here’s why: Christmas in July

[13 Aug 2013 | By | 4 Comments]

I realize it is August, but humor me:

My mom has teased me over the years for being a ‘Christmas in July’ sort of person. She knows: mid-summer I am thinking about, buying or making Christmas gifts. If I am browsing in a shop and see the perfect gift for just that person: I pounce on it, then tuck it on a special shelf to wait until Christmas.

Once, in anticipation of living abroad with my family for a year (Florence, Italy), I bought and wrapped Christmas and birthday gifts for each person—to be opened the full year we were gone.

Until now I associated ‘Christmas in July’ with my—and no doubt countless others—inclination to anticipate Christmas as early as July. But I recently had another ‘July Christmas’ epiphany: nature’s ornaments.

berries @talkoftomatoes

I am a big fan of farm fresh food, buying direct from local farmers and scoring on bumper crops. As you probably know, I am increasingly determined to eat seasonally. This includes: canning my own tomatoes, drying apple chips and freezing hoards of berries. It means I try to ‘put up’ foods as they are fresh and available, then pull them out of my freezer and pantry for the remainder of the year.

It’s a learning curve. Last year I made way, way too much jam. My family members are not jam-cravers. I gave a lot away. This year I am freezing most of my berries for year-round smoothies [which my sons adore]. As I poured out tiny mesh baskets of berries onto cookie sheets—to freeze as individual berries before tucking them into bags—I thought to myself: all these berries makes if feel like Christmas in July.

marionberries @talkoftomatoes

Hoards of bejeweled berries dangle on bushes and trees, earth’s version of ornamental and edible decorum. Colorful abundant edibles—the thought makes me giddy. Little blue, red and purple orbs are like ornaments on summer’s Christmas tree.

Though in today’s world we can buy fruit and vegetables at the grocer year round, it wasn’t too long ago that winter meant: winter greens, stored squashes, piles of potatoes and root vegetables. Winter food didn’t include sun-warmed tomatoes or bright yellow peaches that dripped down your chin. Nature’s juicy and colorful summer fruit-filled trees and bushes were gifts that only came once a year, every year. Pushing to go with nature’s ebb and flow, my appreciation for summer’s bounty and timing has grown.

Christmas will be dried grapes or dried apricots, my frozen berries and preserves; there wouldn’t be bowls brimming with summer’s fresh berries or piles of every-colored peppers. The abundance of gifts—and colors—from nature mid-summer feels exactly like Christmas in July.

… and August is downright festive too!

plums @talkoftomatoes

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  • Barbara said (14 August 2013 at 6:26 am):


    The berries and peaches look lovely! We freeze them in Iowa also – but they arrive from Michigan at the local farmers markets.

    Tomatoes….love to make and can homemade stewed tomatoes, tomatoe sauce and juice. BUT……blight.

    I would love a discussion on tomato blight……I’ve read thru the Iowa State extension site on blight. Why does it occur? I did raised beds specifically for tomatoes to can. If i put in new dirt, can i use that dirt with the spores in someplace else? How do i NOT get blight?

    Any tips would be most appreciated.



  • janelle said (14 August 2013 at 1:48 pm):

    BARB: Let me know if this helps (I don’t deal with blight, but I have dealt a few years with bottom rot – so disappointing!). For blight:

    Avoid these diseases by rotating crops. Plant tomatoes in the same place only once in three or four years. Remove and destroy tomato vines in the fall. Plow or rototill to bury the remaining crop refuse. Use healthy transplants. Remove badly diseased lower leaves, as these are a source of leaf spot fungus spores that help spread the disease.

    Water at the base of the plants to avoid splashing water, which spreads the spores. Avoid watering with overhead sprinklers in late afternoon or evening. If the plants stay wet all night, leaf spot infections are likely to occur.

  • wendy@chezchloe said (14 August 2013 at 8:52 pm):

    Where’s your favorite u-pick or otherwise for blueberries? thx!

  • Janelle said (15 August 2013 at 9:11 am):

    WENDY! LOL where are you? I am sitting at Kathryn Taylor chocolates RIGHT NOW. So funny that you just commented. I am helping Bow Hill Blueberries in Bow, WA sell their blueberries through – my start-up company ;).