Posted by: locaphile | August 17, 2011

August Harvests

It has been a remarkably cool summer in Maple Ridge.  The vegetable garden has taken new paths and we are following along.  The snap peas have had an extended season – all summer – and have not really made room for the cucumbers.  We have peas and cukes all intertwined and piled on their shared trellis with both producing vigorously.  The beans, meanwhile, have straggled up their trellis against the wishes of the tomatillos and are desperate to get going.  There are a couple of lovely beans now set on the scrawniest of vines.  Since it is already past the middle of August I do not know how much hope we can have for them.  Our particular achievement for this summer continue to be in the salad greens department with sidelines in zucchini and cucumber.  I will discuss our Tomato Trauma in the next blog as it is a story of its own.

The garlic is in and looking magnificent.  One variety we found at Fujiya in Vancouver last fall being sold as “local garlic.”  A hard neck variety, it certainly did like us when we planted it in our garden.  If we manage not to eat it all, we will replant some of its eyes in September.  One website tells us to plant the garlic as near as possible to the Autumn Equinox – September 23rd this year.  We would like to know how densely we can plant garlic in a raised bed so as to maximize our yield next year.  There is never enough garlic around.

We pulled some nice Touchstone Gold Beets (seeds from West Coast Seeds).  We pickled the beets and stir-fried the beet greens with tofu and chili-garlic sauce.  Below is a photo of the pickled beets and dill pickles – they have fantastic colours.  Note the charming BPA-free canning methods.  One uses ordinary mason jars with Tattler’s BPA-free rings and plastic lids.  We ordered these from the USA.  The other is a German canning system from Weck’s that uses a rubber ring and glass lid.  We found some jars in Vancouver and additional bits online.  The pickling cucumbers came from the Farmers Market at Brookfield Farm on Saturday.  I admit that I got a little excited when I saw them and bought all of them (nine pounds).  Greedy, I know, but we like pickles.

Last year’s experiment in dill pickling was a minor disaster (one jar) due to the excess of salt in the recipe.  This year we are trying a new recipe from Storey Books in their Country Wisdom and Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Live Off the Land.  This book is a compilation of a series of the Country Wisdom Bulletins that were produced in the 1970s during the “back to the land” era.  Ironically we found the book at Costco in Port Coquitlam.  Wisdom appears in mysterious places sometimes.  In any event, we look forward to tasting how their “old-fashioned” recipes turn out.

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