Summer has finally arrived and with it a bounty of produce from the garden. Having already harvested plums from one tree in January my second plum, a Mariposa, ripened and provided heaps of delicious fruit. Lots of fresh eating plus plenty headed to the freezer to enjoy later in the year. In the berry department while the strawberries and blueberries slowed the raspberry production kicked in. I have autumn fruiting canes so they are starting to produce their gorgeous berries now. Hopefully some will make it to the freezer but most seem to be disappearing before they make it to the kitchen.
In the apple department, out of six trees I only have two that still have fruit on them. I netted only one tree this season so the birds have enjoyed quite a few unripened fruit. I'm not too worried - the trees are still young and with only a small number of fruit on each tree I didn't think it was worth all the effort to net them all. If I can get some from my netted tree then I'll be happy.
It's an exciting time out in the garden especially when growing pumpkins. I have some pumpkin vines growing along with volunteer tomatoes in an area where I kept young chickens for awhile. Those plants are just loving it. Lots of pumpkins coming along and the tomatoes are starting to ripen, and there are heaps. This will be a very productive space - thank you chickens!!
Something I've been a little excited about has been my pomegranate shrub. For the first time one of the flowers has held on and is starting to get a little plump! It probably won't result in a full on pomegranate fruit but it does give me hope for future successful harvests.
Can anyone guess what this insect is?? I had no clue when I discovered it after checking what Evie and Rusty were barking at. Turns out it is something called a Burrowing Cricket or Mole Cricket. Really unusual looking little dude. I quickly moved him away from my two puppies that I'm sure would have played with him till death. Hopefully he headed straight back to his burrow and stays well away from these two enthusiastic pups!
Summer time is a busy time not only in the garden but also in the kitchen. It's the start of preserving season which continues into autumn. Well really it's a year round activity but most effort is needed right now due to the sheer abundance that the garden provides at this time of year!
Preserves includes zucchini chips - flavoured with onion salt, paprika and pepper. Very delicious and great to use as a dipper for beetroot hummus, along with beetroot chips. I'm trying fermenting some green beans for the first time as I've decided that frozen beans aren't that great. Don't mind using them in a soup or stew but as a side dish they just don't do it for me! Also being preserved at the moment are tomatoes. I'm making my usual fermented tomato salsa and dehydrated tomatoes with basil which are a fantastic snack to have throughout the year. The cucumbers are exploding so plenty of preserving going on with them. Cucumber pickles with a variety of flavourings and I'm also making a cucumber relish that I like to use as a gift or thank you throughout the year. Everyone loves it so I make sure to have plenty in the cupboard so I can give plenty away!
Also important at this time of year is the preserving of herbs. Pictured above is some oregano hanging outside undercover to make the most of the warm weather to dry naturally. I'll bring that in and crush it up, put in an airtight jar and store in the pantry. I use a lot of it for preserving recipes but also general cooking throughout the year.
All the animals are doing well. We did have a second hatching of ducklings so that makes fifteen now - very cute. My friend has a broody chicken and she was happy to sneak a few of my chickens eggs under her so hopefully in March I'll be able to announce a chick arrival - fingers crossed she stays on the nest!!
Well that's about all thats happening. If I'm not out there looking after animals, I'm watering or tending the garden or tucking away food for later in the year. Fun times!!
I hope you've all had a great month and I'll catch up with you again at the end of March