July is already more than half over, and there’s a noticeable change in the rhythm of things here. We’ve gone from planting, mulching and watering the summer garden to harvesting and preserving the summer fruits and veggies. And now it’s time to start planting for fall. The seedlings I started in late June are growing up fast, and it won’t be long before they are in the ground and growing. They spent a little time on the deck Saturday before they headed on to the greenhouse. That’s about half the total plants in the below photo. And I need to start some more things like Asian greens and lettuce soon.
It’s also time to sow carrots for fall, even as I am finishing the harvest of the spring planted ones. I’m sowing the fall carrots where the onions were growing, not necessarily because that’s a good succession but because that’s really the only good open spot I have at the moment. I’m pulling the spring carrots as we need them and as I find room in the refrigerator. That’s Cordoba in the below photo.
I couldn’t get seed for Hercules carrots this year due to crop failure, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds was recommending Cordoba as a substitute. It’s a blocky, cone-shaped carrot that is supposed to do well in heavier soils. Even though our soil isn’t all that heavy, it certainly did well in it’s first outing here, and I will plant more for this fall. Due to the wedge shape it was easy to pull up without digging, which meant no broken off carrots to dig out either. It’s also pretty tasty, so it’s got that going for it too!
Some of the Purple Haze carrots wound up on a salad. The purple and orange interior was pretty to look at when grated over the lettuce. I’m sure it added a few anthocyanins to the meal as well.
And speaking of onions, the Candy and Sierra Blanca onions did great this year. We’ve been enjoying them in various ways. They were great in some vinegar cole slaw I made last week, and they are so very tasty when grilled or roasted. The Red of Tropea onions were a big disappointment though. It seems I was shipped the wrong slips, even though the bundle on the label said ‘Red Tropea’. The onions that grew look like a red cippiolini type called Red Marble. They are lovely little onions, but the key word there is ‘little’. I ordered them from Renee’s Garden Seeds, and they have refunded my money but of course that doesn’t give me any of the Red Torpedo onions that have done so well in years past! I’ll find another supplier next year, though it’s really the grower’s fault.
The small fruited tomatoes are coming on like gangbusters. We started dehydrating them last week, and I slow-roasted some as well. Those are two of my favorite ways to preserve the smaller tomatoes, at least the ones that we don’t eat fresh.
We use the FoodSaver to seal them up airtight and then freeze them. Both the dehydrated and the slow-roasted tomatoes keep well that way for at least a year or more.
We also enjoyed the first slicing tomatoes last week. They begged to be put on a BLT, and who was I to argue with that? That’s the red Jetsetter and the black fruited Paul Robeson in the below photo. I have to say the Paul Robeson is no match for our favorite Cherokee Purple, at least so far. Hopefully we can do a side by side taste test of the two when the CPs start ripening. The BLTs were still tasty however. Jetsetter has become my favorite hybrid slicing tomato, and it is a dependable and tasty performer for us here.
The pole beans are continuing to keep us supplied with beans to eat and to freeze. The Fortex beans are coming on now, and they are always a treat. They are stringless and tender even when they get to be a foot long. I try and pick them a bit shorter than that, like the ones in the below photo which are closer to ten inches long on average.
I cooked up some of the Fortex beans along with a medley of fingerling potatoes. That’s a mix of French Fingerling, Russian Banana and Magic Molly in the below photo. There are a few of the smallest Yukon Golds in there too.
The blueberry harvest continues to wind down. I know my wife is happy about that, since she has been out there harvesting them pretty much every day for the past six weeks. The blackberries are giving us a nice amount every few days, as are the raspberries. The 2014 blueberry harvest is nearing 50 pounds. Those little blue organic jewels are precious to say the least. The local berry farm is selling them for about $5 a pound, and they’re not even organic! It’s safe to say the plants have paid for themselves several times over.
In other news, I pulled all the cucumber and amaranth plants from the greenhouse after they got infested with a major spider mite outbreak. Mites are a common problem in the summer greenhouse here, and they mushroomed out of control before I knew it. There’s time to replant the cukes, and in the meantime the ones out in the main garden are keeping us supplied. The last thing I need is spider mites getting on the seedlings for fall, though I have to say they seem to prefer the cucumber leaves. They can all hang out together on the compost pile now! I planted a few new leaf amaranth plants already, which are in the left side of the otherwise empty beds in the below photo. The mites left the parsley plants on the right side alone. The cucumber seeds should be up in a few days and I’ll get them planted too.
The dehydrator stays busy this time of year. When it’s not drying tomatoes, we’ve been using it to dry herbs, calendula and even onions. Drying the onions sure made the house stinky for a while, but then as the onions began to get dry the smell dissipated. I guess it wasn’t any worse than when we dry garlic, which is something else I’ll be drying soon.
I’ll close with an image of the Scarlet Hibiscus which has just started blooming in the Wild Garden. The hollyhock-like flowers are attractive to both hummingbirds and butterflies, and of course they are also pretty to look at as the tall plants tower over the other perennials.
That’s a look at what’s going on here at Happy Acres. To see what other gardeners are digging, drying, harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne graciously hosts Harvest Mondays.