August 21, 2016

Harvest Monday, 8/22/16

Fall is rushing towards us even as summer plants perk up with cooler weather and wet cloudy days. This has turned out to be the wettest August on record for us. Tomatoes and eggplant are still trickling in, although tomatoes are very much at their end.
The Ginkaku Korean melons have been a sweet surprise for us. Seeded May 1st and planted out in the garden May 30th, it feels like the plants have been giving us innumerable melons for months. At this point we're freezing cut up melons for smoothies.

Bell peppers and Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers are still coming in, and the cherry tomatoes are a surprise harvest. The thieving squirrels that used to frolic through our neighbor's oak trees and rampage through my garden haven't been around lately, nor the multitude of chirpy little birds. Something has them spooked and I'm guessing the hawk that's been flying around, or maybe the owl that can be heard at twilight.
Tomato season is definitely at an end. The plants will get pulled up next weekend, which is marked for the big garden clean up. Even so, eggplants and peppers are truly coming into their own with these wet 80 degree days with many starting to flush with fruit.
The last of the tomatoes have been made into roasted tomato sauce and frozen. Our plans for salsa this year just didn't work out, the early heat and the late pepper start really did me in. I'll have to be more disciplined and start those persnickety chile peppers in February rather than March.
I picked three big grocery bags full of basil. One bag equaled a huge colander full of leaves once destemmed. Three quarts of thick blender-ized basily goodness now rest in the freezer, topped off and protected by a layer of olive oil. Now there's only one variety of basil left to make into pesto. (Yes, I made separate pesto batches from each variety.)

The luffa vines have taken over all the bean and cucumber trellises. The long trailing vines that clamber over fences with leaves the size of dinner plates are finally blooming. I'm hoping for mountains of tender young loofah. The fry pan awaits.

Once the tomato and bush bean beds get cleared, and some of the pole bean trellises that aren't swallowed up by luffa. The peas can get planted and hopefully lettuce, spinach, fennel, turnips, beets, winter radishes and all the greens will find a place.

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August 8, 2016

Harvest Monday, 8/8/16

We are still getting tomatoes and Jimmy Nardello peppers. The tomato with the green/yellow stripes on the bottom is a chocolate stripes tomato.
Happily, the melons keep ripening. Although, half the plants have died at this point by animal intervention.
The yellow tomatoes are Kelloggs Breakfast which as a later variety generally gets processed rather than eaten individually.
The squashes seem to have given up at this point, so the whole row will get pulled soon. But surprisingly the cucumbers are still producing. It seems like the yellow and black striped cucumber beetles have moved on.
A little bell pepper also got picked on Saturday, along with these just ripening tomatoes. I'm still picking the tomatoes early, but the squirrels seem busy with their manic digging these days. And of all craziness, the squirrels chewed a huge huge hole at the tope of our gas can for the lawn mower. It was shocking. Must have just happened this past week. We need to get one of those fake owls to scare them off but I keep forgetting to pick one up.

I spent Saturday and Sunday roasting ripe tomatoes layered on parchment with sweet peppers, onions, garlic, and basil that were drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. After each tray spent four hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven they got put through the blender. And we ended up with 4 gallons of blended sauce with minimal work over 2 days which all got frozen. It was a nice way to use up all the tomatoes in the fridge and on the countertop, now there's just the tomatoes that were picked Saturday.

There's a recipe for double chocolate zucchini bread I'm going to try on Tuesday along with my mother-in-laws recipe for zucchini bread. They both should freeze well.

Please join us at Harvest Monday, hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

August 1, 2016

Harvest Monday, 8/1/16

We are very excited by the first of the broccoli, hopefully they will have a long season since there's 5 varieties planted in the garden. Again, it's Waltham that is first to produce. There's also Jimmy Nardello peppers and Santa Fe Grande peppers. And the first paste tomato is San Marzano Redorta. I'm still picking tomatoes a bit under ripe trying to keep them from the critters.

With the influx of tomatoes I plan on making sauce and canning this weekend and maybe roast some for the freezer.
Zucchini, yellow summer squash, and snap beans keep trickling in. We have 4 varieties of yellow summer squash planted including a couple hybrids, but they haven't done much since the vine borers attacked. The beans are used in stir fries and dishes for our little one.
And the first kohlrabi. I was wrong, the really ripe Ginkaku melon is actually awesome when well chilled, and they keep forever in the fridge. So good. The eggplants are starting to ripen at a steadier pace. I plan on freezing some marinated grilled eggplant for the winter.

It's been raining regularly, about 10 inches for the month of July as I've been told. It's a great time of year with lots of cooking and harvesting from the garden. The wax melon plants are running wild and I have high hopes for their future. Even as my dreams for winter squash go out with a whimper as August moves in.

August is when I'll start clearing the zucchini and summer squash beds, and clearing off the bush beans and pole bean trellises to make room for fall plantings like snap peas and snow peas. Lettuce, fennel, beets, spinach, and a plethora of greens will need to be started by the end of August so they'll be bigger when they get planted out in September. There's lots to do and lots to look forward to.

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July 25, 2016

Harvest Monday, 7/24/16

It's been a hot year and I'm starting to look forward to fall and winter. We had such a mild winter last year, I wonder what this year will bring.
Tomatoes are coming in but the squirrels have discovered and are getting tons of them. They've been tearing the fruit off the vines or just eating them where they hang. What I thought were peck marks from birds, turns out they're claw marks from squirrels.
Cherry tomatoes are really nice to have around, they're great in omelets or just to pop in the mouth.
Combined the bush beans and pole beans are producing terribly this year, but at least they are starting to produce more. I'll probably be pulling them to make room for a fall planting of peas eventually.
Cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash still coming in steady amounts. Squash bugs have invaded, so every couple of days I go out with duct tape to collect eggs and the occasional nymph and adult squash bug. After being hit by vine borers, the plants just aren't producing many squashes, plus there are cucumber beetles everywhere.
Three small ripe melons and a summer squash. The Ginkaku melons keep making melons, I counted eight still on the vines. Squirrels have been digging in the bed, killing one of the four plants.

I also picked a more ripe melon that isn't pictured to see how it would taste, very sweet and still crispy but starting to get a bit mealy. We much prefer them crispier with their sweet citrusy kind of honeydew flavor.
I picked a few tomatoes on Sunday that were just starting to ripen, to beat the squirrels. You can see the puncture marks from their claws on the Black Brandywine from when they got a couple of the other fruits. I'll probably go back to using fencing as supports for the tomatoes next year.

The loofah plants have started taking over the whole row of trellises but not a single bloom has yet to form, which makes me think their blossoming is dependent on day length. The winter squash and wax melons have just started vining, hopefully there's enough time left for some fruit to set. And the first Jimmy Nardello peppers are just starting to ripen, which I'm very excited to try.

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Harvested this week:
10.632 lbs. tomatoes
3.932 lbs. melon
2.336 lbs. zucchini
2.000 lbs. cucumber
1.158 lbs. green beans
0.536 lbs. yellow summer squash
0.402 lbs. eggplant

weekly total: 20.996 pounds

July 18, 2016

Harvest Monday, 7/18/16

A mixture of Black Cherry, Sun Gold, and Fat Cherry tomatoes were picked on Tuesday.
 There was also a cucumber, zucchini, and handful of green beans picked from the pole beans. 
 On Sunday the first eggplant and Ginkaku melon was picked. 
Golden King of Siberia weighed in at 0.902 pounds and there are also two Black Prince tomatoes in the front.
From bottom left counter clock-wise: Black Prince, Goldie, and an Italian Red Pear.

A few of the tomatoes had split from the heavy rains but luckily they weren't so bad. But the squirrels have definitely gotten a few big ripe tomatoes. I found three still hanging on the vine with bites taken out of the bottoms, three were dropped in the yard where they tried to carry them away, and two were in the ally where they managed to get them over the fence.

It's so unbearably hot and humid here, I can understand why people don't garden in this area.

Please join us at Harvest Monday, kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.