Friday PhotoEssay – July 25th

Tomato Day is tomorrow! I hope you are planning to attend and enjoy the hot summer weather along with a whole bunch of your closest gardening buddies. In case you missed seeing the flyer, go here.

Here’s a look at the garden this week. You can see the pumpkin on the right side is starting to look a little wilty…I guess the squash vine borers are going to do it in after all. Bah. I hope we will get a couple of ripe pumpkins first!

There is just a tinge of orange starting on some of the pumpkins… But they have quite a ways to go yet. I’m really hoping for some fresh pumpkin!

In case you’ve never seen it, this is what cilantro looks like when you let it go to seed. The seeds, which look to be almost dry, are what we call coriander. You can grind the seeds into the spice OR you could let the seeds drop in place and have a fall planting of cilantro come up. That’s what we’re planning to do.

I just noticed that our new grape vine has one small cluster of grapes on it. Even though we really shouldn’t let it go, at this point I’m inclined to let it be, since the plant has been doing so well and the cluster is pretty small.

The quinoa is starting to show a little color in the seed heads, but it is also starting to show some Swiss Cheesey-ness in the leaves. On close inspection, there appear to be some little larval guys munching on the leaves. They don’t look quite like caterpillars, but maybe either beetle larvae or sawfly larvae? I’m not sure. Perhaps after Tomato Day I’ll take a closer look. In the meantime, it really isn’t a big deal since the seed heads are already forming.

I was hoping to update more on the Curry Leaf this summer, but it really hasn’t done much. It has grown, but it isn’t a huge plant yet, probably because it’s been so cool. The most interesting thing about it is that the cowpeas keep trying to swarm it under with all their tendrils. I think we should have put the cowpeas on a trellis!

Have a great weekend!

Tomato Day is Saturday!

Did you realize that Tomato Day is this Saturday? If you’ve never attended, this is a great year to give it a try! Of course, we welcome back any multi-year attendees as well! 

Tomato Day Flyer FINAL_Page_1

Friday PhotoEssay for July 18th

What a chilly week for mid-July! I’m a little bit sad that Tomato Day isn’t this weekend, because the weather would be gorgeous. Instead we are looking at next weekend, and the forecast looks like it will be almost 100 degrees. Ah well, it wouldn’t be Tomato Day if it wasn’t hot! 

Here’s a look at the garden for this week. The vining things continue to be crazy…except for the plants on the trellis over the walkway. Oh well, at least plants aren’t falling on our heads this way. 

Can you guess what this is? I know that’s a risky proposition in our garden this year. This is the ‘Sambar’ cucumber, which is the cooking cucumber that will be yellow with brown spots when ripe. 

Even though the rain was kind of slow and drizzly and the weather wasn’t too hot, some of the heirlooms are still cracking. This is a ‘Pink Russian 117′ that is just starting to turn but is already showing some cracks. Many heirlooms are prone to cracking due to thin skins. The best way to prevent problematic cracking is to pick the tomatoes as they are just starting to ripen, especially if there has been rain. 

This is the Amana Orange. I’m pleasantly surprised by this variety. I thought for sure it would have the lowest yield and be late producing. It seems to have relatively good fruit set for an heirloom with this size fruit. 

The chickpeas have pods! I haven’t found very many, but they are there. The pods are so small, and I think they will only have one or two peas per pod. I suspect we will have a fairly low yield! 

One of these things is not like the other… Look at that weird cucumber! Oh, wait, it’s not a cucumber. That is a bitter melon or bitter gourd. The variety we are growing is supposed to be harvested at about 8-10″ in length. We picked two on Tuesday and I’m sure there will be more to come. Now to find a recipe…

Have a great weekend! 

Friday PhotoEssay – July 11th

It’s been a couple weeks since we had a Friday PhotoEssay, which means that I missed taking a weekly whole garden picture last week. I did take one on Monday and again today, but the big change that happened was last week, I think. Tell me what you think: 

 This is from Monday.

 And this is from today. Other than the shadows, I’m not sure I see a big difference just this week. 

But then, this is from June 27th. Just a little bit of difference, right? 

And look what I found this morning! I picked them to ripen on my table over the weekend because heirlooms are very prone to cracking, especially when the weather is hot and the soil is moist or wet. The two brown-colored tomatoes are Black Krim. The yellow is a Northern Lights, and the pink one is a Pink Russian. The Pink Russian and Northern lights are somewhat under-ripe yet, compared to the Black Krim, but I didn’t want to risk them cracking over the weekend. 

 Isn’t this almost the coolest flower you’ve every seen on a vine plant? This is the flower on the Snake Gourd vine. I’ll be honest that I wasn’t expecting that! I just assumed the flowers would look like any other cucumber or squash flower. I had to Google it to make sure that we were growing the right thing! I found this article on Snake Gourds from Mother Earth News.

The Herb & Flower garden continues to be gorgeous. I really need a shadier day so I can get a good picture of it, although most of the flowers are pretty small to get good saturated color from a non-close up picture. I guess you should just come see it in person?

The chickpeas have started blooming too. That’s a much smaller flower than I was expecting, much closer in size to a bean flower than a pea or cowpea flower. They are still pretty sparse too. Maybe that’s what we should expect growing an heirloom variety? 

This is just a blooming week, I guess! These are flowers on the peanuts.  

Have a great weekend! I hope you are starting to enjoy some tomatoes! 

 

Tasting Strange Cucumbers

This was a fun week, because we got to harvest the first of our “not quite normal” cucumbers and give them a taste.

First up was the ‘Tondo Liscia Manduria’ cucumber, which is Italian. As you can see it was round with some stripes. The seeds were already starting to develop inside, so we had to scoop them out.

You can see that the actual flesh part is relatively narrow. The flavor was mild, sweet, and cucumber-like, although the texture was much more like a melon. I suspect it would get more melon-like if we let it stay on the vine longer.

The other cucumber that was ready for a taste test was the Poona Kheera (aka Puneri) cucumber from the Indian Garden. Yes, it is brown, kind of like a potato. We actually harvested three, each at a different stage of maturity.

White-skinned but still large stage. The seeds were already at the “annoying” stage. These are clearly not seedless cucumbers!

Yellow-skinned, and slightly larger seed cavity.

Brown-skinned with an even more aggressive seed cavity.

None of them were bitter, although they had a much more aggressive cucumber flavor than the Italian cucumbers. The skin also got progressively tougher, which shouldn’t be a surprise either.

Both of these varieties are “heirloom” cucumbers, and one of the common characteristics of older varieties is that the seed cavity tends to be much larger. Small seed cavities are one of the things that have been commonly bred for in modern hybrids. It is something to be aware of when you start trying these strange varieties!

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