Monday, August 26

Should I File a Claim?

This past weekend gave us such beautiful weather that I could not help but spend as much time outside as possible. A great deal was accomplished around the property from brush clearing and weeding to wood stacking and landscaping.
My garden however, looks as though it has seen better days. As I surveyed the scene and took some photos it felt like I was recording damage evidence for the insurance company. My tomatoes are looking horrible. Usually at this time of year I have so many tomatoes that I am almost swimming in them. The vines are usually thick and green and bursting with foliage, and the tomatoes are so numerous that they weigh the whole mess down. This year, the vines are almost bare of leaves except near the ends of the branches where leaves are still growing. All the lower branches have died off and the tomatoes are not nearly as plentiful as in years past. Most of the pear tomatoes are splitting before they even start to turn yellow. The cherry tomatoes are very small and tart. And the larger tomatoes are in very short supply, and splitting as well.
Drooping vines, sparse foliage, meager fruit.

The branches are just turning brown and breaking off and what tomatoes actually grew are having a tough time.

And, on top of that, something has been sneaking in and eating the ones that I could have used.
Tons of 'splitting' this year.
The rest of the garden is fighting a 50/50 battle. The peas, beans, onions and cucumbers are all producing well, even though the cucumber vines seem to be yellowing and dying back. I started my 4th planting of peas and I hope to get another harvest before the temperatures changes. My beans are doing very well and I am letting quite a few of the purple pole beans go to seed for harvesting. I am also very happy with the green bush beans. This is the first year I have planted both bush and pole beans and I think I will plant both again next year. The bush beans are very easy to grow and care for.

The broccoli and cauliflower are gone. And the cucumber vine is turning yellow even though there are still plenty of cucumbers coming along.
With all my fencing efforts this season I was sure that I had stopped the flow of woodchucks and bunnies looking for a free meal. In some cases I had three fences up around some plants. But they still got in. And they ate. They ate the broccoli and cauliflower down, then I put up more fencing hoping that it would grow back, which it did. I almost had some nice little broccoli florets ready to harvest, and then they struck again. Yesterday I took out all the plants and called it quits.

On the plus side, we do have a ton of cucumbers what I need to preserve in some way. I am looking at a couple of new methods since making water bath pickles a few years ago did not turn out well. The beans are also becoming a challenge. I must admit that, although I have one, I am deathly afraid of using a pressure canner. I envision explosions, kitchen fires, a frantic drive to the emergency room...

One method I heard about on the Survival Podcast sounded promising. I have to go back and get the details but it involved blanching and freezing the beans. And, you don't end up with block-o-green-beans in the freezer. It involves freezing them single file on a cookie sheet before putting them together with other beans in the freezer bag. Apparently, they do not stick together this way and you do not have to defrost and use the entire bag if you just want a few for a meal side.

Details and lessons in another post....

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