Processing the Harvest

Last summer I spent two solid months building my garden. Most days I worked a minimum of four hours, but some days as much as eight. I thought it was the hardest job I would ever do when it came to gardening.

This spring I started planting, and compared to building the garden it was a breeze. Weeding, watering, harvesting all a pleasure especially when compared to building, shoveling and carrying.

Now I am in the high output season of the garden and processing the fruits of my labors is taking almost as much time as building the infrastructure. Yesterday I made a quart of pesto from some basil, a quart of pickled cucumbers and four quarts of yellow squash and onions. Today I made three zucchini and onion quiche. Tomorrow I am going to make English mint sauce, zucchini bread, stuffed zucchini blossoms, pickled peppers and I am going to process the last of my arugula.

Processing is my least favorite job. When the arugula has gone to flower it is time to rip it all up and wash it in the sink and pull the tender leaves from the woody stems, dry and store it. I put the arugula in a big plastic container with a sheet of paper towel inside on top and a tight fitting lid. I then store the container upside down so the paper towel is now on the bottom. This process keeps greens the freshest.

I need to process the lettuce, but it is keeping a little better than the arugula so I may wait a bit. I also need to harvest at the cilantro that has gone to seed. The seeds are coriander. To dry them I cut all the stalks down and hang them upside down in a paper bag. When the seeds get dry enough they fall into the bottom of the bag. The chives also need processing as they have gone to flower. They are a little easier since they just get cut into tiny snips and frozen.

I am not sure what I am going to plant in the beds that will be vacated by all this harvesting. That is a plan I will have to make another day because I will be too busy cooking and processing everything else.

Thank goodness everything doesn’t come all at once. My tomato plants are huge and full of green fruit. I look everyday to see if anything is getting ripe, but alas, nothing so far. If all these tomatoes come in at the same time I might have to give up some hours of sleep.

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