This week we managed to pick:
Patty pan squash, many tomatoes, many cucumbers, haricot verts and old dutch half-runner green beans, cayenne peppers, and tomatillos.
We canned 6 pints of haricot verts, 3 pints of green beans, 3 pints of carrots, bring our total of haricot verts to something over 24 pints so far. We’re hoping to get as many as 60 pints of them by the end of the season, in hopes of sharing more of them with my father. We also made more refrigerator pickles, and 3 quarts of refrigerator taqueria style pickled carrots with hot peppers (the refrigerator looks pretty full these days). It’s satisfying when all the ingredients come from your own garden: carrots, onions, garlic, hot peppers (jalapenos and a hot cherry bomb/habanero cross).
Until yesterday evening, it had been over 2 weeks since we had rain at our house. It has rained up the road, down the road, north, south, east, and west of us, it rained downtown and uptown and over by the river – and for all I know next door – but not here. My father was telling me the other day about how they had almost 4 inches of rain in Raleigh in less than 48 hours, with high winds and related storm damage. He thought I was kidding when I said, “nope, nothing here”. As a consequence, we ran out the water in the water barrels, and the garden was suffering. On Friday we tapped the well for water to give everything a drink; fortunately it rained almost 1/3rd of an inch yesterday, which filled most of the primary barrels, and ensured another 3 days or so for the garden itself. Since we can do a watering after that, it’s likely that we’ll get rain before we run out again, even if the english for meteorologist is in fact “liar” (apologies to Lewis Black, who I understand lives somewhere near here).
After seeing 2 caterpillars on the tomatoes on Tuesday, She (the one who does most of the *actual* time in the garden) immediately sprayed all the tomato plants with BT. And while I’m at this point, I’d like to digress and talk about us a bit. The garden was his idea; she does most of the actual day to day stuff in it, including all those little things that you never document but that take a lot of time. You can be out there, training this vine, pulling that extra weed, snipping off those dying leaves, working that bed just a bit and suddenly it’s been 2 hours and your clothes are soaked to the bone in sweat. I (that’s *he* at the moment, but not always) do a lot of the heavy lifting when we need it, and help out as needed. Sure, I do most of the cooking of all this stuff, along with the cooking prep. I clean *while* I’m cooking, but she does most of the after cleaning. She writes a lot of notes during the week on what we did; he tends to organize them and put them in order for these posts. So we use “we” a lot, when actually it could be one or the other of us. And I wanted to make sure she got credit where credit is due; the garden and the blog do take both of us, and she is the leader in effort. End digression.
Today I’m making biscuits so we can have fresh tomato biscuits all week, and tomatillo sauce for dishes next week; and I have a lamb roast marinating in garlic and red wine and olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden (dill, rosemary, oregano, parsley), and later today there will potato salad from potatoes she’s pulling up right now, along with fresh steamed green beans — we really enjoy sitting down to a dinner that most of it comes from what we grow. The garden really makes us feel like we’re living “high on the hog”.
The tomatillos aren’t all that productive this year. This is probably because they’re in a “somewhat sunny” box instead of a box higher on the hill. We also only have 3 plants this year whereas last year we had 5. We have really enjoyed the canned salsa verde that we made last year for use as a cooking sauce, so next year we’ll go back to 5 plants in a “full sun” box.
Most of the various pepper plants now have actual peppers growing, and some are harvestable.
We trimmed and put up all of the cured onions. When we weighed them out of curiosity, we discovered that we have 11+ lbs of onions. Not nearly as impressive as the 1 lb onions we buy at the store, but we’ll take it. Total onion harvest for the year is slightly over 12 pounds.
We seeded 3 more dutch crookneck winter squash. These have had poor germination so far. I don’t know if it’s the type or this particular pack of seeds since this is our first year growing this variety. We also started 16 blue lake bush bean seeds in the front box that had held lettuces.
Someone asked me this past week why we grow 3 different varieties of green beans. We think the haricot vert french filet beans are the best, but the old dutch half-runners are *very* prolific and quite hardy; the blue lakes are a classic for this region and by planting all 3 we ensure that we don’t lose out on green beans because of the (admittedly rare) failure of one type of them. Beans (legumes) also tend to be good for the soil, and we rotate them through the boxes.
The two yellow summer squash plants we have don’t seem to be setting more flowers, although it could just be the regular over 95 degree (up to 105 one day) days we’ve been having for the past 2 weeks. Or perhaps they’re nearing the end of their life cycle, or …oh who knows. We’ve decided to start more of them (4), as well as some cucumbers (6) for planting in August to see if we can get a fall crop of both. The two remaining patty pan squashes have recently set more fruit but they’re in one of the more “somewhat sunny” rather than “full sun” boxes.
We also started a number of fall crops in the basement this week, including 3 types of cabbage (2 green, 1 red) 2 types of cauliflower, and 2 types of broccoli. In a couple of weeks we’ll start kales and mustards in the basement as well.
Some of our cucumbers are coming out bitter. Research on the internet reveals that this could be a) end of the life-cycle / old vine, b) lack of water, c) too hot temperatures, d) variety of cucumber, e) some assortment of the previous factors, f) all of the above, g) other more obscure reasons. Well that wasn’t very helpful, though we are pretty clear that we like the boston pickling variety better than the delikatesse variety.
Lastly, the amish paste tomatoes are every bit as tall as the better boys – as usual our tomatoes grow to the top of an 8-foot trellis, then start back down, even when I top and sucker them.