Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eating Flowers

One of the first things the garden provides that I can eat - zucchini flowers. Dipped in egg and flour and fried. Love em!

First taste of spring
The harvest of black raspberries this year was pretty solid - ended up with 1.75 lbs. You have to get to them quickly, they're around for a week or two then gone, sadly. Not sure if these are destined for pie or jam.
Yum, sweet and seedy black raspberries
Picked my first zucchini today. Lots more on the way. Kale is getting past it's prime, but still not eating it. Cucumbers are doing a fine job so far. Hope the ground hog stays away.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Magnificent Kale

The kale is fast becoming the star of the new garden. It's grown fast and without complaint. I feared I'd killed some of the seedlings when I tried to dig them up and transplant while thinning the row. Nope. They survived, despite neglect (was out of town for a couple days and didn't water).

Kale doing great.
The tomatoes are giving me dirty looks every time I go down into the basement to water them. "Why aren't you transplanting us? Surely all danger of frost is well past!" Yeah, well, they're right. I'll try to harden them off this week then put them out next weekend. So quit nagging me tomatoes! The variety is exceedingly unimpressive this year - Cherokee Purple, a few cherries, and one measly San Marzano. I have a number of volunteers that sprang up around the zucchini, I may just roll the dice and see what I get.

Please be San Marzanos!
Soon I'll be in zucchini city. Here's number one!

First meal of zucchini!
Sure, he's only an inch long at the moment, but I figure by the end of the week he'll be the size of a baseball bat.

Also planted a row of cucumbers. All pickling. We have quite the infestation of anti-cuke bugs at the community garden, so we'll see if I get anything. I'll set up a trellis for them in the next day or two, before they get going.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Progress Report

I started plants in the basement a bit late, but I do have seedlings at this point. The bad news, I have all of ONE San Marzano. Tons of cherry tomatoes and Cherokee Purple. Not too many peppers and eggplants, but a few.

At the community garden I have garlic from last fall, which somehow survived the swampy conditions of the winter and early spring. I put in zucchini a bit before the last frost date and they're going strong. The surprise superstar of the garden is kale. Planted quite a bit, thinned and transplanted some, thought they would keel over, but they seem to have survived.

Kale post thinning.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Last Year's Tomato Harvest, This Year's Plans

So I kept a fairly careful accounting of all the tomatoes I hauled in last year, but then neglected to post it. Here's what I got:

  • 7.00 lbs 4th of July
  • 8.93 lbs 4th
  • 12.96 lbs 4th

  • 5.65 lbs Amish Paste?
  • 12.91 lbs AP
  • 17.72 lbs AP

  • 11.66 lbs Cherokee Purple

  • 5.41 lbs Brandywine
  • 8.28 lbs Brandywine
  • 13.14 lbs Brandywine
  • 14.66 lbs Brandywine

  • 0.83 lbs Indigo Rose

  • 2.45 lbs Plum Regal
  • 4.46 lbs   Plum Regal
  • 18.51 lbs Plum Regal

  • 8.25 lbs Roma

  • 5.03 lbs Rutgers
  • 9.15 lbs   Rutgers
  • 12.63 lbs Rutgers

  • 3.41 lbs   San Marzano
  • 9.03 lbs   SM
  • 12.54 lbs SM

  • 12.26 lbs Speckled Roman

The total was about 250 lbs, though toward the end of the season I got sloppy with my recording, so this is only about 217 of it. Not a bad haul. I was very sick of canning spaghetti sauce by the end of it. In fact, I still have quite a bit left to go through.

In addition to the spaghetti sauce, which I used a lot of, I canned up some tomato juice, which I really enjoyed. Also dehydrated a mess of them, aiming at sun-dried tomatoes, and used hardly any of those. They didn't come out too great. 

I also taste tested sauce made from Roma, Amish Paste, and San Marzano. Maybe my taste buds are inept, but there was no clear favorite. I was a bit surprised, given the reputation of San Marzanos that they weren't a clear favorite. Some folks say that the soil where they're grown in Italy makes it hard to replicate their flavor elsewhere. *shrug* I like all of them. Given that, I decided this year to go monoculture (heh) and just do San Marzanos. Them main reason being that they seemed slightly more prolific than the Romas and unlike the huge Amish Paste beasts don't need to be cut up to fit in the KitchenAid sauce making attachment. 

I liked the Brandywines, but all too often I feel like they went from green to red to rotten very fast. And they were huge, so they bent my cages to the ground too. When I finally get around to making some solid cages out of concrete reinforcing wire I'll try them again. Maybe Mortgage Lifter as well. 

For this years planting, I think I'll cut back from 4 rows of tomatoes to 3, leaving some room for cucumbers (oh yeah, pickling time!). That leaves 18 slots to fill. Here's my current though, though we'll see how my starts do.

  • 9 San Marzano - sauce seems to be my biggest use for the harvest, so focus on those
  • 2 Fourth of July - have been reliable and productive
  • 1 Rutgers - a nice tomato
  • 3 Cherokee Purple - delicious, my favorite
  • 3 wildcards, time to go seed shopping