Monday, August 6, 2012

Failures

I'm pouting. And I'm whining.
I feel like I've ruined everything in this garden, so I'm refusing to see all the good things that happened/grew and just focus on the....few things that I messed up.
Its been a busy week, a busy weekend, and another busy start to the week, and with the heat persisting I just don't feel like doing anything. And we've had an unexpected house guest due to family frustrations in B's family.
The two melons that I'd been proudly displaying decided they were done growing. One had already detached from the vine and smelled musky, and the other one I picked it up to check and it came right off too. I tried the first one- this one had cracked, but I figured it was worth a shot. Big fat NOPE. The seeds were swimming in melon-y water and when I tried to eat it, the fruit tasted watery and mealy. I just figured maybe that was because it had cracked open. I tried the other one, only to find the same thing.
My guess is it's from over watering?
And then C gave me a bunch of concord grapes from her garden, the last of her harvest, to make grape jelly with. At first I was gonna just make jam with my super fancy bread maker, but she made it sound so easy. And then I found an easy recipe for it using sugar instead of Sure Jell (because I didn't feel like going to the store. And this wasn't just a recipe online, it was in a canning and preserving book.) Well, the juice boiled over while I was putting the dishes in the washer. Then I figured, well, it got to boiling obviously, so I'm going to go ahead and can it. I think it actually needs to boil for a little bit, instead of being yanked off the stove to sit on top of the sink. Either way, I ended up with 3 half pints and one pint of grape syrup.
My squash all has SVB. Well, all but one. But the bees aren't getting out to that one to fertilize it since it's in a different bed.

I should focus on the positives: I got another good bean harvest. Even though I don't like pickles, I can still eat the cucumbers. The carrots, spinach, broccoli and rhubarb I planted for a fall garden have sprouted and are doing ok, I think. I'm going to have soybeans soon. Even though it's not as much as I wanted, I have lots of food put up.
I was so excited to start my garden this year because I was convinced I was going to do leaps and bounds better than last year. And you know what, I did. And I forget sometimes that even though it wasn't 100% perfect like I wanted, it will never be 100%, I've learned a ton of things, and I get to try again (and do better) next year.
Most things are getting pulled out this weekend, and I'm going to start planting my fall seeds: cauliflower, kale, peas and beets, along with what I've already got going: the carrots, spinach, broccoli and rhubarb. And I've also decided I'm not going to grow herbs next year except for basil. I never really kept up with them this year, and I had to save them from near death with frantic waterings.
But I still want to pout a little bit.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I took lots of pictures of essentially the same thing: Pizza Margherita. But I sorta did it two different ways

As you can see in exhibit one, on one pizza I put homemade pesto. On the other I put the spaghetti/marinara sauce I made a while back. 

Lots of cheese

Garden tomatoes

Garden basil



 
After a little bit more cheese, it's ready for the oven. 

Look at all that deliciousness. 


More creations over at The Gardener of Eden: go see more yumminess. 






Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meanwhile, on the east coast...

So let me start off by saying, Northern California is my new favorite place. So insanely gorgeous, and in such a different way from the east coast. We found this mountain lake, and the water looked like it belonged on a tropical beach. 




Paradise. 

So, back to harvest Monday that's really two days late. I'm overrun with cucumbers, and unfortunately because I don't like pickles, and B doesn't like pickles, I'm having a hard time thinking of ways to put them up. But luckily lots of other people like pickles, so I've just been making them and giving the jars away. 




This was the harvest after I got back. The BF did a very good job of keeping it watered. I'm swimming in squash now too. Tonight I pureed it all and froze it to add to dinners, or maybe make some squash bread. Can you do that? Squash bread instead of zucchini? And those freaking cukes are giant- longer than my forearm. I forgot to take pictures from yesterday, but it was a few more lemon cukes, a good harvest of beans and another cucumber. 


Today all I picked was more basil and made pesto with almonds this time. 


Look at all that beautiful basil. You can see in the bottom right picture the older plants and then the 2nd planting of seeds. I may have been a little overzealous with the sprinkling. 



Rhubarb experiment. They're doing better than I expected. 


And in this planter I put a second planting of rhubarb and some spinach for the beginnings of a fall garden. Burpee just sent my seeds that I ordered today because they were doing inventory, so I'm going to get those planted this weekend. Its starting to cool off a bit, and hopefully it will stay under 100 degrees from now on. 


Slowly but surely for the melons. I discovered another one that had started forming the netting.  


My second planting of squash. They've been putting out some nice big fruits. 


Another view of the squash


The soybeans started growing the pods while I was gone. 


The beans have started producing more fruits now that the temps have dropped, so I was able to get a really big harvest yesterday which I froze today and then I think I'll get another good size tomorrow. 


Giant cucumbers. 


That giant mass are my tomatoes. They've started growing new ones, but it really just kind of looks like a tomato jungle forest type thing. 


Another zuke. I took it from far away so you could see how big it is. 


This is the other side, along with two other zukes that I'm hoping I can sneak in before it gets too cold. I've also got more carrots growing in that big open space. 


This is not my year for peppers. In that picture above with the zukes, you can see the one I transplanted almost 3 months ago, and it's not doing much. I saw some teeny, tiny flower buds starting, but I can't find them now. And for the last month all the peppers on the gypsy pepper have been getting these soft, mushy brown spots. I don't know if it's blossom end rot or sun scald. 


I can't win. 


I think the pepper looks pretty bushy, so I'm not totally convinced that it's sun scald. 


Ladybug! Too bad it's not a real one that can eat up some pests. I lost one older zuke to SVB. Another one has been gnawed on pretty badly as well, but it has two big zukes growing so I'm hoping those will mature before the plant completely kicks the bucket. 


More melon plants. They're a few weeks behind the other ones but it finally has some fruits growing. 


Last but not least, one of my Home Depot strawberry plants and my broccoli seedlings. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday and Updating

I have only 15 minutes until harvest Monday is technically over. It's been a really busy week, and it seems like there's so much going on. I'm getting ready to go on a trip for a long weekend for a wedding, and we're trying to get our carpeting downstairs replaced. Originally we wanted to have an estimate done on Saturday, but they're booked, so they'll be here bright and early tomorrow morning (and here I am at almost midnight posting gardening pictures)


Meager harvest from 7.17.12 The cucumbers have been the most consistent producers, and the only plants that seem to be dealing with the heat. It's been a frustrating few weeks- I feel like I can never keep on top of the watering, and even though there have been storms aplenty in our region, they all seem to fizzle out or go around us. We did get the best rain on Saturday- slow and steady, soaking into the ground deep down. 


I've gotten a third harvest from the basil, so I made my third batch of pesto. I finally finished up the first batch tonight. I also planted some more basil seeds, so I can keep the harvest going. I also bought some tunnel row covers from Burpee. As for my pickles that I made a few weeks ago- I still don't like pickles. So I gave them to a co-worker, along with the dilly beans and made a couple more jars of pickles to give away. 


My first big harvest of the lemon cucumbers. They are wonderful. I need to figure out how to use them (I gave these to C) since B doesn't really like to eat them en masse the way I do. 


Sadly I accidentally knocked that green tomato off the vine while I was picking the other ones. I'm lucky though, it had started to ripen, so hopefully I can still use it. 


Just an artistic picture of the week's harvests. I freaking love that basket. 


I've been giving the beans some time to produce- but they're mostly stagnated. I'm guessing because of the heat. Most of the ones I got today were from my second planting of beans. There are tons of flowers showing up on the first planting of bush beans, but they won't set fruit. I keep thinking I need to pull them out and start trying to plant some fall veggies, but I keep hoping that it will cool off a little bit. 


 The melons are the most exciting part of the garden right now, they've started showing the netting. Is that the proper turn of phrase? I didn't know what the word for the hard outer covering was until a few days ago when it showed up. It'll be soon now!


I included these pictures because I didn't have time on Thursday to post- All those veggies on my plate were from the garden, and the chicken has pesto on it with garden basil.  


And lastly, some fried squash- covered with with Italian breadcrumbs and mozzarella. (I guess I used too much cheese. It's my guilty pleasure)

The garden isn't doing much, sadly. It's the lack of rain and the heat. I should invest in some shade covers, I guess. In addition to the tunnel covers I bought for attempting a fall garden, I also bought a small pyramid bed that I'm going to put the strawberries in, and ordered garlic and onions. I bought Inchelium Red garlic- I'm hoping that I'll get a better harvest. The ones I planted last October didn't get very big. The onions are Yellow Ebenezer. I should've bought the onions much, much sooner, because almost everywhere I looked they were sold out. Granted, I only wanted yellow onions, and I didn't want to grow them from seeds; I wanted to do onion sets. The reason I didn't get red onions is I really only use onions in cooking, and much prefer the yellow ones. I don't really eat raw onions on anything, and B doesn't like them at all. 
The weather forecast for the rest of this week still says 100 or close to it still.  
And there are more harvests to see over at Daphne's!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Global Gardens

I was trying to write up a commentary about some articles I've read recently, but I think I don't want to do that. I think I'd rather let people discuss via comments. But, suffice to say, I find these things to be kind of scary. Granted, I'm pretty sure the story about New Zealand has been carefully worded to show it in the worst possible light, (akin to political campaign ads) but still.
So here you go:
New Zealand Food Bill To Make Growing Food a Government Privilege, Rather Than a  Human Right
And
A front yard garden in Drummondville, Quebec has now been deemed illegal
The second one leads you to the blog of the couple that has the garden. It does sound misleading here- basically it sounds like the town is updating it's zoning laws and even though it seems like some gardens should be grandfathered in, the government isn't letting that be the case, and will start to fine these people if they don't remove the garden. You kind of have to read through the blog to get the whole gist and if you don't remember any of your high school French (like me), Goggle with helpfully translate it for you.

See? Scary.

Those articles made me think of this song by Guster. And I literally just discovered this was a cover of a Talking Heads song. I love the tongue-in-cheek-ness.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday 7.16.12


Harvest on 7.10.12

Harvest on 7.12.12


Harvest on 7.13.12 (They were feeling kinda blah) 

Harvest 7.14.12

Harvest 7.16.12 (I actually pulled 2 more peppers this weekend, but gave them to some friends)

More harvests over at Daphne's

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Put 'Em Up

It's been a productive day. (We're normally pretty lazy on the weekends, aside from easy chores) B and I finally went out and got some estimates to have the carpet replaced downstairs. I'm excited about it, especially because the carpet we have now looks horrible- I think this house may have been more on the fixer-uper side when he bought it. We're going to have them install it in August. 
As for the garden, the tulle and netting has definitely been helping, and thank you guys for your suggestions! I've finally started bringing in ripe tomatoes, and the cukes are coming in fast, so I thought (also I was getting impatient) I would try to make some spaghetti sauce, and then since I'd just picked a decent amount of beans I wanted to try dilly beans. 
I wanted to make a small amount because I don't normally like pickles, but I thought that I might like homemade pickles. I base this on the fact that I love pickled beets, but so far the home pickled ones that I've eaten I didn't like, and I thought they tasted different than the ones I get from the store that I DO like. So maybe in a weird way the reverse will be true, thus, only one small jar of fridge pickles for me. B doesn't like pickles. Or vinegar for that matter. 


And I made only one batch of dilly beans because A) I've never had them before and B) I only had enough beans to make one pint jar worth. 


So I guess we'll find out tomorrow!


As for the spaghetti sauce, I think I had maybe 2lbs of tomatoes? I made up my own recipe; from the garden I used the tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and squash. Yes, squash. (That's why it looks orange-y) The BF doesn't like squash, so I sneak it into things. I pureed the two small ones I picked this week and added them in. It was probably too much, but I'm ok with that. So anyway, I sauteed the spices, garlic, onions and some olive oil, and then pureed it a bit with the squash. Once the tomatoes had cooked down I added that in.


They are in jars but I didn't process them at all. Two of the 3 went into the freezer, the third I'm going to use for dinner tomorrow. 


So there you go! 3 jars of sauce, 1 jar of dilly beans and 1 jar of pickles. 


In keeping with the homemaking theme of the day, I finished making a dress that I started earlier this week, and started sewing a set of pot holders that I promised the BFF last year. She's out in Iowa going to school, so naturally potholders are what will most benefit her. And then, because I'd seen the recipe earlier in the Kitchen Aid booklet, I finally made 2 loaves of honey-oatmeal bread. Oh, it's so delicious.


This is the first time I've ever made bread by hand. I have a bread maker but I don't think that really counts, and I remember my dad and I making sourdough bread once, but I didn't do much, since I was probably about 5 or 6 at the time. B and I have already eaten half a loaf. I tried to convince him that he should let me quit my job so I could just stay home and bake bread all day, but he wouldn't bite. 


And lastly, what better way to end a post than with a snuggly kitten? This is Gillian, (who is also called Tiny Kitten, Little Tiny and Tiny Angel) B and I adopted her and her sister, Squeak, from B's uncle when they were babies. They weren't getting enough food from their mama, so despite being 2 years old, she is still pretty little. Gillian is technically my cat, and Squeak is B's- I hadn't moved in yet when we adopted them. Anyway, I chose Gillian out of the litter because when we first went to see them she curled up in my hand and promptly fell asleep. How could I not choose her?? And she has been our rag-doll-violently-affectionate-you-must-cuddle-with-me-or-else kitten ever since. No lie, as soon as you get in bed she's crawling onto your chest. Such a sweet kitten.