Friday, July 30, 2010

End of July garden

After a long hot month, we're having a lovely few days.  The cooler temps and lower humidity are so refreshing.  It makes me wish for this weather everyday.  August is usually slightly cooler here in New England, we'll see if that's the case this year.

The corn is looking like it's almost ready to harvest.  I can't wait for the first taste.

The pumpkins are starting to grow into the bushes again.  My neighbors joke that whatever pumpkins grow on their side, they get to keep. 

The garlic bed is now the fall planting area.  This is a red cabbage.

This is from my second planting of cabbage.  The bugs have left them alone for the most part, so they look much prettier.

My broccoli steadfastly refuses to produce a head.  I'm not quite sure why, but not a single plant has produced a thing.  Any help is appreciated.  I suspect it's the heat we're having, but there may be something else to blame.

These are the Legend tomatoes.  They are certainly prolific.  They have produced a large flush of tomatoes on very small plants.  They don't seem to want to grow up, but rather sprawl no matter what I do.  If I grow them next year, it will be in cages.  The other tomatoes love the A frame support, but the Legends don't.

The green beans are giving up, but I'll be leaving them in to see if the cooler weather will prompt them to put on a second flush of fruit.  The tomatoes are really coming into their own now.  We have too many to eat fresh, but not yet enough to can.  I think within the next week or so, I'll be able to get a canner load going.  Boy, do we need a good year for putting up tomatoes. 

Most of the fall garden has been planted.  There will be a few more odds and ends put in in the next week, but it's mostly done.  Now I need to go get the supports for the hoops.  That can wait a while though.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What do you do with the first tomato?

I'm being very selfish.  I'm eating the first tomato all by myself.  I called Hubby and asked if he wanted some, but he didn't want to come down from his workshop.  So it's mine! 

This is the first year that I have major competition for the tomatoes.  Hubby hasn't liked them in the past.  Now he does.  In years past, I've made them into tuna sandwiches.  I've also done greek salads with just tomatoes, cukes, feta and dressing.   Of course, all of this is after slicing off a piece, adding sea salt and slurping it up still warm from the garden.  This year is hummus, cucumber salad, tomatoes with sea salt and pita bread.  I must say, it is absolutely wonderful.  There is another tomato not far behind this one, so I don't have too long to wait.  Yum!

What do you do with the first tomato?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mid July garden

The garden is in full swing now.  Usually I say that about 3 weeks or so from now, but I'm taking the early season and running with it!

The tomatoes are huge.  They needed extra support, so I wrapped jute around the outside of the supports to corral them in.  I'm still loving these A frame supports.

Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?  I'm resisting picking this, as it is still just slightly under ripe.  Probably tomorrow.  It's extra exciting this year.  Hubby used to hate raw tomatoes, but after years of eating them by myself, I'll have someone to share the tomato goodness with.  Next year I have plans for cherry tomatoes since I won't be the only one eating them.

The corn is looking great.  The tassels are making the kids want it even more.  In a few more weeks we'll be eating lots of corn!

The lettuce has gone to seed.  I'm thinking that instead of saving seed this year, I'll just shake the seeds onto the ground.  This is in one of the hoop houses, so when it's ready it should come up on it's own.

Speaking of hoop houses, this is some chard that I just transplanted into one.  There is still lots to plant, but they're starting to take shape.  I'm off to the farm supply for straw today.  That should help to insulate them and reduce weeds as well.  Usually I'm a straw fanatic, but this year I didn't use much.  The last 2 years have been wet and cool and the straw has been more hindrance than help.  It figures that this year, when I don't use any, is the year I needed it the most.  Better late than never.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Harvest Monday July 19th 2010

This post is part of Harvest Mondays at Daphne's Dandelions.  Head on over and check out all the wonderful harvests posted there.

There is lots of harvesting going on here.  I didn't take pictures of all that I harvested, but you will certainly get a good view of what is going on.  The heat continues here in New England with yet another heat wave this past weekend.  So far most things are holding up. 

There have been lots of green beans.  These are Blue Lake bush beans.  They have always been big producers for me.  I have a 4x6 patch planted and am harvesting about 3 quarts of beans every other day. 

Cucumbers are also really coming in these days.  They are mostly being eaten up in salads, but I can foresee pickles in my future.  Peppers are earlier than they ever have been.  I didn't get a picture of all the jalapenos that I've been harvesting as well.  In the picture are bells and Anaheim.

My onion harvest has been less than stellar.  I've never done terribly well with them.  Considering that these have been babied along since January, I'm not impressed.  There are still more to go, but none of any size.  I'm thinking about either potato onions or forgoing them altogether next year.

This is today's harvest.  It seemed much more impressive earlier.  The last of the Pac Choy and Tatsoi were harvested.  They are starting to bolt finally and will be yummy in stir fry and egg rolls this week.  There are a few beets, cabbage, cukes, eggs from my girls, green beans and a few more onions. 

This week will be all about fall planting.  The bed that contained all my early cabbage, Asian greens, onions and lettuce will be completely ripped out.  In their place will go some of the seedlings started on the deck.  I'll also be direct seeding many other things. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Let's start with the good.  The things I like about my garden.  I love these tomato supports.  They're keeping everything healthy and are working out very well.  I'll be putting some twine along the outside to try to keep everything contained.

The tomatoes are producing like mad.  I haven't had any red ones yet, but there are so many on the vine, that I should have a banner year.  No sign of disease either!

This has been my absolute best year for peppers.  Usually they do nothing until late August.  Many years I've had to buy peppers to make salsa.  Not this year!

This is a Rouge Vif dTemps or Cinderella pumpkin.  It's getting bigger by the minute and is being joined by many other pumpkins and winter squash.

The corn is getting very tall and starting to tassle.  I am so excited for my first taste of corn.  This is my first year attempting corn, so far so good.

Now onto the bad.

The weeds are unreal.  This is by far the worst.  This is my strawberry bed.  It was created from the composting of all the waste removed when I expanded the garden a few years ago.  It was covered with a tarp to kill weeds and compost everything  down.  It clearly needed to cook a bit longer.  The rest of the garden is weedy, but this is insane.  I swear I could clear this away today and it would look just like this within 3 days.  There is even a rogue lettuce and pumpkin growing haphazardly in there.  I'm seriously considering forgoing the strawberries and covering the whole mess with the tarp again. 

Then there are the squash vine borers.  I get them every year.  I've tried everything you can think of to combat them.  Some years I get a good crop before they're eaten, some years I don't.  This is one of those years where I won't get much.  The gold rush are holding their own, but not producing much.  The black beauty just got pulled out with not a single squash. 

Overall, it's been a great year.  The unprecedented warmth we've had has been wonderful for many of the plants.  The accompanying drought, not so much.  I've been watering lots, but have been unable to keep up with weeds.  My asthma has made it virtually impossible for me to breath in the 90 + degree heat with humidity in the 70s.  Thankfully, things seem to be struggling through the weeds for the most part.  They got a good head start.  Next year I'll mulch better to keep down the weeds.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Succession planting

This is all relatively new to me.  I'm learning as I go.  In years past I've done some succession planting, but never to the extent I am this year.  Most years I've done second plantings of zucchini, peas and various other things that were direct seeded.  This year I'm taking it to a new level.  Every few weeks I've planted new seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, chard, and several other things. 

This is also in preparation for year round gardening.  I have one hoop over my beds, with plans to add several more.  I hope to have many of my new raised beds fitted with hoops to grow lots of cold weather crops.  Our diet has been slowly changing to eat more seasonally.  There has also been an increase in the number of greens we eat.  This is all a part of my master plan for providing my family with fresh veggies all year long. 

Since I don't have a greenhouse, my back porch has been my nursery.  It's very high tech.  The porch is North facing and relatively protected.  This gives the seedlings plenty of light, without cooking them and burning them.  It also allows them to be planted immediately, without hardening off, when I have the space for them.  I didn't want to spend a lot, so they are sitting in the top of one of those seed starter trays.  Since it's so lightweight, it's weighted down with grill tools.  Yup, we're redneck up here in Mass as well. 

Currently, I have chard, Asian greens, savoy cabbage, kale and lettuce going.  The right hand side was just started on Monday.

We already have sprouts.  I don't cover anything while sprouting, just keep them good and damp in the tray.  It rained last night, so they're nice and wet.  So far, I'm loving how this is working out.  Many things are currently in the garden and thriving, that were started in this manner.  Since the garlic was just pulled, most things are going in it's place.  Lots of yumminess for us!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvest Monday

This is part of Harvest Monday, which is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions.  Go and check out what else is being harvested.

 This is a sampling of what has been coming out of the garden these days.  We have Cascadia sugar snap peas that are being saved for seed, Gold Rush zucchini, Boston Pickling cukes, Detroit dark red beets, jalapenos, Anaheim peppers and Blue lake bush beans.  We've also still been harvesting pac choy and tatsoi. 

Things are really moving along now.  I love this time of year.  The harvests far exceed what we need in any given day.  This means lots of yummy veggies to eat and lots to put up for the winter.  It won't be long before I'm completely overwhelmed by produce and the need to preserve it somehow. 

The big harvest of the week was garlic.

I harvested 44 gorgeous heads of garlic.  Hubby has been going around sniffing the air and sighing with contentment.  The smell is just amazing.  These are all hard neck varieties and I love them, but I'll also be adding some soft necks for next year for their better storage properties.  Between the garlic scape pesto and all these beautiful heads of garlic, it will be a long while before I need to purchase any from the store.  We'll see how long the hard necks store, I'm hoping they hold out for at least 6 months or so.  In the meantime, I'll be keeping an eye out for preservation recipes.