Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Daughter's Garden Salad

I had a harvest Tuesday that was almost better than the total of all last week. I collected another bowl of beans and a good number of peas. My daughter is in day camp so she is not keeping up with the ripening peas. I decided to pull most all of the beets realizing that I planted them too late and they were not going to get much bigger. Can you plant a fall crop of beets and should I be starting now? I picked a few more Sungold tomatoes and I can tell that they are going to be coming in fast and furious. Another Ichiban Eggplant and two cucumbers. And finally some peppers, basil and parsley.

All of this is quite impressive since on Monday there didn't seem to be anything to pick. If I continue like this every other day, I am going to need a few more kids and at the very least, a husband that is in town to consume it all.

But the real news is that, today, my 11 year old daughter made dinner which included a salad that was completely from the garden. This is not so unusual for July but it is June. Of course, depending on what you put in the salad, I could consider that I had one back in May when all my lettuce was coming in but I never have just a lettuce salad. So tonight's salad was a combination of: beets, cucumbers, onions, green beans, and parsley. I am not to sure if I am more tickled by a total garden salad or that my daughter made it. She ate it also.
The finished product!


On another note, there was a lot of butterfly, bee action in the garden today. Cone flowers and Cosmos in June!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Harvest Monday

What a week for harvesting. The only problem is that I have not been able to keep up. It has been very hot on the east coast and the timing of everything is all off. Of course I am happy to get my produce earlier but I can not help but feel that it is a sign of some hard times down the road. Please look at Dapne's Dandelions to see Harvest Monday by some other gardeners.

The swiss chard continues to come in, I harvested most of my Asian Greens by cutting them 2" above ground. They will come back sooner than I expect.

I pulled up all the turnips, they did not do as well as the first two that I picked from my daughters plot. I started these in the ground and a little on the late side. I pickled these and hope they will soften a little. We had another wonderful batch of kale for those chips I previously posted.

I tend to pick my squash as small as I can and still get that "look at what I grew" feeling. When they start coming in, i become overwhelmed and this is a way to keep it all manageable. I admire Ribbit for all her zucchini concoctions. Some peppers, padron chilie and ?? and a small collection of beans.

So that is where I thought we were with the beans on Friday when I left to visit my sister. I brought her this bunch plus a little more that I collected and forgot to photograph. When I left on Friday, I inspected the plant to find a small handful that were not ready. I decided to wait the day or two when I returned. Too hot to pick on Saturday when I returned so I got up bright and early on Sunday and low and behold I collected a good size bowl of beans. With husband away for one week and still another to go, I am not sure if we can eat beans and all else fast enough. And - Finally the peas have started coming in. It did not help that my daughter was eating them off the plant. Good thing we went away for an evening and returned to many, ready to pick peas.

And a few odds and ends including the first cucmber.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Got the Buggers

On my usual morning stroll in the garden, looking at the transplanted eggplant, the slowly growing cucumbers, the bulbing fennel and what… Is that caterpillar poop on my tomato leaves.
A sure sign of a tomato horn worm. The over crowdedness of my garden is a great exhibit of a place to hide. I spent close to 10 minutes to locate the first one. On to the rest of the plants - WHAT! Another plant with poop on it. Found this one in 10 minutes, took my eyes off of it for a few seconds and had to spend another 5 minutes finding it again. I am sure this not the last of them.
They are currently in a container on the table waiting for a bird to do it's job. (I hate squishing them). I figure if they make it back into the garden - 50 feet away - they deserve the tomato plant until I find them again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Few Surprises

Butternut squash about 4" long, and a Persian Cucumber, the first even though there have been many blooms. The first tomatoes which I believe are Sungold and CORN!, First time I am planting it and I had no expectation that it would work. There are 6 plants.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finally - In Bed Together

On an earlier post I complained that my male and female squash flowers were not opening at the same time. For the most part, I have hand pollinated them and I am not very scientific about it. I usually grab a weed off the ground, stick it in the male flower and then stick it in the female flower. Up till now I have cross pollinated the two squash.
Finally, I went out this morning and look at what I found, a male and female right next to each other.

And low an behold, another squash plant had these two guys.

I guess, someone's in love.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Harvest Monday

This week the plants just keep getting bigger and bigger. I do this every year and plant things too close. I somehow do not believe that they will occupy the space when I first put them in. But alas, they do and I spend my time getting scratched by the squash plants.
Swiss Chard continues to come in on a regular basis along with the mustard and lettuce.
On this particular day it was along with the zucchini and crook neck squash.

It is always special to pick the "first" whatever it is. But often I say, "what am I going to do with one xxx."  Wasn't I lucky this time.

The makings of a ratatouille!

The beans are a nice surprise and I have no clue what variety they are and I am not a very organized gardener in terms of varieties and seed selection. Many of my seeds are 2 years old but seem to produce just fine. Since this is the first time I am growing onions, I was not sure when to harvest them. I did a little research and now realize that they take a little more work than yanking out of the ground and putting in the cold cellar. You learn something new every day. Check out some other harvests at Harvest Monday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Garden Critters

Both my husband and I are fascinated by garden's critters and their behavior. We know that some are bad but none the less, it is a wonder to watch their behavior and imagine a life in a paradise of a vegetable garden. My garden is planted very tight and there are many critters that I never see, or see too late, like the cucumber beetles that have devastated my tomatillo plant. Squashed the eggs and hopefully they will leave the plant alone now.

Most fascinating must be watching the swallowtail butterfly in the process of laying her eggs.

This guy having climbed all the way up realizing that there was nothing at the top, is now on his way down.

And finally, my husband spotted this mantis on the compost bin. The mantis was so kind to wait till he ran in to get the camera.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Garden Observtions

The last two weeks has brought on so much growth in the garden. If this is what the garden looks like in June, what is it going to look like in August?
This morning I harvested another bunch of Swiss chard. Two or three of these plants have  bolted and i am not sure which variety they are since I did not separate them when I planted them. Harvest - 5 bunches.
Zucchini are beginning to produce on a regular basis. If I remember to pick these when they are small, i will not get tired of them and they will be more tender. Harvest - 4
Crook-necks are falling off more often then producing and I am not good at cross pollinating by hand. Harvest - 4
Mustard and asian greens continue to do well. Harvest - 2 bunches.

Peas have begun to develope. It took forever for the flowers and then all of a sudden I have 2" peas. It looks as if it will be a small crop but since I grow peas for garden snacking and my daughter to show off, I have what I need.

Bush Beans are 1" long
Pole beans are going crazy and I am afraid there is no place for them to go. No flowers yet.

Fennel are growing - a new set of swallow tail butterfly eggs have been laid as of June 16.

Tomatoes are about 5' high. Like always, planted too close. They are in a holding phase right now. The fruit are not growing at the rate that the plant is. i wonder if I cut back the plant if the tomatoes would ripen?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kale Chips

The kale that grows in the garden is part of an Asian Stirfry seed packet from Renee's seeds. When I plant them, I thin out the green mustard and turnip greens early on for lettuce and let the other 3-4 varieties grow.
This kale chip recipe comes from someone that was in a food coop that I used to belong to so I can not take credit. It is so simple.

1. Bowl of kale washed and dried.
2. Depending on how much kale, toss about 1 tbls of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and the kale in a large bowl. Make sure that the oil covers most of each leaf.
3. Lay the leaves on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Some overlap is fine.
4. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until the leaves flatten out and are rigid. The longer you cook the more fragile and brittle they become. Less time will yield a more chewy chip. Cool for about 2 minutes an pick them up by the stem.

If you have a family like mine, they never make it to the table because hubby and daughter snack on them while setting the table.

Hope you enjoy!

Harvest Monday

Another week and no idea how many pounds but that's OK. Thanks again to Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday.
The swiss chard continues with a harvest every three days and this is from the plants that I started in peat pods. I still have another small row that we started in the ground that are beginning to mature and will be ready for picking real soon. Good thing my daughter really likes it. Along with that I have had a number of asian greens that I am harvesting with lettuce.

Mustard and one squash that I stuck in a couscous and chickpea stew for a pot luck. This mustard is one of the best things I discovered. It has a wonderful tang and makes for a great addition to any sandwich in place of lettuce.

But the real surprise is the first zucchini and yellow crookneck squash.
I had to pull a couple of onion just to see. I have never grown onions and I guess for me they are a nice surprise. At this size, they would be great on the grill.

And lastly is my kale. This Kale makes great kale chips that are not bitter. My daughter can eat a bowl full on her own. What a great way to get all those good vitamins. Better than potato chips any day.
I'll post the cooked dish later.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Perhaps by July 1

As I read Skippy's Garden Blog, the side line has a counter for the first tomato which she predicts to be around July 31. I too have never harvested a tomato more than a few days before that so you can imagine how excited I am by these guys. Every single one of my tomato plants has fruit. The cherry varieties are small but obviously do not have far to go. These are Matina Early Ripers but my Brandywine are almost as big and they usually do not ripen until mid August.
The first flowers on my peas opened on Thursday and the timing seems all wrong for everything.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

They're Gone

My afternoon stroll in the garden lead to the discovery of three missing caterpillars. Like the last set, I believe the birds got these guys too.
Oh well, I will have to wait for the next butterfly to come by. Still a chance that I may have missed their presence but in reality, it is still a little early.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Next Phase

The earlier pictures I took of swallow tail butterfly eggs proved not to get to far. The birds usually pick them off in the earlier part of the season. I have been watching closely and the last set of eggs has made it to the next stage. Picture on the left is from June 9 and the picture on the right is from today. The difference is the color and the pronounced white stripe. In a few days we should see the orange dots that run down it's back. And yes, these are the same three fellows.
Click on the picture to see them a little larger.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

As predicted, my pole bean structure is not tall enough. This poor guy is searching for where to latch on to next. I read about Dan's Pole bean structure a little too late. The good news is that I acquired some 8'-15' bamboo from a friend's yard and will have what I need for next year. I was contemplating nesting the current structure inside of a new structure. Any thoughts or will the bean just figure this all out on it's own?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Harvest Monday

I am so excited to be back again this week. Thanks again to Daphne's Dandelions' Harvest Day. The holiday last week got in the way. What an exciting week. The growth in the garden is visible by the eye. I look at in the morning and everything is at least an inch taller in the evening.
Tomato fruit are on almost all plants, the bush beans are just about to bloom, the pole beans are leaping and I am sure that my structure will not be big enough. The cucumbers are beginning to climb and I can see some fruit.
I have never considered  weighing my harvest as many other's do but I am beginning to see why one would do so. This is the harvest for the week:

Swiss Chard: two bowls full

Two turnips out of my daughters plot. She loved pulling these out.


More radishes and lettuce, one onion to see what was happening. No, not the tomato.

Pinched basil, cilantro tops and chamomile flowers.

The zucchini are getting bigger but the crook neck can't seem to open male and female flowers at the same time so all of the fruit are dropping off. If anyone has thoughts about why this is happening, I would appreciate it.  I would be happy to hand pollinate if they were open at the same time.

Last but not least are my peppers. What's happening?????