Pickin’ and Preserving

I just thought I would do a quick post about what we have harvested in the past week.

Strawberries – Since we began picking strawberries we have harvested nearly 50 quarts of strawberries. After I froze enough to keep us in homemade jam through the year we began offering them to family and friends. We have had a lack of rain so the berries are not big this year but they are delicious.  Due the dry conditions we are not certain that the plants will continue to produce berries much longer.

Garlic Scapes – Several people who visited the farm this week went home with some garlic scapes. We cut, bundled and delivered scapes to a local retailer and are having scapes for dinner tonight.

Oregano – It was time to start picking oregano before it blossoms. Oregano is a very prolific herb that is spreading throughout, and making a nice ground cover in our prayer garden. Since I will not be ready to can spaghetti sauce for at least a month I will dry the herbs as I harvest them and they will keep well until I am ready to use them. When it flowers the bees are very attracted to it.

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I find that air drying herbs works well. I have a couple different methods for doing this. One is to tie the herbs in a bunch, like I have done with the oregano in the above picture, and hang then where they will get good air flow until the leaves completely dry. Once they are completely dry I remove the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container.

Basil – Basil is another herb that I use in my spaghetti sauce. It is an annual so we plant a few plant each year. It is not very large yet but picking some of it now will encourage it to grow more and discourage it from flowering too soon. Since the basil stems were pretty short I decided it was best to dry them on our drying screen (shown in the photo below).

The drying screen is simply made of a wooden frame with screen stapled together. The frame that we used actually came as packaging from a table that we had purchased. I saved it because I knew there was a better use for it the just throwing it away. The screen that we used was part of a roll of screen that I had picked up for a couple dollars at an estate sale.

Since the drying screen does not have legs I usually put a box under each end so there is good air flow all the way around. Depending on the temperature, leafy herbs will usually dry in a few days on the drying screen. They are then stored in air tight containers until we are ready to use them

Plantain Leaves –  When you see plantain you may think of a fruit similar to a banana that grows on trees (Musa paradisiaca) but we can’t grow that here. Apparently plantain trees grow best in zones 8 through 11 and require 10-15 months with temperatures above freezing to bear fruit. That doesn’t happen in Michigan.

The plantain I am referring to is know as common plantain (plantago major) and common it is. It pops up seemly everywhere and you would probably recognize it even if you don’t know it’s name. Along with not knowing it’s name you may not be aware that plantain had many health benefits and is often included in list of the top weeds that we should be eating. Although we have not yet included plantain in our diet I have been harvesting it for medicinal purposes for several years. The following website includes a photo and information about plantains medicinal uses https://usesofherbs.com/plantain.

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Marshmallow Leaves On The Drying Screen

 

Marshmallow Leaves –  If you are not familiar with the wonder benefits of the Marshmallow plant you can read about it here https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-marshmallow.html.

We have been growing marshmallow for several years now and in the fall I harvest some of the roots as I use it in my Hair Care soap. Last year I also harvested some of the leaves, dried them and stored them. I enjoyed marshmallow tea a few times and have begun harvesting and drying the leaves so I can replenish my herbal “medicine cabinet”.

I actually started this post last week intending for it to be a short summery of our weeks efforts but as the time passes we are harvesting more and more produce. Before I wrap it up I will quickly add –

Blueberries –  We are picking fully ripened blueberries and not having to worry about the birds getting them first. If you aren’t sure why click here to read about our blueberry patch update.

and last but not least

Currants – I have been waiting for months for these little berries to be ready. In my opinion they are a superfood and I intend on doing a separate post on them and how I am preserving them.

I am going to wrap up this post now before the list gets any longer. As I head to the farm to pick berries I wish you all a blessed day.

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21 thoughts on “Pickin’ and Preserving

  1. I have plantain growing all over the place here. I may have to start drying some! How do you use it as medicinal? I also have stinging nettle which I do dry. I put the dried leaves in my tea as it seems to help for my seasonal allergies.

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    1. Dried plantain can be used like nettle as a tea for cough or colds. I am thinking that it may even be good added to a pot of chicken soup. I also infuse the leaves in olive oil and use the oil mixed with beeswax to make a balm that can bee applied to a bee sting or other bug bite.
      Stinging nettle was the first “weed” I fell in love with. Stopped taking allergy medication when I started using nettle. When we bought our farm I found got some roots from my sister and planted them. When I hear of people trying to kill nettles with herbicide it makes me want to cry.

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  2. It is so awesome that you make use of so many of the things of nature. I wish I lived closer and could spend some time learning about how you do it!! Your posts are great and the next best thing lol

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    1. Angela I am so sorry I missed this comment. For some reason it ended up in my spam folder. What a nice compliment – how fun it would be to learn it together. I’ll keep sharing what I learn, and learning from your blog as well. 🙂

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      1. It’s all good Ruth and I appreciate your efforts to keep I touch. It seems we have and some technical snafoo with our comments lol. I’ve just found several of your in mine. I don’t get bent out of shape anyway because I know we are all busy this time of year. Thank you so much for the lovely comment😊 I really enjoy reading your blog, too. There is so much good information!

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    1. I am glad you liked it Linda. It really is just a different lifestyle. Instead of going to a job and earning money to pay for food we spent that time producing our own food.
      Blogging sometimes gets put on the back burner because other thing need to be done. Sometimes it takes a week or more to write a post and I have several drafts that are started and just waiting for me to get back to them. 🙂

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      1. I would be all for an alternative lifestyle to this one, but I do work from home which is nice … I took a cut in pay to work from home after I was laid off, then my boss did not have enough work to hire me back full-time. I was told I’d be hired back when business picked up … it never returned to as busy as we were, but a lot of clients are retiring or merging or hiring H.R. people to do a lot of the labor work that Robb formerly did. So, all kinds of dynamics. My great grandparents had a farm near Guelph, Ontario. My mom and her parents would spend two weeks there every Summer … my grandfather’s plant shut down and they would spend the two weeks bringing in the crops (hay I think) and helping “put up” preserves, etc.

        I actually wrote more posts when I had very few followers … I get behind sometimes keeping up with posts and commenting. Right now there is not much happening at the Park since all the broods have been raised and fledged or departed in one form or another. Today I went to the Cruisin’ Downriver event – I’m not a car buff, but I thought it would make a different post than my usual squirrels, etc. Your blogs are long like mine – that’s why. It takes care and thought to write the narrative and gather the pictures.

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    1. I find currants to be like little energy bombs.
      Did you see the picture of plantain in the link? I would be surprised if you didn’t recognize it as being a common weed. It is probably as common as dandelions.

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    1. I have never seen fresh currants for sale anywhere. We did find our currant bushes several years ago at a local big box store. So if you are able to grow your own I recommend it.
      They are a real pain to pick so when my husband and I were talking about selling them I suggested we could have a u-pick. We wouldn’t charge for the currants but people only could take half of what they pick and leave the other half for us. LOL.

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  3. What wonderful harvests! I’m going to have to rig something up to keep the birds off of our blueberries, too. The little buggers are taking bites then dropping the rest on the ground. The waste of it all 😦

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