasn’t here for the greenhouse. I’d come to rescue the garlic from the non-stop rain. These would have preferred a few more weeks in the ground. But the rain was rotting them through.

If I didn’t want to risk losing it all, they had to come out.

I learned a lot from this bed. I know how i’ll improve on this in the fall when I plant next year’s crop. The messed up weather did a job on the garlic, as well. Just like my onions, they were confused.

Just look at this weirdness… Pretty, though.

Slowly, most of the plants came out of the ground. I am leaving some for seed. The bed hadn’t been loosened in the fall, so harvesting was a lot easier with the fork.

The second variety of garlic looked a lot better. But they, too, would have preferred more time. At least, few of these had grown as rounds or with second bulbs. But we’ll get to that later.

Some heads looked very promising. For a failed harvest, this was turning out just fine. Heavy mulching with straw and leaves was definitely the right choice for this bed. Before I grow garlic and onions again, I’ll need a looser bed with less water running through. But we’ll solve that in the fall.

The onions had been on this rack in the bathroom for a few days. Now that the garlic was harvested as well, I made my way through sorting and cleaning it all.

I tried to use a toothbrush for cleaning but it was too soft to do any good. I quickly braided my hair out of the way in honor of the occasion, and began sorting the garlic.

I’d chosen soft neck garlic to be able to store them in braids. I’d looked forward to this for months.

I’d never done any of this. I’d never grown garlic. I’d never harvested garlic. I’d never braided garlic. One garlic harvest with plenty of problems taught me a lot more than one where everything went right. Next time, I’ll skip chopping off the leaves, for example. They would have made braiding easier.

Especially the last chop…

While Pepper dreamed on the old saggy couch, I sorted and cleaned.

Cleaning garlic is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. Peeling all the dirt off with the outer layer is oddly satisfying.

I know some people prefer the look of wild roots. But giving them a haircut makes them so pretty to me.

Once I’d watched my fill of garlic-related videos, I turned on some music. Everything is better with music. For the next few days, the living room smelled of garlic, and I used every chance to clean some more.

Some of the heads were lacking outer skins. Some had formed second bulbs. Some were rounds. I was way too proud of all of them. For some, it was definitely too late, though.

A lot of the garlic we grew would not store well. We would not have enough to last us the season. I’ll tell you all about how I mulched the garden with the outer skins and braided the garlic soon.

So long, and thanks for being here.