This first year of real summer heat, of seeds planted that actually grew, I find I am learning a lot in my garden. Specific things, like "don't plant things so close together because they will get larger than you ever thought imagined," and more vague things, such as "you'll thank yourself for planting fruit next year." I am learning to wait until you're ready to eat the things before picking them, no matter how exciting it may be to pull up some veggies while gathering eggs in the morning.. no one wants to eat a limp carrot. I've watched my heirloom Cherokee Purple tomatoes turn from flowers to tennis-balls, and larger - I swear one of those suckers is going to weigh in at almost two pounds! And now, in this first week of July, I am having to contemplate what to do with my excess bounty which means my first official year of canning, or "putting up" which is a term that fills me with an heretofore-unfathomed joy.
I started with pickles. Simple refrigerator pickles, no canning necessary, just easy around-the-house ingredients making a sweet-and-sour crop that is curing out of the way. I tried one yesterday and I think they're wonderful. Soon I'll launch into dill pickles for my husband, which will deal with most of my cuke-crop. I'm researching ways to keep my tomatoes: most likely I'll roast them with garlic and onion and pack them in oil, although they'll need to be kept in the fridge or freezer and that's going to eat up a lot of chilling space. Oh, how I want a deep-freeze! One of our neighbours has a large fig tree than I'm going to raid for jams and preserves; she also has an apple-tree that has been dropping fruit onto our carport for weeks, so I need to get up and gather some off the branches before they all turn to bruised mush on the concrete. I am thankful for my laziness that I didn't get planted half of what I'd dreamed; I've never experienced heat and humidity like we've had lately and I cannot imagine having to toil away endlessly to keep up with the crop this first sweltering summer.
The chickens have doubled in size since they joined us, and we've been able to give away and sell eggs to family regularly. The cicadas drone, the dogs pant, the birds call, and all the while my garden grows; waiting impatiently for me to catch up with it.