A long vacation and a rich harvest.

I didn’t plan on missing blogging as much as I did. It’s been almost two weeks since my last post because we went out of town on vacation.  We asked our neighbors to water the backyard every two or three days and crossed our fingers for the best results.

By now our plants are well established and the lasagna garden has broken down quite a bit.  We knew the weather would be hot and sunny, and that it never rains in Los Angeles in the summer.  We also know that our neighbors don’t garden and get home late at night from work (sometimes after dark) and we hoped they water.

David and I arrived home from the airport at 11pm last night, and grabbed a flashlight to inspect the plants.  Except for the zucchini that fell over because the fruit was too large, things looked really good!  The plants need tidying up, but overall it was a great time to leave the garden and the supports that exist are still holding up.  The tomato cages will soon need staking (like tomorrow), the cucumbers and melons need more ties and we’re starting more zucchini and beans in the nursery.  We were happy to see that the plants definitely had water while we were gone (one indicator was that the squash leaves have powdery mildew beginning). By flashlight we picked the giant zucchinis and righted the plant.  We resisted a midnight harvest, and I did it most of it before David even got out of bed this morning.

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Our harvest after the vacation.  I’ll go through each item, and how we plan to use it.  The only reason I snagged the bunch of mint, was that it was crowding the cucumber plants.  We don’t plan to use it right away.  We have fresh mint year round and have plenty of dried mint on hand already.

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The largest Safari zucchini weighed four pounds and the smaller fruit was two pounds.  These are both destined to be double chocolate zucchini bread.  We’re taking the bread with us to the LA food swap on Sunday.  The food swap is our first one and we’re planning on bringing a variety of items made from this harvest with us.

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Our mixed green beans.  This is enough for a small jar of dilly beans.  I didn’t take pictures of our dill but we have three plants which will provide all the dill we need for the canning session.

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The Indigo Rose (front) and Jaune Flamme (back) are beautiful and ripe for roasting.  These are our first fruits from the plants and there are many more coming soon.  The plan is to roast the tomatoes and pack three jars of them with olive oil.  

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The Jaune Flamme are a rich golden orange when ripe.  They have a great flavor (I snuck one more that I found on the vine) and will be fun to roast and can this summer.

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The Indigo Rose are ripe when there’s red on the bottom of them.  We’ve been anxious to pick them, and I think we’re having trouble determining if they’re ripe.  Roasting these should help intensify their flavor.

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Our Isis Candy cherry tomatoes are ready!  Last year we grew these in a pot, and they were our favorite cherry.  This year we gave them prime real estate in the raised bed, and the plant is our largest so far.  These will be enjoyed in our salads, and next week we should begin to have a small supply daily.

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San Marzanos!  Two years ago, David discovered how wonderful these sauce tomatoes are and we’ve been growing two plants ever since.  This is the first of our harvest.  Many had caterpillar holes in them, which doesn’t really matter when it comes to roasting the good parts.

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These are our Tounge of Fire shell beans harvested from plants that we pulled.  David and I enjoy the color and having a shell bean around, but these hybrids were taking up valuable space.  We decided to harvest what was there and we’ll use the space for something else.
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These will be served with dinner. These shell beans have a fun pattern.  I’d like to get heirloom shell beans when it’s time to order more summer seeds.  Any suggestions of your favorite varieties?

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These easter egg radishes grew in the new lasagna garden and have twisted up tips to show for it.  We didn’t have enough to do much with, and David’s happy to have them in his salads.

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Our little bell pepper plant was sagging under the weight of four bell peppers.  I picked the two biggest and figured we leave the others on the plant to turn red, or until we need them, whichever is first.  These will be fun to use in salads or cooked.

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The hot peppers are doing well.  That’s not entirely true… the cayenne, jalepeno and banana pepper are doing well.  The rest of our hot peppers have been stunted and we’re hoping a shot of fertilizer will help them snap out of their growing funk. The cayenne will get tossed in the pickles, and I’m not sure about the jalepenos yet.  We have about 6 more that are the same size, and I’m thinking about making a jalepeno jelly.

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The nasturtiums had more seed pods on them, so I figured it’s time to pickle up another jar.  These were mostly from the two new plants that are now taking over the mystery garden.  These are currently soaking in a brine on the kitchen window, and will be pickled tomorrow.

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Another “soon project” will be picking the green coriander seeds.  I’ve been reading about the treat of green coriander and dreaming of ways to use them.  I’d probably be more excited if I actually liked coriander, but David loves it so I’m channeling his enthusiasm.  I read about pickling the green pods, and would love suggestions if anyone has them.

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Pickling cucumbers is the way to go!  Most of these are from the little leaf cucumber vines, and one of them is a Straight 8.  They will all become either dill pickle spears or bread and butter chips.  There are a few more on the vines that should be ready when it’s time to prep them.

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We picked our first winter squash!  The delicata is one of my favorite.  This one looked a little small, and I am hoping it’s ready.  The skin is hard so I guessed it was time to harvest. A lot of what I read said to harvest winter squash before the first frost… which just didn’t help.  As with most of this harvest, I decided to pick it and then pay attention and learn as we cut into our veggies.

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Our first buttercup squash.  What a beauty! This one is from the plant that we thought was an acorn squash and was one of our first squashes to begin growing.  It may be a little soon, but not much.  There’s four more that are close behind this one.
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This little pattypan squash is our first one. The poor plant has been hiding under Red Kuri and zucchini leaves for the past couple of weeks.  I figured it was time to pick the lone fruit, and see if the plant can start growing more.

David and I are keeping busy, and I hope to update the blog soon on what the plants look like and how the preserving goes.  Isn’t summertime grand?

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5 thoughts on “A long vacation and a rich harvest.

  1. Your harvest was awesome and I love how you explained about each thing/gave ideas on how to prepare them. This is the first year where I have tons of things to actually eat (in the past deer were basically eating everything). I do not feel I am taking full advantage of all that I could be harvesting (i.e. I have TONS of coriander seeds that I cut and are hanging upside down, I was just going to let them dry out to save to plant more cilantro but now you’ve got me re-thinking that;) Maybe you could pickle them using the nasturtium seed-pod picking recipe? Jalepeno jelly sounds delish! And roasted tomatoes in olive oil, yum! I need to go buy some jars and get my head in the harvesting game, STAT! haha

    • I found a couple of recipes online. I think most of our coriander has gone too far, but yes, I bet the recipe would work! I’m glad your fence is working out- deer and rabbits would decimate my childhood garden in Maryland. Get those jars and put up the food that you have going. I think we’re going to do pickles just a jar or two at a time, as that’s how the cukes are coming in right now.

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