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?


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