As the heat wave and lack of rain continue, much of my time is spent dragging hoses and watering, watering, watering. I’m just trying to keep the potager and the 3 main flower gardens as healthy as I can, but the lawn and the rest of the gardens are on their own! This week the forecast is for record-breaking heat and rain is doubtful, so no relief in sight. Today our entire area is under an extreme heat advisory. It already feels like a sauna and it’s only 9 a.m.
Garden work is done in the mornings as much as possible, and during the heat of the afternoon it’s time to work in the kitchen preserving the harvest. One of my favorite preserving is making ketchup. It takes most of a day to cook down the tomatoes, peppers and onions; run them through a food mill and then cook them again with a cheesecloth bag of spices until the mixture is reduced by half. The entire house smells SO GOOD! Staying nearby for frequent stirring is a must, so I snap beans, arrange bouquets, or whatever else I can do in the kitchen. Once it’s cooked down, the sugar and vinegar is added, which necessitates another cooking session to get it nice and thick again. Then it’s time to bottle, using many of the same old bottles that my grandmother and mother used, and that I’ve used for nearly 50 years. When was the last time you had “Hillbilly Cola” or “Palm Hill Cola?” The Pepsi bottles were added in much later years, found when we moved in but they come in handy.
The tomatoes are coming on at a furious pace, and even though I’m giving lots away there’s still plenty to can. This time it was tomato juice and diced tomatoes. Next up is marinara sauce, and maybe I’ll oven roast/dry a batch or two of cherry tomatoes even though we still have some left from last year’s preserving.
I spent one day at my mother’s freezing sweet corn for her freezer. That brought back lots of memories when the two of us and my paternal grandmother used to do corn together. No one could cut corn off a cob faster than Grandma Miller. She was a whiz with a knife! And no, I don’t bother to grow sweet corn. Our area is famous for growing fantastic corn…field corn, popcorn, and the sweetest, best sweet corn ever! So, I let the experts grow it and save my space for crops that don’t attract so many raccoons! Another day I canned sweet pickles and pickled beets. Yet another day, elderberry jelly was made and pepper strips were frozen.
Still, the produce comes in faster than we can eat it, or than I can process it. It’s amazing how much my little potager can bring forth. D keeps telling me I should grow less, and for the first time I am actually considering turning a couple of beds over to flowers next year. We just don’t need so many tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and summer squash so I’ll cut back on those.
Meanwhile, I’m falling way behind on deadheading which means there will be lots of thinning out of volunteer seedlings at some point, although maybe the birds will eat the majority of the seeds and it won’t be a problem. A gardener can hope! And one of the great mysteries of life is how weeds can grow and thrive without rain. I see lots of weeds, but they are SO hard to pull in the dry, hard soil. Definitely should have put on more mulch last spring. The lavandins need shearing, and it’s past time to do a search and destroy mission on the squash and pumpkin leaves. Lots of catching up to do, but I’m trying to be prudent and not overdo in the heat. Wherever you are, be safe, be healthy, and most of all be happy! Enjoy those flowers and the summer bounty. Despite the current heat, frost will soon be on the way!