Garden Journal – 2nd/3rd Weeks of September

Garden Journal – 2nd/3rd Weeks of September

The older I get the faster time seems to go by.  The last couple of weeks of August sped by in a blur, many tomato tastings and potluck dinners later.  I can honestly say that I am “tomatoed out”.  We had great fun hosting our annual tomato lovers’ dinner,  a similar dinner the following Saturday,  and two tomato tasting potluck dinners.  In addition, I conducted three more tomato tastings at friends’ homes.  We are looking forward to some down time.

This week we have had our first cool weather reminding us that Fall is right around the corner.  Tomato production has fallen off dramatically and many of the hot weather crops like cucumbers, melons, zucchini and winter squash are ready to be pulled.  However,   sweet peppers are still going strong and it looks like we are on the verge of a second season with our eggplants.

EGGPLANTS IN THEIR SECOND SEASON IN SEPTEMBERE

EGGPLANTS IN THEIR SECOND SEASON IN SEPTEMBER

These last couple of weeks have been occupied with harvesting and cleaning up the garden.  We have processed the last of our plum tomatoes and now have a freezer full of chopped and pureed fruit.  We have also been  busy harvesting , shelling and storing beans.  Because we were so busy with all of the tomato madness in August we let our first planting of Vermont Cranberry beans dry on the vine.  We finished drying them under cover, shucked them and stored the dry beans in vacuum sealed bags for use this winter.  We also did the same with our other bean variety, “Kennearly”, an heirloom bean from Maine used for making baked beans.  I grew up in Maine, so I love baked beans.

DRY BEANS

VERMONT CRANBERRY AND KENNERARLY BEANS DRYED AND VACUUM PACKED

Our hot pepper harvest was average this year.  For some reason, our two Poblano pepper plants did not thrive.  We have some fruit, but none full sized.  I opted to let the fruit ripen red on the vines.  We will finish them off in the dehydrater, store in jars and grind into chili powder as needed.  the Jalapeno peppers have been  “rocking it” all Summer.  Last Saturday I smoked 18 Jalapeno’s in the Webber kettle grill using a low indirect method; 25 coals and wood chips soaked overnight.

We also harvested some Cayenne peppers which we dried and stored in jars for later use.  We seeded some of the peppers to make straight Cayenne pepper.  We dried some with the seeds which we will crush for hot red pepper flakes.  We get a great deal of satisfaction making our own pepper spice products for cooking.  It’s not that hard and we have the satisfaction  that the peppers were grown without chemicals.

The Fall bearing raspberries that we planted over a year and a half ago are nearing full production.  What a treat it is to have these on my yogurt in the morning.  Today, I picked nearly enough to make a batch of jam.  Raspberry jam, home baked bread toasted, a good cup of coffee.  Now that’s “good living”.

"HERITAGE" FALL BEARING RASPBERRIES

FALL BEARING RASPBERRIES, ENOUGH FOR MAKING JAMB

 

Our second planting of “Haricot Vert”, the tender French green beans has finally come into production.  We had about a two week void between plantings.  I did miss them when we couldn’t have any.  We should get another three weeks of fresh green beans.  If you have never had “Haricot Vert” I would highly recommend that you plant some next season.  I won’t eat any other fresh green bean.

FRENCH GREEN BEANS

FRESHLY PICKED “HARICOT VERT” GREEN BEANS – AKA “FRENCH GREEN BEANS”

After experiencing a “foobar” with my supplier, I managed to plant my potatoes three weeks late this past Spring.  Through necessity I discovered a new supplier, The Maine Potato Lady.  Great pricing and service.  What else can I say?  We harvested our crop this week, a variety called “French Fingerling”.  I love the taste and texture of this potato but have never seen it at any retail outlet.

FRENCH FINGERLING POTATOES

FRENCH FINGERLING POTATOES, ONE OF MY PERSONAL FAVORITES

Some of you are probably wondering when I am going to get around to publishing Part 2 of our “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner”.  You have my promise that it will be published no later than September 19.  Recent travel and events have distracted me from my blogging duties.  Also, I have been fussing over how to present the recipes.  Stay tuned.

All the best,

Greg Garnache

Garden Journal – 3rd Week of July

It’s hard to believe that nearly two weeks have passed since my last post.  We’ve been in travel mode; first to New Orleans to see our new grandson Theo and then out to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts for some culture.  Needless to say, I came home to a vegetable garden in need of some love.  Thankfully, most of the love involved harvesting.

Garlic Ready for Harvest

Before we left for New Orleans, the garlic plants were beginning to look like they were ready to be pulled.  I noticed traces of browning on the leaf tips.  When we returned from our trip the garlic patch was definitely ready for harvest.

BROWN TIPS ON GARLIC PLANTS

THE GARLIC PATCH READY FOR HARVEST. NOTICE ALL THE BROWN TIPS.

One of the first things I did when we returned from our trip was to pull the plants and let them dry out a bit in the sunshine.  After a couple of days I cut the garlic heads from the stems with a pair of pruners and trimmed the roots off with kitchen scissors.  I then wiped off the dirt with a towel and separated the heads by the number of cloves in each.  Most of the heads had five or six cloves.

My ultimate goal is to set aside the largest heads with the largest number of cloves to use as my seed stock this Fall.  The smallest heads of garlic will be used first for cooking.

RECENTLY HARVESTED GARLIC

NEWLY HARVESTED GARLIC SEPARATED INTO 4, 5 AND 6 CLOVE HEADS

The Hot Weather Crops are Starting to Rock

We came home to cucumbers, peppers (both sweet and hot), zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant.  Some of our heirloom tomatoes are beginning to produce.  As expected, “Black Krim” is one of the early arrivals, as well as “Black Ethiopian” and an early “Rose” tomato.

OUR HARVEST BASKET ON THE FIRST DAY OF OUR  RETURN FROM VACATION

OUR HARVEST BASKET ON THE FIRST DAY OF OUR RETURN FROM VACATION

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES ON THE VINE

Last year, I received some eggplant seeds from Italy as a gift.  We are growing the same variety this year with great results.

ITALIAN EGGPLANTS

ITALIAN EGGPLANTS

Walla Walla Onions Ready for Harvest

After three months in the ground, the Walla Walla onions were finally ready for harvest, just in time for making salsa.  These mild white onions have been a favorite around our house for the last ten years or so.  We are talking “Vadalia” mild.  Do you want to add some “rock-n-roll” to your burger?  Try a nice thick slice of Walla Walla.  They are also great in salads.  Walla Walla onions don’t store well so we will try to use all of our harvest before the end of the summer.  I also enjoy making a simple cucumber and onion salad  using the Walla Walla onions.  In addition to the Walla Walla’s, we also grow red onions and a yellow storage onion which both need a couple more weeks in the ground before harvest.

WALLA WALLA ONIONS

OUR WALLA WALLA ONION HARVEST DRYING IN THE SUN

The Tomatoes are Doing Fine

One of the advantages of being away for a week was the impact of a week’s worth of growth of our tomatoes.  Many of the plants grew at least a foot with some growing 18″ or more.  Some varieties are just beginning to produce ripe fruit.  We are three weeks away from our annual “Tomato Lovers’ Dinner”, which we offer as an auction item at our church.  I’ve lined up a professional photographer to shoot this year’s event and will devote a couple of posts to this event.  We start off with a tomato tasting.  This is the adult version of kids in a candy store.  Doing a tomato tasting is a blast.  People love trying new tomatoes and are surprised at the different taste notes that each variety displays.  If you grow a variety of  tomatoes, especially heirlooms, think about doing a tomato tasting for your friends.  Trust me, you will become a hero.

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES

BLACK ETHIOPIAN TOMATOES GROWING ON THE BACK OF THE SUNSHED

I would love to hear from you.  How are your tomatoes doing?  What varieties do you have?  Have you seen any signs of disease or the dreaded tomato horn worm?

All the best,

Greg

 

 

 

 

Garden Journal – 4th Week of May

Garden Journal – 4th Week of May

Let’s Put Those Fruit Crops in the Ground

After nurturing eggplant and pepper seedlings for 9 weeks and tomato
seedlings for 7 weeks it was a great relief to finally plant them
into the garden. With my wife’s help, we transplanted 40 tomato
plants, 4 eggplants, 7 sweet peppers and 12 hot peppers. Another
60 tomato plants were given to friends.

Our Transplanting Procedure

Transplanting so many tomatoes, eggplants and peppers to the garden is a tedious job, but feels great when your done. I have developed a procedure that my wife and I follow the works well for us.

1. We dig a hole slightly wider and a bit deeper than the pot that contains
the seedling.
2. We place 3 tablespoons (approximately a handfull) of ESPOMA TOMATO TONE in the hole prior to planting the seedling and mix it into the dirt.
3. We prune off the bottom foliage to ensure that none of it touches the
ground once the seedling is in place.
4. We infill with soil and firm it to ensure that the plant is properly
anchored in the ground.
5. A cutworm collar is placed around each transplant and firmly set into
the soil.
6. The individual plant identification marker is set into the ground next
to the plant.
7. The seedling is then watered with a transplant solution. I like to use
NEPTUNE’S HARVEST 2-3-1 fertilizer, 1 tablespoon to the gallon. I take
the precaution of watering each transplant twice This procedure works well for tomatoes and eggplants.

For peppers, I do the same procedure but add a hand full of crushed eggshells
to the hole before planting. Peppers prefer a sweeter soil. The eggshells
contain calcium which compensates for the natural acidity of our New England
soil.

 

THIS IS HOW WE ROLL WHEN TRANSPLANTING TOMATOES

THIS IS HOW WE ROLL WHEN TRANSPLANTING TOMATOES

TRANSPLANTING VINE CROPS

This past week was also consumed with transplanting our hot
 weather loving vine crops. I started seeds in 2" soil blocks around the first  of May. These included zucchini, cucumbers, melons, Kaboka winter squash, Butternut  squash and pumpkins. My procedure for these crops is to build a small hill by
 digging a hole and adding 2 or 3 shovels full of composted cow manure. I add  a hand full of ESPOMA TOMATO TONE and cover that all up with soil. I then  plant my seedling and double water. This year, we have a total of 12 plants.

Planting Beans

I planted one row of Haricot Vert, our favorite green bean.  They
are also known as “French Filet Beans”.  Known for being  tender and flavorful fresh, Haricot Vert  don’t freeze well.  In fact, they suck frozen.

To plant my beans, I make a 2″ furrow with one edge of my hoe, place the
seeds in the bottom of the furrow approximately 2″ apart, sprinkle with
innoculent which helps fix nitrogen in the soil, cover and water. Simple as that.

Please stay tuned for my next post which will include information and
photos about various tomato supports that I use and why I use them.
Until then, keep after it. All the work now will pay off before you
know it.
All the best,
Greg Garnache