Drying Down, Putting Up and Vining All Over

Summer has only just arrived, and already we are busy here daily preserving the harvests. My wife is in charge of blueberries, and almost every morning she is out there in the blueberry patch harvesting. She has to ‘suit up’ to keep the mosquitoes and ticks away whenever she is working outside. The mosquitoes don’t seem to bother me as much. Ticks are another story, and I’ve had my share this year.

Lynda in the blueberry patch

Lynda in the blueberry patch

We have several varieties planted that tend to mature at different times. Right now Chandler, Patriot and an unnamed variety (planted before we got here) are giving us most all of the ripe berries. So far we have gotten over 15 pounds of them, and the season is not yet half over. We are eating them every day, and freezing what is left. The birds get a few, but not enough to hurt anything.

blueberries ready for eating or freezing

blueberries ready for eating or freezing

This week I started cutting some mint for drying. I began with spearmint, with chocolate mint and peppermint to follow. I use the dehydrator to dry it, which is a bit faster than hanging it up in bunches to dry. The end result is the same, and I will store the mint in glass jars for use this winter in teas. The whole house smells of mint during this process!

spearmint for drying

spearmint for drying

A few days earlier the whole house was smelling of garlic, as I sliced up and dried the last of the 2012 crop of garlic. We don’t use a lot of dried garlic or garlic powder, but it does find its way into a few things, like our blackening mix for Blackened Salmon. The 2013 garlic will be ready soon, and I have already used a few bulbs early. It was time to move out the old to make room for the new!

garlic drying in the dehydrator

garlic drying in the dehydrator

It’s also time to begin harvesting some of our lavender. Again, this is my wife’s specialty, and she is in charge of that operation. She prefers to hang it in bunches to dry in the garage. I do believe that’s the best way to preserve the most of the essential oils. The papers bags help to keep the buds from falling off the stems when they are dried. We will use the dried lavender for infusing in oil, for soaps, and in the kitchen. That’s Melissa in the below photo, which is one of our favorite varieties for culinary uses.

Melissa lavender hanging to dry

Melissa lavender hanging to dry

The first summer squash was quickly followed by the second, then the third, and next thing I knew I was freezing it! I have also cooked some of it, sauteing one batch and making Squash Fritters with another. We use the frozen squash in a number of ways, and I am currently working on another use for it in summer time. I will share that one when I work out the details. I will say that the taste testing has been ‘sweet’!

summer squashes

summer squashes

Out in the garden there’s a whole lot of vining going on. The early maturing pole beans have reached the top of the trellis already, as they start to bloom. The tall ones in the below photo are Helda and Musica. Trail of Tears is to the right, and not quite as tall – yet.

early pole beans

early pole beans

I’ve got vining winter squash growing in the corners of the vegetable garden, so they can vine up and on the metal fencing. The Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash (aka neck pumpkin) is in one corner.

Penn. Dutch Crookneck Squash vines

Penn. Dutch Crookneck Squash vines

Waltham Butternut is in another corner. I am growing it again for the first time in years, now that I have more room to let it ramble around. I can already see female blooms forming on it already. I mulched these vining squashes with big pieces of cardboard, which should help keep down weeds.

Waltham Butternut vines

Waltham Butternut vines

Tatume is a Mexican heirloom squash that pretty much vines all over the place. It can be used as either a summer or a winter squash, though I prefer to use it like I would zucchini. I’m trying to head the vines over towards the fence to keep it from taking over the garden. It has proven to be a trouble-free grower here, though it does like to ramble.

Tatume vines

Tatume vines

And last but not least is another vining plant that is not edible but still worthy of mention. The Wave petunias I grow each year from seed are looking good. That’s Purple Improved in the below photo, planted in an old wheelbarrow.

wave petunias in wheelbarrow

wave petunias in wheelbarrow

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what we’ve been up to this week. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.

 

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19 Responses to Drying Down, Putting Up and Vining All Over

  1. Jenny says:

    Love those huge blueberry bushes! Ours are 3 yrs old now but no where near that size and definitely not producing more than a handful. I might have them move in fall to see if that helps.
    Jenny recently posted…June 21 HarvestMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      The ones we planted are now 6 years old, and the two that were here when we bought the place are much older than that. They definitely get better with age!

  2. I am glad you are getting such a good harvest of blueberries. I don’t have any plants mature enough to pick berries from yet, so I always go to a blueberry u-pick farm. This year, my favorite farm (and all the others in the area) are really short on blueberries because we were colder than ever recorded in March and April. (Mobile, Alabama)

    I took my kids and we picked together. We only got 3 gallon bags. And that looks like all we will get, because they are shutting down next week because it has been such a bad blueberry year down here.
    crafty_cristy recently posted…Harvest Monday 6 – 3- 13My Profile

  3. Marcia says:

    So envious of all those blueberries. We had 6 great bushes at our old house. I’ve tried to replicate that since we moved here but with little luck. Made the mistake of ordering plants on the internet and those 6 have been a dismal failure. Bought one last year to replace one that had died and it is the only one producing this year so far. The others are yellowing and have dropped all their buds. Will try another round of alunminate sulfate to see if that greens them up.
    Marcia recently posted…Blooms & BooksMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      We have gotten all our blueberry plants from Raintree Nursery, Stark Bros. and Indiana Berry. They have done great for us here.

  4. Shawn Ann says:

    Everything looks great. I see that your Pennsylvania Dutch pumpkin also has whitey veins, is that normal? Mine do too, and so does my Musque de Provence. The only 2.
    And wow, 15 lbs is a lot of blueberries! I hope mine will eventually produce that much, sooner rather than late! 😉
    Shawn Ann recently posted…Harvest Monday 6/24/13My Profile

  5. kitsapFG says:

    Awesome blueberry patch! Ours are a ways away yet from harvesting. We are in the strawberry season at the moment, which will be followed by the first wave of raspberries, then the blueberries, then more strawberries, followed by blackberries, and finally the fall crop of raspberries. There is a little overlap but I like how they just keep up a steady flow of berries for us from mid-June until late October.

    You are giving me some inspiration on the garlic. I have quite a lot left of the 2012 crop that are perfectly stored still but in a short while I will be bringing in the 2013 crop and need to use them up. I think I might dehydrate them and do a powdered garlic out of it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Stoney Acres says:

    Dave as always you have a great harvest! 15 pounds of blue berries! Wow! We love blueberries but you can’t grow them here in Utah, they can’t tolerate our soil PH. I’m looking forward to hearing about this “sweet” summer squash recipe!!
    Stoney Acres recently posted…Weekend Projects June 2013My Profile

  7. Michelle says:

    What a fabulous blueberry harvest! My two little potted bushes have done quite well, considering, but will never compare to yours. I buy the bulk of the blueberries that we consume at the farmer’s market.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 24, 2013My Profile

  8. Daphne says:

    Those blueberries looks so delicious. I wish I could get that many. I’m sure we will get a few this year, but not enough to preserve. I wish I could.
    Daphne recently posted…Harvest Monday, June 24th, 2013My Profile

  9. All those blueberries look divine! How many shrubs do you have? I want to plant some next year and hope to have enough to freeze.. eventually.

  10. Bee Girl says:

    Holy cow! I don’t even know where to start with so much bounty to talk about! The lavender? Divine! The blueberries? What I wouldn’t do for a fraction of those berries! Congrats on an amazingly bountiful harvest!

  11. Norma Chang says:

    Had to give up growing blueberries because of the birds plus I needed to amend the blueberry patch soil yearly.
    I don’t freeze summer because I dislike the texture, am looking forward to learning about how you use them.

  12. Barbie says:

    Oh my Gosh I love the petunias. 😀 If I did that they would burn up in our sun and then wash out in our rains, but it is so beautiful!
    Barbie recently posted…Harvest Monday 6.24.13My Profile

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