Last Friday, my kids and I cemented into tradition the way we greet the end of spring. We started the day picking up our canning supplies, which included new lids and some canning utensils. I cannot overemphasize the benefits of those tongs for removing the jars after they are processed in the boiling water bath, absolutely worth $5. From our local Kmart, we headed to the farm where we spent approximately two hours picking the best berries. I suppose “we” is a bit optimistic. Eila helped and picked about 3 quarts total, eating a quart. Josiah ate every single strawberry he picked. Thaddeus ate strawberries that Eila or I picked. After about an hour, the boys tired of the berries and decided to play in the paths around the field and in the car. All in all, we left with about 40 quarts of strawberries, twice as many as previous years.
The children got to work hulling the strawberries and mashing them up. Josiah helped stir while we cooked the berries, pectin and sugar. Then we sealed the jars and I started over again with another batch when the kids went to bed. It was a long day, but I now have a year’s supply of jam, plus nice presents to give to some lucky loved ones. I froze several quarts, made a strawberry pie for Father’s Day, strawberry muffins this morning, and have been enjoying fresh berries in salads and for snacks. I love the last week of spring, not only because it means it’s finally summer!
Our garden is finally really taking off. We enjoyed a fair bit a swiss chard, spinach and lettuce early on, but really didn’t have anything to show for all the labors of planting this spring until this week. We now have a red pepper, several peppers growing and lots and lots of carrots along with some beets. Hopefully, the first frost will be late in the fall so that our peppers will be able to grow and ripen a bit more.
I must admit that with the produce we are producing, I’m feeling pretty proud of our pathetic garden. It’s really too bad that Josiah doesn’t like carrots, because they are going to be in every meal for a few weeks.
During the early spring, I ordered about 12 crowns of asparagus to plant and enjoy fresh, seasonal food. I was especially inspired after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Unfortunately, they arrived while I was out of town and sat for a few days drying out. So, I was worried about their success, especially when by the end of May, when I should’ve had more asparagus than I could ever eat, I still only had a few small shoots, which were trampled and squished by my little garden helpers.
Well, by the end of June, I am dumbfounded as I have giant plants taking over my landscaping. I also had a single whispy plant in three of the other locations where I planted the precious crowns. I had a very vague idea of how big the asparagus would grow. So, I wasn’t really surprised when some stalks got pretty tall, but I was a bit perplexed that they weren’t fern like at all. So, when they started to flower, I was pretty sure that these might not be asparagus plants after all. The tall stalks with purple-ish flowers were nice, but they didn’t look at all like the other asparagus ferns growing around my yard now. So, after an exhaustive search of the internets, my extremely intelligent husband determined the plant to be milkweed. This would explain the bountiful presence of monarchs in our yard this summer…
I’m just a wee bit embarrassed, but did introduce the kids to the wonder of milk from a plant.
I must have spring fever. I am making plans to garden and have even been thinking about building my own raised garden bed. I do NOT have a green thumb and our current garden area has been reclaimed by weeds and grass. But, in my free time now, I’m researching seeds and plants and when to grow them and how and ideal locations… hoping that one day, the ground won’t be frozen and maybe something green and delicious will grow out of it. Care to dream with me? What will you plant this year?