Several years ago, my husband grew beets and decided to pickle and can them. He had watched me bottle relish and tomatoes and thought ‘I can do that.’ So he set to it. He made one canner full, eight pint jars. Then he printed labels for the jars: $40 Beets. He explained he’d calculated that, at shop labour rates, that is what each jar cost him in time spent. Thus ended his canning career.
But this year he moved on, with a new garden, to freezing. We even bought a new freezer to hold the abundance of produce we have (insert ironic smiley-face here). Bok choy and zucchini have done splendidly. There are melons of all types growing larger each day. Four kinds of beans and three kinds of peas, all thriving and delicious. And corn – truly the most wonderful tasting corn ever.
The only person I’ve ever known who grew corn in a small garden was my grandfather. But I was too little to remember the taste of it, if I ever ate any. It takes a lot of room, considering you get only two ears per stalk. I had thought it was a bit odd to grow it, maybe even that we were revisiting the $40 beets experiment. In season, it’s easy enough to buy corn fresh from farmers’ markets. But it doesn’t taste as good as ours. I learned, taking those ears straight from the stalk to the cooking pot, that they justify any amount of space taken up.
Assessing the harvest
No matter how delicious it is, a person can only eat so much corn. So he is freezing it, following suggestions found online. After preparing several cobs for blanching, he read that the best way to freeze corn straight out of the field is in the husk. If it was picked longer before than that, like that you get from a store, it should be husked and blanched before freezing. We will try both ways.*
We’ve had little luck with the pepper plants, tomatoes and spinach. Too much rain this spring caused a delay in planting the garden. Lettuce is only now starting to look leafy. They may be vegetables not suited to the Maritimes or our soil is not right for them.
The garden was plowed then rototilled in what had been field, so the soil was clods of dense earth. Topsoil had to be added. With the rain, it was a very mucky mess for a long time. But then the seedlings (started from seed in the house under grow lights) gained strength in their little stalks. Along with the weeds, they flourished.
Now we are reaping the harvest. The chickens love the corn and cobs. Zucchini and beans get a ‘meh’ from them. I’m hoping that when – if – the lettuce comes in that they will like it.
Because, still, the biggest thrill for them is the mixed salad greens that come in plastic containers from the supermarket. Within seconds, they completely devour them and look expectantly for more. I’m sure there is an object lesson for us somewhere in that. Keeping chickens might be part of a 100 mile diet. But ours didn’t get the memo when it comes to their own diet!
* Neither way worked. This year we grew corn again, but less, and cut the kernels off the cob after a couple minutes of blanching. They taste just fine. There is a round tool you can use (see link below) or just use a large, sharp knife – carefully. The frozen corn on the cob went to the chickens.