Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garden Bloggers Death Day

It has been a long time times since I've joined in Garden Bloggers Death Day which is hosted by Kate, but it seemed like a good time. Two days ago I had noticed that the groundhog had eaten two of my butternut squash. Well today I noticed that all five of them had been eaten. I guess my squash need to be grown behind a fence next year.

The cucubits seem to be very hard this this year. Above is the squash vine borer damage in my zucchini.

Then my cucumbers are getting some kind of disease. Usually powdery mildew takes them down, but this year it looks like something else will.

And last but not least are my tomatoes. They look healthy there I guess, but you will notice a lot of missing foliage. I cut all the yellowing leaves out. Some disease is turning them yellow and the leaves slowly die. Above are the Chinese tomatoes that all seem very hard hit.

These are the Heinz. Again the tomatoes themselves look great, but the plant is mostly defoliated. I hope they turn before the plant dies horribly. Not all the plants seem affected. Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, and Opalka seem totally unaffected by it. And Gabrielle, Principe Borghese, and Market Miracle see only mildly affected.

I couldn't leave you will just devastation so here is the photo of the first Cherokee Purple tomato. It was delicious.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lunch Time

I seem to be getting stuck in a rut. So far this week for lunch I've had some kind of cucurbit mixed with tomatoes and cheese with freshly made pan bread as side dish. I hope this rut lasts a while as I'm quite fond of it.

Monday I made cucumber salad with cucumbers, onions, and dried dill from the garden. I let it sit for a while in the fridge. Then for Monday and Tuesday lunch, I added some cubed Jarlsburg and cherry tomatoes to it. I used the Principe Borghese tomatoes. Yummy. I gave all the Sungold F3s to Caroline my townhouse mate. She thought they were quite good. I was telling her we kept the really yummy ones for ourselves, but she thought I was crazy. She likes that tangy taste of them this year. I think I can keep her supplied for quite some time. I wonder when she will get sick of them.

Then Wednesday I made a Tomato Zucchini Casserole. I was trying to find Granny's recipe with hamburger, but I couldn't figure out where it was so I just looked up one in Allrecipes. I picked one without hamburger though and as normal for me I didn't follow it too well. Nothing was measured. The onions were minced and not precooked. I used about 1/2c of fresh basil chopped up since it was just sitting there in glasses on my counter. And I wasn't in the mood for breadcrumb toppings so I just grated some more Parmesan for the top and the onions got mixed into the cheese mixture. From the garden: zucchini, paste tomatoes, garlic, onions, basil, dried oregano. I really do love eating the summer bounty.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvest Monday - 26 July 2010

I got back from vacation on Wednesday and my townhouse mates didn't pick anything so the cucumbers were desperate to be picked. Since I had so many they were made into pickles. Yum. The beans were overripe to be picked. Some were eaten as shelling beans as opposed to green beans. And the big news was of course the first tomatoes hiding behind the rest of the bounty. I picked Chocolate Cherry and GabrielleAnn (Sungold F3). I'm finding both varieties a bit sour this year. They don't have the wonderful sweet taste I associate with tomatoes. I just hope they get sweeter with age or I'll be quite unhappy with them. On top is the first tomatillo.

Then a few days later I decided I'd better deal with the basil. I cut it back by about a half. I was really starting to try to bloom and I just have to stop that. Once basil blooms it never quite produces anymore. The big question was what to do with it all. I have enough frozen. I dried a bit more. Then I put it out on the internet to my friends that I had tons of basil to give away. No takes. Ah well. Right now a lot of it is still in glasses of water on the counter.

Then it was time to deal with the chard. In the photo it doesn't look like much, but that is quite a few meals for me. I think I'll probably freeze it for the winter. I want to freeze about twenty servings and so far I just have four.

More tomatoes have started to ripen. At the top are the weird looking ones. These are Romeo Roma. So far they have been getting blossom end rot as you can see by one that was picked. I don't think I'll grow this variety again. It has very sparse foliage and any tomato that is susceptible to BER in even a high pH soil is not something I should be growing. At the bottom I have a couple of Heinz. This is my early determinate paste tomato. I can't wait for enough tomatoes to get in to make salsa and tomato sauce. I wonder if I have the pots to pull off a sauce taste test for each variety. Also to be picked is Principe Borghese which look like red cherries. It is a tomato that is traditionally sun dried. Some reviews I read said it wasn't good for fresh eating because it was too dry and the flavor wasn't right. Well I heartily disagree. These tomatoes taste sublime. They have a very intense and complex tomato flavor that you don't often get from cherries. They taste more like a real tomato. I keep wondering if the seed I have is not the same as other Principe Borghese seeds. Whatever they are, I'll save seed and grow them again next year.

And my first zuke in a while. The cucumber was missed in the first picking of cukes earlier. How can I miss a cucumber that big?

  • Beans 0.83 lbs
  • Cucurbits 7.28 lbs
  • Greens 1.63 lbs
  • Herbs 1.35 lbs
  • Tomatillo 0.12 lbs
  • Tomato 1.63 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 12.83 lbs
  • Total for the year 52.36 lbs
  • 2010 Tally -$59.75

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Home Again

I got home from vacation late Wednesday. Did I take my luggage inside? No. I went right to look at my tomatoes. Caroline came out to say hi while I was looking. She hadn't harvested any. She said they weren't ripe yet. Well actually there were some that were ripe. They just weren't red tomatoes. I had some chocolate cherry and some GabrielleAnn, which is orange. So it looked like they weren't quite ripe to an untrained eye, but they were.

A couple of others were starting to get close but weren't quite there yet.

Principe Borghese



Romeo surprised me. I had the impression that they got a lot bigger than they are now and that they would be later, but nope. It looks like the first one will come in before the Heinz which is an early determinant.

The tomato plants grew huge too. I cut a lot of branches off to keep them under control. I tried to keep the gates open for my neighbors to walk through. The cherry tomatoes in the above photo have topped the fence. I'm not sure how tall the fence is, but I'm guessing 6' which is way above the tops of their cages.

Then came the bad news. I've been checking the UMass Extension Service regularly for news to see if late blight is showing up again (in a normal year it hits in September). They found it in Hadley, Mass on a farm. I'm guessing it is only a matter of time now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Harvest Monday - 19 July 2010

I left on vacation on Wednesday morning and am still there. I am probably internet disabled though there is a chance that we have access to a computer. I scheduled this post so you could all still have fun with Harvest Monday without me.

However I do have a small harvest from earlier in the week. The beans and cukes need picking about every two days. Luckily my townhouse mates seem happy to have the chore of harvesting the produce, but I didn't make them weigh it all this time. So no additional weights will be added in from them.

I had the last harvest from the old house. I harvested mostly dill to freeze. My new house has no dill growing right now so if I want more pickles this summer - and I do - then I needed to stock up. This does not even touch the dill that I had at the old house. This was just a little bit of it. It probably weighed over a pound as shown above, but I processed it before weighing. I wanted to have both dill heads and dill leaves for my future pickles so made two containers of each of those.

And then froze them after scattering them on the cookie sheet. I also harvested one cuke and some beans while I was at the old house.

The old house and its garden is now just a memory. I signed the papers to sell it on Tuesday. I thought it would be hard leaving, but right now I don't think so. I know I'll have a wonderful and bigger garden here. So things will be fine. I'll miss having a place for all the fall crops but it isn't a real issue. I can have patience for another year.

The small bit of the new garden that is up is filled with summer veggies. And I picked some beans and cucumbers before leaving. I blanched the beans and froze them and put the cukes in the refrigerator pickle jar.

  • Beans 0-.89 lbs
  • Cucumbers 0.56 lbs
  • Herbs 0.23 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 1.69 lbs
  • Total for the year 39.53 lbs
  • 2010 Tally -$104.66

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Well our house is sold. The old garden is just a memory now. I thought I'd share the last photos with you.

Bean bed

What is lurking underneath

Tomato bed

The first Cherokee tomatoes were very normally shaped even with the megablooms I had, but these newer ones that set in the high heat look pretty funky.

Early Kus Ali

Squash bed


Does anyone remember the sunflowers from last year? I collected seed from Lemon Queen (6' tall), but I was also growing Music Box(18" tall). Well the sunflowers grew 6' tall again. But some of them have a faded version of the orange inner rings of Music Box. So they cross pollinated. And now I know the height gene is dominant since they are all tall. If only I could save the seed from these. It would be so much fun to see what would come from the F2s.

I'm leaving today to visit family for a week. I'll be sitting in the shade at the family house on Lake of the Ozarks. I'm leaving the tomatoes at the new house full of promise. So many tomatoes are on those vines but not a one has ripened yet. I wonder if I'll be the first to pick them when I get home, or if my townhouse mates will have picked the first ones while I'm gone. They seemed quite happy to be taking care of the garden for a week. Well they seemed to be happy to have the harvests for a week at least. I have no clue if they were thrilled about the actual watering chore I gave them.

I may not have access to the internet down at the lake. If not, everyone have a good week without me, but never fear I'll schedule the Monday Harvest post before I leave.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Daphne's Dill Pickles

I'm the only one in my family that really loves pickles, but how I love my pickles. My favorite kind is sweet, hot, and spicy. Oh and I love dill too. So I make my dills with sugar and hot peppers and tons of spices. I've never done fermented pickles so I always do quick pack ones. They do require that you brine the cukes first.

I made a water bath with lots of salt (about a quarter cup per quart of water). I chop the flower ends off the cukes (which have an enzyme that can make your cukes soft) and leave the stem end (which supposedly helps keep them crisp). Then I top the bowl with ice and let it sit there for four hours to brine. I'll add more ice as it melts and sprinkle salt over the top so as not to dilute the brine While it is brining I wash the pint jars in the dishwasher to sterilize them. Usually people do quarts for canning pickles, but I don't have any. Pints really only hold four cucumbers. Quarts would hold more and be more reasonable. Someday I'll get some quart jars, but then I'd need to also get another canner as mine can't take quarts. It is too small.

Timing is always an issue with canning. You want all your things ready at the same time. You need the canning water boiling. You need the pickle juice boiling. You need your lids sterilized and hot. You need your cukes brined and all the spices to add to the jar need to be ready. I almost had it but the canning water took a bit long to boil. Ah well. I waited until it was before putting it all in jars.

I made enough pickle juice for seven pints which is the maximum my canner will take. I was sure I didn't need that much, but left over juice is great as I just use it to make refrigerator pickles. It is the exact same recipe, but I don't brine the cukes and don't can them. I just toss the spices and pickle juice in a large glass jar and stick it in the fridge. As I pick a cucumber or two I toss them into the jar. They easily keep a couple of months in the fridge like this and it is a lot less work than canning. It is also a great way to use up just one or two cukes. Canning requires quantity.

Pickle juice for seven pints:

  • 5c vinegar
  • 3 3/4c water
  • 1/4c + T canning salt
  • 1c sugar

Spices to put into each pint jar:

  • a couple slices of onion
  • clove garlic cut in half
  • slice of fresh ginger
  • hot pepper sliced in rings
  • dill head
  • T chopped dill leaves
  • T dill seed
  • 6 whole mustard seeds
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 whole allspice
  • small piece of cinnamon bark
  • crumbled bay leaf
  • 2 pepper corns
  • 4 coriander

I added all the spices to each jar then packed in four brined cucumbers. The boiling pickle juice was poured over the cukes to about 1/4" of the top. Then into the boiling water bath it went for 10 minutes (if you are using pints and are at sea level, quarts require 15).

All the jars sealed well. I'll be using them in the winter. Refrigerator pickles are so much easier to make and just fine for the summer and fall months. And since I only made five jars I had plenty of brine and spices to put in the fridge for upcoming cukes. I do warn you though. These pickles are pretty spicey after they have been sitting for six months. The refrigerator version doesn't pick up the spices quite as heavily.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvest Monday - 12 July 2010

What a fabulous harvest week. The last of the spring vegetables were picked and pulled up. Namely the peas with a few turnips thrown in. These are not anywhere close to all the peas that were picked but the others were camera shy. I've sent a couple of containers like the above over to my townhouse mates as there is no way for me to eat them all.

While I was cleaning out the spent spring veggies at the old house I noticed that the summer veggies were starting to come in. There were two slightly overgrown zucchini. They are still a good size, but I usually pick them smaller. Lots of cucumbers had come in too. The beans were also camera shy in this one. I seem to have left a lot of photos out, but no matter as I have too many anyway. It was a good week for harvests.

Not to be outdone the new garden decided to start producing the summer veggies too. There is a lot of overlap between the two gardens as I hadn't a clue as to when the house would sell. Right now it looks like the closing will be moved up to tomorrow so today will be the last day for me to get things cleaned up and harvested. The cukes above were all turned into pickles and canned.

Since I was making pickles I harvested a lot of dill and some little onions too. I don't have any dill at the new house. I tried to put it in between the beans and the cucumbers. It came up and got to about three inches before it died. I think it couldn't compete well enough for water with the larger plants and it has been very dry for a couple of weeks.

The old garden has a patch of butternuts that are growing like crazy. I picked eight blossoms but didn't even come close to getting them all. The foliage is very thick but underneath is just covered in orange blooms. Mostly they are male but there were a couple of females and one little butternut I saw that had already set. I know I can't harvest it, but I still get a thrill seeing them.

Earlier in the week the new garden gave me chard and tons of basil. I have all the basil I need for the freezer. What am I going to do with the rest? It just keeps growing this year.

  • Alliums 0.78 lbs
  • Beans 0.39 lbs
  • Cucurbits 4.76 lbs
  • Greens 1.27 lbs
  • Herbs 1.08
  • Peas 2.36
  • Pepper 0.05
  • Turnip 0.11
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 10.96 lbs
  • Total for the year 37.84 lbs
  • 2010 Tally -$111.23

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, July 9, 2010


As soon as I got up this morning I decided it was time for the garlic to come out at the old house. The closing for the house has been moved up to July 13th (Tuesday!) so I needed to get it out if I wanted to keep it. I was going to do this on Sunday, but the forecast right now says heavy downpours on Sunday morning. That is not a good forecast for garlic harvesting. I want the garlic heads to stay dry.

So at 6:30am I was in the car and ready to work. After pulling out the garlic I started on other chores that needed doing. I pulled out all the peas and took the trellis down. I so wish I could keep my bean trellis, but the only way to take it would be to take down my beans and the new owners want the garden. So it stays. The trellis is made of 7' bamboo. I bought the bamboo from Mahonies, but now they don't have any that tall. I loved the height. After sinking a foot in the ground it is still 6' tall. All the other poles seem so short in comparison.

I also removed the row cover from the brassicas. I'll pull most of them out before the new owners take over. It will be all ready for fall crops to be put in. I tied up the tomatoes again and harvested some beans. I also harvested a cucumber and lots of dill and some onion to make pickles. I have quite a few cukes from my new garden. Right now they are brining for quick pack pickles which I'll make this afternoon.

When I got home I put the garlic right outside the front door to dry. I'll have to get it tied up and hanging in the bike shed for the weekend. This little area will be wet when it starts to rain. Maybe I can get it done before the pickles are started.

I grew three types of garlic. On the very far left in the above photo is Bogatyr. It was put on warning this year. If it didn't size up, I was going to drop it. The cloves this year were even tinier than last year. So it is out. I do love my other two types. In the middle is German Extra Hardy. To the right is an unknown soft neck garlic bought from the supermarket a couple of years ago. I bought it originally and it was a soft neck. Last year it sent up scapes so was a hard neck. I think it was probably stressed out about something. This year it is again a soft neck, but two of them sent up internal scapes that never got high enough to break out of the leaf area and the bulbils swelled up inside the stem. The bulbs from those two didn't get very large. But that type did make the biggest of all the bulbs.

Unknown soft neck

I think they are bigger than last year. But I won't know for sure until they are all dried and trimmed up. I may not know what it is but it is a keeper for me. Someday I'll have to name it. And don't expect to see this garlic on Harvest Monday. I won't put it in the tally until it is dry, cleaned up, and trimmed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


This has been an amazing year for basil for me. Last year I could barely get it to grow with all the cold weather and most of it died not long into the year. The basil at my old garden is still struggling, but the basil here at the new house is growing like crazy. The birds tried to kill it earlier, but all they succeeded in doing is making it bushier.

Today I noticed that it would be blooming in a day or two if I didn't do something about it. I try never to let it bloom unless I'm collecting seed. So I pinched back all the tips. Now the poor plants are half the height they used to be, but I'm sure they will make up for it in the next couple of weeks.

I was left with about 10oz of basil. Yum. Most of it I washed up and pureed with some oil and put it in the freezer for the winter. A few bits I put into some water and put them on the windowsill. They were my lunch for today along with some left over garlic bread and some pink tomato from the farmers market.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Harvest Monday - 5 July 2010

I've been off camping over the holidays. I'll be home today. I'm sure it was great fun. But I'm wrote this on Thursday for all of you.

Before I left I harvested a lot of peas (not all shown). The snowpeas are ripening very quickly. If I pick everyday it is good, but I don't. I'm sure when I get back a lot will have to be tossed. The snap peas are mercifully slower for me as I can't get out to the old house often enough. The raspberries are mostly picked out before I get there, but occasionally I get a little harvest.

I'm shocked that the Yakatta-Na (above right) has held up through all the heat. Most of the other Asian greens bolted weeks ago. These held for three weeks once they seemed full grown. Maybe they would have held more, but I've been picking one once a week for the last month and it seemed a good idea to get that last one picked. The taste has held up well too. It does get more mustardy as time goes on, but never unpleasant.

I found two more cukes hiding in the foliage. I decided since I was taking off for a camping trip I'd toss them into the pickling brine in the fridge (I always have some). As I was slicing I ate one of the spears and oh it was so sweet. Yum.

As I was picking the chard under the row cover at the old house, I discovered more turnips that were ready. I was sure no more could possibly be there in the heat, bu there they were. If only I had lettuce to eat them with. My lettuce has all bolted. I had none this last week. I've been trying to stretch out what I got from the week before. It is almost gone. Soon it will be cucumber salads for me, which I just adore, but I'll miss that lettuce. I might have to add it to my shopping list at the farmers market.

  • Peas 1.18 lbs
  • Berries 0.18 lbs
  • Broccoli 0.1 lbs
  • Turnips 0.09 lbs
  • Cucumbers 0.75 lbs
  • Greens 0.94 lbs
  • Spent this week: $0
  • Total harvested this week 3.23 lbs
  • Total for the year 26.87 lbs
  • 2010 Tally -$160.67

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Tomatoes

Granny was showing you hers earlier this week, so I figured I'd show you mine too. I like to keep records of how well the plants are doing each year if I'm trialing any. This year I'm trialing lots of new tomatoes. I'll break them up into sets of three since it seems most appropriate and it is easy to take photos of a group of three tomatoes.

The first set are my cherry tomatoes. From left to right: Chocolate Cherry,GabrielleAnn (Sungold F3), and EmmaAnn (Sungold F3). The outer two are doing quite well and are very vigorous. They have hit the top of their cages. I'm thinking I need the 18" extenders for them. Any taller than that I won't be able to pick, but 6' would be nice. Maybe I'll break down and buy them.

Fruit from EmmaAnn

Gabrielle is only 3 1/2' tall and has not set any fruit yet. For a Sungold descendant this is weird. She has also been sick. I've cut off numerous unhealthy leaves from the bottom of the plant. I'm wondering if I should cut my losses and just pull her and let the other two grow into her space as they already have started to. It may look like she is tall as the others, but those are their branches in her cage.

Black Cherry is 4 1/2' and has set one cluster of fruit. It doesn't have a ton of flowers, but it has some. EmmaAnn should be the clear winner in productivity. She was the first to set a cluster of flowers in the group (second out of all the tomatoes) and she already has 7 sprays that have already set fruit.

The next set of tomatoes has from left to right: Heinz 2653, Cherokee Purple, and San Marzano.

Many of the tomatoes I'm growing are canning types or paste tomatoes. Heinz, above, is an early paste type. It is one of the few determinates in the garden and the short at just 2 1/2" tall. Each of its sprays of flowers only has about 3-6 blossoms (you see three in the above photo), but they cover the plant. About six have set already and many more to come.

Cherokee Purple is 3'2" tall. In this set it is the one that is not a paste tomato. Like Heinz it has small sprays of flowers, but there aren't all that many. Two have set and it seems that just one tomato in each spray survived. Since the tomatoes get huge I'm not too surprised by this.

The last in the group is San Marzano at 3' tall. It has set one spray so far. I'm thinking this may not be the most productive of the paste tomatoes.

The next set are all three paste tomatoes: Opalka, Amish Paste, and Romeo. Opalka at 2 1/2' is pretty short and is just starting to set its first spray now. Amish Paste, at 3 1/2', is also just starting to set its first spray. It is very strange. Most tomatoes have blooms on the lower part of the plant that set first. This one has no lower blooms at all. The blooms are all at the top of the plant right now at about 2 1/2 to 3' in height.

Romeo, at 3', is just different. Though it is 3' tall, it is not very thick like the others. It has side shoots that are big like the others, but they really want to grow along the ground and not up. I have to really force them to get them to grow upright. The foliage is thin. It set one cluster of fruit (above). Right now the fruit is about 1 1/2" long, but they are supposed to get just huge. We will see.

The next group of tomatoes are my Chinese heirlooms, Early Kus Ali (can anyone translate?), Hong Yuen (Red Pill in English), and Peiping Chieh (Beijing Tomato in English). All of these are supposed to make beautifully uniform 2-3" fruit with Kus Ali have the largest and Hong Yuen having the smallest. They are all said to make great canning tomatoes because of their uniformity. They are also supposed to be very productive and good eating tomatoes too. I like the idea of tomatoes that are good for more than one thing, but we will see. Sometimes that means they aren't as good for any one thing. They all seem to be vigorous growers. The tallest is on the left at 4 1/2' going down to Early Kus Ali which is 3'10".

Early Kus Ali

The first two each have four clusters set or setting and the last only has one. So far so good.

The last group is a group of two. They are in the higher wall section. Both are vigorous determinates. On the right is my beloved Market Miracle. It has set five clusters already. I know from growing it before that it sets about 3-4 tomatoes in each cluster. The tomatoes will get to be about 8oz each and are good slicing tomatoes.

Principe Borghese is on the left and has huge sprays of fruit. It is known as the tomato to grow if you are making sun dried tomatoes. I don't know if this is the way I'll eat them or not. I might try making sauce from them. They start very dry and meaty so we will see. Their sprays are long and prolific. The plant is just covered in them. Some of the sprays branch out into two like the above photos shows. Already seven clusters have set fruit (maybe more it is hard to count). They were the first of all the tomatoes to set. I'm thinking the fruit will be small as it reminds me more of a cherry tomato by its flowers than a big tomato. This tomato has the same disease that GabrielleAnn has. It doesn't seem quite as affected however. I've cut off any diseased leaves and I hope that will keep it growing well.

I find the mix of plants I'm growing is quite varied. I have 3 Chinese heirlooms, a Polish heirloom, a Siberian heirloom, a Wisconsin Amish heirloom, a native American heirloom, 2 Italian heirlooms, a modern commercial OP tomato developed by Heinz, a modern paste developed by Tim Peters, two cherries F3 cherries that I'm growing out from modern hybrid seed, and I'm not sure where Chocolate Cherry comes from. Anyone know? The only thing I'm not growing this year are hybrids. I find I like to save seed to much to grow them. But if Emma Doesn't produce, I'll have to switch back to Sungold. I love my Sungolds.