A Gardener's Mid-Summer Meanderings

comments (0) August 9th, 2013

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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Just-harvested onions need curing before storing. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Once allium foliage begins to turn brown or flop over, it is time to harvest the bulbs.
Curing onions is necessary for safe storage. Do it in a shed, on a covered backporch, or a greenhouse covered with shadecloth. Remove any wet or soggy stems or outermost leaves--they can cause mold or rot.
Once onions are cured and skins are dry, store them in a box or net bag in a cool place. I keep mine in a basement cold room.
Garlic bulbs must also be cured. This can be done on screens, boards or large baskets. I will also store these in a cool, dry place.
This is my third harvesting of basil this season. I store cut basil in jars of water until ready to use. Heres a selection of Thai basils for tasting/comparison--trying to select the best cultivars for a new book.
Besides eating basil fresh daily and also freezing it as an aromatic herbal paste, I also hang it from beams to dry for winter sauces and soups.
These okras were longer than 5-inches, too tough to eat. So I dry them in the oven with just the light on (takes about 24 to 48 hours) and use them for decorating wreaths and making ornaments.
Excess cucumbers and summer squash=pickles! Make a simple brine with apple cider vinegar, pickling spice and a small amount of organic sugar--bring to a simmer and pour over sliced cukes, zukes and onion (I add jalapenos); refrigerate for 24 hours. Keeps in fridge for 2 to 3 months.
Yay--tomatoes are just coming in--and I am eating them everyday (with gusto)! In summer, I dont want to cook much, so I make rice, grain and pasta salads and eat them for a day or two. Add tomatoes, alliums, cucumbers, olive oil and lemon juice or a splash of vinegar and fresh chopped herbs, maybe some feta or mozzerella... yum!
As you can see the garden is overgrown and a little bit weedy and there are places where plants have been removed. Ive been sowing seed in empty spaces for fall crops and just bought some plants to put in.
Can you believe it is that time already? Mid-August and it is time to sow seeds and plant transplants for the fall garden! Just picked up some brassicas and greens to put in while the moon is still waxing!
Just-harvested onions need curing before storing. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.Click To Enlarge

Just-harvested onions need curing before storing. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.

Photo: Susan Belsinger

It is already midsummer and the harvest has begun--and it is time to put up the garden bounty--here's what's going on in my garden and kitchen. The garlic was dug last month and has now cured; ditto with some early onions. Just harvested the rest of the onion crop and now they must cure for about two weeks. Be sure to remove any stems or outermost skins that seems wet or slimy. I cut some tops off and also leave some to braid on the ones in the best shape. Cure alliums, out of direct sunlight, in a place with good air circulation. As the skins dry, check on them and remove any that might have bad spots, rot or mold. Once the outer skins are papery, store onions in a cool place in open boxes or net bags.

I'm getting second and third harvests of basils, mints, lemon balm and many of the woody-stemmed perennial herbs. If you can't use all you have in cooking and sharing with friends, freeze or dry excess herbs. Directions for those processes are on some of my past posts:

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/3759/video-how-to-dry-herbs

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/3753/video-how-to-freeze-herbs

 

I am a pickle person and love all kinds. Besides cucumbers, summer squash, onions and garlic, chile peppers, green beans and okra make great pickles. I do can pickles in a hot water bath for long storage and gift-giving, however, I love the ease and immediate results of refrigerator pickles. They last in the fridge for two to three months and get better with age, so I make batches using about 12 cups of veggies at a time. 

I like simple, easy-to-prepare food in the summertime, without a lot of cooking. So I make lots of salads with vegetables combined with protein from grains, beans and/or pasta. I prepare them in the morning and then they are ready for supper, with leftovers for the next day or two. Be sure to use some onions and/or garlic, fresh herbs, tomatoes, crunchy vegetables to give a lot of flavor--dress with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice or a little balsamic or herb vinegar and season with salt and pepper--no hohum salads for me! Perhaps garnish with some toasted nuts or seeds or crumbled cheese. Here's a previously published rice salad for inspiration: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/2452/garlic-chive-and-rice-salad

Lastly, as plants fade or die, remove them from the garden to the compost pile. Once crops are harvested, work up the vacated space, add more amendments if needed, and sow seeds for the fall garden. It is hard to believe that it is actually that time in the gardening season. I just picked up some brassicas and greens to transplant too. 

We've had cool weather here in Maryland and lots of rain, so I tried to harvest a number of crops with a forecast of so many days of rain in a row. Hope your garden is growing in leaps and bounds--enjoy and happy harvesting!

 


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posted in: , midsummer, onion harvest, drying herbs, making pickles, plant fall crops