Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Quick Overview – What It Looked Like In Early June

Time for a quick overview of one section of the garden.

This is what the area outside the greenhouse looked like (the greenhouse has a solid glass door on it, so it has to be propped open all summer):

outside the greenhouse

Looking west from just outside the fence, visible is the squash row in the middle, the pepper row to the left and the tomato patch to the far right – before the tomato diseases set in:

overview looking west

A close up of what was once a beautiful tomato patch (we allow castors to grow where they sprout, and only cut them out when they get in the way, or when the wind blows them over) :

looking toward the tomatoes

Gardens look so beautiful for a month or 2, don’t they – then the diseases set in and things get difficult.

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The Cantaloupe Story – From Eager Beginnings to Sad Early Finish

After an impressive showing by volunteer cantaloupe (that were surely hybrid) last year, I bought 2 types of hybrid cantaloupe melons from Twilley Seed.

Primo cantaloupe is a typical orange meat, beige netted skin melon.  It was supposed to be tolerant of powdery mildew – but that is not what I experienced this season.  The other melon I planted was Galia Passport.  These melons were supposed to look similar to cantaloupe and fully netted.  My experience, however, was that they grew mis-shapened with mostly smooth outside skin with an occasional raised netted vein in the skin.  None of them survived to harvest looking well enough to bother trying to eat, so I didn’t get to see their supposed green inside.  (That is a volunteer watermelon that you see growing in the melons – I harvested 2 edible soccer ball sized melons.)

cantaloupe planting
By mid-June, this is what the cantaloupe patch looked like:

cantaloupe planting mid june

By the end of June, the cantaloupe patch was still looking good – the leaves are nice and green and standing up proudly:

cantaloupe planting end june

Disease is starting – after an unusually damp week – the leaves are getting splotchy:

cantaloupe patch - disease is setting in

We got a few cantaloupe harvested – these couple had a soft end.  After I cut off the rotted section, the rest of the melon was surprisingly good.

cantaloupe - harvest
No saving seeds this season – this is all hybrid!

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The Squash Row

This little beauty has plenty of blooms.  This is what a happy squash plant looks like.

squash plant full of baby fruit

This year I inter-planted over 3 dozen basil seedlings in and throughout the garden. You can see a few of the first planted basil popping above the squash. Today, the last day of July, these large, beautiful squash are all gone and only the basil are left. They are now enormous – all at least 2 feet tall and bushy from having their seed heads pinched out regularly for a month.

basil interplanted with squash plants

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Pepper Time

Sliced chunks of peppers on a drying tray, ready to go into the food dryer.

peppers ready to be dried

More slices and chunks of peppers ready to be dried.

more peppers ready to be dried

These are some dried peppers. The volume of pepper is greatly reduced after drying.

dried peppers on a screen

After drying, I put my food in canning jars.

dried peppers in a canning jar

A pan full of stir-fried garden peppers (cubanelle, green bell, chocolate bell, banana), yum:

stir fry pan full of garden peppers

Cubanelle peppers are simply beautiful, especially after they turn red.

cubanelle peppers are beautiful

A bounty of bananna peppers on a plant:

a plant full of banana peppers
This was mostly just a post of pepper pictures.  Hope you enjoyed them.

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Food Drying

While last season, I blanched and froze pounds and pounds of zucchini, this season I am drying some of the harvest.

This is how zucchini is sliced and laid out on a drying shelf.

slicing zucchini to dry

I don’t recall the exact measurements, but I think about 6 pounds of fresh zucchini dried to about 10 ounces. To make chips to nibble on, slice the zucchini to 1/8″. For slices to use in soups, slice the zucchini to 1/4″ thick.  Veggies are recommended to be dried at 125 degrees.

These 2 jars are the result of 7 trays of zucchini slices (you can see that a few of them got browned):

dried zucchini slices
The slices are so good, I don’t know how much will survive to be used in winter soups.  I would really prefer to freeze the zucchini harvest, but space is limited in the freezer.

Here are a few jars of dried zucchini, dried yellow squash, dried peppers and dried cabbage.  I had such a bounty of peppers this season that I dried several jars of the little chunks.  It is about all I could do with them.  We couldn’t eat them fast enough.

jars of dried garden veggies

I sliced the peppers into little pieces, figuring that is how I will use them in soups and whatever else I can figure to use them in. I dried them past the leathery stage, to the almost crisp stage. We will have to see how they work out in soups. I dry the zucchini until it is crisp. I dry the squash until it is almost crisp – it usually doesn’t get that dry. I also tried a head of cabbage that I had stored for a few weeks. It wasn’t super green anymore and thus dried sort of whitish. I plan to grow kale this winter and dry it for soups. This dried food is a new thing with me, so I’ll just have to learn as I go.

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A Few Harvest Pics From the Abundance of June

Beautiful garden peppers:

beautiful garden peppers

A few 8 Ball zucchini, Obsisian zucchini, yellow crook neck squash and some peppers:

zucchini, crook neck and peppers

A bucket full of peppers, squash and cucumbers, all in a day’s pickings:

bucket of harvest pickings

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I don’t really care for the Marketmore type cucumber.  I prefer an English like cucumber.  I selected Tasty Green hybrid from Twilley seeds to grow this season.

These cukes are best picked when 12 or 14″ long.  Twelve inches is better because the seeds aren’t developed yet.

tasty green hybrid cukes

New cucumbers are so pretty, beforel the diseases arrive.

new cucumbers are so pretty

The disease process is starting. See the leaf splotch on the lower leaves.

splotchy cucumber leaves

Another picture of cucumbers growing on a cattle panel.  A rather delicate plant.


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Growing Your Own Sweet Potato Slips

I grow my own sweet potato slips.  I started these over a month ago – it is too late now, mid July, to plant sweet potato slips and expect them to grow to maturity.

I buy a sweet potato from the store, stand it on its end in an inch of water and wait for the sprouts to pop out.  When a sprout is at least 6 inches long, I cut it off at the base where it grows from the potato.  Put this sprout in water and it will form roots.  After the roots form and are at least an inch long, plant them in the ground.  The take off.  I really should have gotten my slips in the ground by mid-May, but I am always so busy that it took me a bit too long to get them sprouted.

sweet potato slips

These slips were planted in the green house. Other slips were planted where the regular potatoes grew. Well wait until first frost and see how they did.

sweep potato slips in the green house

I planted them about a month late, but I still hope for a better harvest than I had last year. Sweet potatoes are supposed to be pretty idiot proof.

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Keep Pinching Basil Seed Heads

Keep pinching the seed heads as they appear on basil and the plant will continue to grow and bush out.

keep pinching basil seed heads

If you just let the plant go to seed, it will not grow very tall or bushy.

pinch basil seed heads to make the plant bushy

And again:

keep pinching basil seed heads as they appear

I pinch basil seed heads whenever I see them as I walk thru the garden. It is easy at first, but after a while, the plant bushes out so much that you can’t possibly pick all of the seed heads. Once the seeds start to develop, the quality of the plant and leaves goes down.

I ended up growing what looks like 3 varieties of basil.  I don’t plan to really save basil seeds this season.  I don’t want a mixed breed seed.  I plan on growing a large leafed variety next season  – it is easier to pick larger leaves to make Basil Pesto with.  It was time consuming to have to pick and wash these smaller leaves.

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Potatoes From the Dirt to the Serving Bowl

We have never had a really good potato harvest here.  I do believe that the same diseases that turn the tomato leaves yellow and kill the plants also affect the potatoes – since they are of the same plant family.

I purchased a small bag of seed potato, it had about 8 golf ball sized seed potatoes.  Since the potatoes were so small, I didn’t bother cutting the potatoes into smaller chunks.  I just planted the 8 or so seeds.  They grew beautifully for almost a month.  The greens were just beautiful and deep green and stood straight up.  I wish that I could find a pic of them.

It didn’t take long until the dreaded yellowing showed up in the leaves.  The plants quickly declined.  This is a pic of the affected plants.

disease setting into the potatoes

After struggling along and rapidly declining for a month, and with the plants all but shriveled up and dead, I harvested what few potatoes had grown. This is my pitiful harvest. Each plant produced about 3 good sized new potatoes with plenty of marbled sized small ones. Some potatoes had a nasty bumpy/knobby way about them. They didn’t keep long and got thrown out – in the trash, NOT into the compost!!

potato harvest

What to do with such a small batch of new potatoes? Boil them, of course, and serve them with butter and herbs (parsley and chives). The harvest made a heaping bowl and I just remembered to take a pic before they were all gone. They were Good!

cooked new potatoes

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