Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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July 11 Garden Update

The garden is just humming along right now, and we’re getting tantalizingly close to harvest time for some of the goodies. It’s amazing how much better things are going this year than last year. I heard a report on the news yesterday that late blight has been confirmed across the river in New Jersey, but I’m hoping that a few days of westerly winds and dry heat will help keep my little plants safe.

If things continue the way they’re going now, our tomato plants are primed to give us a monster crop. I took a quick count of tomatoes that are currently growing, and have these numbers:

  • About 55 Slicer Tomatoes (“Big Boy” and “Better Boy”) on 4 plants
  • Over 150 plum tomatoes on 6 plants
  • more cherry tomatoes than I can reasonably count

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Not all of them will become ripe at the same time, of course, so we will avoid a major flood, but there are still going to be enough for us to play with in the months ahead. I’m thinking about putting up a few quart jars of tomato sauce, and maybe dehydrate a few too. I’m not super interested in canning salsa or bruschetta again, but if volume gets high enough we’ll have to consider it.

I can already see 2 little cherry tomatoes turning orange and red. I’ll pull those in soon and we’ll just eat them raw while their siblings ripen up.

We have three large spaghetti squash forming already, which is awesome. However, I haven’t yet seen anything that looks like a butternut squash or a pumpkin. Considering that the plants are right next to each other, in the same soil, with the same watering schedule, I can’t figure out why the spaghetti squash are so far along and everything else isn’t. Maybe I just can’t see them under all the vines and dense foliage. Maybe I just have to be a little bit more patient.

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Peppers are doing well. I have two large bell peppers (one “California Wonder” and one “Orange Bell”). A few more teensy little ones are set on other plants. I have two large cayenne peppers, and a large cherry pepper just starting to change color. There are a handful of small, narrow “Thai Long Hot” peppers starting to grow, and one tiny yellow “Tabasco” pepper, sticking straight up off the top of the plant.

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The last garlic plant finally got ready. They say you’re supposed to wait for a dry spell to pull garlic, so it cures more quickly and is less prone to disease, but the string of rainy days seemed endless so I pulled it anyway. In total I have 6 garlic cloves just waiting to be used. They’re resting with my remaining onions (3 large and 8 medium, the small and weird ones went into soup). I’m already looking forward to buying some new garlic to plant this autumn.

Blueberries are almost completely done. The last few stragglers have been getting nabbed by the birds as soon as they turn blue, so we’re done with them for the season. The harvest this year was small but rewarding. I hope they’ll really do well. Maybe, if Dana hasn’t killed me by then, I’ll pick up a third plant.

Potatoes are limping along. A few of the plants are starting to take off, but several of them seem like they’re just giving up and rolling over to die. My hopes were never particularly high for them, and I really don’t expect to be getting anything out of them this year. Next year, maybe, I’ll do some better planning and try for a better crop.

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Garden Planting Complete

This post is a little bit delayed, but I have finally finished planting things in my garden. The last few seedlings were transplanted outdoors for the wonderful weather on Mother’s Day (minus a few last-minute changes). The weather was warm and absolutely perfect, so I figured it was as good a time as any to transplant out the last of my seedlings.

…And then there was a bunch of wind and the temperatures got down almost into the 30’s, so I had to rush out there and cover all the delicate little plants up for the night to keep them from frosting and getting killed. Maybe I should have waited? A coworker of mine lost all his pepper plants in the turbulent weather. Mine didn’t die, but some of them look like they’re hanging on for dear life. If they do die, I’ll run down to the garden store and pick up some replacements. For right now, however, it seems like disaster was narrowly averted.

The final garden breakdown looks something like this:

  • 14 Tomatoes. 4 Beefsteak (“Big Boy” and “Better Boy”), 10 of assorted plums or cherries (I’m not sure which are which)
  • 12 Peppers. 1 Tabasco, 1 Cherry Hot, 1 Cayanne, 1 orange bell, 8 assorted (pepperoncini, “California Wonder” bells and thai hots)
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 2 Pumpkin
  • 2 Spaghetti Squash

Here’s the first bed, showing the tomato plants I started from seed. They’re growing like crazy, and I just finished putting down a mulch of cardboard and straw:

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Here’s the middle bed, showing my pepper plants (still caged in chicken wire to keep the varmints out), onions and garlic (and one little tomato plant, in the back-right):

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All my peppers are still alive but several of them are looking awfully scrawny and sickly. I’m hoping the warm weather and plenty of rain we’ve been getting will help to jostle them back. If not, if they’re going to do as bad as my from-seed attempts from last year, I’ll rip them out and replace them with already grown versions from the garden store.

Most of the garlic is growing huge, but a few little stragglers are not doing as well. See if you can tell the difference:

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Finally, my new bed has the four tomato plants we bought in gallon pots (so they were already pretty large) and my 5 squash plants. This one has also been generously mulched with cardboard and straw, and a few of the smaller-looking squashes have some cages around them as well for protection:

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One of my little squash seedlings died yesterday, but luckily I found a young squash plant of unknown variety growing in the compost pile (I suspect it’s a spaghetti squash, but time will tell!). After a quick switcheroo, nobody will ever know what happened.

 

To top it off, we finally bought a hose that’s long enough to reach all the garden beds, so I no longer have to stand several feet away and spray the hose on it’s highest setting to try and reach the really far away parts. I also don’t have to fill buckets with water, and carry them around to my cherry trees. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?