Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday: July 23, 2012 - Garlic!

The standard harvest this week focused around zucchini, cucumbers, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. I harvested my first papaya squash on Saturday (not pictured).

Although it was harvested over a month ago, tonight we finally trimmed and cleaned our garlic. The harvest is quite impressive. We started with this:

and ended up with this:

Music (3 lbs 5.25 ounces)

Spanish Roja (2 lbs 6 ounces)

I'm very impressed with my first-ever garlic harvest. We have plenty to eat for the year, and to plant for next year!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

First Tomato!

I just ate my first tomato from the garden without taking a photo. It was a Matt's Wild Cherry from one of the hanging pots. Delicious! I can't wait for more.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Walk Through The Garden - Heatwave Edition

Like much of the United States, we've been having a heatwave. Although I'm on vacation today, I won't be spending much time in the garden—the high is 101. I got outside prior to 10 a.m. to tie up some tomatoes, pick basil flowers, and take a photo walk through the garden.

This year I attempted to add some flowers to my garden to attract insects. The nasturtiums in pots and fence baskets haven't bloomed (many appear to be a lunch for birds or small rodents), but my zinnias are finally starting to bloom.

The last of the spring beets need to be pulled soon.

A rogue chipmunk has been sneaking under our gate (the stone path settled, leaving a gap), and he's been munching on some of the beets.

These are Polbig tomatoes. They should be my first non-cherry tomato.

I planted a random Forrelenschlus lettuce in the shade of the Polbigs. It had been eaten to the ground by a pest earlier this spring, but now it's doing well.

Still no broccoli head, but the plants are definitely growin.

The black beauty zucchini plant is full of flowers.

Cherry tomatoes - probably Blondkopfchen. I did a terrible job with labeling this year.

Eight-ball zucchini. Just picked two last night, and this one will be ready in a day or two.

Slim Jim eggplant. First time growing eggplants in my garden.

Cucumber flowers. I think I've spotted cucumber beetles in my garden, so I'm going to have to be super vigilant - when it cools off.

The leaves from our Italian Giant parsley are huge!

We have more basil than we know what to do with.

This is my first time growing celery. It's looking great.

Here's a picture of the stalk.

I also have bush beans flowering, and the strip of pole beans that actually survived the worm/slug attack is starting to climb the trellis. I've started another strip that is up now, and I'll plant another this weekend.

Time to start planning the fall garden...

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard - July 5, 2012

It's the summer of jam.

I haven't been good about blogging about the jams and jellies I've been canning, but I've definitely been busy making them! So far this summer I've put up strawberry and peach jam, as well as basil and garlic scape jelly. I've made sweet jams for three years now, but this will be my first year attempting savory jellies. I see many cheese and cracker appetizers in my future, or maybe savory thumbprint cookies.


First, strawberry jam. I made a dozen half-pint jars, and basically used the recipe on the container of low/no-sugar pectin I purchased, with the exclusion of lemon juice (the Ball canning book didn't call for it, so I felt safe). I only used half a cup of sugar for every two cups of crushed berries, and this is by far the most delicious jam I've made yet. I only have eight jars left after sharing some of the deliciousness.

The crushed berries separated from the juice...but I can deal with that.


Next, I made peach jam. My mom tipped me off to a traveling truck that brings tree-ripened peaches from Georgia to the upper midwest. I had never worked with peaches before, and I'm glad my husband was kind enough to help me blanch, peel, and slice the peaches. We ended up with seven quarts of frozen peaches for pies or smoothies, and 10 jelly jars of jam. I don't think I've ever had peach jam before, but I must say - it's delicious. I wish I would have doubled the recipe so I'd have 10 half-pint jars.

This is what half a bushel of peaches looks like.

I used the recipe from the Ball canning book.

There were plenty of peaches left for fresh eating, and this delicious peach cobbler.


Next, I found myself with a glut of basil well before the tomatoes (or any other summer veggies) were ready to harvest. I decided to take a foray into the land of savory jams. I used a Taste of Home recipe, although because I was using low/no-sugar pectin, I only used two cups of sugar. Even then, this jam seems overly sweet. I got nine jelly jars (one went home with my parents). I haven't tried it since it set.

Garlic Scapes

Even though I've already harvested my garlic, I'd been saving the garlic scapes for a day when I had time to make the recipe I read a few weeks ago on Gardener of Eden. Again, I modified the recipe slightly. I used more garlic scapes (probably 1 1/2 cups) and only a cup of sugar with my low/no-sugar pectin. Time will tell what this tastes like with my modifications. I got nine jelly jars (again, one went home with my parents). 

With almost 100 heads of garlic, we were swimming in scapes this spring and I was desperate for something other than a stir fry.
Not the most beautiful color...

Not jam!

I did put up one non-jam item. Using Daphne's brine recipe, I made my first jar of refrigerator pickles for the season. My cucumbers are just now flowering, but I was able to pick up a hoop house-grown cucumber at the farmer's market last weekend. These are delicious, even though my dad says "they taste too much like cucumbers." I'll be making a lot more of this brine.

Jar gifts

A former co-worker sent me a message on Facebook a few weeks ago offering up some extra jars from her grandmother's house. I gladly accepted her offer. She dropped them off while I was at work on Tuesday, and to my surprise she left five boxes of half-pint, pint and quart jars. There must be well over 100 jars in the boxes, some new in the box, and all very high quality. Looks like I'll be able to put up anything that comes out of the garden - hoping for an increased variety of pickles (including squash, green beans and carrots) and hopefully some whole tomatoes. No pictures of the jars - I haven't actually gotten around to unpacking them.

Want more?

Join Robin over at the Gardener of Eden for more Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard posts.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

First Zucchini

I've planted three kinds of summer squash this year, and two gave me their first harvest today - 8-ball zucchini and black beauty zucchini. They 8-balls were delicious in a zucchini quesadilla. The fate of the black beauty is yet to be decided.

There are already more baby squash on these plants, so I'm sure we'll be drowning in zucchini soon! I have three 8-ball and two black beauty plants. The three papaya pear squash plants are a little behind, but I'm sure they'll be producing soon.