Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The saddest death seems to be the boy's blueberry bushes that were thriving at the start of the season. I'm not sure if they've caught some sort of blight, which seems possible, or if they've just fried in their containers. I'm going to wait it out for the summer and then prune the fool out of them next spring and see what happens. I've got my fingers crossed.
Thanks, Kate, for hosting GBDD! It helps to know others are having trouble as well. As you say, Mother Nature sure is a fickle...mother.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
We waited until we got the children to bed like we always do with anything else we can and so we set out coring, chopping and blending the tomatoes and now everything is reducing. It's 11:30 PM and it's reducing. It needs to reduce by half. That's not happening any time in the near future. Actually, the foreseeable future seems dim as well. But, it sure does smell like ketchup which has us both pretty tickled. I promised her I'd take photos every hour until it's done and post them tomorrow. I'm thinking it will be at least 3 hours and maybe more for it to reduce by half and then add canning time on top of it. If nothing else, it's quiet and honestly, it's pretty darn cool, although I don't think I'll start making ketchup in the evening again.
Hopefully it will work. Cross your fingers!
The real odd factor comes in with the cucumbers. Last year I had over 40 pounds of cucumbers by this point and I've not yet gotten a cucumber that's not woppy. I can only guess it's the heat of this June in comparison to last. I've been dwelling on how to approach the garden now. Here in GA, I can get almost two rounds of summer crops in if I put some in the ground in July, but it also limits my fall crops. I need to decide what to baby in order to keep producing, where to cut my losses, what to replant and what space to save for the fall. Ah, decisions, decisions. Here are some pictures of this week's harvests. The girl was in here a minute ago demanding why there were pickles in her basket. I instructed her that they were not pickles and if you leave your basket in the living room it's fair game. Not pictured are four zucchini, two tomatoes, two squash and a cucumber.
Happy harvesting everyone and make sure to stop by Daphne's to see what everyone else is up to this week.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
This is round about the time the peas are picked and we looked everywhere on the Internet for farms or farmer's markets in our area. We found one less than 15 miles away and woke up early to get there when they opened. What an amazing disappointment. There was no farmer's market as advertised, but the farm was running a pick-your-own, so we thought there would be some hope there, but when we started walking around we were in shock. There were weeds higher than the crops. The woman pointed out some cucumbers and I actually said, "Where?" She pulled aside the grass and I said, "Oh."
They still had broccoli in the ground (keep in mind that this is GA and we've had 80-90+ degree heat since April, that had bolted beyond recognition and was host to an amazing number of cabbage worms. I asked about some dead, dark brown stalks and were told they were potatoes that would be ready in 2-4 more weeks. I was under the impression you took out potatoes before they died back completely.
I didn't know whether to be crestfallen or proud that my little garden would most likely out produce them in a heartbeat. I was a little surprised at how unkempt the place was.
We went to a grocery on our way back and found packages of frozen zipper peas which we bought and are cooking up for dinner tonight. They don't have snaps in them, but I'm going to infiltrate some beans as snaps. Overall, the day wasn't a total loss since the end result was the same. I suppose I also certainly feel pretty good about my garden. I would, however, like to find a good farmer's market in the area at which to find items that I can't grow in my own garden. Anyone know of any good ones in the Atlanta/North GA area?
Friday, June 25, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A few days ago, Granny sent me a link to her awesome chocolate zucchini cake recipe and then sent me a few others by email. I was facing a difficult zucchini issue having harvested 28 in one week and given away or eaten all I could. Michelle sent me a wonderful recipe for zucchini pickles, but I decided to try my hand at relish and made some zucchini relish this morning. I'll post on that tomorrow. However, even after the relish, which took 12 cups of finely chopped zucchini, which is no small amount, I still had 6 left over and harvested three more today.
This is where Granny's chocolate cake comes in. I decided to make cupcakes so I could freeze them and pull them out when wanted and here they are!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Granny is right. Chocolate is indeed a vegetable, and I'll proclaim it until the end of the earth because this child just put one of these in her mouth, bit of a piece, chewed and actually swallowed.
The only veggie out producing itself thus far has been the zucchini, but even that is crying foul and has decided to tap out. I came home yesterday and noticed squash vine borer damage. It was only a matter of time. I'm starting to have a different opinion about SVBs. They may not be so bad after all as they allow the zucchini to make a graceful garden exit.
When I pulled up the first one it snapped right at the soil line. Good thing it came out as it wouldn't produce any more anyway. This second one still has some fruit on it, so I'll let it be for awhile. There's one squash plant with damage, too. The rest of the zucchini is almost ready to come out as well. It's still putting out female flowers, but they wither before they open. I think they're just done. They've done a good job and I'm not disapointed at all. As a matter of fact, when I pull them out, I may just be able to plant some more summer crops as we've still got until October or November for a frost. Hmmmm....I may just do that.
With every sad note, there's a positive one on the horizon. Look what I picked last night:
Yup. That's my first Cherokee Purple and my first ever tomato I grew from seed, myself. Thank you Dan!! We had it for dinner tonight with yellow pear tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden and a store bought avocado for company in the mother of all salads . Actually, it wasn't a large salad, but it's one that my mother makes and I generally equate it with her. It was fantabulous. I can't believe how deep the flavor of the Cherokee Purple is in comparison to a general tomato. What a treat. I've got one more ripening now. Very exciting and almost makes up for the SVB damage.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The meal and companionship was fantastic, the children played their hearts out, and they were kind enough to fix the man a plate for me to bring home. Sunday morning we had the sausage and shrimp in eggs with zucchini salsa and there was enough left for tonight to make a creamed sherry sauce with the shrimp and sausage and then mushrooms and onions, garlic, squash and greenbeans from the garden. It was a bit of an odd bucket of food to throw together, but the spicy meat was the perfect compliment to the sweet sherry sauce.
Thank you, Jesse and Caroline!
Speaking of friends, I found this here creature in the garden this evening. Here's his front view:
And here's his side view:
Yesterday morning the man came out to help me string a trellis for the side yard cucumbers that are just now sending out tendrils. Things tend to grow so slowly when it gets this hot...except for the zucchini who are loving life right now. I picked my first decent sized red tomato today! It's just beautiful. I'm not sure what the other little red ones are, but they're more like a glorified cherry tomato than a slicing variety. The major news on the tomato front is that I've got a Cherokee Purple that's ripening! It's just beautiful and I can't wait. It will either be ready tomorrow or the next day.
The key word for this week's harvest is, "Zucchini." Every day there's zucchini. Did I mention we've harvested zucchini this week? There was the monster bat from yesterday and wouldn't you know it that I found another one just like it today after I had already gone out there to pick zucchini this morning! I should tie the two together with some rope or chain or something and use them as nunchucks. "WWWWhhaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuahhhhh" (note me whipping around zucchini like a crazed warrior and most likely knocking my own self out, not coming close to hitting anyone else).
There's one missing picture here of a squash, six zucchinis, two baby tomatoes, dragon tongue beans and Kentucky Wonder pole beans. I had the camera out...I just never snapped the shot.
So, here are my harvests below. The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.
Stop by Daphne's to see what everyone else is harvesting!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Last night I dreamed about EG and Granny. It was about as disjointed as dreams can be and when I look back at it, I'm not sure it was flattering to any of us. The dream picked up in the middle and I'm not sure why we were all together, but there we were in Granny's yard. Actually, I was in Granny's yard. EG was in a chicken coop. He wasn't there visiting the chickens or collecting eggs; this was his designated location. His 'room' if you will. There was nothing out of the ordinary about it and it wasn't inhumane. He had a large potato bin full of water and Granny's own cage was right next to it so they could talk.
Flash forward and I'm in the house trying to figure out dinner. Granny's husband, who looks like my father, but I know him for who he's supposed to be, said that he supposed I could use the chicken defrosting in the fridge since he didn't listen to Granny and take it out for dinner the day before. There were 9 pieces of chicken, which were perfect for us all. EG disagreed. He wanted more. I said my two children could share a piece. No good. I told him he could have the extra and then half of mine as well and then throw in the girl's half as well since she won't abide by any meat being on her plate that hasn't been processed at least three times over.
No good. "Ribbit, I'm a big man," EG said. "Men need food." BAM! and we're in my house as I go down to the basement to get a whole turkey breast which EG has agreed will suffice along with his original piece of chicken, the extra chicken and the girl's half and my half. While I'm down there I realize I had a pack of ground beef so I didn't need to go buy some the night before (which I really did), but the freezer hadn't frozen it the whole way. I took out the turkey breast and went back upstairs. EG's at the pantry with an unopened Sam's size bottle of ranch dressing and said, "Is this all you got?" This is where the dream ended.
Looks like I need to quit reading blogs before I go to bed. ;) The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
There was no storm or wind, this zucchini just really outgrew her space and she toppled out of the bed and onto the ground. I don't think the stem was severed, and she'll be fine, she's just hanging out in the pathway now. Actually, this same thing is about to happen to the zucchini on the other end of the bed. I can see how this would be a downside to raised beds, especially ones 12 inches high like mine because on the ground, these things could sprawl everywhere without the danger of cracking the main stem, however, not enough of one to make me change my mind about how crazy-awesome raised bed gardening is and it also brings me to my purpose here:
I may not be able to grow much, but I can grow the fool out of zucchini!
Only a lonely squash and cucumber to add to the mix, but I can always seem to grow enough zucchini to feed a small state. My friends, what veggie are you guilt riddenly proud of? It's time to lay aside your humility and share your gardening ego boosting crop!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The zucchini leaves are also bright!
This is a great time to scout out the undersides of the leaves for any unwanted squash bug eggs because all unwanted critters stand out like this guy on the upper right:
I get closer to him and he starts to look familiar.....
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Every other bug in the area I'll go after with a vengeance and flip into cups of soapy water or utter my best EG redneck battle cry and squish their guts out, but the SVB moth forces me to recognize that I may not, as a matter of fact, be at the top of the food chain.
I have four hills of zucchini all squished in together where it's almost impossible to check each and every leaf stalk for svb eggs, and four hills of squash which wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit if the pests infected those good for nothing plants who haven't given me one squash yet. It would serve them right, but still too many and too close together to dig through with any success. I still have a long, long time before damage is noted to the point of needing to rip out the plants. Last year, the plants were heavily infested and still trucked right along, but it's the principle of the matter. They've dared touch what's mine.
And when the time comes and I do rip out the plants either on my own time frame or theirs, I will delight in splitting the stems and then listening to their pathetic please for help as I dispatch them as well. YeeeHaaaaaw!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Yesterday I went out to hand pollinate some more zucchini that I knew were going to be flowering and when I picked a male flower I realized the pollen was all but gone. Then, I saw this little booger and two of his friends flying about, in and out of flowers.
I went back inside and decided to trust in the bee. Have faith in the bee to do his job. He'd better, too, because for the first time this summer, look what opened (I know it's a bad picture): So, I'm happy and hopefully I'll have some squash soon. Other than that, look at what else is going on in the garden:
These are on the plant that has over 40 little tomatoes on them I picked the two red ones today and they both fit in one hand. They're small, and I'm wondering if that's because the plant is taxed with so much fruit, but all of them on this plant are about the same size. The plant is supposed to be a Cherokee Purple, but it looks like I may have gotten my seeds mixed up. I started Cherokee Purple, Brandywine (obviously not that kind), Beefmaster and Black Cherry. I'm supposing this has to be the beefmaster, but they're tiny for that as well. Who knows! I bet they'll taste good regardless.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Respect the garden or learn to respect the soapy water. You can't win. I can hear you chomping. I will find you and you will drown, but you can take solace in that you won't be alone. Your friends will follow.
And in honor of Kate and Crew from Gardening Without Skills and her oddly magnificent poetic skills, I offer you my own humble composition:
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Last year I let the runners go and only had a hand full of stringy potatoes. This year I had all intentions of cutting the runners so the plants could focus on the tubers.
All intentions aside. They just look so pretty trailing down like that. I'll cut them soon, but they're such a nice addition to the front walk and look so much prettier than the dying potato plants out there.
I noticed last year that all of the potatoes formed near the surface and not to the bottom which makes me worried since there's not a lot of surface area in those pots. I'm so curious as to how this is going to work out I can hardly wait to dig them up some time in October.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Seems like zucchini is going in everything now. I made a hot dip last with garlic, zucchini, jalapenos, eggplant and artichokes and for dinner the other day we had zucchini and eggplant pie.
I just love it and it's so easy. You get a pie shell, unless you're Granny and you make the pie shell, too. You slice the veggies and some garlic and onion and saute in 1/4 cup butter for 8 minutes. Cool it a bit and mix it in a bowl with two eggs, two cups of cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and parsley. I know it sounds ridiculous, but spread a thin layer (about a tablespoon) of brown or Dijon mustard on the bottom of the pie crust and pour the rest in and cook at 350 for about 30 minutes or so. I'll be making tons of these to freeze and pull out when needed.
The boy got his first blueberry "harvest." Here's what was left after I made the mistake of putting the bowl in front of him before I had the camera.
Do you see the monster one back there? Look again...