The summer garden crops are finally showing signs of a little slowdown. Not a stoppage, mind you, just a slowdown. The tomato harvest has slowed down to a reasonable level, while the pole beans have gotten a second wind and are giving us nice beans for eating and freezing. The eggplants and peppers are producing a fairly steady stream of goodies, while the summer squash are done for the year.
And last week I found something in the kitchen that had been hiding from us for some time: the counter top. Ahhh, it’s good to have you back! It seems like it was covered with tomatoes for so long I forgot what it looked like. Though I have to say it doesn’t stay uncovered for long. It seems like there’s always something coming and going in our kitchen. In the photo below there’s a small butternut squash and two baby delicata squashes I harvested this week. They were the last stragglers of the season. We’ve hauled in 87 pounds of winter squash this year so far. We still have the long neck pumpkins to harvest and some Tatume and Tromboncino I am leaving on the vine to harden up for use as winter squashes. It has been a good year for all the squashes.
And speaking of hiding, these little hedgehog gourds are all over the vines, but not very big. They are easily hidden in the foliage, unless you really look for them. We are planning on using them in some of our soap creations, plus my wife will no doubt find some crafty thing to do with them. They are certainly aptly named, since the little gourds are covered in stiff little spines, just like a hedgehog.
Right next door to the hedgehogs, the luffa gourds are just now opening up some female blossoms. You can see the little gourd in the photo below, behind the withered blossom. Though the luffas are edible when young, we’re growing them for the sponges.
The luffa vines are huge. There are two plants growing in the photo below, supported by a remesh tomato cage. The cage is completed covered by the vines. They would be halfway across the yard by now if I didn’t keep moving them back all the time.
Like most members of the Cucurbita family, the luffa has separate male and female blossoms. In order to fruit, the female blossom must be pollinated with pollen from the male blossoms. The bees seem to be doing a good job with pollination. In the photo below, one of our working girls is visiting the luffa bloom. You can see how big the blooms are in relation to the size of the bee.
The okra plants are giving us a daily handful or so of okra. The pods grow so fast that I try and harvest every day, since the pods get tough when they are too old. Our little planting (a ten foot long double row) has given us over six pounds of okra so far, and the plants should continue until frost. I’ve been freezing a lot of it. I blanch the pods first, then slice and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. The frozen okra will be great in soups, gumbos and cooked with tomatoes.
I got the last of the paste tomatoes this week. Those determinate vines are pretty well done for. I have some indeterminate Amish Paste plants, but they haven’t given us much this year. Too bad, as they are nice tomatoes. The Viva Italias did well, as did Health Kick and a newbie called Rio Grande.
The fall carrots have sprouted. Some of them are coming up, about ten days after sowing the seed. I had to remove the boards I had covering the row, and now I will need to pay close attention to watering them. Assuming I can keep the birds and grasshoppers from eating all the little plants. I may have to protect them with some bird netting. I see some weeds have sprouted as well. I’ll have to keep after them to keep them from competing with the slower growing carrots.
Well, that’s a peek at what’s going on in the garden here in late August. Our ‘slow’ harvest total this week was 63 pounds. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions.