Monday, July 19, 2010

Harvest Monday - July 19, 2010

This post is part of Daphne's Harvest Monday. Click here to join in on the fun!


What a weird week we had here in Georgia.. It RAINED! ..and rained, and rained, and rained some more. Of course, the rain started about 20 minutes after I gave the garden a good soaking with the hose. Murphy's Law is always applicable to my life.

Because of all the rain, I didn't get out to harvest quite as much as I would have liked - and I didn't get pictures of everything I did harvest (surprise, surprise). The good news is that my peppers are growing and flowering like crazy. And hopefully next week will bring a few new items to my harvest tally.


Here is this week's only harvest picture:







And the weekly total:
- Patty Pan Squash: 10 oz
- Gold Zucchini: 2 oz (it was a teeny tiny thing that didn't seem to be growing, so I thought harvesting the zucchini might kick the plant in gear).
- Crookneck Squash: 10 oz
- Jade Zucchini: 1 lb
- Cherry Tomatoes - 8 oz
- Basil, Rosemary - not weighed

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Domestic Therapy and Putting Up with TCM

Every now and then I get restless. Nothing is stocked up in my freezer and my pantry is bare. It no longer contains stocks of apple sauce or jam or meyer lemon marmalade, but rather packages containing trace amounts of Cheez-Its and a half-empty box of Bisquick that was purchased in a moment of frenzy. It's completely pathetic and makes me feel rather uneasy.

I knew I'd have the house to myself all day, so I did what any normal, sane girl would do. I went to Kroger - and came back with this:









I would have preferred organic, but I was unable to find any organic orchards nearby, and the Whole Foods price was $3.00 / lb. Kroger's were $0.88 / lb.





I figured I'd be washing, blanching, and peeling - most of the research I did confirmed that this process would remove approximately 90% of pesticides, so - not quite as good as organic, but certainly a better value!


Then I counted the peaches and panicked at the enormity of the project ahead of me - so I called in reinforcements. Thankfully, my mother lives right around the corner and she was happy to come over and peel peaches all day. According to her, she doesn't get to see me enough, so she was more than willing to come over and work with me in the kitchen all day if it meant spending time with me. Awwwwww... For a minute, I felt guilty.. but then I realized what a second set of hands in the kitchen means, so I've already started scheming our next project. ;-)


Here they are after their first bath:











After that, they were blanched and peeled, pitted and quartered. Then I used some to make low-sugar jam. By using no sugar needed pectin, I was able to cut the sugar back from 7 1/2 cups to 1 1/2 cups without compromising flavor or palitability.. and without using artificial sweeteners. In fact, I think it tastes better! One recipe made 3 pints of jam.


After that, I canned 7 quarts and 1 pint of quartered peaches in a very light syrup. And after that, I was too tired to spend more time hot water bath canning, so I froze another 4 quarts of sugared peaches and 3 quarts of plain peaches in zip-top bags. Two more cups didn't make it through the preservation process - they were used in a very yummy impromptu peach cobbler. Apparently you can't screw up cobbler topping if it includes cream and butter. Yum!


I wanted to make some fruit leather, but ran out of time and energy. Thank goodness peach season isn't over yet!


Here is the finished product:





And the total tally:
- 7 Quarts + 1 Pint Sliced Peaches in Light Syrup
- 3 Pints Low Sugar Peach Jam
- 4 Quarts Sugared Peaches, Frozen
- 3 Quarts Plain Peaches, Frozen



*I was watching Zach Galifinakis Live at the Purple Onion while typing this. I hope it was cohesive.*

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Mystery is History!

Remember those unidentified green orbs I told you about last week? Here they are again, in case you don't remember:









Well, my curiousity got the best of me tonight. When I was picking squash for tonight's dinner, I plucked one of the green orbs off the plant for dissection:


Here is the orb:





Here is what was inside:












And just to be certain, I searched Google Images, where I confirmed that I do indeed have a fruiting.....
















TOMATILLO PLANT!!!




Which is completely amazing, because I only transplanted one tomatillo plant, and it is clear across the garden. There were some other seed cells I had attempted to start tomatillos in, but they never germinated so I haphazardly tossed the leftover soil into the garden ben one night, in a fit of hopelessness... Oh - I see what happened!

Regardless, tomatillos must really love my Georgia soil and climate, because that plant had no babying and has completely outgrown all my well-cared-for tomatoes. It's a good thing my husband loves salsa verde, because it looks like tomatillos will be a staple in our garden from here on out!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvest Monday July 12, 2010

Whew! I made it this week!!

This week's harvest seemed rather slow, although it did bring a few firsts. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to photograph everything. But, I had my first emerald zucchini:




The poblano peppers are hitting the harvest list for the first time this week as well. They were delicious, stuffed with cilantro-lime rice, topped with monterey jack cheese, and grilled.

I harvested more cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, basil, and rosemary:





And I also "harvested" my first....



HORNWORMS!!!!



Total harvest for the week:
Cucumbers - 18 ounces
Zucchini - 21 ounces
Tomatoes - 8 ounces
Blueberries - 4 ounces
Poblano Peppers - 8 ounces
Basil and Rosemary - not measured
Hornworms - 2 whole, not weighed


In other weird news, I caught Caleb in the act yesterday:





This post has been a part of Daphne's Harvest Monday. Join in the fun here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Few Things I've Decided

1) I've been away for far too long.


2) Nothing is producing in this unrelenting heat - even me (I won't mention that I'm still wearing pajamas, but at least I have showered today..). He is the only one who knows how to beat the heat:




3) My blueberry bushes appear to be goners. I'm not sure what is wrong with them, but the leaves are turning red from the tips in, then shriveling up and falling off. It doesn't look good:






4) I have a mystery plant. According to my highly technical method of tracking what I planted (a free-hand graph doodled on the back of an envelope), it's supposed to be a melon. But I've never seen a melon PLANT (not vine) grow straight upwards - it's now about 2 feet tall. The flowers resemble tomatillo flowers, and they turn into green orbs that feel like they're hollow (see below). I can't imagine I mis-seeded a tomatillo, though, because I planted those months earlier in pots. Here are some photos of the mystery plant:






5) It won't be long before I get to try my first patty pan squashes. I just need to decide how to prepare them. There are 2 or 3 about this size:




6) There is no reason for anyone to own a magnifying mirror. And I most certainly do not recommend that you peer into one, especially just weeks before a mile-stone birthday.


7) Don't trust home hair color that promises to leave your hair blonde instead of red. It will, undoubtedly, leave it red.

Wallowing in admittedly ridiculous first-world self pity,
The Caffeinated Mom

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nothing to See Here (Part 2)

The rest of the garden has grown quite a bit over the last few weeks, although the heat is definitely taking a toll. I feel like a deep watering once a day just isn't enough - but it's the best I can do right now!

My zucchini and squash bed has really taken off, although one enormous zucchini plant might be stealing sunlight from the rest. The pictures don't do it justice, but here's the monster zucchini:



And the "normal" zucchini and squash plants:


Also in the squash bed are a few melons. They're beginning to grow and flower as well:







The rest of my tomatoes are growing. Some are beginning to flower. And some are even setting fruit:



What is that?

Yes!! These are the tomatoes I've been the most excited to try. They came from Jo at 14 Acres, who was so generous to share some seed.


The tomatillos are flowering as well, but don't seem to be setting fruit:



My bell peppers are beginning to flower like crazy.



I have 7 California Wonder Plants, 1 Jalopeno plant, and 2 Poblano Plants. They are really beginning to set some yummy looking fruit. I can't wait to grill this baby!



And my herbs are doing well. I don't have a picture of the rosemary, but it's hanging in there. The basil is enjoying the heat:


and so is the sage:


I need to think of some good recipes that call for sage. Any suggestions?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Harvest Monday June 21, 2010

This week the garden brought more tomatoes and cucumbers.. and this is just the beginning! I'll give a complete update tomorrow, but I have good reasons to hope that these little harvests are just the beginning.

This week we also saw our first (and close to last) blueberries, the first cutting of basil (which was wonderful as pesto and tossed in salads), and our first jalopenos. They began to darken due to sun scald, so I'll need to figure out how to prevent that asap.


21 oz Cucumbers
18oz Cherry Tomatoes
5oz Blueberries
4oz Basil
2oz Jalopenos

Not everything is pictured, but this is most of it:












This post has been a part of Daphne's Harvest Monday. You can join in on the fun here!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Brief Deviation - Happy Father's Day!

I am very blessed to know many wonderful fathers, but two in particular are extra special.

First, to my dad - thank you for letting me stand on your feet to dance with you when I was a little girl (you didn't even wince). Thank you for tolerating my teenager silliness (you didn't let me see you wince). Thank you for letting me borrow your tools (I'm sure sometimes you wince thinking about the destruction I'm bound to cause). Thank you for being such a wonderful, fun, loving grandad. Most of all, thank you for the example you set, the values you instilled, and your unconditional love.

To my husband - thank you for wrestling, and chasing, and rough-housing with Caleb. Thank you for helping him with his homework and driving him to school when he's missed the bus. Thank you for being someone Caleb can (and does) look up to, for the way you put Caleb first, the way you love him unconditionally. I am so happy we have you!

To all the fathers out there - I hope you have a wonderful day!



Because my husband requested it, we spent today hiking Tallulah Falls Gorge.





We took the rim trail - about 3 miles round trip. Not too bad until you get to the 1,029 stairs that take you to the gorge floor and back! Here's just a portion of the dizzying steps:





Half way back up, I think we were reconsidering our decision. We're exhausted, but we made it. We got in a great work out, and the views were completely worth the effort.




Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nothing To See Here (Part 1)

It's no wonder my neighbors (and spouse) question my sanity. After seeing me gardening in my pajamas and gnoshing on strawberry shortcake for breakfast I can't say I blame them.

At least the pajamas are cute (so what if the closest flip flops to my back door don't match them?):




And the strawberry shortcake? I'm a terrible photographer, but hopefully it can speak for itself:




A few things I saw in the garden this morning:


See this nibbled leaf?




Guess what? I'm not worried about it. The entire cucumber plant used to be down to 4 or 5 of these nibbled leaves (and nothing else). But in an act of despiration, I sprinkled the remains of the plant with BT powder. It was a Hail Mary, at best, because I wasn't sure what was taking such delight in this sorry looking plant.. But look at the plant now, after two applications:




There's a cucumber! And little girl cucumber flowers! Production from this plant might not be over yet! I guess I'll have to find something else for Garden Blogger Death Day - shouldn't be too difficult.



About 10 days ago, I finally planted my cucumber seeds. I planted a few Lemon Cucumbers, because I've never had them and curiousity got the best of me. I also planted a few Mediterranean Cucumbers as well. They have all sprouted and are about 2 inches high now. I'm hoping they'll grow quickly, as I was late to plant them. I'd really like to put up a few jars of pickles this year.



I'm not sure if I ever told you about my Mother's Day gift.. My husband and son took me to a local nursery to pick out any plant of my choice. It was a tough decision, but I ended up choosing blueberry bushes. We left with two - my first ever. Then things took an interesting turn. My wonderful husband, who has always tolerated my gardening, but never really took an interest in it, TOOK AN INTEREST IN IT!! A few days after Mother's Day, we made another trip back to the nursery because he wanted to pick up 2 more blueberry bushes. And with that, he caught our little "bug". Now he's the one filled with excitement in watching little seeds turn into food on our plates. And he's talking about garden expansion - pinch me!

Here are our blueberry bushes. When we purchased them, they were covered in blueberries:





While we were in Florida, the birds had quite a picnic on our berries as they ripened. We quickly realized that bird netting was necessary. Now that it's up, the birds have been kind enough share our blueberries with us. We've harvested a few ounces, but I think the birds got the best of the berries this year. We will definitely be better prepared for next year.


I have a lot more to update you on - tomatoes, peppers, and squash especially - but I think I'll split it up into two posts.. Check back later for more!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Contrary to Popular Belief

...I did not fall off a roller coaster and get lost in the darkness of Space Mountain. I did not get swallowed up by a crocodile on a jungle safari. And I most definitely did not get kidnapped by 7 little men.

On the contrary, we had a wonderful time on our Disney vacation. So much fun, in fact, that I needed a vacation from my vacation. You know the kind - where you work 40 hours a week and after work each day frantically clean your house from top to bottom leaving no blind undusted, no window unwashed, and no carpet unvaccuummed (despite whatever heavy bed or other furnishing are on top of it - ugh). It's what I lovingly refer to as Spring Cleaning, and since there are still 5 days left in Spring 2010, I am technically within the boundaries my silly brain allows. Score!

Unfortunately with all the hustle and bustle I've neglected both my garden and my readers. For that, I am truly sorry. Today, my Spring Cleaning entails catching up on my blog roll, taking some photos of the garden, and providing a real garden update on this here garden blog. There are several things to update you on - cherry tomato and cucumber harvests continue, and there has been so much growth and flowering!

PS: Thank you, Granny, for letting me know you missed my updates! Sometimes a girl can feel a little insignificant in the giant blogosphere. It's nice to know you cared enough to call me out on my delay in posting! :-)

Friday, May 28, 2010

So Long, Farewell

Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight......


I owe you more than an update, my friends, but I'm afraid it's going to be another week before I get it to you. You see, today was the last day of school and tomorrow we're packing up the family and heading to Disney World for a crazy week. I don't think further explanation is needed for the lack of recent posts (and the lack of posts for the upcoming week). Let's just hope I find a minute or two to finally relax!

This week has brought more cucumbers, basil, and several yummy tomatoes. 2lbs of cukes and 1/2lb of cherry tomatoes, to be exact.

I'm fortunate to have family nearby who will be house and garden sitting while we're gone. I sure hope they enjoy the fresh veggies!

Since this post is short on pictures, I figure I'll leave you with a few from a couple of weeks ago. I found these little critters when we were trimming back hedges. Obviously, we stopped trimming immediately and left them alone, but not before I snagged a few photos.







Until next week!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

THIS is the reason I have yet to plant my tomatoes (and also the reason I shamefully fed my family ramen noodles for dinner):





(Darth Vader)



(Yoda)



(Storm Trooper)



(Boba Fett)


It's far from perfect, but homemade birthday cakes are a family tradition, and it's exactly what he wanted!

I'm off to bed now - I'll be up before sunrise in an attempt to plant some of my tomatoes and peppers before church. My baby's seventh birthday party is tomorrow afteroon, so I won't have much time for the garden..