July 2011


I thought we were going to have a wonderful grape harvest this year, but I am a bit worried now.

During the past week I noticed something happening to the grapes. This was probably going on earlier but I was in a state of denial. I am seeing brown spots appearing on the grapes.

These spots are on all the grapes – all the vines – regardless of variety. They are circular or blotchy and hard. They are on grapes located close to the ground and higher up.

So I’m wondering if this is Black Rot. Pretty sad – I thought this was going to be a great year for grapes.




Freezing beans and a new invention

It is a very hot and humid week, so it seems appropriate to freeze some produce today.

This morning, under a hazy sky, before the sun started shining full blast, I went out to the garden to pick beans.

I got distracted by weeds. I know that I told you I have a no-weed garden and, truly, there is very little in the way of weeds, but there is the occasional grass that creeps in. I went along the row of beans, picking beans and pulling weeds.

Then I contemplated my potato rows with all those volunteer tomatoes in between and I decided to pull out the tomatoes. I kept a few plants to see what sort of weird variety I was going to get, but all the rest went into the compost pile.


This afternoon, I worked on the beans.

I’ve frozen beans before, so I knew the process: trim ends, and cut into pieces, blanche for 3 minutes, dump into ice water, dry, put into freezer bags. What was new this year was my blanching equipment. Previously, I just dumped the beans into boiling water, boiled for the allocated time, and then scooped up the beans with a strainer, strewing water all over the floor as I carried the strainer from stove to sink. It was almost like a game: how many beans can I scoop up with one sweep of the strainer? Meanwhile, the poor beans left behind got more and more cooked. I’ve heard that there are these things called blanching baskets, but I do not want yet another piece of equipment.

So I devised my own blanching basket. A colander, some jute, a rope, and, voila, a blanching basket!

I’m happy to say that it worked very well. I froze 5 quarts of beans. There are still flowers on the plants – so I’m sure more beans will be arriving soon. Meanwhile, I saved my pieces of jute and my rope and I will be ready for the next batch.