Monthly Archives: August 2013

Saturday Sampler this Saturday, August 17th

Our next Saturday Sampler will be held this Saturday, August 17th here in the Demonstration Garden. The program will start at 9 a.m. and we try to finish by about 10 a.m. We will be featuring EGGPLANT this month, and Denise has been busy trying out some dishes. There were a couple of them that were good enough I may consider making them myself, so that tells you that they are excellent!

This Quinoa Eggplant Salad was delicious! You better come out on Saturday for the recipe!

Melon Harvest

I happened to notice on Monday that one of the ‘Little Baby Flower’ Watermelons was cracked, and it looked nice and ripe (from what I could see through the nylon stocking). Yesterday, we picked the cracked melon and after some thought and thumping (which is not the recommended way to gauge ripeness), I decided to pick the largest watermelon as well and see if it was ripe. We also ended up picking one of the ‘Snow Leopard’ Honeydew Melons.

This is obviously the cracked watermelon. It was a pretty fresh crack Monday morning, but by yesterday the ants had swarmed like crazy. You can see the bigger one in the background, still in its stocking.

This is the bigger melon. It was fairly good sized…maybe 10″ long?

Yum! I could tell from the way it cut open that it was really ripe. Luckily, it wasn’t overripe. This is a seeded variety, obviously. The rind is very thin, which is probably one of the reasons the other one cracked. It was very sweet and delicious!

This is the ‘Snow Leopard’ Honeydew Melon. Yes, the green spots and flecks are supposed to be there. The skin has clearly changed from being more green hued to more creamy hued.

Yes, the flesh is supposed to be white. We apparently have an aversion to choosing green fleshed honeydew melon varieties. (Last year we had an orange fleshed honeydew.) The flavor was good, but I wouldn’t call it spectacular. I think the sweetness was probably diluted by all the rain and that it may not have been perfectly ripe. Or maybe the variety is just not super sweet?

We have harvested at least one of all the melons now, except for the ‘Honey Bun’ cantaloupes, which were planted late. The ‘Yellow Mini Tiger’ melons we haven’t gotten a ripe one yet, but they seem to fall off the vine early. They are probably too heavy to be suited for the trellis system, especially if they don’t get supported early.

Planting Fall Vegetables, Part 1

We planted the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage into Bed 2 this week, as well as a couple plants of purple cauliflower and broccoli that are in the Kids’ Snack Garden. It may be a bit of a challenge to have a successful harvest from this group, although the long-range forecast looks excellent for a fall garden! The unfortunate thing is that there seem to be lots of insects around, including some of the Imported Cabbageworm moths. Between caterpillars and the “drought” in my office a couple weeks ago, some of the plants were a little sad. Luckily, we found enough good looking ones of almost all the varieties. The only variety that was a problem was the ‘Purple of Sicily’ heirloom cauliflower, which apparently had poor germination that I didn’t notice.

We planted the transplants 3 across in the bed, roughly lined up with emitters in the drip line (although we haven’t turned on the water in weeks!), and spaced more or less evenly across the bed. This gives each plant about 16″ of space, which is a little bit tight, but we are making up for it the other direction, allowing 24″ between varieties.

Here’s the entire bed after planting. We did add a little bit of fertilizer to the soil, because these are crops that really like a lot of nitrogen. We should be okay on that, but in this case I would rather be over than under. I’m also assuming that the rain may be leaching some of the nutrients out. We did not water everything, since the soil was moist and the plants had all been out in the rain overnight.

We also put a coating of Dipel Dust (Bacillus thuringiensis) on all the seedlings, since we’ve already had caterpillars. I really don’t want to lose the seedlings.

Here’s the corner we planted in the Kids’ Snack Garden. We planted a white cauliflower, a purple cauliflower, and a purple sprouting broccoli. Yes, I did have to pull out a couple of the cantaloupe plants to make a little more space. Yes, there were cantaloupes on them. Oops.

So, the varieties.

Broccoli

‘Santee’ Purple Sprouting Broccoli – This is a type of broccoli that puts out lots of smaller side shoots rather than a big head. The broccoli also has a darker purple tinge to it.

‘Apollo’ Sprouting Broccoli – Same as the ‘Santee’ but green. The sprouting broccoli is supposed to mature and produce sooner than the regular heads.

‘Arcadia’ Broccoli – Mid-season variety that is supposed to have good cold tolerance and produce nice side shoots as well as the main head.

‘Imperial’ Broccoli – This variety is more heat tolerant and grows slowly in cold weather. It will be interesting to compare the two varieties!

‘Purple Peacock’ Sprouting Broccoli (Kids’ Garden) – This is a broccoli-kale cross that already has neat leaves. You can eat the leaves or the loose heads.

Cauliflower

‘Veronica’ – This is a green, romanesco type cauliflower. The head is bright green, and instead of having the rounded heads it has very angular curds.

‘Amazing’ – This is your classic white cauliflower that has self-blanching wrapper leaves. (Often you have to tie up the leaves to get a nice white head.) It is supposed to have both heat and cold tolerance.

‘Cheddar’ – This is an orange cauliflower. We’ve grown it before, but in the spring.

‘Purple of Sicily’ – This is an heirloom variety that has purple heads. Because it is an heirloom, I’m expecting the heads to be more mottled purple and white rather than solidly purple.

‘Denali’ (Kids’ Garden) – Another white variety that has good heat and humidity tolerance. We’ll give the humidity part a test, that’s for sure!

‘Graffiti’ (Kids’ Garden) – This is a hybrid purple variety that is much more uniformly purple.

Cabbage

‘Famosa’ – This is a green, savoy cabbage. (Savoy basically means crinkly leaves.)

‘Ruby Perfection’ – A red, smooth leaf cabbage. It has round heads and is typically 4-6 pounds.

‘Tendersweet’ – A green cabbage that has flattened heads. It typically has thinner leaves and a very sweet flavor.

‘Deadon’ – This is a red-green savoy cabbage that gets more red with the cold and has very good cold tolerance. The recommendation is to harvest them in early winter after several frosts or freezes!

When we selected varieties, we tried to get a range of different varieties, while looking for those with characteristics that would help them be successful here in the fall. The challenge was if we should choose cold tolerance for the later part of the season or heat tolerance for the first part of the season!

Thinking about all these beautiful cabbages has me almost ready for fall!

Friday PhotoEssay

Are we tired of rain yet? I’ll be honest that I’ve rather lost track of our rainfall totals…they just keep adding up. It just adds up to “wet” and “very wet.”


I think the garden is starting to look a little bit lush and rainforest-y, don’t you? The sweet potatoes are growing so fast.

I’m afraid this is a portent of things to come with our fall brassicas planting… We have cabbageworms on the plants while they are still seedlings in my office! (We had them outside for ONE day a week ago and managed to get eggs laid and hatched out. Yikes.

We harvested the first of the Yellow Stuffer tomatoes this week and cut it open for a look and tasting during our work time on Tuesday. The cavity isn’t as big as most large bell peppers, but it has a very different interior look than most tomatoes. It wouldn’t be hard to get the seeds out, or just add more stuffing around them.

Denise came and got a huge bowl of eggplant from me on Monday and then tried several recipes in preparation for our next Saturday Sampler on the 17th. I sampled the dishes for lunch on Tuesday. Two of the recipes were okay, but not my favorite and the other three were very yummy. They were almost good enough that I didn’t know I was eating eggplant! You’ll have to stay tuned for some of those recipes.

The ‘Snow Leopard’ Honeydew Melon are appearing quite productive, although we haven’t picked one yet. It is a little bit challenging to tell for sure when they are ripe, and we picked a couple honeydews last year that weren’t quite ripe. This one looks like it is getting close, but I don’t want to pick it too soon. The keys with honeydew is that the rind should be creamy colored instead of greenish, and it should feel waxy to the touch rather than hairy. We may have to try picking this one next week and giving it a try.

You know you’ve had a lot of rain when even the grape tomatoes are cracking this badly!

You also know that it’s been raining a lot when the melons are cracking! Granted, this is an Asian melon that has a thinner rind/skin. It has cracked pretty badly. We had several of these melons ripe this week, including one that was completely eaten hollow by the sowbugs taking advantage of the cracks. We tried this one. It was nice and crunchy and sweet. We decided that if you tell everyone it is a sweet cucumber, it gets better reviews than if you bill it as a melon, because it isn’t as sweet as most of the melons we are used to. It does have a very floral taste as well.

The ‘Super Sweet 100s’ cherry tomato that is on the trellis/arbor is going crazy! It is very much living up to its name. The tomatoes also are getting smaller and smaller as the numbers increase. We discussed this week that this is a good example of why more pruning may have been beneficial on this plant in particular. Fewer, but larger fruit!

Have a great weekend! Stay dry!

Tomato and Crusty Bread Salad

tomato salad

Summer and tomatoes, what could be better!  Give this salad a try, I love making it with some multigrain bread from the day old bread rack.  The fresh sweet tomatoes and hearty crunch will make your mouth sing!

Tomato and Crusty Bread Salad                 (Serves 6)

1-1/2 cups diced ripe tomatoes 1 cup diced green sweet bell peppers                                                                                                                                                                            1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 2 ounces Spanish or black olives, rinsed and drained 7 large fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil 1-1/2 tablespoons vinegar 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 2-1/2 cups (3 ounces) cubed day-old bread (sourdough, French, or multigrain)

1.  Wash your hands and work area.

2.  In a large serving bowl, combine tomatoes, sweet peppers, onion, cheese and      olives.

3.  Wash, dry, and cut basil leaves into strips.  Add to mixture.

4.  Sprinkle vinegar and black pepper over salad.  Mix well.

5.  Cover and refrigerate.

6.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300˚F.

7.  Place cubed bread on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly      crisp, stirring occasionally.  Shut off oven.

8.  Just before serving, toss bread cubes      with salad mixture.

9.  Cover and refrigerate leftovers within      2 hours.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size—1 cup Calories—100, Total fat—4g Cholesterol—5mg, Sodium—220mg Carbohydrates—13g, Fiber—2g Protein—5g Diabetic exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat