Aug 31, 2007

My Little Bud

As I suspected, my Brugmansia is finally budding. I am so proud, I feel like a new parent. I have raised this girl since last Fall when she was just a footlong stick with root bumps that a gardening friend sent me in the mail. Now at well over 4 feet tall I finally will see a flower!!
Check out this beauty of a bud-ling.

I also see that I may soon have a bunch of seeds from my Triple Yellow Datura, another gift from a gardening Friend, this time in the form of seeds as well, but this plant only grew to be about two feet tall and had a few blooms that I wasn't savvy enough to photograph right away.
But the seed pods are rather unique in their own way.

Could be Maybe.....

I just came in from hanging over the railing of my front porch....don't ask....and it looks to me like there maybe a very tiny bud on my lovely large Brugmansia. For any one who is curious, a Brugmansia is also called an Angel's Trumpet...they come in all colors and I have been told that they smell divine. I am going to go back out in a little bit and look up close at that bud-like appendage. Cross your fingers for me!!

Aug 30, 2007

Mystery Squash.....

Last fall,while my family and I were out doing our annual pumpkin and apple buying, I attained some fabulous Winter squash. As usual I saved seeds from two of our favorites but failed to mark which was which( I am working on this in a 12 step seedsaver program...the first step is admitting you have a problem).So this Spring in a fit of genius, I planted those seeds and marked them as 'Mystery Seed 1' and 'Mystery Seed 2'. well now I am mostly sure that 'Mystery Seed 2' is a Butternut....a very small Butternut, but still a Butternut.
'Mystery Seed 1'... well that's anybodies guess at this point. Actually I have the suspicion that it is not a squash at all, but some type of gourd....

Summer is Over....for me

I know that the calendar shows a few more weeks of summer left, but the garden is slowing down , the days are shortening, and more telling.... the kids went back to school this morning. Man this summer went by quicker than I could blink.Come to think of it, we haven't even had a S'More yet this Summer, where did all the days go??I was trying my darnedest to keep this the slowest moving summer ever...even though I couldn't wait to have my first sun ripened tomato.

My son is a Senior in High School this year, and my daughter is in her last year of Junior High, and I know how soon it will be that I have no more Summer vacations left at all. Sheesh time just flies....

While most Moms are jumping for joy when that first day of school arrives, I am moping around. I love having my kids home with me. I love having them in the garden with me, helping to plant , helping to harvest. I know that most days they see this as an extra chore, but I know from experience that they will remember these days fondly when they are gardening with their own kids some day.

Well I guess I can look at it like this...only a few more months til Winter and snow...can't beat that!!

Aug 28, 2007

Mmm,Mmm This is Dinner!

Take a look at what that colorful pot of tomatoes turned into!! Mmmmm!!!

I can't wait for the spaghetti to be done so I can dig in!

The Color of Summer

Here is a beautiful pot of tomatoes that have been blanched, peeled and seeded ,and now they are waiting to become sauce.

They are so spectacularly colorful, all they need now is a little heat and a little time and they will be perfect!

Aug 27, 2007

Garden Veggie Salad to Die For

Not that I would ever get tired of a nice green garden salad with cucumbers and tomatoes straight from the back garden...but ...I got tired of green salad etc., etc.
So after perusing the garden and finding a couple of zucchini and some nice ripe plum tomatoes, I decided that my two small eggplants that I had been watching had to be harvested for the sake of a new dinner treat.

Let me tell you, it was worth the harvest. This was more a side dish than a salad.I added Farfale(bow tie pasta) along with the vegetables from the garden, cut up and roasted with some beautiful Extra virgin Olive Oil about a half dozen whole cloves of garlic, and a sprinkling of sea salt , and dressing that I made from a scoop of Mayo and a drizzle of Rice Wine Vinegar and a handful of grated Parmesan . The end result was an extremely rich and satisfying dish that made good use of those prized veggies from my garden that I am running out of things to do with.

I wish I had taken a picture of it.....

Aug 25, 2007

Missing from My Garden

I couldn't let myself sleep tonight without putting this down first. It has been a while in coming, but now that it is here I need to harvest it as I would any other mature fruit.

This season has been one of wonder for me, I have had luck with some vegetables that I never had luck with before, and I have tried and been successful at things that I have tried before and failed at. There are times when I got out to my garden with my little harvest basket that I have been using for years, and I have to make two or three trips into my kitchen with my bounty, and yet many mornings as I stand in my little back yard , admiring the literal fruits of my labor, I realise what is missing this season....but until now I have let that thought slip away instead of harvesting it and keeping it.

The thing that I am missing the most is my father , who at the age of 69 , passed away late this Winter. It wasn't a shock, no, as a matter of fact it was something that we had prepared ourselves for, as most people do who have someone in their lives who are very ill. In the end I found myself having conversations about vegetable gardening more and more with him. I think it was partly so we could have a sense of normality around us....something to take our minds off of the starkness of medicine, the coldness of it all. Maybe it was something to help me forget the inevitable conclusion to the journey that I dreaded more and more with each passing hospital visit. Then finally because he was fond of planting vegetables and watching them flourish , and I became his link to a life he had enjoyed.

Back to my garden though, I realise now that maybe the reason I am having such a good harvest this year is because my father is giving me this as a gift. It will never replace being able to discuss the best methods of seeds sowing, or how best to fertilise a tomato or any of the million things I cherished when I was with my Daddy ...but it gives me pause to think of him in a pleasant way. That's the best harvest I can think of.

Aug 24, 2007

Tomatoes on Parade 2007

Like I have mentioned before, this is my first season growing heirlooms of any kind. I am totally hooked on heirloom tomatoes now and plan to try as many as I can before deciding who gets a permanent spot in my small garden. After all, I only have room for 20-24 tomato plants and I want to grow ones that I love there.
So these are the varieties that shared that space this season.In order of excellence.....

German Red Strawberry- A medium sized pinkish red beauty. this was from seed that someone added to a trade because they didn't want them. I was pretty careless with them because I figured that if I was going to do heirlooms then I wanted fancy colors and varieties , Red Strawberry just sounded blah to me. Oh Man was I ever wrong, I only had two plants survive my hardening debacle, and I didn't take care of one of those and I am definitely kicking myself. So far, during this quest for the best , this is my absolute favorite!! The flavor is so totally tomato, sweet and tangy , meaty beyond my dreams, so far a definite keeper in my garden of champions.

Green Zebra- These were the first ever seeds I ever got in a trade, and I am so glad that I did. I grew these smallish green tomatoes as a novelty thing. I was actually surprised at how good they really are, not only are the stunning to look at with their amber stripping on lime green, but they taste fabulous too. They are at first very tart and zingy, but as you chew the sweetness comes popping out. A really fun out of the garden or in a salad tomato.

Black From Tula- I had really high hopes for these guys. I was at first a little disappointed that they were more of a dark red with dusky green shoulders than actually black, but once the regular reds came in I could definitely see the big difference between the two, plus as the season progressed the Tulas became a deeper garnet color. Now for me they weren't as fantastic as I had hoped when just eaten as is, although on a sandwich they became almost stellar. I don't know if this will be THE black for my garden as I have a few more to try over the next few seasons, but it will always be dear to me as the first exotic tomato I ever had.

Sasha's Altais Pride- I thought this was to be an early variety, but it wasn't. I was not thrilled by this one, it is definitely better than the tasteless stuff you get at the grocers, but no where near as luscious as the German Red Strawberry.

Golden Girl- This one was one of the transplant varieties I bough to take the place of the golden heirloom seedlings I murdered. I am pretty sure this is a hybrid, but I could be wrong. At any rate, this is a pretty tasty variety for a golden tomato. I didn't have high hopes for it, but i was nicely surprised by how meaty and flavorful it is. Too bad it isn't an heirloom....well I don't think it is at any rate .

Celebrity- Another hybrid that I used for filler...funny thing is I used to love this variety, but stacked up against the heirlooms, even the heirlooms that I wasn't thrilled with still seemed lifeless.

Brown Berry Cherry- Another one I absolutely adored. So sweet and yet no other cherry I have had.They didn't put up too many fruits but the ones they did were worth it. I wasn't able to save seeds successfully from this one, but I will definitely be buying these seeds in the future .I will make room for them even though they are a light producer.

Beam's Yellow Pear Cherry- Not one of my favorites as it wasn't sweet but more citrusy and tangy. But my daughter loved it so I will give it another try and report on it then. What I can say id I got very few fruits on this one but I was able to save some true seeds from it so I will let you all know next season what I really think.

I am also growing a rescued Great White but as I don't have even one fruit on it yet , I am thinking it is a loss for this season. I do want to try white tomatoes , but I don't think this is going to be the season.

As sad as this is going to sound...I am already looking forward to next season even though this season has a few good weeks still left in it. I have enough varieties of seeds already in the house to cover the next three or more seasons and I am always looking for more that I don't have.I guess there are worse things I could do .

The Season

What a season this has been. From its meager beginnings back in the early days of March when the seeds were sown, to the sultry days of August when I thought the harvest would never wane...oh what a whirlwind it has been.
I have learned a few things in this my inaugural year of growing all from seed. The most important things being that Eggplants sown in mid march will not have a stellar fruiting season, hardening off is harder than it looks , tomatillos really DO need a partner and crying over seedlings thought lost is a noble if not foolish thing .

Ok so from this we now know that Eggplant seeds need to be sown in the early to mid weeks of February to get some nice growth on them before their trip to the Veggie garden in May. I suppose for a lot of folks who grow from seed this seems like to early a time for sowing, but trust me, we keep my house so cold in the winter that seedlings grow fairly slowly, and it seems that although the tomatillo, peppers and tomatoes were ok with this, the eggplant were tiny when all was said and done. They have caught up since, but really should have produced fruit by now and I am going to be lucky if I get 2 fruit out of 4 plants that survived. Kind of a disappointment seeing that I have never had a Rosa Bianca or a Listada De Gandia before and I was really looking forward to it. Well live and learn and lucky me that I saved some seeds for next season.

Next thing...Hardening off....always remember, and don't ever matter how shady you think a spot is, its probably not shady enough for your tender little baby seedlings. So plant more than you think you will need, if they all survive, you get to give them away or plant them creatively where they never would have been before. If you kill many , well then you had too many to start with and still have enough or at least some left to enjoy and you can fill in with transplants from the store.

Speaking of killing baby seedlings, it seems that tomatillos are easily scalded when rushed to harden ...and one plant is not enough to set fruit. I had hoped for so long that someone in the neighbourhood had tomatillos in a garden close enough for my one little lonely survivor to set fruit....alas it wasn't meant to be. I also killed off all of my purple tomatillo seedlings...funny thing is, back when they first sprouted I was shocked at how many I had and concerned that I wouldn't be able to find homes for them all...I should have known better.

Lastly, I spent as harrowing afternoon outside my backdoor crying my eyes out fearing that I had killed my seedy babies...after all the time I spent collecting my seeds from online friends and other sources, after sowing these seeds lovingly, and caring for them thru the cold late Winter and chilly early Spring I couldn't believe that a little thing like a few hours of sun would do so much harm to them, but it did...and it was all my fault.Well truth be told after calming down and resigning myself to the loss of most of my special heirloom varieties, I convinced myself that I wouldn't give up...which really crossed my mind, and I would just fill in with store bought transplants, and be happy for the few Heirlooms that I had remaining.Well it turns out that seedlings although happier when not scalded by the sun , can come back and make gorgeous fruit after all.
So now I have harvested my share of tomatoes and eggplants, zucchini and cucumbers, snow peas and green beans and peppers. I have cooked with them, shared them threatened my kids with them and gotten a little tired of eating them....well, for now that is...but I am honestly thankful that I have a few feet of earth that I can call my own and a family that supports my quirkiness in the garden. Oh how tasty some of life's lessons can be!!

The Beauty of Tomatoes

This is the year that tomatoes go from the level of tasty vegetable to outright obsession. How did I end up sliding down this slippery slope do you ask....well I will tell you, I found gardening Web sites.

I was an ignorant gardener before I found those gardening websites. I mean....who knew there were so many different varieties of tomatoes, let alone ordinary people willing to share seeds from those exotic colored and flavored orbs of juicy goodness. I received my first packet of traded Heirloom tomato seeds and like a junkie I was hooked.