Sunday, June 30, 2013

Berries, berries, and cherries

Seascape strawberries and Montmorency cherries
Harvest is starting! I've been eating fresh strawberries every morning for two and a half weeks now, and really enjoying them. The first flush of Seascapes is coming to an end now, but I'm still getting some every couple days. I'm expecting a 2nd crop in a month or two, but I'm not sure when.

And I have cherries! The 162 I counted two months ago are almost all still there--except for this pint I picked a few days ago. I'm heading down this afternoon to get the next bunch. I'm going to try cooking the ones I have so far, later today. Don't want them to sit too long. I'm very happy to see that the fruit fly trap worked really well, so far at least. I haven't found a single inhabited cherry yet, and only a few have been attacked by the birds. I have a net ready to put over the tree, but I really don't mind if the birds get a few. The first ones mostly came off the stones when I pulled on them, and only a couple trios came off with the stems. I decided to give them a few more days before I harvest again. This morning I peeked at them when I went down to hay the potatoes, and I see darker red than I've seen before. I'm still new at this, and definitely learning.

"Fall-bearing" raspberries—in June.
The raspberries started ripening in a really phased manner this year, way different from the last two years. I got about half a bag full over a week, just a few at a time, then suddenly a couple days ago I got a full pint. Now they're coming slowly again, and I've got one plant that is covered with green ones and only had 2 ripe ones when I picked the others. These are all basically the same plant, all located within a six foot circle, so I'm at a loss to explain the different timing this year. It did seem that they started early this year, but my schedule's so screwed up this year—with the month of June gone for jury duty—it's hard to say for sure.

Nice hay--lots of flowers this year!
Sometimes I'm learning the hard way: June is awfully late to be putting hay around my potatoes, but I have at least one excuse. I was waylaid with a sprained ankle and couldn't even make it down there for a couple weeks, and then it started raining again, so I waited. Well, today I got out at 5am, before the sun came up over the ridge, and put out my bale of hay. I had to push the plants back into their rows so I could get the hay around them on both sides, but it went pretty well. I really like the way it looks with the hay. The reason I'm in such a hurry to get it done down is, while I was pulling a few weeds two days ago, I came across a 2" purple majesty potato pretty much right at the surface, and I really don't want the sun to be hitting them. I won't start harvesting them for another two or three weeks.

Basket o' kale
Yesterday I harvested the broccoli yesterday, half-cooked it and froze it all. I probably should have just blanched it, but I wasn't sure how successful that would be with the big heads. This morning after haying, I cut down the four stalks of kale that hadn't fully bolted yet—it really happens fast when the temperature goes up—and brought them into the kitchen. Then I spotted a spider on one and took them back outside and sprayed them off. I set up my stockpot and a bowl of ice water and blanched 4 leaves at a time, and after I got them all done I figured out how to bag them for the freezer. I was going to leave the midribs in, but they were still so stiff and took up so much room, that I cut them all out, folded up the leaves in little bundles, and fit them all into one and a half quart bags. So we'll see how that works. I've never blanched anything before, so it was a bit of an adventure, too. It's nice to have that all done, now I just have the stuff I've done before. Should give me several weeks of greens to go with my taters. I did notice that the sweet, mild taste of the tuscan kale did actually get a lot stronger in the last week. I wasn't sure before how long it would last, so now I know: until the weather warms up.

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