Thursday, July 27

23 July

C'mon carrots....FOCUS! grr... some photo trouble with this, but it's my carrot patch & I have no other photos of it, so you're stuck with a blurry carrot-shot. Just squint a bit and you can see them, and maybe one of the celebrity babies hiding in there somewhere, too.

There will be no shortage of onions this year. Many of the bulbs are breaking the surface of the soil, I'll have to plant them deeper next year. Not bad for $3 worth of onion sets back in spring.

Purple peppers are the only fruiting pepper plants. I'm not entirely sure why, but the rest of the peppers seem to have gotten some shock being planted in the garden (maybe the store hadn't put them in direct sunlight?) These peppers will turn green in cooking, but make a really neat color addition to stir-frys (stays purple if you cook lightly), and salads.

One of the cucumber plants is producing. The others seem to have died a slow and painful death. I don't see many flowers on this one, either, but it's still early. I should plant some dill in the open space beyond, for a nice cucumber-tomato salad next month.

Green tomatoes abound. Even after the massive cutting I gave the tomato plants last week. I guess it really is true that they grow better if kept pruned a bit. These are San Marzano paste tomatoes, they grow about 1.5" diameter, and 3-4" long, have a thick meat, and a hollow center with little water. The pulp makes a fine tomato paste. I split the skins in boiling water, then quarter the tomatoes (picking out bad ones), and send them through the food mill. The pulp and juice spend several hours in a crock-pot to reduce to a nice sauce. I then freeze the sauce for winter. This year, I'm going to attempt canning the sauce / paste. We'll see how it goes.

Beans are growing well, and starting to produce. I've picked a few dinners worth already, and they've only just begun to produce. The beans are very tender still, 3-4" long, and just barely formed within the shells. All the beans I have can be eaten green or dry, I try to save some each year as seed for the following year.

The pumpkins!
The vine is getting huge, taking over just about all the groundspace between the rows of corn. Someone told me growing squash, corn, and beans together was a Native American idea - called the "Three Sisters".

Wikipedia confirms the story, and adds the three are companion plants -the squash chokes out weeds, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil to fertilize, and thee corn provides structure for the beans.

I haven't added the beans to the mix, but pumpkins and corn seem to be symbiotic. It's worth a try next year.

Parsnips are growing well. I've only gotten a few rows this year, they didn't germinate well from the old seed, but I'll have enough for stews and soups occasionally this winter. Come fall, after a hard frost, I'll mulch in the parsnips with a blanket of chipped leaves. Then, I'll mark their location with some flags, so I can find them in the snow to dig. Why bother storing them in the house when the garden does the job just as well?


Tuesday, July 4

4 July - Happy independence Day

The front garden, with Black-Eyed Susans and Rudibeckia in full bloom. Also, the grasses and hydrangea aren't looking quite so sad anymore. By next year, the coneflower and daisies should fill-out some, and the whole area will look much better.

We have a Peach!

The tomatoes, first crop of peas, and onions can all be seen here. The mass of white flowers was the radish crop that went to seed (oops). I've since picked and composted the remaining radishes, let's hope I'm not picking them next year as well. In another week I should have the first snow peas (mine are a bit late this year), and turnips - to be boiled with a sour apple and served with brown sugar, very good!

The potatoes have filled their bin to the top, and are looking healthy. These are Yukon Gold potatoes from the store that sprouted before I could eat them. The hope is to get enough to eat some, and mash & freeze some. The Yukon Gold don't need as much butter as a Russet does, they tend to have more flavor initially.

And the corn is knee-high by the 4th of July. It should be a good crop this year. It is "Painted Mountain" an open-pollinated variety of flour corn that has multicolored ears for fall decoration. I might get ambitious and try to grind the corn flour, but I'd need to borrow a grain mill. This corn is starchier than most, so I'm not sure how it would bake.

"These are MY Elderberry bushes... "

The dog usually makes a nest in the shade beneath the Elderberries. All the white blooms you see are the bushes, and this is only about 1/8th of all the bushes on the lot. In another six weeks, the birds will be going crazy gorging themselves on the berries, while I try to fight them off to pick a few quarts for jam (and a friend picks bushels for wine).

The rock wall is filling in - you can see all the strawberries on the right side of this photo. The creeping thyme along the staircase is also covering well. I seem to have gotten two varieties, a pink flowered one and a white flowered. The white is slightly smaller and lower-growing, so I'll try to encourage that style, but the pink would do well as a grass substitute elsewhere, maybe in the garden path?

The herb garden side of the wall is also growing. The mint (center, top in the photo) is trying it's hardest to grow out of that container, I've given it a few good clippings to keep it cut back, but still it is going crazy. The sage, horehound, and oregano have all come back, and the chives never really left. I still need to get a pot of parsley well established and coming back each year.