Monday, July 15, 2013

Green Beans are Here

Today, I picked our first green beans for the season.  I brought in my pickings and decided, out of curiosity, to weigh them.  I got one pound, 1 ounce of beans today!  Quite a big bowl for our family.  I will be hard at work every day for a while now, keeping the garden beans picked as they get ready.   Remind me next year to grow only pole beans.  I'd rather pick beans standing up than crouched down on the ground!

We are still waiting on our first zucchini.  A couple had promise, but they died off before they grew big enough to harvest.  I think we might have one ready in a couple of days.  

We have picked 7 little red tomatoes so far, from the Northern Delight and Glacier plants.  Oh, and one from the Sweet Million Cherry.  We really enjoyed fresh tomato slices in sandwiches today.  They are so sweet and juicy, but little at about 2 inches diameter.  I have learned to grow small tomatoes in our climate.  They ripen up faster and more reliably.  No pictures yet.  We just eat them too fast.  The Stupice tomatoes might be my "big" tomatoes this year.  They keep growing and are still all green.  It will be fun to see how big they do end up getting and we still have plenty of time this summer. 

We are keeping the raspberries picked, plucking them off when they are just a bit under-ripe.  I wash and drain them, spread them on a towel to dry, then freeze them on a tray.  Once frozen, I bag them up and put them back in the freezer.  Once I have enough, I plan to make a raspberry pie.  (Yes, it takes a while when your berry patch is as small as mine!)  I am keeping them frozen in case that fruit fly has already laid eggs in them.  At least by freezing them, I keep any potential creatures from further developing in the berries.  There will be some sugar in the pie to make up for the tartness of the slightly under-ripe berries. One way to save the harvest.   I'm also still letting the kids pick whatever they want to snack on while they are playing in the yard.

I guess that's it in my garden for today!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Not to Brag, but...

We will have tomatoes in July!

We had a few hot days and a lot of warm weather, which I predict will give us our earliest tomatoes since I started gardening.  If all goes well, these should be ready soon!
Northern Delight Tomatoes

Glacier Tomatoes

Sweet Million Cherry Tomatoes

Blue Lake Bush Bean Plants
 The bush beans have a lot of blossoms so we're hoping for a good harvest of beans soon.  The scarlet runner beans have already grown taller than their cages.  They really should be grown on poles or a taller fence, but the 4-foot cages are what I had at the time.

Scarlet Runner Bean Plants

Vegetable Garden View

Another Garden View

Sweet Million Tomato plant is almost 4 feet tall

The peas are totally done for the year.  The hot weather did them in, but in exchange, we have blossoms on the cucumbers and zucchini, as well as plentiful tomatoes.  I should pull out the pea plants and put in some lettuce for the summer.  Once those tomatoes are ripe, it would be nice to have fresh "home-picked" lettuce to make some great summer salads. 

We are still getting a few strawberries each day as well as raspberries.  The raspberries are looking OK so far, just a little damage from the stink bugs.  I encourage the kids to eat whatever raspberries they can find as soon as they ripen, and so far we've been able to keep up and avoid fruit fly damage. 

Yesterday, I harvested some savory with preschooler's help.  We dried it for about 18 hours at about 100 degrees in the Nesco food dehydrator until the leaves were crispy.  Husband peeled the dry leaves off for me and put them in a zipper bag for storage.  Now the goal is to remember to use the savory.   We should dry the oregano next. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Land of the Giant Strawberries

Giant Strawberries Held by Eldest Child

Wow!  These strawberries are huge!  One of them (on left) even looked like a double berry.   I believe these are the new Totem strawberries I planted this spring, but one or two could be Hoods.  For some reason, a few of them decided to be giants.  The majority of the berries were regular sized.  We have been watching these grow out there in the patch.  I let them sit on the plants for one more night last night, just hoping the bugs or slugs wouldn't get to them as they finished ripening.  First thing this morning, we went on a strawberry hunt and I picked these giants.  Not a blemish.

The lesson to this story is:  Don't pick off all the blossoms the first year you plant strawberries!  Why does all the information out there about berries tell you to pick off all the blossoms the first year???  I get that you want the plants to get nice and strong.  I did pick off the first several blossoms for each plant, but after that, the plants were so large and healthy, I thought they could surely stand to produce some fruit, so I left the rest of the blossoms.   I must have gotten them planted early enough in the spring to grow fruit the first year.  So fun to still be picking strawberries after the Seascapes have slowed down for the summer. 

In other news, last weekend I did go buy a half flat of raspberries and put up 4 pints of  raspberry freezer jam.  I also bought a half pint of strawberries for another batch of freezer jam.  I liked the first batch made a couple weeks ago so much, I knew we needed more.  I used the low/no sugar pectin to make lower-sugar jam as the amount of sugar called for in jam with regular pectin just seems overkill to me.  It is fun to let the kids eat the berries we grow, without too much rationing, so I've decided to buy what we need for processing and enjoy our fresh berries just to eat. 

While at the farmer's market, I saw they had tomato and pepper plants on sale for the season.  I could not resist!  Picked up a Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper and an Early Girl Tomato.  Got them planted tonight.  The pepper is in a large pot on the patio and the tomato is tucked under the eaves on the south facing side of the house in my "Tomato Alley".  The tomatoes I ordered from Territorial have been growing like crazy and we have bunches of green tomatoes already.  Will update with pictures soon.