Monday, July 27, 2020

Harvest Monday - July 27, 2020

Time got away from me yesterday so I didn't get around to doing a harvest post and today has been a busy one with a visit from the plumber and the tree service so, phew, I'm just getting around to writing up a post. Better late than not at all.

Just a quickie though. I won't bore with another photo of squash and zucchini but here's a snap a zucchini dish that I tried. This is the Chunky Zucchini and Tomato Salad (Mafghoussa) from Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley's book Falastin. It's not the most appealing looking dish but the flavors more than make up for its homeliness. The veggies are first slight charred in a grill pan and then roasted in a hot oven, then cooled and cut up, then folded into a yogurt sauce that seasoned with garlic, lemon, date molasses, chiles, mint, and parsley. It is incredibly flavorful and I think it will be a regular during future zucchini seasons.

Other than zucchini I harvested the last of the snow peas before I removed the plants to make space for some pole beans. A few more small harvests of various snap beans added up to a nice haul for the week. 

A few immature Mehmet's Sweet Turkish peppers got chopped up to put in a salad.

And I got another big bunch of the Speedy arugula that self sowed when I pulled some plants that I had let go to seed to renew my seed stock. Speedy is living up to its name, the new patch that I intentionally sowed recently is already mature enough to harvest before I've gotten through the volunteers. The leaves are getting to be big but they are still mild.

That's it for this week. Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Harvest Monday - July 20, 2020

I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging which means that I need to rejoin Harvest Monday! Normally I would be writing up my post on Sunday but I forgot yesterday so I'll be joining the fun a bit late. It's summer which means summer squash and zucchini. I got a little carried away this year and planted 3 different varieties all at once. I guess I just couldn't wait to try a couple of new varieties that I had planned on growing last year but didn't bother with because I was anticipating another battle with the rodents. So new in the basket are Tatume (aka Calabacita) and San Pasquale. Tatume is a rampant grower and prolific producer, it's the oblong squash on the left. San Pasquale is a zucchini from Southern Italy. And then I had to have my long time favorite Tromba d'Albenga squash.

Tatume, Tromba d'Albenga, and San Pasquale

I am always searching for new things to do with zucchini and I found a winner in this recipe for a Zucchini Ricotta Tart. The Tromba d'Albenga squash was great for this because it stays firm and doesn't get watery so the tart doesn't get a soggy crust. Another recipe that I loved is Yottam Ottolenghi's Crushed Zucchini from his book Simple. The zucchini is roasted with herbs and whole garlic cloves and then lightly crushed with the soft garlic pulp and then seasoned with more herbs and lemon juice. The tatume squash shone in that preparation.

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

This basket features all the different varieties of beans that I'm growing. I'm not dealing with much of a glut of beans because the plants have had to compete with tree roots that invaded their space. There's also the last of the Oregon Giant snow peas in the basket. The pea plants were the least impacted by the tree roots so I got a generous harvest of them that lasted a few weeks. I also grew Oregon Giant over the winter. It's proven to be a resilient variety that endured light frosts with minimal protection and it has stood up well to powdery mildew which can be quite devastating to other pea varieties in my garden.

Oregon Giant Snow Peas
Brinker Carrier, Roc D'Or, Purple Amethyst, Rolande, Gold Nectar Beans

I gave onions another try this year. My experience with onions has been rather mixed over the years. The biggest problem that I have is that most varieties tend to bolt. One very wet winter ruined most of the onions with Downy Mildew. In spite of that I decided to give them a try again. I bought some seeds and then I didn't get around to sowing them until mid-December which is a full month later usual which also delayed the time when I planted the seedlings in the garden. It seems that it might have been a fortuitous delay. The white variety that I grew is Sierra Blanca which is actually the renamed Superstar that I used to grow. A lot of the Superstar onions bolted on me in the past and this year only 3 or 4 of them bolted. The red onion, Cabernet, is new for me and it too only had about 3 bolters. I guessing that the delayed planting meant that the seedlings escaped the occasional frosty nights that we have in January and the more mild February temperatures didn't trigger the plants to want to bloom. Or perhaps it had something to do with daylength. I'm not sure but I'll be trying a later sowing again this year. It's true that the onions are smaller than what I got with an earlier sowing but they are still plenty big.

Sierra Blanca and Cabernet

That about it from the garden for now. I'm trying to not get too ambitious in the garden because I am still leery of tempting critters back and quite frankly I'm enjoying spending time doing other things. 

Harvest Monday is hosted by Dave on his blog Our Happy Acres, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

It's Been A While

It's been a while since I've had any interest in documenting my garden. Actually, it's been a while since I've had a great deal of interest in working in my garden. Ambivalence might be the right word to describe how I've been feeling about gardening. I still get a lot of joy from growing good things to eat when I can harvest them, but I had so many disappointments over the past few years because of the depredation of rodents that I'm wary of putting very much effort into growing things just to see them disappear. I can still dredge up the anguish and frustration and sheer rage that I felt over and over again a couple of years ago when rats and mice and voles attacked damn near everything that I tried to grow. I felt like they were not only stealing my veggies but they were also stealing a part of me. Cultivating vegetables was and I suppose still is a part of my identity. I just can't give it up. So for the past couple of years I've kept on trying to grow things but I've limited the scope of the garden and the amount of time that I spend out there.

Lately it seems that nature has finally reached some sort of equilibrium between predators and prey. Predators that I've seen or heard or heard of in the neighborhood - bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls, and snakes have feasted on the critters that feasted on my garden. Over the past year I've tentatively removed the barriers that I had erected between rodents and veggies and now there are yards and yards and yards of hardware cloth and stacks of hardware cloth covered panels littering the area just outside my garden, relics of the rodent wars. I keep them just in case. It seems like a small miracle when I look at my garden and see vegetables growing and sprawling freely, in the open, nothing hemming them in except the edges of the planting boxes. Oh my. Am I tempting fate... the tomatoes haven't started to ripen yet...

So here, for the first time in over a year, I'm presenting a short tour of the garden. It's a far cry from July garden tours of years gone by but I'm feeling content with it.

Bed No. 1 is primarily home to cucurbits this summer. In the foreground is some Orion fennel that I planted there in January of 2019 and is now producing small shoots from the old roots.

The main action in this bed is the squash. Tromba d'Albenga, a longtime favorite, is climbing the trellis on the left. Tatume squash is climbing the trellis on the right. That's a new squash in my garden and it is living up to its reputation of being a rampant grower. Tatume is supposedly a heat loving squash and I wasn't sure how it would do in my cool coastal climate but it seems to be unfazed by the nighttime temperature dips down in the low 50FÂș's. I'm already harvesting multiple squash most days and cutting back the vines that seem to want to take over the garden. San Pasquale is the bush zucchini in the foreground and is another newcomer to the garden.

And at the end of the bed are 2 new trellises, one with a baby Tetra Squash vine and the other with some Jamaican cucumbers the seeds for which were a gift when I renewed by membership with the Seed Savers Exchange. The portion of the bed in the foreground is still in transition from the winter garden. The old celery plants just don't want to quit pushing up new sprouts. I didn't grow a spring garden this year so there's still quite a few bare spots in the garden. 

Bed No. 2 is home to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Last year I grew neither tomatoes nor eggplant and I sorely missed them both. This year I'm only growing cherry tomatoes (Piccolo Dattero, Sweet Gold and Brad's Atomic Grape) and Marzano Fire paste tomatoes. I'm also growing fewer peppers than usual and only a few of my favorite varieties including Florina, Gogosar, Mehmets Sweet Turkish, and Odessa Market. 

The small plants in the front left are Badenjan Sesame eggplants. I put them in rather late and they are still very small but I hope that they will be producing by September or October which happen to be the warmest months of the year around here. They are supposed to be early producers so it's worth taking a chance. The back part of the bed has been left to its own devices for the past year. The mesh covered screen in the foreground is protecting a new planting of Speedy arugula.

Bed No. 3 has been the most neglected bed over the past year or so. Last year I grew a few peppers and some Cardoons and this spring I planted a row of favas but other than that I let grow what chose to grow. Unfortunately that meant that tree roots invaded and now I've got some digging to do. The trellises shown below are supporting some Oregon Giant snow peas and a mix of pole beans. The snow peas are just finishing up a stellar run and the beans are just getting started. You can see the cardoon flowers reaching for the sky in the background.

Down in this corner of the bed I'm trying to grow some bush snap beans and this was the first indication of how much the tree roots had invaded. The bean plants are runty and not very productive because the tree roots are sucking up all the water and nutrients. Further down the bed you can see where I've started digging out the roots.

Bed No. 4 is where much of the winter garden was growing. There were onions, carrots, radishes, spinach, arugula, and cress. Now I'm working on transitioning it to other fall and winter crops. The far right just got planted with Brussels Sprouts and Kalettes. The green patch is arugula that volunteered after I pulled up Speedy Arugula that I had allowed to go to seed. As soon as I finish prepping the bed I'll be putting in seedlings for amaranth, broccoli, broccolini, collards, and kale. 

So you can see that even though I've not been a presence in the blogging world that I've not completely abandoned my garden. I doubt that I'll get back to gardening with the intensity that I did in years past but so long as my garden doesn't become a pantry for the rodents again I'll keep on trying to grow and harvest good things to eat.

Oh, I almost forgot to introduce the new family members. These guys joined us last October when Milo was just a few months old and Ziggy was 2.

Milo and Ziggy