August 31, 2009: Garden Blogger's Death Day

OK, here's the bad. Please scroll down to today's previous post for the good.

The destruction of the squash/pumpkin bed has begun. Although everything was still bearing, I could no longer look at the powdery mildew. By tomorrow, the squash patch will be no more.

Can you see that little dead twig in the barrel? That was one of the new blueberry bushes I bought from Wal*Mart. (Note to self: do not buy plants at Wal-mart). I fear the second bush has also expired, but I can't see it. It has been consumed by a monster nasturtium.

Eight of my 12 determinate tomatoes expired this month. It began like this....

Then progressed to this....

And ended up like this.

Four of the eight plants were in self watering buckets. After pulling the top section out of the watering bucket, I can see why they have grown sickly. Just look at that tangle of roots that were filling the reservoir.

And see how root bound they had become in just 2-1/2 months.

Those that were grown in non-self-watering buckets of the same size fared much better. The one on the right is nearly roof high.

As are both of these.

And, finally, the real heart breaker. I watched and checked these melons daily. They never did slip from the vine, so I assumed they were not yet ripe. Overnight, this is what happened. I have since learned to smell the bottom of the melon and watch for a very slight color change. Even then, the last two I picked were nearly too ripe.

August 31, 2009: Monday Harvest

Each week Daphne's Dandelions hosts
Monday Harvest. Be sure to visit her blog to see who is harvesting what this week!


8/24 - 40 oz. melon, 48 oz. tomatoes, 7 oz. pole beans, 10 oz. cucumbers, 3 oz. jalapenos, 14 oz. strawberries, 13 oz. zucchini.

8/25 - 8 oz. tomatoes, 25 oz. bell peppers, 11 oz. jalapenos, 11 oz. cucumbers, 42 oz. crookneck.

8/26 - 22 oz. crookneck, 21 oz. tomatoes, 22 oz. cucumbers (no photo).

8/27 - 22 oz. bell peppers, 15 oz. tomatoes (no photo).

8/28 - 18 oz. strawberries, 28 oz. pole beans, 129 oz. cucumbers, 31 oz. crookneck, 7 oz. peppers, 152 oz. tomatoes, 12 oz. zucchini, 120 oz. beets.

8/30 - 25 oz. tomatoes, 346 oz. butternut, 17 oz. crookneck, 60 oz. cucumbers, 288 oz. pumpkins. The bottom photo has all nine butternut squash harvested today, minus the one my son took home for his dinner.

Total for week: 98 pounds

Total for year: 679 pounds


Preserving the Week's Harvest

8/24 - Seven half-pints of sweet relish, three pints of tomato juice and a loaf of zucchini bread

8/28 - Nine half-pints of strawberry jam, four half-pints of dill relish (I lacked about a tablespoon of having enough for five jars, so that went into the fridge), and four pints of pickled beets. *I left the canner on the stove that night. In the morning, I started to dump out the water and there was another jar of relish! It would be terribly over processed, so I doubt it is any good. It is sealed though, so we'll give it a taste test.

8/30 - Eight pints of Annie's Salsa, 5 pints of pickles, and a 16 ounce bottle of tomato juice (refrigerated, not canned) from the cherry tomatoes.

August 28, 2009: Mr. H is a Butt-Head!

*Second post today, scroll down for the first one.

I forgot to mention earlier that Mr. H is a butt-head. Remember the lovely butternut squash that I baked this week? Well, I made a "pumpkin" pie from the leftover squash. It was a lovely, delicious pie. Even better, I thought, than the ones I made with the pumpkin. Mr. H took one slice and won't eat any more. He says it tastes like squash. It doesn't......if he didn't KNOW it was squash, he wouldn't have known the difference. I had a couple of slices, and I gave half a pie to my neighbor, Pat. She said it tasted just like pumpkin pie to her. Mr. H will be real lucky if he gets another pumpkin pie from my kitchen anytime soon.

August 28, 2009: Vacation's Over

My little vacation is over, it looks like the garden is going into high gear again. It's supposed to cool down into the 80s later this week, so I'm looking forward to doing some garden cleanup. I already pulled a few of the monster marigolds that were blocking the pathway again, and pulled out the last two of the four diseased tomato plants. A bit of cleanup on that bed, a little compost dug into it, and it should make a nice spot for sowing some lettuce and spinach. I might even try some radishes. Maybe they will grow better for me in the fall than they did in the spring.

I've been waiting until Monday to blog about my week's harvest, but I'm going to talk about what I picked today, as it led to a day of canning.

Tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries are really beginning to get their second wind. Not that the cucumbers ever stopped for even a second! I found three huge cucumbers that had previously hidden from me, and I was afraid they would have to be composted. I'm not a cucumber lover, I won't even eat them unless they're pickled, but I made myself taste one of the large ones and I was pleasantly surprised! It as so sweet, with no trace of bitterness, that I might actually develop a like (not a love) for them. All three of these monsters were sweet and crisp, perfect for pickle relish. After removing the seeds from just two of them, I had enough chopped cucumber for a whole batch of dill relish. That the large cukes tasted so good is reason to grow these again next year. The variety is Spacemaster, and I have them growing in waste basket sized containers (they are actually dollar store plastic waste baskets), two plants to each of three containers. They have given me more than 75 pounds of cucumbers this year, and are still blooming like mad. I have no idea what I'll do with the rest of the cucumbers. I have already made more pickles than we can eat in a year, and given several jars to my kids. I really don't need any more relish....I think I have a lifetime supply by now! I think I might just put them out by the street with a "free" sign!

There were quite a few strawberries today. I froze the last picking to save for making jam, and today's harvest gave me enough to do just that.

My son has been begging for green beans and crookneck squash, so I know where these will go.

I picked quite a few bell peppers, but a few of them found their way to my neighbor's before they were weighed or photographed. Most of them were real small and had some sun scald.

I hope I picked enough tomatoes for another batch of Annie's Salsa, as we are eating it as fast as I can make it! I still don't have any hot jalapenos, so will have to go to the store to buy some tomorrow.

But I do have beets!

And more beets!

These were planted on June 28, and they are much nicer than the spring beets. They are larger, and the greens are in perfect condition, not bothered by leaf miners like the spring beets. I pulled twenty-four of them for pickled beets, and gave the greens to my neighbor.

Two dozen beets, cooked and peeled.

A day's work took care of some of the harvest. Nine jars of strawberry jam, four jars of dill relish (I lacked about a tablespoon of having enough for five jars, so that went into the fridge), and four pints of pickled beets.

Tomorrow I'll make salsa, and probably....more pickles.

August 27, 2009: I Get Around!

An evening at the Benton - Franklin County Fair......

With the scents wafting from Old McDonald's Barn

And its inhabitants

Mingling with the aromas of the food court.

All those foods that we normally deem too unhealthy for everyday eating are tempting me. The curly fries in their sizzling, oily splendor. The nachos, oozing cheese and sour cream.

Daughter, Amy, opts for an ear of corn on a stick,
dipped in butter and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

I, on the other hand, prefer to consume mega calories with a funnel cake,
dusted with cinnamon sugar.

Kevin and Alicia head for the midway,

Where they will spend an evening on the carnival rides.

Amy and I head for the main stage, to rock out with The Beach Boys.

I Get Around!


August 25, 2009: Beautiful, Beautiful Butternut!

Monday was another canning day. I didn't have a lot of tomatoes, not enough for the salsa I really wanted to make, but something had to be done with what I had before they spoiled. I decided to make Mr. H some good home made tomato juice to put in his beer. I also had a bunch of cucumbers and peppers, so I made another batch of sweet relish. I think I now have a lifetime supply!

Seven more jars of sweet relish, three pints of tomato juice and a loaf of zucchini bread and I'm almost caught up with the garden produce again! The strawberries got mashed and added to the special 4-cup container in the freezer. When that's full, it will be exactly the amount I need for another batch of that delicious strawberry jam.

We won't discuss the zucchini bread. OK, we will discuss the zucchini bread. It was my first loaf of the year, and I wanted to make it especially for my youngest son. Scott is diabetic, so I Googled for recipes using Splenda, and came up with two that sounded good. The one from Splenda called for unsweetened applesauce, and I was out, so I chose the other recipe. Bad choice. That loaf is so heavy, one needs a forklift to pick it up. I tried a slice, and it was so dry I choked on it. I sliced off another piece and put it in the toaster. When it popped up, I tried to lift it out of the slot with the tongs, but it just broke into pieces. I ended up tipping the toaster upside down and shaking the zucchini bread pieces onto the counter, where I slapped some butter on them and lapped them up like a dog. It didn't taste too bad that way.

On to today. It was time for the moment of truth. Was the butternut squash, that was so callously taken from the garden last Saturday, ready to eat?

It was a good sign that I had to get out the special equipment to cut the squash in half. When butternut squash are ripe, they are very firm.

Ahhh, a beautiful deep gold color. It's a winner!

I scooped out the seeds, then placed the halves, cut side down, in the roasting pan.

I poured about an inch of hot water around them......

Then covered the pan with foil.

I popped on the lid, and baked it in a 350 degree oven for an hour. It was a very large squash!

When it was done, I cut off the ends and set them aside for another use. I put the hollowed out pieces in a baking dish.....

Then filled the cavities with brown sugar and a big pat of butter. I returned them to the oven for about ten minutes, to melt the butter and sugar. If I'd have had more time, I would have basted the tops of the squash with some of the butter/sugar mixture and left them in the oven to brown a bit. But dinner was running late, so I skipped that step.

After taking them from the oven, I loosened the squash up with a fork, lightly mixing it in with the butter and sugar. Mr. H likes a bit more brown sugar sprinkled on his at this point, but there is plenty in the squash cavity for me.

The rest of the squash was spooned out of the skin and pureed in the food processor. It was lovely and smooth and thick.

So thick the spatula stands alone! This is the perfect amount for a "pumpkin" pie tomorrow!

Tuesday's Garden Dinner

Salad of Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Shallots (tomatoes, cucumbers & shallots)
Ranch Dressing
Pan Fried Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions and Peppers (red bell peppers)
Baked Butternut Squash (butternut squash)
Green Beans (pole beans)