Today, we harvested all three spinach beds!
Looking at them this morning, I thought we could just harvest the plants that had started to go to seed and leave the smaller ones, but when we were ready to start, we realized that the smaller ones were going to seed, too!
We ended up using our three biggest baskets to hold it all.
Yes, these are our Easter baskets, and one of them still has its decorations. The flower garland is woven through the basket, so it doesn’t come off. 😀
Each of those baskets is filled with a different variety of spinach, though to be honest, I can’t tell any difference. They were even supposed to mature at different rates, but between the deer, the heat and the lack of rain, they all matured at the same time.
Nutmeg was hanging around while we were working, and my daughter noticed he was playing “cat and mouse” with something. It turned out to be a frog!
She rescued it.
We see frogs fairly regularly in the garden beds. That makes me happy. More frogs means less bugs eating our produce! 🙂
We used shears to cut the spinach, so all the roots, along with the plants that weren’t suitable to harvest (like the teeny ones the deer got to), are still there. The beds will get a thorough clean up, probably tomorrow, so we can plant lettuces, next.
We dragged out the screen “door” that fits at the top of the old basement stairs, and covered it with the mosquito netting we’d been using to protect one of the beds. We also brought out a couple of our largest bowls. The spinach got washed in the bowls in batches, which also gave us a chance to start taking out any weeds that came along for a ride, and removing some of the yellowing or damaged leaves. After being washed, they got dumped on the mesh and got another rinse with the hose.
Then it was time to start picking over the spinach and destemming them. I set up the wagon to hold the screens I’d washed earlier, to dry spinach on.
My daughter and I then started going over the whole pile, picking out the best ones for dehydrating or into bowls, and dropping the rejects with the snipped stems for composting. We worked for about an hour, hour and a half, before my daughter went in with a filled bowl, to start supper while I kept working on the rest of the spinach.
The filled screens were left on the roof of the kibble house to drain for a while. They went into the sun room when it started to rain a bit, though we never got more than a smattering.
I’m hoping to be able to set up more batches to dehydrate out of this, but it depends on how well it works in the sun room. I’ve got the light I used to keep transplant trays warm on for the night, plus the ceiling fan. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get really hot, which means the sun room will be even hotter. I’m hoping that means they will dehydrate fairly quickly, and I can set up at least one more batch.
As for the rest, we might blanch some for freezing if we can’t use it up fast enough, but mostly, we plan to just eat it. 😀 The girls have been looking of recipes for things like spinach soup to try, or maybe make another batch of their modified palak paneer sauce. We don’t have paneer, though.
I’m rather happy with our first garden harvest – and with being able to have one so early in the season!
While it may have taken a long time to clean it all, we were most entertained.
We had a whole parade of them, coming and going, including the mama and her babies.
All SIX of them!
I don’t know where she’s getting them all from! She started coming by with two. Then we saw her carrying a third. Today, she showed up with five – or so we thought. I took some video and, after I uploaded it and watched it, I realized there was six.
If you wish to see the video, click here. 🙂
Gosh, they are so adorable! They came back several times, including just to run around an play.
As for the other skunks that showed up, I did end up stopping to take a hose to them. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see them in the kibble house, but I could hear them, and they were not getting along. It turned out that only one of the containers had kibble left in it, and they were all trying to get at it. Then there was the one greedy guts that just wouldn’t stop eating.
Oh, and a question I had was answered. In the mornings, when I would go to refresh the cats’ water bowls, I would find one of them with kibble half dissolved in the water. It was always the bowl closest to the kibble house, but they’re far enough away that it couldn’t fall in by accident, as I had assumed was how it got into the heated water bowl, when we were still using that. The skunks, of course, use the water bowls, too. This evening, I saw one of the skunks come up to a water bowl, drink some water, then basically pick its teeth with its claws before drinking some more.
The reason it isn’t good for skunks to eat kibble is because of how their jaws are hinged. But they’ve got that figured out. The skunk was getting kibble stuck in its teeth, and was using water to get it out. The kibble would then fall into the bowl it was drinking from, for me to find in the morning.
They’re smart little buggers!
They also made what could have been a long and dreary job quite fun. 🙂