Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saints preserve us

For living alone, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen this time of year, putting food by. In the future, I hope to do more canning and dehydrating, but with the remodeling going on, it is simpler to just shove everything into the freezer (which is getting *very* full).

Coffee is a necessary fuel

So far, I have grated zucchini, zucchini spread, zucchini soup base, zucchini fritters, zucchini puree. (It's a good thing I like zucchini.) There is pizza sauce and tomato basil red sauce, plus whole cherry tomatoes and Romas. The corn, green (and purple) beans, and broccoli came from a local organic urban farm, Tanglewood. They also supplied most of the strawberries, while the blueberries and peaches are from various farmer market vendors and the raspberries grew in my own backyard. For protein, there is bacon, chicken, and salmon, courtesy of Seven Sons. Like I said, the freezer is *very* full.

Running out of counter space

In the garage we have garlic, onions, and potatoes (red and blue), to be joined in the fall by pumpkin and butternut squash and hopefully sweet potatoes.

Note fluids necessary for marathon preserving sessions

The last time I harvested zucchini, I saw no new blossoms, so hopefully it is on the wane. There will be more tomatoes which I will can (because the freezer is *very* full).

March of the peaches, led by Abe Lincoln tomato

Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much effort gardening and harvesting and preserving. It is not the simple life, as it takes equipment, time, energy. How much easier it is to just go to the grocery store (the variety of which is expanding locally). I could go on and on about a philosophy behind my madness, but I doubt it would move you. There is just something very satisfying about gathering the makings of a meal from my own backyard or, when the winter winds blow, from my own stash of foodstuffs. For me, it just feels right.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blue plate special

Here is dinner from last week: meatloaf, corn on the cob, and a baked Adirondack Blue potato. The potato tastes fine, if not as creamy and buttery as the Eva potatoes I grew last year, but I am having trouble getting past the color.

I later boiled some of the Adirondack Blue with the Adirondack Red; when I checked the leftovers a couple of days later, I thought they had turned into a science experiment. I fried the leftovers, and the red ones looked like chunks of ham. Again, taste was fine, just having trouble with the visuals.

What about you? Do colored potatoes put you off?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Must be August

In June, the gardener knows it will be a while before she reaps. In July, the harvest begins. In August, more of the long-awaited crops come to fruition, plus the fall plantings start to grow.

Onion harvest - Copra and Red Zeplin
Burpless Beauty cucumber, growing vertically
Matt's Wild Cherry and Black Cherry tomatoes
Honey and Cream sweet corn
The pumpkin in the tomato bed keeps getting bigger and more orange
Pumpkin vine trying to escape the confines of the garden
Purple Pod pole beans, for fall harvest (fingers crossed)

I love mixing some flowers in amongst the veggies. The bees friend finally bloomed, so now we know what they look like. The zinnias will add color through the rest of the season.

Bee's Friend
Lilliput Mix zinnias

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fall planting

This past week, we had one of those horrible 90-degree days when the air is barely breathable. Just one. This morning, the weather felt almost autumn-like. A good reminder to get the fall garden planted.

In the past, before retirement (BR), I didn't always plant a fall crop of anything, as I was usually knee deep in tomatoes by now. Also, while gardening is always unpredictable, fall is more so. For one thing, most of what gets planted likes cool weather and August is usually anything but cool. Then, just as the temps start to moderate, frost may occur. So fall plantings are more of a crap shoot than spring or summer, but it's hard to resist an empty bed.

In the sixteen squares above, I planted roots - beet, rutabaga, turnip, carrot, radish - plus lettuce and spinach and kale and broccoli, all from seed. Since the pole beans were not able to complete with the corn and pumpkin, I also planted some of those in their own bed, as well as a short row of snap peas behind the endamame (which are languishing under pumpkin vines).

Speaking of pumpkin, the two varieties I planted continue their attempt to dominate the entire garden. I found this big boy in the tomato bed, a good 25 feet to the SSE of where the vines started.

Its smaller cousin breached the corn. I planted two varieties, both supposedly small, and now I am not sure which is which. I *think* the green ones are Rouge Vif d'Etamps while the orange ones are Burpee small(?!?) sugar.

Joining the pumpkin is butternut squash. While not quite as sprawling as the pumpkin, it too is doing its best to wander far and farther.

And, as far as squash is concerned, size *does* matter.

Just ask the zucchini.

We ate at Five Guys last night. I said I didn't care where we ate, as long as they did not serve zucchini. Or cucumbers (except as pickles).

Actually, I like zucchini and have been trying out all kinds of new and unusual dishes, courtesy of the Internet. More on that later. Right now it is time for my afternoon nap.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Perfect weather, sort of

We have been having some gorgeous weather from the human comfort standpoint - cool, dry, partially overcast so no sun baking one's brains, etc. Some of the garden plants, especially the sad looking sweet potatoes, wish it were warmer, and they all could use a good soaking rain. But us two-leggeds cannot complain. Some hot days are coming, then hopefully a storm and more of these reasonable temps. We'll see - weather is so fickle.

Here's what's happening in the yard these days:

First up, garlic!

The pic above is 'Music' which is supposed to be the newest fave of backyard garlic growers. I purchased it from Burpee, who sells it by the ounce, not the bulb, so I had no idea how much I was getting. Turns out a LOT, enough to experiment with. Pickled garlic, anyone? (The variety below is either Bogatyr, German Extra Hardy, or Georgia Fire, all of which I grew from my own stock.)

I think the fountain never made it out of the shed at all last year. Now that I am home ALL THE TIME, it is back on the back porch where I can enjoy its burbling while simultaneously enjoying this great weather. (Notice Meyer lemon in the back. It is much recovered and doing great - knock on wood!)

Next to the back porch, where I can keep an eye on it, is some swamp milkweed, which is relatively new to the yard.

Not so new to the yard is common milkweed, all volunteers. Milkweed spreads easily but is also easy to discourage, either purposely or not. Given the plight of the monarch population, I am going to deliberately encourage these guys.

New garden art!

Last year, I added the cat below. This year, when I passed the same vendor at the Three Rivers Festival, I eyeballed the sampling but nothing (that was within my price range) caught my eye. My SO, however, returned the next day and bought me the above heron. It is standing in the rhubarb patch, but I am thinking it would look great by a pond. Agree?

Here's is the Japanese fern I mentioned before, a gift from my (now former) co-workers. It's still alive, and now I am interested in maybe adding a few tall ferns to the back of the hosta bed. Maybe. We'll see how this one does.

Another gift from those co-workers, a Supertunia. I'm not much of a petunia person, but I am curious to see what a super version of one does.

And, finally, daylilies.

My daylilies bloom every year, and every year I am so taken with their luscious colors that I photograph them, and the photos look remarkably similar to the photos from previous years.

Yesterday I picked my first tomatoes of the season, some cherry-sized ones. I planted two varieties of cherry tomatoes and the plants have become so HUGE and intertwined that I am not sure which plant these came from. I'm guessing the Matt's Wild Cherry, simply because the black cherry should be darker, right? I've not grown either before, so I'm not sure what to expect, except great taste. Yum!

Friday, July 18, 2014

I lied

I found a cucumber underneath all the neighboring zucchini foliage and it's a big 'un!

I'm temporarily without my landline, which means no FIOS Internet. I am posting this using my T-Mobile phone as a hot spot. Works pretty well, which makes me wonder just how much I need FIOS, other than for streaming Netflix. Hmm.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


It has been hot and humid here - almost August-like but not quite. And not for long - today the high might not even reach 70. At this rate, my tomatoes will never turn red/black/whatever color they are supposed to be. My cucumbers have not been producing, either, leaving me at the mercy of the farmers markets for my salad fixings. The corn is starting to tassel, though, and there is plenty of zucchini. And pumpkins.

I plan to harvest the garlic this week. The onions are falling down on their own, signaling their willingness to be rousted from their bed.

A few volunteer sunflowers are showing their sunny faces, while the ones I planted on purpose are lagging far behind.

And let's not forget the zinnias, so pretty and so easy to grow.

I have not spent very much time observing the comings and goings of the avian neighbors, but I did spot a couple of unusual ones recently. This, I believe, is a catbird.

And I think this is a female oriole of some kind, Baltimore or orchard.

This "critter" is actually a pea tendril wrapped around a pea vine.

On the less pretty side of the yard is the former meadow/incipient orchard. Yesterday I mowed most of the area while contemplating just what to plant there next year. I have room for seven dwarf fruit trees, eight if I sacrifice the stunted serviceberry. It's easy to get carried away when perusing catalogs - I'll have one (or more) of each - but I'm trying to pay attention to what makes sense for me, a fruit lover who lives alone and whose boyfriend does not like fruit much but whose family members are willing recipients of the surplus. And there is the "dirty dozen" and their cousins to consider. I'm thinking a peach (Red Haven, of course), a sour cherry, some apples. And then what? I have until next spring to mull it over.