Monday, September 3, 2012

Harvest Monday 9/3/12

It's time for the transition from summer to fall, which I'm looking forward too.  I will miss all the summer crops of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and more, but I will not miss the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes!  I've been clearing out the spent plants and planting fall crops.  The challenge with planting fall crops is that it is still in the 90s with not a lot of rain, so keeping the soil moist enough for seeds to germinate takes effort.

On to this week's harvests... the summer crops are still coming in.  Tomatoes have slowed and they seem to be getting smaller and smaller.  Peppers are doing well, although I did have one plant topple over and break because of the weight of peppers.  Guess I should have stacked them!

Green beans keep on producing.  I think this is my year of the green bean.  I've officially gotten tired of eating them, so I've been freezing.  I should try canning some, but freezing is so easy.  Perhaps I'll have the motivation to can when I run out of freezer space!

This has not been my year for corn.  My spring planted corn was stolen by the squirrels.  I had a second bed of corn planted in the beginning of July.  I tried planting a second crop of corn last year too and it never grew very tall and had pathetic little ears of corn.  This year's late planted corn did the same thing.  The stalks were beginning to brown and so I decided to go ahead and harvest.  I discovered that the ears were infested with ants... fire ants!  It was not a pleasant harvesting experience especially since I only got 1.7 lbs of little ears of corn.  I am contemplating whether corn will make the grow list next year.

On a happier note, I picked the last of the melons, a banana melon.  The squirrels have loved these melons, but the last one was left intact. 

Cucumber 1.8 oz
Banana pepper 8.2 oz
Bell pepper 8.6 oz
Yellow pear tomatoes 8.5 oz
Eggplant 4.9 oz
Green beans 3 lbs
Tomatoes 1.65 lbs
Banana melon 3.26 lbs
Corn 1.7 lbs

Weekly total: 11.64 lbs

Yearly total: 201.88 lbs worth $325.20

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Harvest Monday 8/27/12

The summer crops are still chugging along, but at a much slower rate.  The melons are withering away and I probably only have one more to pick (or for the squirrels to pick, depending who gets to it first!).  I pulled the rest of the carrots to make room for fall crops.  The smaller carrots were alright, but the bigger ones are really bitter.  I may start growing carrots in the fall and winter only.  They tend to be much sweeter than the carrots that grew through the heat of summer. 

I wasn't much of a photographer this week, but I do have one picture of Saturday's harvests:

Carrots: 15.2 oz
Banana pepper: 0.8 oz
Bell pepper: 8.4 oz
Yellow pear tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
Tomatoes: 1.6 lbs
Green beans: 11.2 oz
Watermelon: 6.9 lbs

Weekly total: 12.2 lbs

Yearly total: 191.94 lbs worth $311.55

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harvest Monday 8/20/12

Time keeps getting away from me.  My every other week harvest reports are becoming a habit!  I went to visit family in Tennessee and then before I knew it the semester began.

Here`s some highlights from the last 2 weeks:

A yummy watermelon!

  Purple peppers with yellow pear tomatoes:

A typical harvest:

Another basket from the garden:

A pile of basil that turned into pesto:

Two week tally:

Carrots 3.3 lbs
Cucumbers 1.7 lbs
Banana pepper 0.6 lbs
Bell pepper 1.5 lbs
Yellow pear tomatoes 1.1 lbs
Eggplant 2.4 oz
Green beans 0.85 lbs
Watermelon 8.2 lbs
Tomatoes 2.1 lbs
Butternut 1 lb
Banana melon 1.9 lbs

Two week total: 22.56 lbs

Yearly total: 179.71 lbs worth $299.30

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Harvest Monday 8/6/12

I missed last week's harvest Monday, so today I have two weeks to report. The theme over the past two weeks has been tomatoes, melons, and green beans.. oh my!

The tomatoes have slowed down a bit.  I'm hoping they're just taking a break and will pick up the pace because I want more sauce and roasted tomatoes.  I can't seem to get enough and I'm plotting how I can have two beds of tomatoes next year. 

The little melon in the picture is a honeydew.  The vine died so it wasn't going to get any bigger.

Despite its small size, it was ripe and yummy on the inside:

I harvested lots of beans (4 lbs).  They've been producing since the end of June and seem to keep on going.  I also harvested some cucumbers, eggplant, squash, peppers, and a sugar baby melon- keeping my fingers crossed that this one is sweet and ripe.

Here's the two week tally:

Carrots 0.6 oz
Cucumber 1.96 lbs
Tromboncino squash 1.04 lbs
Banana peppers 1.7 oz
Bell pepper 1.88 lbs
Yellow pear tomatoes 2.24 lbs
Eggplant 1.01 lbs
Green beans 4.18 lbs
Watermelon 3.95 lbs
Tomatoes 5.05 lbs
Honeydew 1.06 lbs

Two week total: 22.51 lbs

Yearly total: 157.15 lbs worth $272.65

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Corn Crop Failure

I guess I should have taken the hint when the cutworms took down every one of my corn seedlings in the spring, but I persisted and replanted with cutworm collars.

The corn patch was uneventful until mid July when the ears began to form and then the squirrels arrived.  This is my third year growing a garden here and I've never had the squirrels problems I've had this year.  I'm afraid they have officially discovered my garden and have permanently moved in.  Note the gap in the corn bed.  There were corn stalks there, but the squirrels have toppled them and I even caught a squirrel running away with the entire corn stalk!

This is what the corn looks like now:

My total corn harvest stands at zero.. sigh.  I planted a second patch of corn, so perhaps I can beat the squirrels to a few ears in the fall.  In the meantime, I am dreaming of a squirrel proof garden like this image I found here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What's Your Favorite Seed Starting Mix?

I've been starting seeds for fall and ran out of the bag of seed starting mix I bought in the spring.  I've now discovered that stores around here do not think seed starting should happen now.  It seems to be something they stock in the spring and if you're lucky you'll find a bag.  I normally buy an organic mix, but can't find it anywhere.  I really should make my own mix.  So what's your seed starting recipe?  And where do you get the ingredients?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard: Tomatoes

It's tomato time in my garden!

First up in the tomato cooking spree is some oven-roasted tomatoes:

I take the Yellow Pear tomatoes, cut them in half, drizzle them with some olive oil, throw in some garlic and basil, and then cook on 225 for about 4 or 5 hours until they are shriveled up.  These are like candy to me.  I want to freeze some to have for pizza toppings after tomato season has ended, but I keep eating them!  Maybe the next batch will make it to the freezer... maybe.

Next on the tomato cooking frenzy is sauce... wonderful, yummy tomato sauce.  I've got to figure out a way to plant more tomatoes because I want more sauce!

My sauce recipe:

4 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup basil
a few parsley sprigs
1 tsp salt

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, add onions and cook for 2 minutes, add the bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes, add the garlic and basil and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, and salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours until the sauce thickens.  I usually puree about half of the sauce because J is not a fan of chunky sauce.

Finally on the tomato cooking spree was salsa.  I used this Easy Blender Salsa Recipe, but I have no cilantro in the garden and was to lazy and splattered with tomato juice and seeds to go to the store.  I wonder if frozen cilantro would work?  I must remember to freeze some cilantro this winter when cilantro grows around here.  Without cilantro, the salsa was just ok.  I put it on bean burritos and completely forgot to take a picture.

That's what has been cooking in my kitchen.  If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/16 and 7/23

I spent the past week camping in upstate New York and missed last week's harvest Monday.  It was nice to have a break from South Carolina heat and humidity.  It's so hard to leave the garden during peak season, but at the same time it's fun to come back to lots of veggies to harvest.  So today I have two weeks to report:

It's definitely summertime here with tomatoes and peppers along with a lone carrot I pulled.

Before leaving I harvested everything I could:

I harvested the first Sugar Baby Watermelon.  I still need to get better at telling when a melon is ripe.  I'm not good at the sound they make when you thump them, so I tried the dried tendril technique and it wasn't too accurate.  The melon was edible, but definitely could have been riper.  However, I was afraid to leave it to the squirrels while I was gone.

When I came home, before unpacking the car, I had to run and check on the garden.  I was greeted with lots of tomatoes:


There were plenty of green beans, my first yellow bell pepper, a few cucumbers, and my proudest harvest: a Hubbard squash.  This was my trap crop for the vine borers, so I was ecstatic to actually harvest.

Here's my two week harvest tally:
Carrots: 2.7 oz
Cucumber: 4.1 lbs
Tromboncino squash: 1.9 lbs
Banana pepper: 13.1 oz
Bell pepper: 9 oz
Yellow pear tomato: 3.3 lbs
Tomatoes (I gave up keep track of the different varieties): 10.2 lbs
Eggplant: 8.1 oz
Hubbard squash: 5.7 lbs
Green beans: 2.6 lbs

Total: 34.19 lbs

Two week total:  34.19 lbs
Yearly total: 134.64 lbs worth $240.89

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Revisiting June Garden Goals

June was really, really hot with very little rain.  I'm surprised the garden is still surviving.  The heat sure did put a damper in my garden productivity, so I'm glad the veggies are making up for my lack of productivity. 
  • Plant seeds outside: I planted an extra bed of carrots and bush beans.  The carrots didn't have the best germination rate.  I was a bit of a slacker keeping the area moist with all the heat.  I also planted a second crop of potatoes.  I didn't really have the space available, so I only planted a few. 
  • Plant seeds inside: I started onion, leeks, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and head lettuce.  I also started some replacement cucumbers. 
  • Weeding: I've weeded some, but I've been a bit of a slacker in the heat.  I was hoping the heat would take out some of the weeds, but no they seem to be thriving. 
  • Pest patrol:  The battle with the squash bugs, vine borers, Japanese beetles, and hornworms continues.  
  • Mulch the rest of the beds. Well, I did some, but not all.
  • Bench in the woods: So, I want a cozy outdoor daybed with a mosquito net canopy.  I did find a daybed on Craigslist.  However, I still need to spray paint it, get a mattress and make a waterproof cover.  I've had little motivation for this project because it is way too hot to relax outside. 
  • Start installing a watering system: I have pipes running to each bed in the front terrace of the garden.  I'm not going to be able to run emitter lines until fall because the beds are too overgrown with veggies right now. I will posted the project soon.
  • Start on the pea gravel garden paths:  I've dug up all the paths in the front terrace except one side of the melon bed because they've invaded the path.  The next step is to put down weed cloth, some sand, and pea gravel.  The hot, humid weather is not cooperating with this project, so it may take a bit longer.
Here's how the garden is looking:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/9/12

I reached a yearly total of 100 lbs of harvests from my garden this week!  I'm impressed I've actually weighed everything so far this year.

Here's what my harvests have been looking like:

I harvested 3.4 lbs of cucumbers, 5 oz of white eggplant, 2 lbs of green beans, 7.4 oz of Yellow Pear tomatoes.  This week brought the first of my paste tomatoes- this one is a San Marzano tomato (1.6 oz).


In this basket you can see my first big tomato for the season.  It wasn't really that big, but it was the biggest of the season.  It was a 3.8 oz Rutger's tomato that was quickly sliced and eaten!  The peppers have also been coming in with 2 oz of banana peppers and 9.5 oz of bell peppers.  However, something has been munching on my peppers... grrr!

I had another watermelon tragedy this week.  Last week I accidentally broke a baby melon off the vine.  This week I was checking on how the melons were doing and I found this:

I think this has squirrel written all over it!  I had problems growing melons last year and the trend appears to be continuing.  Actually the problem wasn't necessarily growing melons, it was getting to harvest them before the critters did!

Weekly total:  7.2 lbs
Yearly total: 100.45 lbs worth $191.80

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/2/12

This week has been miserably hot.  Mostly the past three days have been bad: 104 on Friday, 102 on Saturday, and 104 on Sunday.  Today we are suppose to be at 99.  For some reason 99 seems tolerable, but not anything over 100.  A thunderstorm came last night that brought rain, which was very much needed.  I'm surprised the garden is still alive.  I could only handle the heat for a few minutes before running inside to the air conditioning.  If I was a plant, I would have given up and died in such heat!

Anyway, enough whining about the weather and on to the harvests!  I pulled another carrot (2.4 oz), which was thicker than the last one, but not very long.  I'm trying to decide whether to go ahead and pull the carrots or leave them.  The heat is definitely not making for a sweet carrot.

Also this week I harvested 3.9 lbs of cucumbers.  Mostly the lemon cucumbers have been producing while the Persian cucumbers are looking sad and pathetic.  The heat may have been the last blow to the tired looking cucumber plants.  

The peppers seemed to have thrived in the heat.  I picked 7 oz of banana peppers and 7 oz of bell peppers- all the purple variety.  Only the yellow pear tomatoes (2.3 oz) have been slowly ripening, the rest of the tomatoes are sitting there pretty and green.  I'm hoping the combination of rain and heat will encourage them to ripen- hopefully it wasn't too much heat!  I also harvested 13.2 oz of the  Spooky Little eggplant and 8.8 oz of tromboncino squash.

Last was a harvest of green beans (1.3 lbs).  The green beans have grown to the top of the trellis, which is ten feet tall.  I obviously wasn't thinking about harvesting when putting in 10 ft trellises because I can't even reach the top with my little step stool!  In an attempt to pick beans and climb a not too sturdy trellis, I had a watermelon tragedy.  I accidentally broke off a baby watermelon (bottom left in the pictures)!  I cut it open and it was still completely white on the inside... sad. 

I was hoping to reach 100 lbs this week, but not quite there.  June was a productive month, by far the most productive month this year with 45 lbs.  Hopefully the next few months can be just as productive. 

Weekly total:  7.73 lbs
Yearly total: 93.24 lbs worth $179.47

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Army to Defeat Hornworms

I keep having a nightmare that I go out to the garden and all the tomatoes and peppers are leafless!  The reason is the hornworms.  If you saw my earlier post, hornworms have invaded my garden and I'm a bit squemish about controlling them.

Now I inspect the tomatoes and peppers everyday, looking for missing leaves and big fat hornworms.  The other day I saw a smaller hornworm surrounded by the troops:

Those are eggs of parasitic wasps, the braconid wasp to be specific.  It lays its eggs inside the hornworm and as they hatch, they eat their way out, killing the hornworm. This makes death by soapy water seem much more humane!  I left the hornworm to its fate and it has been in the exact same spot everyday and hasn't eaten a single leaf.  I think its end is looming close.  The best part is that once all those baby braconid wasps hatch I'll have an army to help defeat the hornworms.  Hopefully the nightmares will subside too!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I'm a day behind this week!  The main thing happening in my kitchen this week was making the first batch of pickles:

I learned how to water bath can last year, so I had to refresh myself on what to do since it has been awhile.  The dill pickles I make are very simple- they are the Ball dill pickle mix.  I have a recipe book called So Easy to Preserve that has many canning recipes including several for pickles.  However, last year when I was preparing for my first batch of pickles and was standing in the store checkout line with jars, the woman behind me started talking about making pickles.  She said she's tried countless recipes including grandma's recipe and by far the best and crispiest are the Ball dill pickle mix.  Since I knew nothing about canning, I thought I would give it a try.

Last year the cucumbers had a prolific year and I had far more pickles than I could ever eat, so I gave out pickles to lots of friends and family.  Everyone loved the pickles and are already asking about them this year, so now I feel that I need to stick to the same recipe.  I did make a batch of sweet gherkins last year from the So Easy to Preserve book and they are my favorites.  However, they require five days of soaking and changing the liquid and I didn't have the motivation for that, but hopefully sometime this summer I will make them.  Unfortunately the cucumbers do not seem to be thriving this year.  I've started some more seeds, but it's going to be awhile before they mature. 

That's what has been cooking in my kitchen.  If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Harvest Monday 6/25/12

It's beginning to look a lot like summer everywhere you go (in my garden)!

I have plenty of new harvests to report this week.  And because I can not contain my excitement any longer, I have to report my most anticipated veggie of the year: the tomato.  My first tomato was a yellow pear at a whopping 0.2 oz, but oh so tasty!

Also this week I harvested my first eggplant (5.2 oz).  I'm growing an heirloom variety called Little Spooky.  They are smaller, white eggplants and legend says they are suppose to scare away evil spirits from your garden at night.  Do squirrels count as evil spirits?

The peppers are slowly but surely growing with 1 oz of hot banana peppers and 5 oz of bell peppers.  The bell peppers are a rainbow mix, so it's exciting to see what colors I have.

The cucumbers continue producing with 5.3 lbs this week, although the plants are starting to not look so good- yellowing and browning leaves.  I just started some seeds, so hopefully the current plants can hang on until some new ones can replace them. 

I also stumbled upon a little (0.4 oz) red onion hiding in a bed, but no picture.

As for squash, I was happy to harvest a 5.5 lbs hubbard squash.  These squash plants were my trap crop for the vine borers, so I was not expecting to get any.

I also harvested 1.7 lbs tromboncino squash:

And how could I forget my first green bean harvest (3.2 oz):

Not included in the weights, but a first ever harvest for me is chamomile:

Weekly total:  14.98 lbs
Yearly total: 85.44 lbs worth $166.20

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

The week began with what seems to have become a regular: chard and potatoes.  The version this week was a crustless chard and cheese quiche from Vegetarian Times.  I liked how the potatoes made a crust on the bottom of the quiche and the combination with the feta cheese was delicious. 

The weekend was perfect grilling weather.  I used the cucumbers to make a side salad: Tangy Cucumber and Avocado Salad.  It was a nice, chilled salad with perhaps a bit too much tang and not enough avocado.

On the cucumber theme, we had lunches of egg salad and cucumber sandwiches.  I have yet to get tired of fresh cucumbers, but when I do then the pickling will begin.

We also grilled some peaches from our peach picking afternoon.

Speaking of peaches, I couldn't resist making (and eating) a peach pie:

I also made some mini peach pies to freeze for the when a pie craving hits.  I got the idea from Our Best Bites, they're adorable and it lets you have some delicious pie in a controled portion. 

I also stuffed myself with plenty of fresh peaches, these ones topped some yogurt:

That's what has been cooking in my kitchen.  If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Harvest Monday 6/18/12

The peppers are slowly starting with 1.1 oz of banana peppers (pic 1) and one little bell pepper that I should have waited on, but was too impatient at 0.7 oz (pic 4).  In the picture of the bell pepper you can see it is sitting on a tiny bit of lettuce (0.3 oz) that was hiding in the shade and promptly went on a sandwich.  The constant chard produced 8.5 oz this week (pic 3).  I stumbled upon 7.6 oz of red onions cleaning up the bed they were in, a nice surprise.  Such a surprise that I didn't take a picture of them.

The stars this week are the cucumbers (6.2 lbs).  Both the Lemon and the Persian cucumbers are producing well (pic 2 and 5).  I've been eating them fresh, but soon the pickling will begin.  Also pictured this week are some herbs: basil and parsley.  I haven't been keeping the weights on herbs this year. 

We went peach picking this week at a local orchard.  We got 14 lbs of peaches for $7!

Weekly total:  7.3 lbs
Yearly total: 74.86 lbs worth $149.31

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Revisiting June Garden Goals

We're halfway through June, so perhaps I should post my June garden goals...
  • Plant seeds outside: carrots and bush beans and I might plant a second round of corn.  I didn't have very good germination rates with my corn and now the potato bed is available.
  • Plant seeds inside:  It's already time to start some fall crops indoors!  I'm not sure how these cool weather crops are going to do in a toasty potting shed.  I guess I will find out.  This month I need to start onion, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and head lettuce.
  • Weeding: A never ending story!
  • Pest patrol:  Try to keep the squash bugs, vine borers, and Japanese beetles under control along with any other pests I run encounter.
  • Mulch the rest of the beds. 
  • Bench in the woods: What should be simple: buy bench and put in the woods, I've made complicated.  I've decided I want a cozy outdoor daybed with a mosquito net canopy.  Unfortunately outdoor daybeds are expensive, so there's going to be some diy involved in this project.
  • Start installing a watering system: As summer arrives and watering becomes more and more important, I really want a drip irrigation system. 
  • Start on the pea gravel garden paths:  This goes with the watering system.  To install the watering system I will have to dig up the garden paths, so when I fill them in I want weed-free gravel paths.