August 29, 2011 - Harvest Monday

8/23 - 15 oz. pole beans, 8 oz. cucumbers, 21 oz. summer squash & zucchini, 11 oz. strawberries, 42 ounces tomatoes.

8/24 - 47 oz. tomatoes.

8/25 - 15 oz. pole beans, 17 oz. cucumbers, 14 oz. strawberries.

8/25 - 194 oz. tomatoes.

8/26 - 12 oz. green peppers.

8/26 -13 oz. pole beans, 8 oz. cucumbers, 26 oz. summer squash, 27 oz. tomatoes.

8/27 - 27 oz. tomatoes (no photo)

8/28 - 13 oz. lettuce, 60 oz, summer squash, 72 oz. butternut squash, 94 oz. tomatoes.

Harvest Totals August 22-28

Beans, pole - 2.69 pounds
Cucumbers - 2.06 pounds
Lettuce - 13 oz.
Peppers, sweet - 12 oz.
Squash, summer - 6.69 lb.
Squash, winter - 4.50 lb.
Strawberries - 1.56 pounds
Tomatoes - 26.94 pounds

Total harvest for the week: - 46 pounds
Total harvest for the year to date: - 350.25 pounds pounds
There should have been more. I didn't get everything picked on Sunday, so there are still strawberries and pole beans that should have been harvested.

Please join in the Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions!


Too much of a Good Thing

The pattypan squash plant grew....and grew, and grew. It grew over the fence and into the tomatoes. It grew into the raised bed and smothered the spinach. It grew over the butternut squash plants and almost killed them.

It grows no more. The pattypans were good, but the butternuts are better. I had to make a choice, and the winter squash won. This is just one vine! Yes, one plant. It would be nice if I had an acreage, but it was too much for my small space. When it had been removed, I discovered two ripe butternut squash that had been completely hidden by this foliage.

Now the butternuts have room to grow.

August 28, 2011 - Tomato Mania!

I took time out from setting up the new laptop to attend a tomato tasting at our nearby Mac's Nursery this afternoon.

We were given a pen and a sheet of paper that named the 77 varieties that were set out for tasting.

I started at the first long table, with romas and cherry tomatoes at the start. About half way down the full sized tomatoes began. I first tasted them without salt, but it didn't take long before I opened one of the provided salt packets.

By the time I got to table two I was getting rather tired of tasting. Even with a small sample of each, 77 little bites soon add up to lots of tomato consumed!

The tomatoes were nicely displayed. and well protected from any flies or insects that might want a taste.

Salt packets, toothpicks and hand sanitizers were provided.

All the varieties were grown on one farm, and will be for sale as plants next spring.

Click to enlarge the photo of the varieties that were available. Would you believe, that from all these heirlooms and hybrids, I picked two hybrids as my favorites? Celebrity and Super fantastic were my winners.

August 28, 2011 - I Might Be MIA

Bought myself a new laptop this morning. I might be MIA while I transfer files, install programs and learn Windows 7!

August 27, 2011 - Sunflowers

I wondered how tall my sunflowers were going to get before they blossomed. Judging by the fence, which is 6' high, I'd say the tallest is about 13'.

August 26, 2011 - Doing the Can Can

I got the two containers of tomatoes preserved today, but not exactly the way I had planned. I wanted to can them all as "diced tomatoes". It's a very time consuming process that involves scalding, peeling, coring, removing seeds and gel, then dicing the tomatoes. I had a large pot full ready to heat to boiling, but my boiling water bath was still just at a simmer. I am still getting used to this new ceramic cook top, and I was expecting the pot to boil much quicker than it did. By the time it finally began bubbling, the diced tomatoes had cooked to mush! So....instead of seven pints of diced tomatoes, I spooned the mixture into four jars and processed them as crushed tomatoes. I quartered the other container of raw tomatoes into the leftover juice and crushed tomatoes, added some fresh bell peppers, onions, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar, then boiled it down until it had thickened. I filled four containers with a total of eleven cups of the seasoned tomato sauce. It's cooling, and will be frozen then removed from the plastic containers and sealed in vacuum bags for the freezer. So ends my first day of canning in 2011, as meager as it was.

August 26, 2011 - One Jar at a Time

With the slow garden production this year, canning and preserving has been "one jar at a time"

Tomatoes were put into bags in the freezer until I had enough to preserve. Three one-gallon bags cooked down to three pints of sauce and two pints of ketchup. The red ketchup tastes really good, and I thought the yellow ketchup would be good as well, but it has an off taste. I'll probably try to make it into a barbecue sauce for chicken or pork. There has been only one lonely jar of dill pickles for the refrigerator.


See what I picked yesterday! All in one picking! I might get to, like, actually can a few jars!

August 23, 2011 - This Place is Going to the Dogs!

Granddogs Lola and Kobe came for a visit this morning. Lola has never been here, and they live in an apartment so she's not familiar with that green stuff we call grass.

August 22, 2011 - Harvest Monday

8/15 - 2 oz. pole beans, 14 oz. carrots, 6 oz. cucumbers, 18 oz. tomatoes and 7 oz. strawberries (not shown).

8/16 - 8 oz. strawberries, 15 oz. zucchini, 7 oz. tomatoes.

8/17 - 10 oz. bush beans, 8 oz. pole beans, 10 oz. carrots, 3 oz. onions, 52 oz. tomatoes.

8/18 - 4 oz.pole beans, 3 oz. strawberries, 41 oz. tomatoes.

8/19 - 11 oz. pattypan squash.

8/20 - 15 oz. bush beans, 16 oz. pole beans, 6 oz. beets, 13 oz. carrots, 19 oz. cucumbers, 43 oz. tomatoes, 8 oz. strawberries (not shown).

8/20 - 19 oz. pattypan squash.

8/21 - 4 oz. pole beans, 3 oz. cucumbers, 7 oz. pattypan squash, 80 oz. tomatoes.

Harvest Totals August 15-21

Beans, bush - 1.56 pounds
Beans, pole - 2.13 pounds
Beets - 6 ounces
Carrots - 2.31 pounds
Cucumbers - 1.75 pounds
Onions - 3 ounces
Strawberries - 1.63 pounds
Summer squash - 3.25 pounds
Tomatoes - 15.06 pounds

Total harvest for the week: - 28.25 pounds
Total harvest for the year to date: - 304.25 pounds pounds

In 2010 my harvest for the week was 116.7 pounds, and my total for the year was at 516 pounds. 2011 is running way behind in crops harvested

Please join in the Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions!

August 20, 2011 - The August Garden, Part 3

The West, Shed and Patio Gardens

I let the Four O' Clocks volunteer around the patio this spring. I like them, and they certainly are low care and will self-seed for flowers each year. The old thyme plant was trimmed drastically this spring, but it survived. It's getting really woody, so probably will need to be replaced in the next year or so. Sweet alyssum is also a volunteer. Volunteer is good, as long as they aren't weeds.

This is one tomato plant. Not only does this Matt's Wild Cherry span across 10' of the patio and grow right up into the roof, it has been trimmed back multiple times! It was trying to come right into the house through the patio door. It is all vine, with few tomatoes. It does, however provide shade and privacy! It looks like two different plants, but if you enlarge the picture, you can see it grows up the center of the left patio opening, then I've fastened clothesline and wound the vines horizontally across the middle of the right opening where it has gone completely wild.

Another view of the MWC. It's growing from that bucket on the left. The plant on the right corner is Sunsugar. It's proving to be tasty and sweet, but I don't think quite as sweet as Sungold, but close enough that either is preferable to none at all. I eat all of them myself, they are that good. Maybe someday I'll be nice and share, but not yet. The Sunsugar is also very tall, so I have begun to train it around the corner and along the patio railing. Otherwise I'd have to use a ladder to pick the tomatoes.

The shed garden is becoming a jungle, but a good jungle. This is where the two Bloody Butcher tomato plants grow. I gave them tall stakes, not realizing they are quite a short variety. Next year they will be planted down my tomato alley, AKA the servant's entrance. Joining the BBs, are the remaining Coastal Pride Orange, another Matt's Wild Cherry and the Sungold. That Sungold was the tiniest of the seedlings, the last one planted, and the one I didn't think would survive. It is now the one that has grown up to the roof of the shed, and is bearing delicious little morsels for me to hoard. Bloody Butcher, besides being my earliest tomato, has become quite a tasty tomato too. Flavor has improve greatly from the earliest fruits, and they were pretty darned good then, too. Mr. Granny really likes the flavor of Coastal Pride Orange, even though it looks exactly like a peach when it's peeled. Basils (cinnamon, lemon and purple) are still loving this area of the garden, and growing great in pots. Same with the oregano and Leona the Meyer Lemon tree. I'm so happy I filled this corner with zinnias. Besides being nice to look at, and great as cut flowers for the house, I actually saw a hummingbird visiting them yesterday. I think that's about the first hummingbird I've seen around here.

The herbs, after a recent haircut, still growing healthy and full.

"Leona the Meyer Lemon " is fruiting again. She never has carried a fruit to full term, but this one looks very promising. I've never had a lemon grow this large before.

Leona's second child may not make it though. It's about half the size of its sibling.

Here we are in tomato alley, AKA the servant's entrance. There are actually only three tomatoes and a jalapeno, all in buckets, along this side of the patio. The plants are doing very well here, however, so I may utilize this spot for even more plants next year. They all have to be hand watered here, but they seem to like that just fine, and I have a lot of time to do it. The plant in the foreground is a Heatwave. I picked the first two tomatoes from it yesterday, and ate one for lunch today. It was really good, and exceptionally good for a "first" tomato....juicy and not a bit mealy. The plant is healthy, determinate, so not terribly large, and one I would consider growing again. It's a hybrid, but the trouble I've had with the heirlooms this year, maybe I should plant a few hybrids just in case. In the past I always grew Celebrity, and it grew disease free. The cherry tomato way down on the far corner is one of our favorites, Una Heartstock. I have bagged some blossoms for seed saving, and will grow it again next year.

The four Cherokee Purple tomato plants in the West Garden are healthy and producing, but fruit ripening has been very slow so far. This is where the new (this year) rhubarb plant lives. It has given me two harvests so far, so I think I'd better let it grow undisturbed for the rest of the season. Strawberries have actually grown quite well in this bed, and the berries are larger than the main bed in the North Garden.

Cherokee Purple

Sunflowers down (click photo to enlarge, and follow the red arrows) . We must have had a good gust of wind this morning, as two of the big sunflowers broke their tethers and fell. The one on the left wasn't broken, so I pulled it back up and tied it to the fence with clothesline. Its top is slightly wilted, but I'm hoping it will survive. The other one (right) was completely broken off and will have to be removed.

That ends the saga of the garden in August.

August 20, 2011 - The August Garden, Part 2

The North Garden

The west side of the kennel is covered with Fortex pole beans. These are my favorites of all the beans, and I've decided to plant them on all sides of the kennel next year. It's probably too shady at the back, but I'm going to give it a try anyway, I might get lucky. There is a small bed of carrots at the front of the beans, but they aren't growing long and pretty as they should. They're short and stubby like the early carrots. Maybe the seeds were old, but I've not had the greatest luck with the carrots this year. The soil is nice and soft and deep, there's no fresh manure in the beds, and no high nitrogen fertilizers were applied. The barrel was planted with strawberries this spring, and they are not performing as well as those in the bed. The borage in the foreground is a volunteer from 2009. I didn't even let any grow last year, but the seed has stayed viable in the ground. One volunteer stayed small, but the other has grown normally. Those are sunflowers in the background, more on them later.

The strawberry bed looks as though it needs a good feeding, so I really need to haul out that stinky fish emulsion......yuk. The berries haven't been performing fantastically this year, especially those in the barrels, but the yields have been acceptable. We've had all the strawberry shortcakes our bellies could handle, and 16 half-pints of jam were made. I have maybe three bags of sugared berries in the freezer, and would like a few more for winter desserts. Some whole unsweetened berries would be nice for future smoothies, too. This variety bears almost constantly until frost, but most of the berries are quite small. Just as I begin harvesting larger berries, the production slows down and the blossoming begins again. The raspberry canes that were left after the big summer pruning and thinning are looking really strong and healthy. They should provide a good crop next summer.

The raspberry canes are sporting new growth. I'll let them grow now, but the tips will probably suffer from winter damage, so they will be pruned back again in early spring. That's the neighbor's sunflower peeking over the fence. I get to enjoy them, as they always turn towards my garden.

The zucchini is doing better in the barrel than the strawberry plants, although I've only had two zukes from it and it's already showing some powdery mildew on its leaves.

Oh, dear. Now we are at the poor diseased Brandywines. My very favorite tomato, and I'll probably not get any this year. This Pink Brandywine was the best of the three just two weeks ago, now it has begun wilting severely along with the previously diseased leaves. There are a few good branches way up high, and a few green tomatoes. I'll leave it be for now.

The Yellow Brandywine looks just slightly better, as it isn't wilting. I doubt there are more than three green tomatoes on the entire plant, but I have never tasted this variety so I'll let it go for now and hope I at least get one or two ripe fruits from it.

The third, another Pink Brandywine. I might as well give up and pull it out, ya think? I've never had diseased tomatoes back here, but it looks like this bed won't be used for them any more. It gets the most sun of any of the garden beds, so it's unfortunate the tomatoes won't be planted in it again. Maybe it will be next year's hoop bed.

The tomatoes might be diseased, but the newly planted bush beans are loving the tomato bed. This is planting #3 of bush beans for fall, Gourmet Green French. I may have overdone the bean planting this year, the freezers are stuffed already.

The lettuce transplants of July, the ones I thought had burnt from the heat, actually survived. Unfortunately I didn't have them covered, and the sparrows took them right down to the ground last week. I grabbed some net and clipped it over the top, and it looks as though they'll survive the onslaught. I have a few beets growing in this bed, but germination was rather spotty. It's getting too late to reseed the bare spots, so I'll not bother with it. I had planted spinach in the bed to the back, but either very little sprouted or the sparrows got to it, as the bed is practically bare. I will reseed it soon.

The squash patch is taking over the world. The bush butternuts aren't too bad, but that one pattypan squash plant in front, the one just full of blossoms, is growing all over everything in sight. I wondered if I should just pull it out, and then......

I picked this. Is that not just the most adorable thing you ever saw? I cooked up some freshly picked Fortex beans, added some fresh sweet corn kernels, then sauteed the diced squash (I hated to cut the pretty little thing!) in some butter, added the cooked and drained beans and corn, seasoned with just salt and pepper, and I ate two big platefuls for dinner! The squash was tender, slightly sweet, very mild flavored, and absolutely delicious. I'm not pulling the giant plant. I'll be picking another squash or two today, and I'm going to cook them by heating a baking sheet in a 400F oven, slicing the squash in half and tossing them with a bit of oil, s & p, then placing them cut side down on the hot pan and baking them until lightly brown and caramelized.

I think the lettuce bed, which has served me well (to the tune of 53 pounds) this year, is ready to be cleared of all growth and replanted for fall. The few plants at the front will stay for a while, as they are still looking fine, but the next row has finally bolted. All the others were harvested last week, then pulled. I must say, this has been a really good spot for lettuce growing, tucked in the corner with fence on two sides, shed to the south and morning sun from the east.

The sunflowers are about 12' high now, and still no blossoms. I have them tied to the fence....I hope they don't pull the fence down!