Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cubanelle Peppers

      I started many different kinds of peppers by seed back in January, and lo and behold, I have had great pepper success.  One pepper that I was looking forward to was the Cubanelle, a sweet pepper that grows long and turns red when ripe.  They have been great in the green stage, but I quit picking them green to get some reds ones.  Cubanelles have thin walls, so I suggested to my wife that they would be a good candidate to stuff raw, then just eat the whole pepper.  So last night, we tried that.

Four Cubanelles, one Carnival Pepper
        I love ground turkey cooked with taco seasoning.  We put the turkey in the Cubanelle shells and chowed down.  Boy was it good.

      The fresh cukes are from the garden, as well as the yellow Dr. Wyche tomato.  And the Cubanelle peppers were sweet down to the last bite.  We be doing this again real soon.

Oh Butternut

      I had not grown butternut squash in a few years, so when my daughter Emily suggested I take half of her four pack, I eagerly accepted the offer.  I truly do not believe she meant me or my garden any ill will.

Butternut squash harvest, August, 30th, 2012
      I knew they would get unruly.  They did not disappoint.  They went over the little fence, and up onto the leaf mold pile.  Making the pile unavailable for the summer.  Since there were not a lot of little squash still forming, I decided to rip out the plants this morning.

More butternut squash
Left one butternut vine to trellis
There, all yanked out.  Much better.

      I was smart enough to harvest the squash to my garden cart from the beginning pick.  What a good idea, as it would have been many trips back to the deck otherwise.

Total haul, 25 butternut squash!
      Thanks Emily, it was quite a haul.  If we eat one a week, that's about half a year of squash!  And that does not include the acorn squash that should be coming in over the next few weeks.
      I will gladly trade a butternut squash today for some pumpkin cookies Tuesday.  Any takers?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Start to the Fall Garden

      Even though it has not been in the beastly 90's recently, it is still hot and uncomfortable most days in the muggy 80's.  Not even early mornings are pleasant with the high humidity and temperatures over 70.  The gardens and the yard are showing signs of being tired with it all.  Most of the tomatoes and peppers are still doing well, yet is time to pull some failed plants, yank out the weeds, and start anew.

Kale remnants, August 27, 2012

      This bed had the remains of some kale plants that were still struggling through the heat.  I was tempted to cut off the old leaves to see if I could get good new growth, but finally decided the space was too valuable.  So out they came, and in went lettuce and arugula.

        Arugula went in on the right, black seeded simpson lettuce in the middle, and four seasons lettuce on the left.  In another bed, I put in two favorites, Tango lettuce and winter marvel bibb lettuce.  Last year I sowed seeds on August 22nd and still got good results, so I am hoping I am not too late now.  I bought some beautiful lettuce plants this morning to cheat a bit, as it has been a long time since we had any fresh lettuce.  The cole crops were tempting, but I still have harlequin beetles around both gardens.  No point in feeding those little monsters.
       August 28th, AM:  Weeded and cleaned out bed #6 at the park.  From west to east, I planted Beedy's Camden Kale from my own seed collected for 2011.  Next to that was Territorial's Ching-Chiang bok choy, then Fedco's Tenderleaf Hardy Green OG.  Filling out that section was Fedco's Ice Bred Arugula OG and Heirloom Seeds' early Siberian Kale.  In the little square bed at the far east end of bed # 6 went Fedco's Chinese Thick-Stemmed Mustard OG and Territorial's Tah Tsai.  I finished many of the seed packets, at last.  So this winter I will have the pleasure of actually ordering some seeds from the catalogs that arrive.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bug Catching Help

      Two days ago I trimmed and tied a couple of cherry tomato plants that were getting adventuresome.  This morning I discovered evidence of a gardener helper.

Web in the mist, August 15th, 2012

      Not to be outdone, my daughter Emily just sent me a picture of a real spider from her garden.  I would never venture near that monster.  Spider baby, those tomato plants are your domain.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bellevue Annual Garden Picnic

      I was over at the park this morning at 6:30 AM to check on my garden.  It really had not occurred to me that today was the Annual Garden Picnic Day.  So even at that early hour, Brownie was at the park firing up the pig roaster.

Brownie at the pig roasting machine

      Brownie had just started the coals as I arrived.  A few minutes later, they were glowing, and here Brownie smooths them out to make the fire even.

      Jim arrived a few minutes later, and by 7:00AM, the pig was meeting the fire pit.  The pig was cut in half lengthwise, so here goes side number one.

One on
Hey my better half, you be smokin
      Side one was followed shortly thereafter by side number two and the roaster was closed.  But alas, it had to be opened again as Brownie had forgotten to put the head in to roast.  Somehow I missed taking that picture.  Here is the flyer for the picnic:

      By one this afternoon, I hope to be really hungry.  Now let's see.  Roast pig.  Fried whiting.  Jerk chicken.  Those three I know I want to try.  Cindy just made a cucumber and onion salad that we will take over.  It is just now 11:00 AM, so I will post more this evening.  Let's hope it does not rain on our picnic.  Ah, my stomach is starting to rumble already.
      One o'clock finally rolled around, ant the picnic was on.  Food, food, and more food.

Brownie is still hard at work, hours after his 6:00 AM start
One of our nicer weather days
At times it seemed there were more cars than people
As tummies filled, the crowd thinned
       I went home around three, then went back to the park at 5:15 to help with clean up.  Few people were left, and the tables were being cleared.  We had it buttoned up by 5:45.  By 6:00 a light rain, by 6:01 it was pouring.  But we were stuffed and happy.  A good day had by all.  And I got to take a meal of roast pork home.  Thanks Brownie.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trying to Cope With the Heat

      It's official.  It's hot.  July is now the Gold Medal winner for the hottest month in the history of record keeping in America.  Both as a country and in the state of Delaware.  Even gardening in the early morning does not provide much comfort when it is already 75 degrees with full humidity.  Yesterday I was out at about 6:30, and a haze was hanging everywhere.

Hazy walk between rows of tomatoes,  August 8, 2012
Nice big Brandywine tomato on the vine
Haze and Joe Pye Weed at the end of the tunnel

      This is a shot from the corner of the garden.  The two rows of tomatoes are behind the black eyed Susan clump at the right of this photo.  We have been lucky to have had two separate one inch rains in the last couple of weeks.  I try not to water often, especially the flower beds.

Joe Pye Weed
Mixed Phlox

      It is time for breakfast.  More importantly, it is time for some air conditioning.  This has not been a summer of open windows and dinner on the porch.  The expected high today, 95 degrees.  And lots of humidity.  The weathermen said it would feel "tropical".  Duh.  And to think that they get paid for those pearls of wisdom.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On Freezing Tomatoes

      This year is already turning out to be a much better tomato year than last year.  Although we made and froze some tomato soup last year, we never got a single bag of tomatoes frozen.  Today is only the first of August, a week earlier than the crop came in last year, and I just froze the first batch of tomatoes.  It is so easy to freeze tomatoes, that I actually did it all by my lonesome.

First of the tomatoes for freezing, August 1st, 2012
      Start by choosing and washing the tomatoes you want to freeze.  We will use these later for cooking, so choose tomatoes that you would use for current cooking purposes.  That means you can use some that might not be quite as ripe as you would choose for slicing to be eaten fresh.  Do not use bruised or blemished fruits.  Now comes the toughest part:

      Cut out the little core of the tomato to add to the compost bin.  Do not worry about skinning the tomatoes, just start putting them in a freezer bag, cored side up to avoid drainage.

      I had just enough tomatoes on hand to fill the bag.  But the beauty of this method is that you can freeze just a couple at a time, and keep adding them over days till the bag is full.  Stick them in the freezer, again cored side up.  They will freeze solid like little billiard balls that can be broken apart quite easily.  To use them, pull out the number of frozen tomatoes you need, rinse them under running water for just a couple of moments, and the skins pop right off.  Then into your cooking pot they go.
      Most of the tomatoes that were frozen this morning are the Glacier tomatoes, a very early tomato.  They were the first of our tomatoes to come in, and they are still going strong.  They are very tasty for an early tomato, so I will certainly use them again next year.

Glacier Tomatoes, August 1st, 2012