Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's Harvest

Yay - the first cucumber! Last year cucumbers were started in the basement around May 1st, and they produced like crazy beginning in early July. We had such a bumper crop I ended up making several jars of bread and butter pickles with the extras we didn't consume or give away. We've been enjoying the delicious (if I do say so myself) pickles since, and the last jar is almost empty.

This year I started cukes from seed in the west veggie bed in mid-May. Unfortunately cutworms destroyed all the seedlings within days of their emergence. So about a week later I started more seeds in the basement, and let the plants grow there until they started vining. They started producing male blooms weeks ago, and finally, finally the female blooms are coming. It will be a late harvest, but I'm thrilled finding the first ripe cucumber of the season this morning. Needless to say, I'll be keeping the cucumber seedlings in the basement in the future until they're sturdy enough to foil the cutworms.

It's been a great year for tomatoes. Every couple of days I gather the ripe ones. The photo is representative of what I harvest several times a week. We really don't need thirteen tomato plants, but I've been enjoying experimenting with several heirlooms I've never grown, along with the usual staples I've loved for years. We've been enjoying them all for weeks. The yellow pears came from a volunteer plant that I left in the east veggie bed. They're not my favorite cherry-type tomato, but they're not bad and they're kind of cute.

Except for a few tomatoes that have fallen to the ground and gotten yucky, not a single one has gone to waste. Several batches of salsa have been made, some have been eaten out-of-hand, especially the cherries, others have made wonderful pasta sauces, and many have been shared with friends and clients. For sauce, after cooking the tomatoes and running them through a sieve, I add a small can of tomato paste to thicken them up instead of boiling them down forever. Adding the paste minimizes cooking time and heating up the house during what has already been a hot enough summer.

There are beets out there ready to harvest, and I even picked a few beans I missed yesterday. The peppers picked yesterday ended up in a delicious Thai curry dinner, made with leftover jerk chicken, organic coconut milk, peanut butter, garlic, onions, herbs, spices, and peas, and served with organic brown Basmati rice. Guess what's for lunch today!

gratuitous dragonfly photo

Speaking of bumper crops, we've had a bumper crop of dragonflies this year. I've had several up-close and personal encounters with them, having them land on me and land nearby. A couple of weeks ago one landed on a daylily in a client's garden, and seemed to be checking me out quite intensely, for a really long time. As I moved around the garden, he followed, and was my companion for at least 20 minutes. I've wished the camera was with me to capture images of the dragonflies encountered this season.

This one was resting here for a nice long time, and was accommodating enough to wait for me to grab the camera. I believe it's a female Green Darner.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


13 comments:

  1. To have produce as beautiful and healthy as your tomato and cucumbers definitely will make any gardener very very happy! ~bangchik

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  2. I have been craving a BLT and your post has motivated me to beg a few tomatoes from a friend's garden~What a treat it must be to open up a jar of your own canned pickles! I need a veggie garden! Linda, I love your header photo! gail

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  3. Linda, I have also seen a ton of dragonflies. This has been a good veggie year, lots of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. I have noticed that mildew is setting in on the cucumber plant and the dahlias again.

    Eileen

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  4. Wow, what a picture from a dragonfly. I love them too, but I have to admit I'm a bit afraid, when they come to close. Once I saw one who caught a butterfly, it looked quite brutal. I didn't know by then, that they eat insects. However I' find them stunning anyway.
    Hey, and what a great tomatoes harvest you've got! I've got only 3 plants of different kind of cherry tomatoes, and one of the is also the yellow pear. You're right that they aren't very aromatic, but they pep up every salad with their sunny color.
    Have a nice weekend!
    Alex

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  5. I love that dragonfly photo! My tomato harvest has been sucky this year; not many per plant and all the raccoon thievery. Glad things are looking better in your garden!

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  6. Home grown cukes don't even compare to store bought. I bet you enjoyed it immensely!

    Love that dragonfly shot.
    Good job.

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  7. Bangchik, it amazes me how productive our two little vegetable beds are, especially since they're not even in full sun. It makes me very happy being able to finally grow vegetables again. I really missed being able to go out to the garden and 'pick' dinner! It makes me very happy.


    Mmmm Gail! We haven't made BLTs yet. (will have to rectify that!) I haven't made a cheddar, lettuce, and tomato sandwich yet either. I used to have one almost every day during tomato season. Yum!

    Eileen, the dragonflies have been amazing this year. I can't remember ever seeing so many, or so many different kinds and colors. They are so beautiful. They've been so friendly this year too!

    It sure has been a good veggie year. Everything seems to have really enjoyed the heat.

    Dragonflies are such interesting creatures Alex! Wow - I've never seen one eat a butterfly. I'm glad I haven't - that would make me sad. We have had an amazing number of butterflies this year too. I'm glad the dragonflies haven't seemed to put much of a dent in the butterfly population. I hope they're eating lots mosquito larvae in our swale. I read that dragonflies can eat their weight in bugs in about 30 minutes.

    I love the color and shape of the yellow pears, even if they're not the tastiest of tomatoes. Next year I will try sun gold tomatoes. My mom grows them, and they're delicious yellow cherries.

    Thanks Monica - the dragonfly was very accommodating, and very photogenic. I was amazed how long it rested in the spot. (Maybe it was resting while digesting!)

    I'm sorry about the raccoons stealing your tomatoes. We usually have them around here too, but I haven't seen any for a couple of years.

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  8. That's the truth Rosey! Nothing store-bought compares to home grown veggies. Being able to have a veggie garden again after five years without one is just so wonderful.

    Glad you enjoyed the dragonfly photo!

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  9. That's a great harvest! I should consider starting cucumbers indoors since my harvest this year has been so measly.

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  10. What wonderful tomatoes! every blog I go to at the moment seems to have a picture of tomatoes. Cherish them because we have long Winter months of horrible tasteless supermarket tomatoes!

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  11. I was really jealous of your tomato harvest, but then I got down to your dragonfly picture and got SUPER jealous.

    We've had a bumper crop of dragonflies in the City, too. I've spotted them for the first time in the garden this year and while I haven't gotten a good picture like you, I'm so happy to see them. Went on a tour of community gardens this weekend and several people were commenting on how many dragonflies were flying over the gardens. It was amazing.

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  12. I just love love love that gratuitous photo of the dragonfly. I can never capture them. Great shot.

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  13. Hi Rose, even with only part sun in our veggie bed, last year the cukes were amazingly productive. And now that the ones I started in the basement are finally fruiting, once again I'm amazed by how many cucumbers we'll have. Next year they'll definitely be started indoors again. I hope your cucumbers will be more productive in the next few weeks.

    They have been so delicious Matron! I don't even bother with supermarket tomatoes. It's like they're not even the same species. They look like tomatoes, but there's no comparison in flavor.

    Some of ours will be canned and/or frozen so we can enjoy them until our next harvest. I'm still debating on getting a dehydrator. My mom dries lots of tomatoes. They are so good - like candy! And they make wonderful sauce when dehydrated.

    This has been a wonderful year for tomatoes MBT! Last year we had a lot, but nothing compared to this year. They have really loved the hot weather.

    I was so happy the dragonfly cooperated and waited for me to grab the camera! It was like she was posing for me, and making up for all the other ones I wanted to photograph but didn't have the camera handy.

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