This is a bit of a tome with a garden update and on processing fresh spinach. No apologies. I have had a few busy days.
My husband had picked a good 3 gallons of strawberries so far this season. Isn’t that colander-full amazing? The little area in the freezer was jam-packed, (no pun meant), meaning I needed to make strawberry jam.
I got this first batch done on Thursday. I jar strawberry jam in pint-sized jars. The half-pints just don’t “get it”, especially for my daughter’s family. The image does not taste-o-vision, you will have to imagine the flavor. drool…
I do use pectin in my jams. For some reason up here, they do not set as well if I leave it out. Sadly, (not!), one jar did not seal properly, being slightly short of a full jar. I had to put that one in our refrigerator for eating once it cooled down enough instead of adding it to the jars of vegetables, fruits, jams and jellies we drive down to our daughter in the fall. The jam and seed butter sandwich, (butter the bread first, always!), was delicious. I need to make some biscuits for more “tasting”. laughing…
The thunderstorms have passed and I needed to clean the beds of tree-matter and harvest the spinach. The first image is the back area’s garden. The peas, green beans and pole beans are doing well. Not all of the green beans came up for some reason and I had to replant in spots. That did the trick. Those are thriving and it will stagger harvesting when the time comes to pick them.
These two beds hold chinese cabbages (red and green), kohlrabi, garlic, scallions, spinach, pickles (in the forefront) and cucumbers in the box to the back. I also added some herbs in the mix. It looks like the dill will have its heads in time for when the pickles finally takes off and starts producing.
This photo is looking in the other direction, showing a little of the remaining garden beds. Each bed is planted to hold vegetables that grow well together, also known as companion planting. Each area is planted tightly as one can get away with. The list of vegetables growing in these 6 beds are: celery (lots!), carrots (2 varieties), spinach (2 varieties), pole beans, peas, peppers (6 varieties of chile and 2 of the sweet), tomatoes (regular and paste), onion, scallions, swiss chard, daikons, lettuces and zucchini. The cherry tomatoes are in 2 hanging planters. Whew! The “regular” radishes have all been harvested and will be replanted next week.
This is the potato beds. They all, but a little 6′ x 3′ box in the back, have garlic and 4 types of onions (cipollini, red, sweet white and yellow) planted down the middles of the boxes. The back box got the leftover pieces of seed potatoes that had no “eyes” and should not came up. Every time we put those in the compost hole for the season, they ended up growing. Guess what? Yep, they all came up, and 5 that should of in the other boxes, did not. laughing…
Here is a close-up of spinach plants. I got 2 new-to-me organic hybrid varieties- Lakeside F1 and Spiros F1. I got the seeds from Territorial Seed Co. (NO! affiliation or comp). The description said the leaves were bigger than other varieties. Though I tend to not get hybrids if I want to save some seed, I went for them. Spinach tends to barely give me 3 pounds once harvested, blanched and frozen, even if I plant a full 12′ x 3′ bed. I spread the 9-plant “blocks” in 4 different beds, interspersed with other vegetables, and did one line of 36 next to a trellis of peas.
I hoped for more than previous years. I wanted at least 5 packages of spinach in the freezer. I got 12! The more I picked, the more I realized the 3 giant bowls I had were not going to be enough. My husband had just cleaned out our big 3′-long ice chest. I dumped all I had collected in there. Impressive, yes?
Processing Fresh Spinach
I brought the chest in, had some coffee while staring at the chest. Oh sh.. er, tartar sauce. It ALL has to be washed and chopped, blanched or steamed (to barely done), drained, cooled and then packed. I know it would hold up if I did it in stages. How long does the stuff in the stores sit around? Days? Weeks?
At first, I was going to wash enough to fill the bowls and the insert for my pasta/steamer pot. After a few batches were washed, I stopped. I needed a new approach of attack on Chest-o-Spinach. I got a huge towel and covered the counter. Wash a batch, drain and toss onto the towel-covered counter, repeat. My hands were prunes. I had Mount Spinach there in the end.
My index finger is 2-7/8″ long and a women’s medium glove-size, for reference. The Spiros variety is the one I am showing. A good amount of each plant’s leaves were this big and then down to “normal” to large sizes. The leaves stunned me. I am getting more of this seed!
I sat at the table my husband set up and started chopping, filling the aforementioned bowls and pans. Once they were filled, I began steaming the spinach. Each batch was dumped into a sink-colander and the pot-insert was refilled to the top and set on the stove for 5 minutes or so. I then started moving the huge globs after every 2 batches to a bowl to cool enough to handle and stuff into the pouches for freezing my husband made while I was chopping… and chopping…
I went out into the garden before 7 am. I stopped for dinner, that sandwich I mentioned at the beginning of this tome. I finished close to 8:30 pm. My back was a bit on the sore side of things. The pouches were then put unsealed and standing upright into a glass baking dish and squashed flat-ish for stacking in the freezer. They were finally solid enough this morning to be sealed. Our sealer doesn’t “like” stuff that is warm with some liquid, yet does chili and soups just fine. Go figure.
I watered the gardens this morning and I am now drinking a second cup of coffee now that we got the packages sealed and put away in the freezer. I think I earned a day off.
Hugs! Have a lovely weekend!