One of my first blog posts was about my first carrot harvest, this time last year. So, it is with satisfaction that I note a year of food preservation has come full circle. This is my helper for harvesting carrots. He was actually enthusiastic about this job, and I was surprised. Sometimes I ask him if he wants to help me in the garden, and he says...Nahhhh. He wanted to dig, but I really didn't think that was a good idea, because the dirt was hard and I don't have a spade. If you don't dig straight down next to the carrots and pop up the dirt just underneath, you end up with a lot of broken carrots. So, his job was to take the carrots I dug up, and remove the green tops. Then he loaded the carrots into his red wagon. That's a good idea for another blog post: Which of my child's toys I have used as gardening implements?
We got quite a few from one 25 ft garden row. The garden looks so empty without the lush green tops. I walked by that area today, and couldn't figure out why it looked so sad and forlorn... it was the absence of the carrot tops. I still have two half rows of heirloom and red carrots, but those were planted later, so I am going to give those a little longer before I dig them up. Also, carrot harvesting drives me a little crazy, because it is so work intensive.
I thought this picture was kind of funny. That is my son, you can barely see him, under the entire massive pile of carrot tops that he picked up at one time. He insisted on taking the entire pile to the compost bin at once. If he had sat down, you almost wouldn't have known he was there.
The carrot digging took about an hour...then we drug the wagon down to the front drive and used the hose and the vegetable scrubber to clean all the carrots. This took about an hour and a half. But I got a lot of carrots from one row...my son brought the scale in, and we weighed the tote...almost 25 lbs!
Today, I chopped and peeled the carrots. This is only about 3/4 of the carrots. This took another hour to chop them all up. I precook my carrots and hot pack them into the jars. I leave most of the skin on because I want to keep as many vitamins in as possible. All the funny looking little or bendy pieces get put into a baggie in the freezer to be used to make vegetable stock later.
I didn't really think I had that many carrots until I started putting them into jars. Yeah, I have a lot more than last year. I think my final total is about 19 pints. And there are still carrots growing in the garden!!!
I sort them by size...the littlest ones and the scraps become the future vegetable stock bag...the ones that are about the size of my thumb go into the feed to the guinea pigs bag. My picky guinea pigs actually turn their noses up at the organic natural carrots. They prefer the lathed baby carrots you buy at the store. Too bad picky pigs!
My poor clean kitchen...it is destroyed now. As I write this, the 2nd batch of carrots is processing in the pressure canner, and a full pot of tomatoes (skinned and seeded) is cooking on the stove to make into sauce. I won't even put a picture of what the kitchen looks like now after all that.
Yesterday we picked and shucked the last of the sweet corn. There wasn't a lot left, but we needed to get them picked or we would lose them to the bugs, or they would dry up. I let my son practice his photography skills again, he wanted to take this picture of me.
I ended up blanching the corn and scraping it off into a big bowl. Then I put the corn into freezer bags...I ended up getting five decent sized bags of blanched corn.
My son helped me go through the corn and check to see if there was any left. Maybe he will grow up hating gardening, and not wanting anything to do with it, or maybe he will have herbs and vegetables on the balcony of his first apartment. Either way, I want him to understand and care about where his food comes from, and to have real memories of us growing and making food together.