Fourth of July tomatoes — yes!

Is this the earliest yet for us? Five Sungold tomatoes harvested on the Fourth of July.

I admit they aren’t as uniformly golden as ones we will harvest later on. But wow were they good!

We’ve also been harvesting cucumber, peas, arugula and basil, but it’s the tomatoes I’m most excited about.

Here’s what the tomato bed looks like:

tomato plants july 4 2018

 

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Ah, garlic scapes

0F4B6E9F-260A-4D1C-8DED-F4624BA9BA46I harvested 34 garlic scapes earlier this week and just added another two that I’d overlooked.

I’m now looking for ideas beyond garlic scape pesto. What should I cook? Any suggestions?

I admit I’m mostly hoping for fat garlic bulbs when I harvest in a month or two. Probably closer to two given how weird the weather has been.

 

Leeks, and a resolution for next year

IMG_1395(How did this not get published when I wrote it in November??))

The leeks we bought in Maine in June have been amazing!

No work, most did really well (and I will take the blame for those that didn’t, because they ended up having to fight with tomatoes). I don’t know that we have ever had some this thick and with this much white.

Next year I will call the place in late May/early June (unless we find ourselves headed to Maine) and mail-order a flat of 72 or whatever it takes. At 16 cents a plug, and a healthy one, not like a hair strand, is there a better deal? I’m sure we can find room in the beds. Even at the expense of tomatoes– famous last words! (Kale could shrink first?) And if you want to be part of my order, speak up.

Here are some other late harvests: a mixing bowl of hot peppers (guess I better freeze some) and lemongrass headed for a pot to overwinter (will see how freezing some stalks works out).

IMG_1392IMG_1384

See what vegetable in our garden survived the winter

92331542-26ED-4E80-AD9D-1A56C5993EF2Back a few months ago, when it was regularly falling well below freezing, I decided to try to save some kale that was still growing in one of our raised beds. I knew kale was hardy, but just how hardy? I pulled out some old sheets to create an ad hoc row cover. It rained, then snowed and snowed some more. The wet sheets stayed in place for about three months, as much out of inertia as any snow cover that would disappear within a few days.

Finally, as the calendar (if not the weather) turned to spring, I pulled off the covers.

Most of the kale stalks had rotted. But to my surprise, some were showing little shoots of green leaves. Now that I’ve given them more time and light, they’ve gone even greener. Time to start eating from the garden again (or adding this to my favorite Instant Pot recipe of the moment, Melissa Clark’s Moroccan Chickpeas with Kale.)

More from the vegetable beds

Our test of growing zucchini is a tomato cage seems to be a success. We’ve already gotten more this year than in the past, so keeping the leaves off the ground seems like the way to go (though I am wondering if bugs have since gotten to the more prolific one — note to self for next year: keep plants in separate beds to prevent bugs from hopping from one to the next).

These photos are about 10 days old:

zucchin1 2017

I failed at keeping one really well contained in the cage, though the sprawl seems to be less than in years past. Regardless, it’s ginormous.

Next year we’ll try with cages upside down to see if that helps better contain the early sprawl and then just let them spread out after a rung or two.

zucchini2 2017The tomatoes are doing fine, though I am concerned about the number of dead leaves near the bottom on so many. We’ve had plenty of rain this year, but it tends to be in short, heavy bursts, rather than a slow soak, so maybe the plants aren’t getting as much water as I think. Or maybe we’ve got a case of something else?

The first Brandywine from our Mississippi plants was this deep red and so tasty with basil from the garden (and mozzarella from the store):

tomato caprese 2017

The glut is starting

vegetable harvest july 21 2017To sum it up briefly: We can’t keep up with the zucchini. Too hot to do much baking! When we’ve had enough of kale salad, the greens are becoming pesto. There’s been more than enough for that. This evening marked our first harvest of beans, and the Sungold tomatoes are kicking off the tomato season. We harvested the first two three days ago and have had a few more since then. At least we’ll soon be able to use up cucumbers by making gazpacho.

The next debate for the garden: what to plant where the peas have been? A fall crop of peas? Try again with beets? Find a zucchini plant in the clearance section at a garden center and have a fall crop?

Feel free to weigh in.

Turn your back, and the zucchini have shot up another foot

zucchini flower croppedOK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure feels like it, especially after all the rain we got last night. We even have our first flowers!

We are experimenting this year with growing the plants upright by containing each in a large tomato cage instead of using a “fence” to keep them from sprawling all over the raised bed. It seems like only a week ago they were still pretty tiny. Now the leaves have topped the second of four rings. I try to push the leaves back into the cage before they get too big. So far it’s working.

The idea is that by growing the plants up, it will be easier to see the actual zucchini before they become the size of a baseball bat. I have another incentive to harvest them small — apparently it encourages more flowering.

This is how big one plant looks on the last day of spring. The top leaves are ginormous!

zucchini in cage

The other advantage is that it can be easier to spot the squash vine borers that attack the stem and kill the plant. That’s been our problem in the last few years, of course just as the glut gets going. This video is inspiring me to start checking, to find out what I need to use for dusting — and to start fertilizing since the plants are heavy feeders. Good thing I have some TerraCycle worm poop fertilizer, made in down the road in Trenton. I worked a little bit into the soil, ready for the next rain, which might come Friday.

Keeping leaves off the ground helps fight against bugs. This video says I also need to scatter Sevin Dust carefully around the base. But it does seem like nasty stuff and kills beneficial insects like bees, which we don’t want to do. So I’m googling away for other ideas. This video suggests just spraying dishwater detergent dissolved in water could do the trick too, at least with aphids, and can work on cucumbers. Sounds like that requires some persistence. Maybe we will use some of the aphid-fighting Neem we already have.

Want to weigh in?

We are using the cages the same way we would use them for tomato plants, so the narrowest part is at the bottom and the prongs are in the soil. If we wanted to test it the other way, well, it’s too late. Plus we’d have needed some kind of clip to keep the cage from toppling over in the wind. We have no idea how heavy the plant will be and whether an upside-down cage could support them or would tip over. That first video says we should have bamboo stakes too. One more thing to do…