August Harvests, and Rain!

Already the month of August has brought some welcome rain to our gardens. After getting only 13 inches of rain for the whole year in the first seven months, we got almost 4 inches in one week alone! Normal rainfall for us is around 40 inches a year, to put things in perspective. So we were in the middle of a drought of historic proportions. At any rate, the rain was very much welcome, even if hail and strong winds did come with some of it.

mix of hybrid slicing tomatoes (click on any image to enlarge)

We are currently enjoying a bounty of tomatoes of all sizes and shapes. They have been dehydrated, pureed, sauced and frozen whole. And they have been slow roasted. And of course we eat a lot of them fresh. So now it was time for something completely different – ketchup! Or catsup, depending on how you like to spell it. It’s a popular condiment by any spelling, but one I hadn’t made in several years.

Eva Purple Ball tomatoes

I found my favorite ketchup recipe without too much effort. I wound up using a mix of slicing tomatoes and paste varieties for this batch, including quite a few Eva Purple Balls that I happened to have ripe and ready. Eva is one of my new favorites, great for eating fresh as well as for cooking. I’ll be back later this week with my recipe for the ketchup.

jars of homemade ketchup

jars of homemade ketchup

But it isn’t all about tomatoes here this August. The summer squash is still producing, though the plants have slowed down. I’ve harvested almost 100 pounds of it so far this year, and much of that has been donated to the Hot Meals program where I volunteer. We put it to good use there, along with a lot of other goodies that gardeners donate this time of year. The fresh veggies are a nice break from the usual canned vegetables we serve much of the year.

Striata d’Italia is still going strong, giving us lovely striped zukes with a great flavor. It started bearing squash back in late June, so it has truly been hanging in there. I made some squash fritters with one last week. I guess I need to share that recipe sometime too, because it’s a nice way to fix squash.

zucchini fritters

The okra plants are finally giving us enough okra to actually do something with. Hopefully there will be room for more plants after I expand the garden this fall. Okra is so easy to grow and it thrives in warm weather. And I do love it in every way it can be prepared, including pickled. I made one jar of refrigerator pickled okra about two weeks ago, and it was ready for tasting yesterday. Yummy! My wife and I may have to arm wrestle for this first batch.

I’m growing three different varieties of okra this year, as I try and find a favorite. In the below photo, we have Stewart Zeebest, Perkins Long Pod and Burmese. The Stewart Zeebest is described as a Louisiana heirloom, and I can see why it has survived the test of time. It’s my favorite of the three, though the other two are almost as nice. I’m frying some for dinner tonight, where it will star alongside burgers and some sliced tomatoes.

from L to R Stewart Zeebest, Perkins Long Pod, and Burmese okra

from L to R Stewart Zeebest, Perkins Long Pod, and Burmese okra

I’m growing a 4th okra out for seed this year, Louisiana Green Velvet, as the seed has been difficult to obtain the last few years. I got my seed from another SSE member last year. It’s another Louisiana heirloom, actually a 1941 AAS winner. According to one catalog it “does well where temperatures and humidity are high”. Yep, it does, and it’s a tasty okra with long green pods that are slow to toughen. Hopefully I’ll have seed for next year.

Jimmy Nardello peppers

The first of the ripe peppers are starting to come in. I got enough of the Jimmy Nardellos to put in the catsup, and we still had a couple left for grilling. What a great pepper, and it’s pretty early too! I’m harvesting the green peppers as needed. We had our first taste of the Fushimi, Shisito, and Pimento de Padron peppers. They were tossed with a little olive oil and then sauteed in the skillet until the skin started to blister. The Pimento de Padrons turned out to be all hot though. I may wind up letting them ripen and use them for drying.

from L to R Fushima, Pimento de Padron and Shishito peppers

Eggplants are coming on strong too. They seem to be loving the heat as much as the peppers and okra. We’ve enjoyed them grilled with Tahini Yogurt Sauce, and I made a batch of Grilled Eggplant Parmesan with them. The ones in the below photo are a mix of varieties, including Pingtung Long, Raveena, Dancer, Fairy Tale and Diamond.

eggplant harvest in August

eggplant harvest in August

That’s a peek at what we’re harvesting, eating and putting up here in Early August. Happy Growing to you all!

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25 Responses to August Harvests, and Rain!

  1. Patsy says:

    Beautiful harvest! Your Jimmy Nardellos look wonderful; I am growing them for the first time but have been picking them green. I’ll have to be patient and see if I can get some red ones too. What a productive garden you have!

  2. Nothing like slow-roasted tomatoes. Yum.

  3. Daphne says:

    Beautiful harvests. And 100 lbs of summer squash. Wow. That is a lot.

  4. Terrific harvest, despite the lack of rain! I vowed never to make catsup again after my first time, but once we found how delicious the homemade version is, it’s hard to go back to store bought, like so many things. Looking forward to your recipe. Thanks for the side by side comparison of the green peppers, I’d been wondering if shisito and padron were similar, but they look quite different.

  5. Norma Chang says:

    Very impressive harvest. How do you keep the squash borers away from you summer squash?

  6. Marcia says:

    I love seeing what you are getting from your garden. My eggplants aren’t big enough to pick yet. But I may be disappointed because on three plants I see only 2 fruits total! One doesn’t have any that I’ve seen yet.

  7. kitsapFG says:

    I am glad you got some rain relief. It’s amazing how a garden will take off after a good rain soaking. What a bounty of warm weather crops you are enjoying though. I love home made ketchup but have not had enough tomatoes in any given year since moving from central Washington to western Washington (big climate difference) to even consider doing that again. I do miss the hot summers we had in central WA sometimes.

  8. Dave's SFG says:

    I saw on the weather this morning that Indiana got rain, the only state in the area to get it. The whole Southwest is burning up. I enjoyed seeing your eggplant. Mine are being destroyed by flea beetles again despite constant picking and spraying, so I will probably not get any. I miss the eggplant parm, but your squash fritters give me an idea for using up some of the summer squash.

  9. Jenny says:

    Beautiful harvest! Love the peppers and eggplants are very striking. I’ll have to check back for that recipe.

  10. Wilderness says:

    Dave, looks like your garden is producing well in spite of the drought.

  11. LynnS says:

    Don’t you just love home-made ketchup?!! I’m glad you’re making your own and wish more people did.

    I’ll be looking forward to the squash fritter recipe — they look delicious. Never thought of making that before and can’t say that I’ve even seen them. You’ve got me hungry and it’s just 10:15!

  12. I love your harvests. Thank you so much for feedback on your favorite okra–4 growing, one for seed and 3 for tasting. I may have to buy some Stewart Zeebest from Baker Creek, although I must say that I like the look of those Perkins Long Pods.

    I have 14 plants in the ground and am only getting dribs and drabs still, but it is getting better. I do like having them in the garden. I will have to have more next year. Oh, for enough to experiment with! Pickled okra? Hum..

    • Dave says:

      It’s a tough call between the Stewart Zeebest and Perkins Long Pod. The Zeebest has smooth pods, and the Perkins has ribs. It’s hard to judge which might be more prolific at this point. The Burmese is nice, but tends to get tougher a bit quicker than the other two, so I’m guessing it is out next year. I have about 30-35 plants, so if everyone has a pod, it’s a nice harvest. But not everyone is in sync on a given day!

  13. zentMRS says:

    I’m thinking of making ketchup this year. Are you sharing your recipe?

  14. Mike R says:

    That’s a beautiful assortment of eggplant. I plan to make pickled hot okra when the plants produce more heavily. North of you we got about 1.5 inches last week. Considering the extent of the drought any rain is welcome.

  15. Michelle says:

    Try harvesting the padrons smaller, I try to get them no larger than my thumb (which is probably smaller than yours), and preferably even smaller. They shouldn’t be so hot at that size.

    You have a really lovely variety of vegetables. I love all the different sizes and shapes of the eggplants. Can’t wait for my own to start producing.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for the tip on the Padrons! I was going to wait until fall when the temps were cooler, but I’ll give them a try now. The Fushimas are almost all mild and sweet, and the one plant is loaded! I grew these three after reading about you growing them.

  16. Mary says:

    Great harvest! I love all those eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers! The homemade ketchup looks amazing!

  17. Great harvest this week. You have harvested even more squash than me. I also donated some and hoped they were not overrun with squash donations.

  18. Barbara Good says:

    Dave your harvest is always so inspiring, and what a wonderful idea to donate some excess to a food charity. I was interested in what you were saying about the okra, I’ve never heard of anyone growing it in Australia, or even eating it for that matter. I have seen it at the market every now and again. How do you eat it and what does it taste like?

    • Dave says:

      Oh gosh, how to describe okra! It is great when lightly breaded and fried, and also good stewed with tomatoes. I like it steamed by itself, but some find that too ‘slimy’. Okra is great added to soups, where that sliminess disappears and thickens the soup. Okra is the “gumbo’ in our Creole and Cajun cooking. It really has a mild taste on its own, I think.

  19. Thanks, Dave, for reporting on Stewart’s Zeebest. I linked today’s post to this blog post. I really enjoyed the Stewart’s Zeebest in our garden in 2013.

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