Tomatoes in August, and lots of squash

The garden is doing really well. We are getting ripe tomatoes in August! Typically it’s into September before we get any.  More exciting pictures below!

tomatos
Some of our tomatoes – I’ve been watching for them to start turning pink. Then I pull them in because I don’t want to tempt fate. I left a roma to ripen on the vine and it started getting blossom end rot. So I’ve been letting them start to turn and pulling them in.
big ripe tomato
Here is the big tomato in the previous picture, now ripe.  It ripened on our counter.
round squash
We have lots of squash – I saved seeds from an Heirloom pumpkin (I think some kind of hubbard squash) – I have two plants, and both of them seem to be growing different shapes of fruit. This one has things that look like this, rounded. The other one has big pumpkin shaped green and yellow squashes. We’ll see what we end up with. Either way, it’s very exciting.
pumpkin
I received pumpkins from a coworker in the fall and saved seeds – he had grown them locally. This is one of those pumpkins. The plant has two fruits that I can tell, and they both are oblong like this and currently zucchini colored.
butternut
Here is my butternut squash – this fruit grew from almost nothing in about a week’s time.
giant pumpkin
Here is the other heirloom squash. This one continues to grow. I am wondering if the color will change much when it ripens, or how it will change.
onions
We harvested onions today – I got 110 yellow, and 20 red. I had been taking them here and there for cooking as well, so we grew a little more than that.
calendula
Some of our calendula – these were two plants that have merged into one mass of flowers.
sunflowers
More sunflowers keep blooming.
sugar rush peach pepper
Here is one of my Sugar Rush Peach peppers – it’s not ripe yet – they are supposed to be an orange color.
bee
Here is a bee that was sunning itself on our porch.

The garden is really doing well – a lot of stuff is starting to wind down though. I can’t believe it’s already almost September.  But the season is still in full swing.

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Harvesting and Freezing

I’ve gotten a lot of vegetables so far this year.  I’m still waiting on my tomatoes to ripen, but they are coming along. I’ve been picking suckers and new flowers left and right, and I can see the tomatoes are starting to get a pinkish tint to them.  We’ve had 80-90 degree temps this week, and it’s expected to continue – I think that will help with the ripening.

In the winter we were buying a lot of kale, so I grew a bunch of it, and we haven’t used a whole lot yet.  So this weekend I decided to pick as much as I could, and freeze it.  I left the plants, with new baby leaves in the centers, so I will still have fresh kale until we have snow (it supposedly can survive frost, and gets better after a frost, so we’ll see how that goes).   I ended up with a giant basket of kale:

My big basket of kale.  This basket is about 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and just under a foot tall. That's a whole lot of kale.
My big basket of kale. This basket is about 2 feet long, 1 foot wide, and just under a foot tall. That’s a whole lot of kale.

I took the leaves off the stems, blanched them for 2 minutes, and then froze them up.  I ended up with about 10 cups of frozen kale.

This year I decided to grow lemon balm.  I picked some to dry for tea.  It smells so good!

Lemon balm.
Lemon balm.

I have had tons of zucchini and yellow squash, and I have frozen a lot of it.  I read online that you can get away with not blanching it first, so I am trying that this year.  Last year I blanched it, and it worked fine but it was more labor intensive;  Also, since it was wet when I put it in freezer bags, I ended up with blocks of frozen zucchini.  I don’t know if the slice/freeze method will still produce this result; I’ll have to wait and see.

I also grew acorn squash for the first time this year.  I had four plants; most produced only one fruit – I did have two forming on one plant, but when I went out this weekend I realized that one of the fruits was rotting on the vine.  The other four seemed ready to pick.  The plants still have flowers so it may produce more, I will have to wait and find out.

Acorn squash.  Yum! We love eating them roasted with cinnamon sugar and butter.
Acorn squash. Yum! We love eating them roasted with cinnamon sugar and butter.

My corn is getting close to being ready.  The silks are turning brown on the cobs. Last year I read that you wait 10 days after the silks turn brown – I checked a few cobs and I think by this next weekend they may be ready.  I noticed today though that I must have raccoons or something attacking the corn.   It must be raccoons – they are notorious for getting into corn in this area – I found a half eaten cob in my garden on the ground. I hope they give me time to get at least a few ears before they get them all. I’m not sure how to deter them – they climbed my fence.   I’ll have to figure out some kind of raccoon deterrent – maybe putting a lip on the top of the fence so they can’t come over the top of the fence.

The harvest season begins

This is my favorite time of year.  I love when I can just go to the garden to pick dinner.  My vegetable plants are really starting to produce for me.  I had some chard and kale already this season, but the last few days my zucchini and yellow squash have started to have large enough squashes to pick.  Yum.  I have a lot of plants so I know I will eventually be overrun.

squash
Yellow squash and zucchini, waiting to be sliced. I sauteed these two up with some onion. These were about 6 inches long each (the cutting board under them is very tiny, in case it makes these look gigantic).

This year I have 5 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, and I think 4 acorn squash plants. Last year I had 3 or 4 zucchini plants, and by mid September I was very tired of zucchini.   I froze what we had left and didn’t eat any for a couple months.  They were very delicious in the middle of winter when I wasn’t sick of zucchini any more.  This year I received a pressure canner for my birthday, so I’m planning on using that to can a lot of our harvest.  I also plan on freezing some things.

I have gotten some pea pods, but not enough to do more than just eat the peas straight out of the pods.  My son has been enjoying that. I worried my peas wouldn’t like the heat we’ve been having but they are doing well.  Next year I will have to have more plants.

My beans have been producing well.  I actually got enough from my first harvesting of them to use for a side dish for tonight’s dinner:

Yummy beans.
Yummy beans.

I started with some green bean plants, but they didn’t do very well at first. I wanted more plants, so I bought a packet of purple beans.  They really took off, and I’ve been getting more purple beans so far than green.  The green plants are growing taller than the purple, and I can tell they are going to produce well – there are a lot of flowers and baby beans growing along the vine where they’ve climbed up my string support system. They are even climbing one of my sunflowers.  Last year I had a few bean plants, but I never got enough beans at one time to cook on their own; it was always just enough to cook up with something else.  I’m hoping to can or freeze some this year – hopefully I have enough to do that.

I have a lot of green tomatoes forming.  I’m growing three varieties of indeterminate tomatoes, and the plants are going crazy.  I have been consistently pulling off suckers from the plants, and now because there are so many baby tomatoes, I’m pulling off extra flowers too, in an effort to let the forming tomatoes get bigger faster, and possibly ripen on the vine.  I worry that they may take too long if I don’t do that – last year I had to let my tomatoes ripen in the house.  Our growing season isn’t very long – we may get frost by mid September.

It’s an exciting time of year.