Tomatoes and Thievery – Growing Garden Weekly – 7/29/14

I have been missing my weekly posts, so here is an update from the last few weeks.

Harvests

This year we planted 10 Roma tomato plants. I am sad to admit that we didn’t plant different varieties or any heirloom seeds, but used the leftover seeds from a seed packet we bought last year. While I am very excited to make salsa, sauces, and all kinds of yummy things out of the tomatoes, I have bigger and better plans for my tomato setup next year – possibly involving this wonderful seed collection. Until then, we will enjoy our wonderful harvest this year. Our tomatoes are just starting to ripen, and I have been a bit over eager at picking them, but we have started to really use them in the kitchen and it is so nice to have a few on hand every night when we put our meals together.

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Along with our wonderful first tomatoes, we have been blessed with many, many peppers! I am trying to resist picking some of the green peppers so that they turn red, but it won’t be long before the onions are ready and then we will need them for the the salsa making!

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We harvested the final side shoots from our broccoli and the final two cabbages. I still haven’t quite figured out what to plant in their place for this fall, but I am leaning towards carrots. Last year we left our carrots in the ground through part of the winter and harvested them for a wonderful thanksgiving day dish. I hope to have a large number of carrots in the ground for this coming winter. And speaking of carrots, I thinned out a few of those as well. It will be great to start making dishes where we really are using mostly stuff from our garden (although the stuff from the farmer’s market is good too).

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Although some of my zucchini plants have keeled over (I suspect Vine borers, as they they have been a problem in the garden lately), we still got two large fruits that I haven’t figured out what I want to do with yet. Maybe I will try my blueberry zucchini muffin recipe again using the lemon verbena.

The cucumbers aren’t doing so well either (mostly from a bit of watering neglect), so I am sad to say that the pickle production will be down this year. I don’t think I planted enough cucumber plants to begin with to really get going making pickles, and a few plants have already died off. There are many other things that I am trying out this year, so it will be kind of nice not to have to make pickles once a week. However, a few plants have survived and I have already made one batch of refrigerator pickles.

Scandal and New Growth!

I go to the garden about every other day and love the connection I have with the place and the peace that it brings me. I notice when new fruit is forming, when bugs are attacking certain plants, and generally when things in the garden change. So it was quite obvious when there was an intruder. One of the beautiful spaghetti squash that I have been watching grow over the course of the last month, pictured below, suddenly disappeared the other day along with one of our melons. After a couple emails sent to the other people in the community garden it was clear that there was an unwelcome thief in the garden. Everyone had something missing. My good friend had all of her onions stolen that she had been curing and waiting 3 months for, and another friend had a zucchini missing. It was a bit upsetting to know someone came in and broke the peace and feeling of community we have. While our other harvests will fill in the things we lost, it will be hard to regain that feeling of security. Maintenance is coming in to fix the lock on the garden (it was previously easy to open without the key), and everyone is on the lookout for any suspicious activity. What really bothers me, is that neither the melon nor the squash were ready to be harvested. It makes me sad to think that they were picked before their time.

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Besides the missing fruits, things are growing quite well. The three-sisters plot is producing nicely and getting very close to harvest time. The corn only has about a week left  and the beans are delicious as they are, but I am hoping to keep them on the vines for awhile for some dried beans. I am not quite sure how long the spaghetti squash have yet, but I think it will be a little bit still.

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The new and exciting growth has been the arrival of the pumpkin blossoms! After a thorough weeding, I ended up laying down the rest of the straw as mulch, and it is working so well! I don’t even think I will really need to weed that area for the rest of the summer (I hope!).

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I only planted a few varieties of flowers in the garden, and they are all doing well. My dahlias have really taken off and are blooming beautifully, even though the entire plot that they are in needs to be weeded.

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Newly Planted

The only newly planted thing this week, was a few more cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts that I started indoors. I am hoping to move them outside toward the end of August, so I hope things aren’t too hot by then and that the indoor plants will be big enough to make it through.

In the Kitchen

While there is always lots to do in the garden, I have been really having most of my fun in the kitchen these last few weeks. Here is a little taste of what we have been cooking:

July 14th I whipped together a Chicken Pot Pie. The process is long and warm, but in the end it is definitely worth it. I am in the process of writing up the recipe, but I am not sure when it will get posted. Most of what went into the pot pie was from the farmer’s market except for our broccoli and herbs, which were from our garden.

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With the tomatoes we have made up a couple of small batches of pico de gallo. We also used our jalepenos, sweet peppers, green chile peppers, and lime+cilantro combination that I had preserved in the freezer.

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In addition to the salsa, we have been roasting our tomatoes in the oven with garlic from the farmer’s market and basil from our garden. We love to eat it on fresh baguettes with homemade mozzarella (I have finally figured out how make this and it doesn’t take long at all!) or on a pizza with some of our other veggies.

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I like to put my zucchini in sweet dessert dishes, but we have definitely been mixing it up a bit. One day we did a potato, zucchini, carrot bake with turkey sausage that turned out amazing! It was fun to throw in a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden. Another day we improvised and threw some zucchini into an eggplant Indian dish. We have finally purchased enough spices to make a quality curry, so there have been a couple of nights where we have enjoyed some vegetarian dishes with a little kick. We have found it is a great way to eat up the veggies we always have around the kitchen.

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On the menu for this week is more stir-fry and egg rolls to use up the cabbage and broccoli. I am hoping to collect some onions and enough tomatoes to be able to make a full batch of the chunky salsa recipe that I used last summer, but we will see how fast the tomatoes come in. Otherwise we will make more roasted tomatoes to eat with fresh mozzarella on pizza, in a pasta dish, or maybe just on a baguette. They are all so delicious!

That is all for now. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed (@runningwcharley) for daily updates as I have been enjoying posting things from my new phone. 🙂

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