Monday, June 13, 2011

Harvest Monday

Here are some of the things I harvested, and some of the ways that I used them this past week. If you want to see what others are harvesting, head on over to Daphne's Dandelions! She graciously hosts this every week!

I harvested the scallions that went on this dish, but didn't get a before picture.

My crazy zucchini, some side shoots, more peas, and one I missed!

The lettuce is needing to be pretty much picked this week or next.  Most are showing signs of bolting, but we've really enjoyed our salads this season!

More peas, my first yellow squash, and another zucchini.

Here is the first way I used some zucchini.  We tried a new recipe, and I'd share it, but we weren't thrilled with the results.  We would have liked less mush to the zucchini and more crisp from the breading.  It was a nice little treat, we just didn't need two whole zucchinis for it. 

Yesterday, I made a delicious stir fry/chicken lo mein dish with the remaining broccoli, peas, zucchini, and yellow squash from this week, and we loved it. I forgot to take a picture of it fresh, and I refuse to take a picture of the leftovers in the tupperware.  We are loving having such a fun variety of food coming from the garden!  The lettuce has been my husband's favorite so far. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Zucchini is Weird.

end of story. I can't figure it out. Please explain why this particular fruit (that still has a closed blossom...) is big enough that I had to pick it, and the one that I hand pollinated is only four inches long.

Blossom still thinking about opening up. This is not a mushy, opened and reshut blossom. I'm out there everyday, and watch these things like crazy. (Crazy is probably the correct word for how many times I go out and look at the garden and the turtles)

If you click on this one to enlarge it, you can KIND of see the smaller fruit (that is growing...) that was hand pollinated compared to the huge one still left on! I know, I know, you can also see that my plants have powdery mildew, and they've been ravaged by wind damage... but I'm okay with not feeding the community my zucchini.  They've also had a very hard time dealing with this 15-16 day span of above 90 temperatures in their 2.5 gallon containers. They've needed a couple of reviving efforts along the way, but they're still kicking.

I'm going to try to keep it short, this time, just thought this was strange. Here's a quick look at the garden progress.  Lettuce is beginning its bolting process, so that'll be out of there pretty soon.  Nice to see the mixtures of colors while they last.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What to do with Cabbage Loopers

I fortunately have not had to deal with any cabbage loopers until now. Last year, my plants looked like a lace doily, and I never got any broccoli from those plants.  It's nice to know that there is a place to take them when I find them though!

I spent two hours out in the garden with sprinklers and new fertilizer. I bought some new organic fertilizer and some blood meal yesterday.  Organic = stinky.  I had to breathe through my mouth for the whole process, but I had several of my paste tomatoes get blossom end rot, and it's been a while since any of my plants have been fed.  I've done a much better job with that, and keeping the plants staked this year, but it's still a hard thing for me to remember to do!

I picked a full sized zucchini and my first yellow squash today! More peas were picked, and I'm about to go plant some more green beans. I cut all but the very newest growth out of my strawberries today, because they appear done. I did this based off of a suggestion from my great uncle, so we'll see how they do. They were looking pretty sad and diseased anyway.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Harvest Monday

Thanks for hosting Harvest Monday Daphne! If you want to check out what others are harvesting, head over to Daphne's Dandelions!

I harvested this broccoli yesterday, and it was added to stir fry with a bunch of other garden vegetables for dinner for three last night. I had a few open yellow flowers, so it had to be cut. This is my first year harvesting broccoli, so I am still learning when to harvest it. Hopefully I'll know better next year!

One of the snow pea harvests

Looks like I missed one in the previous harvest from the day before!

Five more heads of lettuce: 2 Buttercrunch, 1 Little Caesar Romaine, and 2 Valerie

Strawberries that I shared with the neighbors, but grabbed a picture of before I took them over.

More strawberries and peas!

More peas!

The bag of peas is for size reference only, though we ate all of them finally yesterday.

Everything green in this meal came from the garden! And there were three of us who ate it! The zucchini babies were delicious, and perfect, and tasted no different. They were small, and had the tiniest seeds in them, but that was the only difference. This meal was a very satisfying one!

I was having a hard time remembering what I had harvested, and thought it would be a small post, but when I pulled up all of the pictures I was pleasantly surprised! This was a great garden week!

Sorry to sound redundant, but this morning I recovered another four turtle eggs! Eleanor laid 4 more last night, so that is the first time she has double clutched here to our knowledge.  Multiple clutching is very normal for box turtles, we just haven't seen it happen before. Her total for the season is now up to 9, and only 19 days apart. I guess she wasn't going to be outdone by Nadine, who laid six the night before.  We now have a total of 15 eggs inside.  I did some research last night about multiple clutching, and found some instances where the average amount of eggs per female/season was around 11.  This is the first year we've had any turtle besides Eleanor lay, but I don't know what we'd do with 44 baby turtles, not that I'm counting my turtles...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Eggs!

Yesterday was so hot, and I really just wanted to be doing something active, so in the afternoon my husband agreed to take me for a walk... around the mile loop in our local mall.  We bought a 5 gallon stock pot for him during the trip because we will shortly be attempting our own home brewing.  When we returned, we found this...

Here is a little video of her digging the nest.  I've never been able to get this close, or as good lighting when Eleanor was digging.

Nadine was digging her first (that we've ever seen) nest.  It was nearly 8 when we got home, and she was still digging around ten, but when I went out there this morning, the hole was perfectly covered. Definitely was not a test site. If I had not seen her digging, there is no way I would have noticed this, other than the fact that the basil plant she was digging by is now gone.

There have been loads of ant hills by the compost pile and in that general area, and even though she laid her nest in the ground and not the compost pile like Eleanor does, we still felt it was too risky to leave it back there, so I got out everything I needed to bring the eggs inside to incubate.

First egg found

I mark the top of each egg so that I keep the top of the egg in the same orientation when I place them in the deli container.

First three out

Still three to go!

I was surprised to find six eggs in this nest! She is considerably smaller than Eleanor, and her eggs were slightly smaller as well, it's just hard to imagine six of these things fitting inside of such a small shell.  She was chowing down while I was digging up her nest.  She probably did not have room to eat with all of these inside of her.  Her eating behavior has been a bit different than last year, so it will be neat to see if she becomes more "outgoing" again.

Nadine's eggs on the left, Eleanor's eggs in the two containers on the right

All of the eggs with the lid on, with a thermometer that also checks the humidity. Turtle eggs absorb water through their shells, and do best under humid conditions.  Thermometer reads 82% relative humidity, and 78 degrees.

In gardening news, I had four male blossoms open today (two of which were a set of twins!) and two female (one yellow squash and one zucchini) blossoms, so I went ahead and hand pollinated!  The other zucchini in this picture had no male, but look at how big it is anyway!

It's going to be a scorcher of a week! I went ahead and tied the tomato plants up to the stakes again this morning. It was rather windy and truly threatening of storms that never came.  Good to have some work done though!  Happy Gardening!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gardening is in My Genes

My uncle Paul has been itching to come see my garden for a while now, so much so that he even took a sneak peek drive past it last week.  Let me preface this by saying that my uncle is also nearly 97 years old, and I guess, technically, my great uncle.  Today was the day, as I had an opportunity to make this happen while my hubby was giving a few guitar lessons, and my grandma was feeling up to it.  We intended to do this visit a few weeks ago, but she wasn't feeling well, so today was much better. It was nicer, too, because the garden has had a chance to size up a bit, and just about everything has been planted now.  Only downside today was the high of 98 degrees.  That didn't keep them from dressing snazzy.

Uncle Paul and Grandma decked out in their hats by the gate that Uncle Paul moved to his current house from his old farm and orchard.

My uncle has been gardening for, as you can imagine at 96, a great many years.  When my grandma and I arrived, we sat down in his sun porch for a nice little lecture on gardening.  He explained to me that he thinks gardening is "born" into a person, and that the difference between a normal gardener and an excellent gardener is in the little things.  (If the "born" into thing is true, I've got a lot of it coming to me, and some big shoes to fill! Both sides of my family have had great green thumbs! I think I just happen to like to read!) He said those little things included planting things at the right time, cultivating at the right time, watering at the right time, and just spending time doing the little extras.

Uncle Paul's gardening space, being planted and kept by his neighbor

My uncle keeps four hens and a rooster, lives on his own, drives on his own, but unfortunately, for the first time this year has given up his garden.  He is allowing his neighbor to garden on his normal plot, and it's very clear that though he has given it up himself, the itch is very much still there.  It's also pretty hard for him to watch us young folk try things out in ways that aren't the ways he's been doing it for all of his life.

Uncle Paul showing me how to use the hula hoe, and scratching his itch to be working in the garden himself

We were given the full tour.  He shared some extra lettuce with my grandma, and showed us the rest of what his neighbor has planted.  He hopes to can 50 quarts of tomatoes with his plantings.  His plants seem pretty far behind mine at this point, but that garden space doesn't get sun until nearly 11 am.  Uncle Paul always has great tomatoes, so I don't think he'll have any problems in the long run.

After a look at his garden, we got to I got to meet his chickens.  He has gone all out for these chickens.  He truly loves them.  He has one that just hops right up into his lap.  I got to feed her right out of my hand as well!  (Still dreaming of chickens some day! Husband still gives a firm "no".)

Showing me his chicken coop, he really set his chickens up nicely!

Before we left his garden, he gave me a few tools of his which included a hula hoe (also called a stirrup or scuffle hoe), a small, long handled 4-tined garden rake, two pruners, and a set of clippers! I was planning on buying some pruners, so they were a great gift!

I drove everyone back to my house afterward, and we took a look at my garden, and took some time talking about my turtles. Grandma learned what the difference is between male and female squash flowers, and Uncle Paul said he was very impressed with my garden being that I was just a novice gardener.  The heat wore him out a bit, so we called it quits after that.

I don't normally write a narrative of sorts about my gardening, but I figure this is an experience I'll want to remember. I hope you enjoy!

Girls, Girls, Girls.

Nope, not a dirty post, and you won't be finding one from me.  BUT, I am having an issue with my squash, which I am pretty sure is atypical for squash growers.  All I have are female blossoms for my squash plants, and absolutely no males.  The single male that opened was a weird conjoined twin one, and it didn't seem to have any pollen in it.  It looks as though there are a few males that will be ready in the next day or so, but I have lost a LOT of female flowers since they have taken so long!

Some of my unpollinated female zucchinis are so large that I think we're going to eat them anyway.  If I would have left these on the plant, they would have shriveled up and rotted.  (There have been absolutely NO males, and none of my neighbors garden...)

Anyone else ever eat these? I'll let you know if they're awful!

The yellow squash buds are nearly as big, so those got thrown to the compost pile.  Here's Arphaxad checking them out.

In other news, my slug catching is going great.  I've even gotten to feed the extra ones hanging out around the rim to the turtles... I'll spare the full on photo, because frankly, it's pretty gross.

The weather here has been in the 90's for the past week, and is going to continue to be in the 90s for at least the next ten days according to, so I'm hoping my tomatoes still pollinate! There have been some cooler nights, but this morning, when I went out to water at 6 am, it was already 80.

Here are a few that HAVE pollinated!  Here's a roma, which are loading themselves up, and I no longer feel bad showing my Celebrity (nursery start) tomato, now that one of my babies that I planted has a tomato.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Busy Weekend

My in-laws were in town over the weekend, so I missed Harvest Monday, but it was nice to spend Memorial Day with someone who still currently serves our country (my father in law). We were able to eat loads of stuff from the garden, which had such a satisfying feeling about it!  So here is last week's harvest plus a few extras in there, so that I can catch up. If I would have had time, these would have been separate posts, but I didn't, so it's another picture flood.

So, after extra potatoes from last week's potato bar, I used these scallions...

to make this delicious baked potato soup.

I finally decided that the one broccoli head that was growing was in fact bolting...

so we sauteed it up, and had a nice little tasty treat!

This harvest of lettuce made for enough salads for all six of us in our house this weekend, where the six of us shared one shower.

These radishes made it in those salads too!

These strawberries...
plus these strawberries...

made a very delicious and fittingly colored red, white, and blue dessert!

My squash and zucchini have begun flowering, though they are all, strangely enough, female flowers! I don't have any male pollinators yet, so they're just going to drop off, which is VERY sad!  I have never tried frying squash flowers, though I know many do, so I didn't attempt that this weekend. I think my zucchini has powdery mildew already (although it doesn't dust off, which I feel like I remember from years prior) but they are still beautiful blooms, and the plants are getting enormous!

Here's my typical garden shot... I'm really pleased with the lettuce down the middle of my tomatoes.  It won't be long before it is out of there, but the mixtures of greens is really nice!

Tomato blossoms! I have two baby tomatoes on my Celebrity (nursery start), but I'm not counting it until MY plants make tomatoes. I'm not sure which will be first the Roma, Big Boy, Sweet Million, and Cherokee Purple are all in a dead heat for first.

My snow peas are bringing in a great harvest, which was a nice addition to some store bought green beans, and to some of the salads.

My strawberries have been shared with an unknown culprit...
until now... I found one. A beer trap is to be set tonight... so here's hoping there isn't much more sharing this season.

vindication. EG squishes bugs... I feed them to my very grateful turtles.

More salads and strawberries! We made identical desserts with these strawberries last night, so no need for a picture.  That impatien is one I planted from seed.

Since I have so much lettuce this year, I have learned what a chore it can be to clean EACH leaf!  This is the only bug I've seen on them so far, which is nice! Anyone know what this is?