Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Harvesting angst

This is something most every vegetable gardener can relate to, I imagine. Right around now is the time when everything ripens at once. I find myself feeling vaguely oppressed by all the bounty in my garden, even while I revel in it. I recently joined a social network called Homegrown.org, and posted a comment that talked about feeling rich when I contemplate my abundant tomatoes (sorry, folks back east).

When it comes to food, I do feel rich. I feel lucky to have land to grow food on. We had friends over for dinner twice last weekend and I loved feeding them meals that were more than 60% homegrown. But I also feel kinda crazed when I look at everything ripening at once. I can only eat so much in a day, and my sweetie can eat even less, owing to her Crohn's disease, which limits her veggie consumption. I've been donating extra food to a local pantry, but what I really want is to stretch the calendar, extend the growing season, so that I can enjoy all this bounty for more than just 6 weeks a year.

Last week Portland Tuv Ha'Aretz hosted a canning and jam making workshop, so I learned the basics of food preservation, and that's one way to extend my harvest. But there's nothing like the taste of a freshly-picked tomato or cucumber. Of course, by the time I start hankering for fresh tomatoes in December and January, I'll be eating the beets and parsnips I planted earlier this month...


JoyfulC said...

They won't be quite as fresh, of course, but one thing you could do is put stuff up for the winter months -- tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa, pickle relish, shredded zucchini to use in pancakes and breads, etc. We bought a freezer a few years back, and now put together our own California mix (broccoli, carrots and cauliflower) which we pull out and toss into soups, pastas or whatever all through the winter. Mind you, it's time consuming! My husband is retired, though, so that helps.

Liz said...

Hello JoyfulC-

Thanks for your comment. For me, it's not so much a matter of putting things up as where to store them. We live in a tiny house with no room for an extra freezer. We are also experiencing financial difficulties and couldn't afford to buy another freezer, even if we had room for it. Time I have, money I don't. Canning is probably more doable because there's no refrigeration required.

But what I'm really lamenting here is the shortness of the growing season; no matter how much you preserve, it's not the same as eating fresh off the vine...the gardener's eternal complaint, I suppose.

JoyfulC said...

Nope, not the same as off-the-vine, but something greater than us decided it should be so!

Sorry to hear about your difficulties getting a freezer. If there's any way you can wangle it, I highly recommend it. Freezers are money-savers in so many ways: you can save what you grow to feed you all year round; you can buy in quantity when things go on sale; you can use more of what you buy even if you don't need it already (ex: I just made lemonade, but before I did, I zested the lemons and froze the zest for use in other recipes); and it saves you money driving around to get stuff. There's always something to eat in the house.

Chest freezers (door on top) are pretty energy efficient as cold air tends to sink, and so it falls out of the fridge or front door freezer, but it stays in place in a top-opening freezer. Also, not sure where you live, but we put our freezer out on the unheated back porch (enclosed). You couldn't use a fridge out there in Eastern Ontario in the dead of our winters, but it's no problem with the freezer. It just doesn't run when it gets really cold!

There are small footprint freezers, and I think the range for a decent one is about $200-$300. We bought ours 2 years ago, and I'm sure we've already gotten our initial investment back at least once over.

Liz said...

Thanks for the added freezer info. When our financial situation changes, I'll look into it. In the meantime it's possible I could borrow space from friends' freezers that aren't totally full.

bikelovejones said...

Less angst, more happy.

As the most direct beneficiary of this grand idea of ripping up lawn and replacing it with garden, lemme say I think it's working just fine.
We feed people, we get joy from growing and cooking our own produce, and we save money.

If there's a downside I haven't seen it yet.

..::hugs::.. --BLJ

p.s. --like the new look.