August 30, 2018

The Late Summer Vegetable Garden

The sweet potatoes are rampaging through the kale bed behind them, but I've managed to keep them out of the other beds. Once the potatoes get lifted in October, this bed will get planted with chicories and spinach to overwinter.

The flowers of the Purple sweet potatoes are quite pretty and they are everywhere. I've never had Beauregard sweet potatoes bloom, so it was a bit of a surprise.
The kale, especially the Portuguese kale with it's large leaves in the back row, have been eaten up by cabbage caterpillars. I've treated the whole bed with Bt, an organic method of control, a couple of times and they're finally coming back from it.
This was the last zucchini plant in the garden. It had managed to hang on through the hot summer. I went ahead and pulled the plant yesterday because it's infected with Powdery Mildew and squash bugs. The Striato d'Italia zucchini pictured was roasted in the oven with an herb blend and a bit of salt, still sweet and flavorful.
The Siam Queen Asian basil is massive. It usually lasts well into the cold days of fall, we don't actually cook with it but add it to hot bowls of soup. To the right is some parsley and leaf celery, the parsley is a little singed from the heat.
The seven little plants of garlic chives are still alive and the biggest plant is actually blooming. I've seen family friends eat tons of this raw as a garnish to just about every savory dish they consumed. My dad is the same way with hot peppers, he'll alternate bites of hot pepper with normal food during evening meals.
The two pepper beds have merged as one, there's some blooming Italian basil in there as well. We've been getting some heavy rains that keep knocking down a few of the pepper plants, which I'm trying to prop up with bamboo stakes. I've been harvesting enough ripe sweet peppers to have with our lunches, they're prepared by slicing and sautéing with onions and a little salt.
The carrots have come up. Last year they were planted at the end of September which was much too late. Hopefully, this batch was planted early enough to do something. They were planted on the 18th, so it took them awhile to germinate.
The other half of the carrot bed is taken up by radishes. I hope September isn't too hot for them, otherwise they'll end up extra spicy. This bed was seeded on the 18th.
There's 6 different varieties of turnips that were planted in this bed two weeks ago. The two varieties in the front are actually from old seed and took a little longer to germinate.
Half this bed is planted in Gilfeather turnips, which is supposedly a turnip and rutabaga mix. The other half has kohlrabi and fennel.
Newly germinated fennel looks just like carrots, but their cotyledon leaves are a little longer.
I forget how slow growing beets really are, kind of like kohlrabi. The Tall Top Early Wonder beet in the back of the bed was planted June 21st and a few of the roots look ready to pull. Those are leeks in the bed to the right, they'll perk up when it cools down and starts raining regularly.

I've had some trouble with flea beetles this year, which seem to like beets as much as they like eggplants. The garden got treated with beneficial nematodes last week when we had cooler weather, which should help with the flea beetles. I had to wait to the end of summer because nematodes are supposed to be sensitive to heat when they're traveling in the mail system.
This cleared out corn bed will get seeded with all manner of Asian greens and mustards.
I totally cleared out this corn bed yesterday. Our town has a free service where they'll pick up and process non-grassy yard waste into mulch. I just put the corn stalks into the alley for them. The plan is to plant snow peas and snap peas, and then fava beans will go in after them to overwinter.

There's still lots of planting to do for the fall garden. I've got to get greens, peas, and lettuces in soon. Lettuces get pretty dirty from rain splashing soil on them, most people mulch around them or plant them close enough that doesn't happen. My instinct is always to overplant and overcrowd things. When it comes to greens and such, it does seem to help keep them cleaner.

August 28, 2018

Harvest Monday, 8/28/18

All three of these are different varieties of zucchini I picked a few days ago. I try to remember to pick zucchini while I'm out clearing the garden and seeding things that will be harvested in fall and early winter, but a few were definitely left a little too long.

Please join us for Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Happy Acres. A place where garden and vegetable enthusiasts congregate to share the goings on in their gardens.

August 20, 2018

Harvest Monday, 8/20/18

I picked a bunch of sweet peppers last week. We mainly grew sweet peppers this year with the only spicy peppers being jalapenos and poblanos, although Shishito and Padron peppers can get fiery hot as they ripen in our climate.
The dark red top-shaped peppers on top are Odessa and the orangey red top-shaped pepper on the bottom is Feher Ozon. I have to admit, the Odessa peppers are much sweeter than the Feher Ozon pepper which has a sour-ish end note. I've only eaten them raw, and perhaps Feher needs to ripen longer.
Of the long peppers, Melrose is a shorter wrinkly blunt-nosed pepper. There's quite a following in regards to this pepper which is a thin-walled frying pepper. I've tried the pepper raw and the flavor and texture was just, eh. But sautéing it with onions and it becomes something else entirely. Flavorful and incredibly sweet, my husband and I ate the Melrose peppers and onions on top of rice, and that was all it needed. So good. And a bonus for this variety is that the plants are productive.

I've been carefully saving seeds from our peppers, which have been disease free this season and tend to be in general. There have been very few pollinators around this year, but it's probably possible for peppers to accidently get pollinated by wind and such. Since I didn't do anything to isolate them, there's no guarantee they'll be true to type since I grew gobs of varieties.

Padron peppers tend to just be fiery hot in our climate, and Shishito peppers can be the same if left on the plant too long. The few tiny young Shishito peppers that have been edible after frying up with sea salt in a little olive oil, were quite wonderful.

We're still getting the occasional zucchini from our plants of both the Butta (F1) yellow zucchini and Striato d'Italia zucchini. Other than that, peppers, herbs, sweet potatoes, kale, and cutting celery are the only things left from the summer garden. I'll be sharing pictures on my gardening transitioning into fall in the next couple of days.

Please join us for Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Happy Acres, a place where the strong at heart and overzealous come to share the fruits from their gardening labors.

August 15, 2018

Harvest Monday, 8/13/18

Sorry, I couldn't be around much this summer. My husband had to have surgery at the beginning of July which meant I couldn't get out into the garden for weeks. Here's a few pictures from right before his surgery, and a few things during garden cleanup and the like.
Bush beans did great this year. Surprisingly there was only a little rust in their patch.
Cherry tomatoes did well this year, but the onions were terrible. Tiny tiny onions.
The green tomato on the right blushed with gold is Green Cherokee which is amazingly prolific even with all the diseases that rampaged through the garden.
I've been roasting tomatoes with zucchini and summer squash with mixed herbs which was fabulous, but my favorite way to eat a tomato this year was just fresh on crackers with some soft Laughing Cow cheese.
We picked tons of cherry tomatoes this year, but the only ones that tasted great even with the wonky weather we experienced were Red Grape and Sun Gold and both are hybrids.
Lots of weird diseases in the garden this year. It was the first time I've ever seen wilt and what I suspect was Septoria leaf spot. The tomato plants never recovered after the 8 days of torrential unending rain we got. And the only large tomato that still managed to taste great this year despite it all was Pink Brandywine.

Corn and melons were a bit of a disaster. We got a few good pickings of corn, but then it rained and critters moved in. Squirrels were all over the tomatoes as usual, but something big was pulling down the corn and getting to the melons. We've trapped possums before, but I think it might be racoons.

All the tomato plants, bush beans, and onions have been pulled. I've hand dug those beds, weeded, and started the process of fall planting. Mostly carrots in containers, beets, Gilfeather turnips, kohlrabi, and bulb fennel have been planted. I've still got salad turnips, radishes, and greens to plant. Once the corn gets cut down, more greens as well as fava beans will get planted in their place.

It's supposed to rain for a week so I've been pushing through to get the garden planted before then. Finger's crossed I can get it done tonight.