Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday, 7/30/2012

It was another big week for cherry tomatoes.  Almost every day, I found more ripe ones to pick.

Not as many big tomatoes ripened this week, but it looks like several of the Roma tomatoes will ripen in the next few days. I did get a few nice Pineapple tomatoes and a couple of large Rutgers, though.

On Saturday, I pulled all of the beets and onions.  The onions are drying on the patio.  I made a batch of pickled beets and the rest are sitting in the pantry.

There's always more Swiss Chard and this week was no exception.  I froze 6 bags for use this winter.

The garden is looking pretty barren with the bean patch empty, and now the beets and onions gone.  I had planned to start a fall garden in the next few weeks, but with the high heat and drought, I'm not so sure that's a good idea.  Any ideas for successful seed starting under these conditions, or would I be better off ditching the plans for this year's fall garden?

That's all of the harvest for this week.  To check out more great harvests, visit Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday, July 23, 2012

It was a hot, but rainy week (yay rain!).  After 3 soaking rains mid-week, the garden popped back to life with new vigor.  I've all but given up on my container plantings, but everything in the ground is looking good!

This week, I had quite a varied harvest.  On Monday, I picked another big basket of Chard. 

On Wednesday while out surveying the pepper patch, I found the perfect pepper.  This is the Lipstick variety, small and thin, but deliciously sweet.

It was a big week for tomatoes.  In fact, I got so many tomatoes this week that I actually canned a small batch of 4 pints on Saturday. These are some of the larger varieties - Rutgers, Mortgage Lifter, and a few Bloody Butcher.

I also picked another basket of cherry tomatoes. 

On Saturday, I picked another small handful of cherry tomatoes, along with a few larger tomatoes and 2 peppers.

The Strata d'Italia zucchini are still producing and I found 2 more hidden in the middle of the patch.

These are the first beets I've harvested this season.  Judging by their size, I think the whole patch is ready to be picked.  But I have no plan yet, so I just picked a few.  What is your favorite method of keeping beets?

To see more great harvests, check out Daphne's Dandelions

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Pineapple Tomato: A Review

I am in love.  An old American heirloom, the Pineapple Tomato embodies the best characteristics of the bi-colored tomato: good texture, sweet, mild flavor, and huge size! 
I adore the flavor of a perfectly ripe bi-color, but I'll admit that I have never had luck growing them in my garden.  I have tried both the Old German and the Stripey with poor results.  Depending on the year, the fruit either failed to set, the yields were very low, or the crop was dry and mealy.  Yet every year, the plants produced one or two perfect bi-colored tomatoes -- so sweet and delicious that I vowed to try again the next year.
After a particularly bad season last year, I decided that it was just not meant to be.  No more wasting precious garden space on a variety that refused to thrive.  But when I walked into my favorite farm stand early this spring, I just couldn't resist the Pineapple Tomato -- a bi-colored variety I had not yet tried!  Maybe this variety would thrive in my garden!  So I purchased one plant, brought it home, and placed it in the garden. 
And then I waited...until last night, when I discovered that my first Pineapple Tomato was ripe!  I'm sure that the record heat had something to do with the early ripening, but this is almost a full month earlier than I have ever harvested a bi-colored tomato.  I couldn't wait to taste it, so I promptly went inside and cut it up.  It was perfect.  Juicy and sweet.  A delicious blend of mild yellow tomato and tart red.  I was absolutely in heaven.
I'll be keeping close track of how many tomatoes this plant produces, but assuming a fair yield, this is a definite keeper!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday, 7/16/2012

What a busy week in the garden! 

Sadly, I have to report that all of my bean plants have died.  In truth, it is probably about the normal time for their demise, but with miniscule harvest they produced this year it was especially disappointing.  I ripped them out on Friday afternoon and will use the space next month to start a fall garden.

This week's harvest included the first batch of blossom end rot-free tomatoes!  These are Roma and Bloody Butcher.  I guess the calcium spray worked!

My cherry tomatoes are going crazy.  That's no problem for my husband - he pops these in his mouth like candy.  This was just one day's picking --

It was another big week for zucchini.  The plants are slowing down quite a bit now, but not without first producing one last big crop --6 huge zucchini!

I also harvested my first two peppers of the season.  The plants are quite stunted due to the weather, and they have also suffered from blossom end rot.  However, these two peppers look good.

I picked these onions to make soup.  It will be a few weeks until the full harvest is ready, but I couldn't resist a taste of what's to come.  They were delicious!

Last but not least, I finally harvested some heads of dill for winter use.  This year I let them dry on the plant and didn't pick them until they were ready storage.  This might not work in a particularly rainy season, but since we were in a drought it seemed to work just fine.

To see more great harvests, check out Daphene's Dandelions.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/9/2012

Ah, another week and another set of challenges.  In the midst of a string of 100+ degree days, our air conditioning went out.  Great timing.  So, we packed up and spent most of the week at my parent's house.  It is good to finally be home.

With all the hassle of going back and forth between homes to tend the garden, I didn't get a chance to take pictures of everything I harvested this week.  That included 4 zucchini, 12 cherry tomatoes, 3 small Bloody Butcher tomatoes, one serving of Swiss Chard, and another small harvest of green beans.

Shown below are one of the zucchini, along with a few of the tomatoes.

And finally, my long-awaited baby cucumbers!  Aren't they cute?!

To see more great harvests, check out Daphne's Dandelions.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blossom End Rot

When I went out to the garden this morning, I was excited to see several ripe tomatoes in what has become my tomato jungle.  I reached my hand in to free them and imagine my surprise when my fingers went right through the bottom!  That's right, I have some rampant blossom end rot eating away at my tomato harvest.  It looks like at least half the fruit currently on the plants will be a total loss.  How sad.

Oddly enough the cherry tomatoes and Bloody Butcher variety don't seem to be effected, but the Roma, Mortgage Lifter, Rutgers, and Pineapple varieties are pretty bad.  I've sprayed a calcium solution, so now I guess all I can do is wait and hope that the problem corrects itself.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/2/2012

Well, last week was crazy and between various obligations and a trip out of town, I had no time to update my blog!  In truth, though, last week's harvest was minimal so I guess it was a good week to miss!

The biggest triumph of this past week was my zucchini harvest -- 6 big, beautiful zucchini!

I also picked 3 small red tomatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes.  Most of my tomato plants are looking good, despite the drought and horrible heat, but I noticed that one plant is producing tomatoes with really bad blossom end rot.  My husband tried an organic calcium spray on them yesterday, so we'll see if it works.

Alas, my beans, which I had such high hopes for only a few weeks ago, are absolutely terrible.  The heat has prevented them from producing, and all of the beautiful bean blossoms from a few weeks ago have withered away without producing many beans.  The sum total of my bean harvest from five rows were a couple of handfuls.

And, finally, last but not least -- Swiss Chard!  It has been the savior of this year's garden.  Despite the heat and drought, my Chard plants have continued to produce nice weekly harvests.

Well, that's it for this week.  Happy Harvest Monday everyone!  For more great harvests, check out Daphne's Dandelions.