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Harvest season starts at the farmette

It's a cloudy day at the farmette. I felt like a Disney character this morning when I went to check the veg. garden - turkey vulture on the barn, woodpecker banging away in the black walnut, and a blue heron did a fly by. Bliss.

Over night on Friday, we got more than two centimetres of much-needed rain. Yesterday, you could hear the plants growing.

My Roma tomato plants are so tall they nearly top out the sun flowers! If all goes well, there will be a bumper crop for saucing later in the summer.

Here I am, trying once again to take a selfie. I was shooting for a perspective pic. Basically the tomato plants are up to my neck and the sun flowers are now as tall as me. Not terribly successful, but you get the idea...

Anyhow, my real point for today's wee homily is the joy of canning. Pickling beets is always first on the agenda, and, while 2020 has been, ahem, unusual in many respects, the beets came first this year, as well.

It was a wet, messy, mosquito-ridden morning when I ventured out to pull the lovely purple orbs from their comfy soil beds. I had to wear long sleeves and pants to protect myself from the clouds of buzzing, needling pests.

But I was determined in my mission, and succeeded in getting a good wheel barrow full.

Fred was a huge help in topping the root veggies. He's the most curious of the fur balls, and likes to do a thorough inspection of anything that comes into the house. Luckily this lot met with feline approval and we were set to go with the processing.

After good scrubbing in the new sink and about 40 minutes of boiling with tops and tails intact, I was in charge of skinning - again, a messy business which entails me getting beet juice all over the sink, the counter, myself, and a little bit on Fred. Rob took over the chopping duties and we packed the now-supple chunks into half-litre jars. I made a simple brine of vinegar, sugar, salt and a bit of the water from cooking process and put a few whole cloves in each sterilized jar.

Once the 15 minutes of processing was done, voila! The result kind of looks skimpy for all the work that was involved. Only four. But they are beauties, right? All of them sealed, so they'll be good for a year. Which means some family will be receiving them in Christmas packages, hint, hint. There are lots left in the garden and we'll have at least one more round of beet pickling.

It's so satisfying to be able to preserve the bounty of the garden. Never, ever as a kid would I have dreamed that I would actually ENJOY canning. Mom had Sandy and I working every summer pealing, chopping and preparing everything from cherries to cucumbers to peaches and tomatoes. And I gotta admit, there was a LOT of griping and groaning. But I'm now glad that we learned those lessons.

It's like a lot of things. The learning can sometimes be painful, and you can't see the payoff at the time. But more often than not, you're eventually glad you put in the effort.

Stay safe everyone! Until next week.


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