Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday: July 30, 2012

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from his or her gardens in different areas.

After the spring crops finished bush beans were seeded in their spots. The beans have finally begun to produce enough for a few meals:

The zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers continue to provide several fruits per day. The plants days are numbered though because they are infested with a large number of squash bugs this year. Wilt has already affected the cucumbers and I am sure the summer squash and zucchini will begin to be affected soon as well. For now, they continue to provide:

We are enjoying a bountiful harvest of blueberries this year. They began ripening a little at a time providing just enough for morning cereal or parfait. Now I am harvesting a small colander full each day. Some have been frozen for later.

I was curious and wondered how the carrots were doing. I pulled a few along the edge that were rather pathetic looking. I was getting ready to yank the whole lot in disappointment when I pulled several straight ones in a row. There may be hope for some of the carrots, but overall they remain a challenge for me to grow.

Other harvest include potatoes and New Zealand spinach:

A week ago, I showed the tomatoes growing in the garden spot. I am still impatiently waiting for them to ripen. I looked back to last year’s posts and found that the first substantial tomato harvest was the second week of August. We've had some rain off and on over the past few days and the sky remained overcast. We needed the rain. Hopefully, when the sun comes out later this week the tomatoes will be happy.

Be sure to visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Hornworms Have Arrived

I've been scouting my tomatoes and peppers knowing that hornworms would arrive any time now. I found some this weekend on my San Marzano tomatoes.

They were at the bottom of the plant where the adult moths tend to lay her eggs. A few chewed holes in the leaves tipped me off. I found the hornworms when I flipped over the leaves. They are very small, only about 1/2 inches or 13 mm long.

I know not to let their small size fool me. Hornworms grow quickly as they consume the the foliage and green tomatoes. It's time to begin daily inspection with gloves and a container of soapy water as my method of destruction.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard: July 26, 2012

Every Thursday, Robin at The Gardener of Eden hosts “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” where we can share posts on how we are using our garden harvests.

It was nice to putter in the kitchen this weekend preserving some of the harvest that is now coming out of the garden. Early Sunday morning was much cooler than it has been so I wanted to get some baking done.

One of the harvests that needed attention was the zucchini and summer squash that had accumulated during the week.

Some zucchini was grated up, measured out into 2-cup increments and frozen. I use the grated zucchini mostly in breads and muffins during the winter months. I thaw out grated zucchini before using it for baking but also add it frozen to soups, stews, and casseroles.

Of course I baked a couple loaves of zucchini bread while I was at it. Once cooled, one loaf was wrapped and frozen:

Zucchini Bread

While the breads were in the oven, I sliced and froze some zucchini and summer squash. I don't always blanch my summer squash when freezing. I often just slice them up, lay them out on a cookie sheet, and place it in the freezer. Once the squash is frozen it is scooped into a freezer bag. It will be really nice to add squash to pasta meals, stews, and soups over the winter.

Frozen Yellow Summer Squash and Zucchini

Squash bagged up in freezer zipper bags

The basil in the garden was starting to form flowers so it was trimmed to hopefully encourage the plants to continue to grow and bush out. The trimmed leaves along with some freshly harvested garlic were used to make some basil pesto base for freezing.

I just add a bunch of leaves, garlic, and a little olive oil to a food processor and pulse until it is blended.

The pesto base is frozen flat in small zipper bags. This makes it easy to snap off a frozen piece to use.

For pesto, I thaw out the pesto base and add more olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, ground walnuts or pine nuts, and anything else I may want to include at the time.

Preparing dinner on Sunday was easy after preserving the harvest this week. A little pesto base was reserved along with some zucchini and summer squash. These were combined with some onion, pasta, and sweet Italian sausage.

Summer Squash Sausage Pasta with Pesto

This is one of my favorite and simple summertime meals. The ingredients vary depending on what is available, but here is how I prepared it this weekend:

Summer Squash Sausage Pasta with Pesto

2 Italian sausages, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 small onion, diced
8 oz pasta of your choice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons pesto
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta. When cooked, drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add 1 Tablespoon of pesto and combine.

Add olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until onion begins to soften. Add the sausage to the pan and cook covered for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and summer squash cover and cook until softened and cooked through. Add 1 Tablespoon of pesto and combine.

Add the pasta to the sauté pan and combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate up and sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Join others at “Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard” at The Gardener of Eden and share what you've been baking, cooking, canning, drying, or how you have used some of your preserved garden bounty.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday: July 23, 2012

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from his or her gardens in different areas.

Below are some of the harvests from the garden spot this week:


Cucumber, Zucchini, and Yellow Summer Squash

Raspberries, Zucchini, and Yellow Summer Squash


New Zealand Spinach

Dark Red Norland Potatoes and Garlic

Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers, Zucchini, Cuke, Tomato,  & Berries

We have had a reprieve from the high humidity and dew point we were enduring last week. It is still in the 80s but it feels so much cooler without the extra moisture in the air.

Be sure to visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The First Blush

I was doing my morning walk through the garden and taking some pictures to document the stages of growth when I spotted it:

San Marzano wins the first red tomato award in the garden spot for the second year in a row. Although last year it was almost two weeks later in the season before a hint of red was seen. It must be because of  all the hot weather we have been experiencing this summer.

I hope there are more to follow soon because we are running out of home preserved tomato sauce. I have two one-gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from last year that I am going to make into sauce this week, but then that is it. We are out. I haven't been out of tomato sauce for three years.

Most of the tomatoes are doing really well this year. The San Marzanos are showing minimal signs of disease on their lower branches and they are filled with fruit:

San Marzano Tomatoes

Amish Paste Tomatoes are new to the garden spot thanks to seeds shared by Daphne. The plants are very well behaved and seem to love to be trellised and often intertwine themselves into the support fencing. The fruit is lovely. I can't wait to try my first ripe Amish Paste:

Amish Paste Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes are struggling this year. I think the heat stressed the plants and they are showing signs of disease. They are full of fruit though so hopefully I will be able to harvest some Romas before the plants expire.

Roma Tomatoes

I grow mostly paste tomatoes for making sauce and salsa, but there are a couple of globe tomatoes in the garden spot as well.

Rutgers Tomatoes are new to the garden spot this year thanks to Seeds of the Month Club:

Rutgers Tomatoes

I also grew some Bush Big Boy for a neighbor who didn't end up planting a garden this year. I found room for some of them. These were planted much later than the others and had grown very tall in their solo cups. I trenched the stems and planted almost 12-inches underground leaving just the very tips of the plants. They are growing really well and are healthy. They should give us a few nice sized slicers even with the late start:

Bush Big Boy Tomatoes

Bush Big Boy Tomatoes

Seeing the first red tomato is very exciting. Soon the marathon harvest and preserving will begin.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Garlic Harvest

The garlic was harvested this week. Perfect timing as I have just run out. I was pleased to see that the bulbs are slightly larger than last year. Two bulbs were trimmed and left on the kitchen counter. The rest were hung in the basement to cure.

Garlic harvested July 19, 2012

I have grown garlic in one of the 4x4 square foot gardens for several years. This produces just enough garlic for a year.

Garlic bed - photo taken July 7, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Growing New Zealand Spinach

A new crop in the Garden Spot this year is New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides).

New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides)

After doing some research I discovered that New Zealand Spinach isn't really spinach but tastes similar and can be cooked the same way. Also unlike spinach it is a heat loving plant that that is frost sensitive. This means when the spring spinach bolts and before the fall spinach can be planted, New Zealand spinach can fill the void and grow all summer long.

New Zealand Spinach is a perennial in warmer climates but will be grown as an annual here in zone 5. Although I may try to pot some plants up in the fall before frost hits and try to keep them alive inside.

The seeds are rather difficult to germinate. In fact, from my research they seem to only have a 40% germination rate. I tried soaking for 24 hours before planting but had the best luck scarifying the seeds by gently running an emery board across the surface and placing them on a damp paper towel in a sealed container. Even then, I almost gave up on them because it took so long for the seeds to sprout. Once a few did finally sprout, I transplanted them to soil blocks and grew them under lights.

The New Zealand Spinach was hardened off and transplanted into the garden once all danger of frost was over the same time as other heat lovers such as tomatoes and peppers. Most of the plants were pretty pathetic looking and I didn't think they would survive.

New Zealand Spinach next to lettuce in early June
New Zealand Spinach early June

However, once they became established and the heat of summer hit the plants began to grow and spread out forming a lovely dense mat of growth. The more they are harvested, the bushier they grow.

Most surprisingly there is very little insect damage to the leaves. The earwigs, beetles, and slugs that are munching in other parts of my garden have left the New Zealand Spinach alone and almost blemish free.

New Zealand Spinach mid-July

I didn't like the flavor of the New Zealand Spinach raw. It just tasted "green" to me, but cooked it tastes like spinach. My favorite way of eating it is simply sautéed in olive oil with fresh garlic. We have also enjoyed it wilted on pizza and blanched and added to pasta.

New Zealand Spinach is a winner in this garden and will return next year.

More info on New Zealand Spinach: PDF grow sheet from Utah State University

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday: July 16. 2012

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from his or her gardens in different areas.

I began preserving some summer squash this past week. Some zucchini was grated up, measured out into 2-cup increments and frozen. I also froze some zucchini and summer squash slices.

Celery, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Cuke, and Dk Red Norland Potatoes

Pea Pods, Kennebec Potatoes, Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Cuke

Peas, Cuke, Yellow Squash, and Parsley

Young Red Onion and Kennebec Potatoes

Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Cuke

It has been way too hot for baking, so I also tried making a zucchini bread in my bread machine. I just used my regular Zucchini Bread recipe from the Betty Crocker New Cookbook. I have never used the quick bread setting before and the results were ok. I think it was a bit over mixed affecting the texture a bit, but it was a small price to pay for fresh baked zucchini bread without heating up the oven and the house for an hour.

Speaking of the heat.....Yeah, I am going to do a little grumbling about the continued oppressive heat we are experiencing here in Maine. Temperatures have been in the 80s-90s combined with extreme humidity. It's like trying to breath through a wet sock.

With the humidity high, the foliage is staying pretty damp even during the day presenting a perfect environment for diseases. Most of the Roma tomatoes are beginning to get some yellow spotted leaves. We haven't had a lot of rain and the garden soil is pretty dry and required some deep soaker hose watering this week. The garden is loving the heat though and is growing really well.

Be sure to visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not Delicata Squash - But What is It?

I thought I only planted one type of winter squash this year, Delicata. I planted three plants in a row and provided plenty of space for them to vine out. One plant was larger then the others at the time of transplant. This plant continued to grow and is now crowding out the others. The plant is a bit bushier than I expected from the Delicata:

I curiously watched the first fruit form and slowly mature:

Today I noticed that it seemed to take on a creamy color with some faint green lines:

Here is another young fruit:

I am guessing maybe Sweet Dumpling squash? I've never grown Sweet Dumpling, but it is one of the offerings from the place I purchased the seeds. What do you think?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday: July 9, 2012

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from his or her gardens in different areas.

It has been really hot lately even here in Maine compared to what we are used to.  I hate to complain about the heat especially since so many have suffered so much worse over the past few weeks. We have also had a lot of thunderstorms that have dumped a good amount of rain. The garden loves the heat and is happily growing. Much more variety was harvested from the garden this week.

Just enough Green Arrow Peas were harvested and cooked up as a side dish. I am not a big fan of peas, but K loved them:

Green Arrow Peas

Green Arrow Peas - shelled

Snow Peas

The Zucchini and Yellow Sumer Squash have made their appearance. They are sizing up really fast in this heat. So far I am keeping up with harvesting them young but it is inevitable that some will get away from me soon:

Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash

The mixed basket below was added to the lettuce still in the refrigerator for some nice salads.

New Zealand Spinach, Swiss Chard, Celery, Scallion, Summer Squash

The New Zealand Spinach was added to salads for some crunch and texture, but I have to admit it didn't have much flavor. I will try it sautéed with olive oil and garlic next harvest.

The garlic is looking a bit ragged and will be ready for harvest soon. I pulled one to see how the bulbs were sizing up. This one was pretty good sized:

More potatoes were dug from the plants. These were much larger than last week's so hopefully there will be lots of good-sized potatoes come harvest time: 

Kennebec Potatoes

The potatoes were sliced up, and cooked in a foil packet on the grill along with some garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. In an effort to keep the house cool, we've been grilling out a lot lately.

Be sure to visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.