Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cucumber Mutiny!

What a year I'm having in the garden!  First the most pathetic tomato that I've ever seen, and now I believe my pickling cucumbers are conspiring against me.  They're huge and turning orange.  I'm new at this gardening thing, but I do know that cukes are suppose to be green.  Why are mine orange?   I was planning to make a small batch of pickles this week-end, but I don't know what to do with this monster.  These are suppose to be Boston Pickling cukes, so I wasn't expecting this.  I did some research on this issue, and there are gardeners all over the blogosphere who have encountered this problem with this particular variety.  When I first saw it, I couldn't figure out what it was.  When I realized it was a cuke, I thought it could have been a problem as a result of where I planted them.  I have Roma tomatoes, dill and onions close by.  Not!  Most of the gardeners who encountered this same problem have said they have a sweet taste and should still be good for pickling.  I plan to make spicy pickles, so I may try it in a salad.  I'll keep you posted on the taste and quality of the cukes.  

I was able to harvest a beautiful orange Beefsteak, which makes up for the pathetic one below that I picked several days ago.  I planted a rainbow Beefsteak, so I'm looking forward to seeing the various colors on the vine. 

What a difference in these tomatoes!  I'm going to make myself a nice BLT this week-end and this baby is going to on the bed of lettuce topped with crispy bacon.  Let the week-end begin!  The zucchini will be used in zucchini bread and placed in the freezer.  The chilies will used in my pickles and a pot of chili.  It's a hundred degrees I know, but I'll taste it and place the batch in the freezer.   

Do you make pickles?  If so, please share your recipe.  I'm also curious to know what type of pickling cukes you plant.  I don't think I want to deal with Boston Pickling cukes again. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My First Tomato Harvest

I spent the week-end pulling weeds in the garden, and was able to harvest a few peppers and the most pathetic tomato that I've ever seen.  The tomato shown is a Beefsteak or suppose to be one.  I was so happy that I hadn't seen many cracks and blemishes on my tomatoes weeks ago, and this is what I found waiting for me.  I was so elated to see my first red tomato I literally ran to it.  This is my first tomato of the year, WTH!  What a disappointment.  Into the compost bin it goes, but I just had to share the picture.  I turned it over and over trying to figure out how I could get a nice slice for a BLT.  It would take a rocket scientist to come up with a solution for this poor excuse of a tomato.  I pray that this is not an indication of what is to come in my garden.  I'm going to think positive.  Afterall, I don't have anywhere to go but up, lol.   

On the flip side, my peppers are doing great.  I was able to harvest chili and a few Hungarian Wax at various stages of maturity.  I'm going to freeze these for chili. 

 It looks like I better grow tougher skin if I'm going to remain a kitchen gardener.  My grandson looked at the tomato and said, "Mawmaw, put that back.  Only get the good ones".  Gotta love them!     


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bugs Be Gone Please

My zucchini and cucumber recovered from the cucumber bug attack, and now the leaves on my green beans are being eaten by these unwelcome visitors.  Does anyone know what they are?  I sprayed them with Sevin, and they are now history.  Last year I didn't have a bug problem, but I guess I'm being welcomed to the world of gardening this year. 

On a good note, my tomatoes are doing well.  This is a Brandy Wine.  So far they show no signs of cracking!   I'm working hard to water regularly and fertilize at least by-weekly.  I want big Brandy Wine slices for my BLTs.  How often do you fertilize your tomatoes and what do use?

My peppers are gdoing great.  These are Hugarian Wax peppers, which I have never tried.  I'll be harvesting a few within the next week or so.  I have one that is turning orange, which is suppose to be at its hottest stage.  I'm going to try it in salsa. 

My cukes have recovered from the cucumber bug attack.  It has lots of blooms, so I'm hoping for lots of cukes for pickles.

My Wando peas are growing, and I have a few flowers.  Not sure how they are going to turn out in the summer heat, but this particular brand is suppose to be heat tolerant.  Have any of you grown Wando peas?

This Beefsteak is producing very well too.    I'll be planting another batch of bush beans this week.  The pole beans are doing great, but I want to make sure I have enough to can. 

That's what's happening in my garden.  What's happening in yours?

Keeping Weeds Down In The Garden

I mulched around the majority of my plants this year, but didn't complete the paths.  I decided to do that this week-end since weeding was taking up lots of time.  I ran short on straw, and decided to make do with what I had.  Hopefully, layering the paths with thick layers of newspaper before laying the straw will help. 

I didn't cover the remaining bale of straw, and it was damp in some areas.  Take note, do not wear flip-flops while laying wet, rotted straw.  You could take a topple.  It's amazing how slippery it is when wet.  Funny, I walked past two pair of garden boots while heading to the garden to lay the straw.  I won't make that mistake again. 

Hopefully, the newspaper will help with the weeds in the pathways since I wasn't able to thickly apply it.  I'll be sure to buy at least 2  - 3 bales for the paths and plants this fall.  I left my straw out to rot and ensure that all seeds sprouted or died before placing it in the garden.  I've heard horror stories of gardeners using fresh straw/hay and it sprouting throughout the garden.  Since I row garden, I'll toss the newspaper in the compost and till the straw under in the spring.  All those weeds have made me want to add a cultivator to my list of gardening wants for next season, but at this point it's cheaper for me to use straw and newspaper.  How do you keep your weeds down? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harvesting Blue Lake Beans

I left my garden for a few days to visit the grandchildren and when I returned things were jumping.  The tomato plants have jumped 2 - 3 feet and lots of tomatoes are on the vines.  Oh boy! 

I'll be making a few loaves of zucchini bread this week-end out of today's harvest. 

I picked my first Sugar Baby today.  Since I'm a novice gardener, I guessed as to when it should be picked.  I used the thumping method and checked the color of the melon to determine it was time to take this baby into the house and give it its place in the fridge.   Supposedly, a sign of ripeness is when the melon turns a dark green and become somewhat dull looking.  It was there.  Another method was a hollow sound when you thump it.  It sounded hollow to me or maybe the sound that I heard was my empty stomach growling and me thinking about consuming this Sugar Baby.  Oh well, it's off the vine and I will be eating it real soon.  I only have two melons so far.  I hope I get a few more. 

My Blue Lake bush beans produced a nice little harvest.   The wax beans didn't do as well.  I'm hoping the pole beans produce a good crop.  I want to add a few gallons to the freezer.  I do believe that I will do another planting of the bush beans just to be sure that I will have enough.   I have an old wash tube that would be perfect for a new crop of beans.  I'll put it to use this week-end.  Need to get my beans into the fridge so they can stay fresh until I can get them blanched and into the freezer in the morning.  How's your garden growing and what are you harvesting?  Leave me a comment, I'll pay you a visit to see what's happening in your garden. 

Squash Recipes


The squash and zucchini are producing.  I was worried about my zucchini and cuke plants.  The leaves were being eaten, and I had no idea by what.  I monitored the plants early morning and late evening and found the culprits, cucumber bugs.  Striped and spotted.  I tried a soap solution to no avail, and than resorted to Sevin.  Within a day or two, cucumber bugs were gone and the plants recovered nicely. 

The top recipe requires:

  • 3 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 - 10 ounces of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of mayo
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • bread crumbs.  
Cube squash and zucchini and saute for 10 - 15 minutes along with the chopped onion.  Mix the mayo and eggs.  Add the cheese to the mixture; blend well.  Drain the squash and zucchini and add to a greased baking dish.  Mix in the mayo, egg and cheese mixture.  Top with bread crumbs and drizzle the butter over the bread crumbs.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

 The second dish requires:

  • Yellow squash
  • ground beef
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
Slice squash lengthwise and remove seeds.  Brown beef and peppers.  Fill the center of the squash with the mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 350 degrees.