I got to spend some time weeding the garden this week, but other than that it has been flourishing all on its own. Here is a little (although somewhat long) account of how the garden is growing this week.
The zucchini are flooding in as predicted, and after the nice rain last week they were nice, plump, and ready for picking! I saw just one squash bug in the spaghetti-squash (Three-Sisters) plot and squished it along with its eggs, but otherwise there hasn’t been any sign of them yet. I am definitely keeping my eye out though. The cucumbers are also starting to flow in. I don’t have quite enough plants to make large batches of pickles, so I have been trying to make them in small ones. It can be a pain to do the hot-water bath method with just a jar or two, but I think once I get into the routine and get a recipe together that works well it should work out just fine. I still have a couple of jars left from last summer, and it has been really nice to grab a jar on the way to a get-together or to give away as gifts.
The pepper plants are starting to explode with peppers! I am hoping to leave some of the green sweet-bells on the vine to turn red, but with so many of them on the plant I want to pick them selectively in order to give the others a chance to grow. It has been exciting to watch as the broccoli plants whose heads we already harvested have been producing their side shoots. On the 12th we harvested just a few of them, but are looking forward to more over the next week.
One of the saddest parts of the garden this week, was the anti-harvest of around 40 tomatoes. I think that at some point the tomato plants were a bit drought stressed while the plants were setting fruit, and they ended up getting blossom-end rot. It could be something else, but I find it very strange that some of the fruit of the plants are big and healthy and others are rotting at their ends. There are a ton of tomatoes on each plant, so maybe some of them are getting a bit short-changed on nutrients. We will see how they continue to grow.
This year I planted several herbs for both culinary and agricultural purposes: thyme (both french and english), rosemary, oregano, parsley, dill, cilantro, and basil. I was interested in trying out more companion plantings, but I also wanted to try my hand at drying herbs. I started most of these plants from seeds indoors (most were directly sown while some of the thyme came from cuttings), and they have really been taking off. I have a few herb plants in the kitchen for immediate use, but most are growing so much more bountifully outside. They definitely add a lot to the garden. I also purchased and planted a lavender and a lemon verbena plant in my tea-garden. They have been settling right in and I harvested my first lemon verbena bunch in hopes that they would be a locally (personally!) grown replacement to the lemons in my blueberry-zucchini muffins (see In The Kitchen below).
New Blossoms and Growth
As for the new stuff in the garden, our first Vining Black-Eyed Susan’s blossomed this week, just as beautifully as I had hoped. They will hopefully vine all over the fence by the dogs and maybe even take over a portion of the doghouse trellis.
The melon blooms are turning into fruit, and we now have quite a few of them starting to grow nicely on the vines. I read that is best to only grow one on a vine at a time in order to get the sweetest melon, so I have pulled a couple of the small ones off. They are all tangled together, so it is kind of hard to tell which melon belongs to which plant. While we planted Hales Best Jumbo Melons (cantaloupe), we are starting to wonder if that is what we are really growing, since they are looking a bit more watermelon-like.
Last year I planted some Dahlia bulbs that came up beautifully, and then I dug them up in the fall and stored them away in a closet. I was a little late getting them in the ground this year, but they are growing and on the brink of blooming. I love to watch their slow unfolding.
One of most the most exciting things in the garden this week has been watching the corn as it starts to tassel and seeing the silk in its maroon glory. I was very surprised to see this bright color in the silk, but every time I see it I can’t help but smile. It all looks so beautiful, especially as the rattlesnake beans begin to form as well.
Right along with the beans and the corn, the squash are holding their own. In our little 10’x15′ Three Sisters section we must have at least a half dozen spaghetti squash a bit bigger than a softball. My favorite so far is the one that is growing on top of the doghouse trellis. Just how I had hoped! 🙂
Finally, I am happy to announce that our very sad looking eggplants have actually managed to fruit! We will see if it makes it to maturity, but our hopes are high!
While we collect our last harvest of some of the plants, like the cabbage and the broccoli, I have begun to think ahead to our fall crops. This week I started some more cabbage and broccoli indoors, along with some brussels sprouts – which I am super excited for! I started a few of each this week, and will do a second planting next week just so our crops are a bit spaced out. Hopefully by mid to late August they will be transplanted outside. I have never done a fall transplanting before, so we will see how it goes.
In the Kitchen
We again had a wonderful dinner of stir-fry and egg rolls (seeing as we still had 2+ pounds of cabbage left from our gigantic head!). Not to mention the broccoli from last week was still in the fridge and the peas and zucchini needed to be eaten up as well. We wanted to add some sort of meat and we only really had some spicy italian sausage so we cooked that up and added some honey and ginger to give it a more oriental taste and threw it in the veggies. It turned out pretty awesome and along with the egg rolls has provided some really nice left-over lunches throughout this week. I will try to get a recipe posted sometime this week.
While the peppers this week have gone onto nachos and into quesadillas, the zucchini have made their way into our dessert (which doubles as breakfast) in the form of blueberry-zucchini muffins. I made these a few times last summer, but failed to write down the recipe, so as I was preparing for a blueberry bake-off at a local orchard I experimented a few times trying to recreate the muffins from last year. I think I got pretty close. Check out the current form of the recipe (coming soon). In all of the excitement of making these muffins, I forgot to get a picture of the final product, so here is the unbaked version. So yummy though!
On the menu for this coming week:
Since we didn’t get around to making the pot pie last week, it is on the menu for this week! We have peas and broccoli ready from the garden and some potatoes, carrots, onions and chicken from the farmers’ market.
With all the zucchini, we bought some potatoes, eggplant and sausage at the farmers market to make some sort of yummy baked dish (maybe add a few peppers too?).
Finally, the peppers will continue to be eaten here and there as we make various Mexican dishes. In fact I think super nachos are on the menu for this week. I will cook up all the chicken for the pot pie, but save half of it to top tortilla chips along with peppers and onions and lots of cheese! We may need to pick up some more avocados for this dish.
I downloaded an App this week that you can use to track the walks that you go on with your dog(s) and which then donates money to the shelter of your choice based on the distance that you go. Since we walk our dogs at least a couple miles everyday, I thought this would be a fun way to really monitor the dog walking that we do while also helping out an animal shelter back home in Minnesota. Check it out: Walk for a dog.
That is all for this week. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed (@runningwcharley) for daily updates as I have been enjoying posting things from my new phone. 🙂