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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Harvesting the Fruits of Your Labor

As I was growing up through my childhood and teenage years, this time of year would be my favorite. Although summer was coming to an end, school was just starting up, and winter was on the way, this was, and always will be, my favorite time of the year. Starting in the beginning of August and carrying through September, my family and I would spend all evening in our garden and greenhouse harvesting what we had planted the spring prior.

One of my favorite memories was working in our watermelon patch with my parents and brother. After watering and turning the ripening melons, Dad would cut a warm melon in the field for us to enjoy. Almost always we would be too sticky to go back inside, so Mom would spray us down with the garden hose.

Our fields of watermelons, strawberries, and pumpkins we grew for our U-Pick farming operation.

There are always a few different options of what you can do with harvested fruits and veggies. You can enjoy them immediately (similar to my family and our watermelons), set up a stand at your local farmers’ market, or save your fruits and veggies for a later date. My family took part in all of these.

More often than not, my mom and I would spend a day in the kitchen after a day of harvesting canning salsa, making cider, and freezing corn, tomatoes, and onions. As much as I enjoy eating our products right out of the garden, it is nice to be able to enjoy the same thing up to one year later, especially when that item might not be in season anymore.

Canning can be tricky until you get the hang of how it works, but your main goal is to kill all of the bacteria already present in the food you are trying to preserve. There are two main methods of canning, with the first being water bath canning and the second being pressure canning. Water bath canning is more commonly used since this type is used to preserve fruits, jams, salsa, tomatoes, pickles, and relish. Pressure canning is used more for preserving low acid foods like vegetables, meat, and seafood. Instructions on both canning methods can be found below.

Even those without the greenest of thumbs can find ways to provide fruits and veggies for their families, and let’s face it, it’s fun to enjoy the fruits of our labor! To some people, having a garden means endless hours of time and effort for a batch of homemade salsa or fresh fruit pie. But gardening doesn’t have to be hard! Some of the simplest ideas can include herbs in your kitchen window sill or a single tomato plant in a pot on your patio. If you have more room, the Pinterest inspired pallet garden would be worth a try along with raised flower beds. For those wanting to make it big, a more traditional style garden might be the way to go with a couple of different options like tomatoes, peppers, and green beans. Another option is to participate in is a community garden if space is an issue. This will allow you to work alongside other members in your community and enjoy agriculture together! 

I’ve been enjoying the fruits of my labor since the time mullets were still in style! 

Agriculture is definitely something to smile about and it is something we can all contribute to, no matter how big or small. Enjoying a fresh watermelon at a picnic, having a fresh tomato on a BLT sandwich, or carving the pumpkin you started from seed really is what enjoying the fruits of your labor is all about. Gardening is something that everyone can be involved with if you just have a little bit of time and discipline. So next time, don’t skip the greenhouses in the spring or walk past the canning supplies at the store, give it a try, you might be surprised at where it takes you!


Until next time,

Sarah Plum


Check out these sources of canning as well!


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