Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Week 6 Update

Everything is growing!  But I want it to grow slightly faster.... the weather has been gorgeous lately but we could do with a bit of hot weather for these hot weather plants.

Below is an heirloom tomato coming along.  Notice the shape.  The tomatoes look really funky and weird but oh boy, they taste great!  A perfect example of not judging something by its looks..... these tomatoes are just my favorite!!!!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We've got a new technique this year to hold the tomato plants upright.  Each plant has a stake it's tied to and then in addition we have t-posts every 8 feet so that we can run twine around the posts and kind of sandwich the tomato plants between the twine.  Should keep all those tomato plants off the ground.

This week is fried green tomato week.  Lots of perfect sized green tomatoes to make fried green tomatoes.  I'll be making them this week as well.  I was told the key is getting the oil/butter ratio right and then put anything you want in that mixture, cornmeal, flour, etc.  Also slice the tomato nice and thin.

This was the snap/snow pea section of garden.  All gone.  Soon it will filled with the 2nd round of beans and edamame.

This is the start of an Amish Paste Tomato.  This is my favorite tomato of all time.  
Last year I didn't do as good a job of watering the plants (as we weren't living here last year) so they weren't as big--- these look like they will be big and hearty.

The onions and shallots have done so well this year (when one vegetable is slow due to the weather-- others do extremely well).  We should have a steady stream of onions all season.  At some point, I'll have to pull out the rest in this field and cure them, but for now they are also great just right out of the ground.  And you don't need much as they've got tons of flavor.

The 7 tomato rows and then beans.  There are about 7 kinds of snap beans.  Purple ones, burgandy, yellow wax and a few green kinds.  Then edamame is growing as well!  Lots of flowers-- thousands of bean flowers, so I'm hoping that we've got beans next week.  

The jalepenos are growing well with this cooler weather.  All the pepper plants are flowering as well.

I've come to the conclusion that the zucchini are not doing as well as I had hoped because we don't have enough bees around.  I've got tons of zucchini flowers but not as many zucchini are growing as I would like.  So I put out a bowl of sugar water hoping to attract some more bees to the garden.

And speaking of bees---- one CSA member keeps a few beehives.  
We had the pleasure of helping out with honey extraction on Sunday and I think Mike and I are hooked.  We need bees to pollinate but we also just loved the idea of honey and it was fun to extract the honey.  Of course there is a lot to learn about maintaining the bees and keeping them, but that's what books are for and bee mentors.  I just like the idea that I won't have to go pollinate my own zucchini next year!  And I plan to start the orchard next year so we'll need bees for the fruit trees. 

Below is a bee hive box.  (It reminded me of a sock or underwear drawer)
The slats inside are where the bees make the combs and store the honey.  This is an empty one.

You take the slat and use a hot electric knife to scrape off the caps over the honey pods.  

The slats then go into a metal extractor that spins the slats around and the honey comes out and down through the spout.  The honey is strained and then you are done.  

The coolest thing is that the bees clean up after themselves.  You leave the equipment outside and the bees come clean up all the honey.  They clean up after themselves... how about that!

Lots of herbs growing next to the pickup area.  If you need herbs, feel free to pick what you need.  There is fresh parsley, tarragon, sage, thyme, dill, oregano and lots of different kinds of basil.  Across the road you'll see even more basil, dill and cilantro.  The basil is marked pretty well and the dill and cilantro should be fairly obvious as it's about 1/2 the mature height at this point.

I'm still working on the rosemary.  Then we'll have parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and we can all sing the song as we pick herbs.  I've got 2 sets of it growing.  One set under grow lights and the other in the herb garden.  The first round I transplanted must have been too small for the cool weather and so I killed it.  Lesson learned.  Gardening and farming is all about the lessons.  If a farmer can give you an answer quickly to a problem--- no doubt she's had the problem him/herself.  

Cilantro, basil and dill will be available all summer and will soon be growing in the garden areas in increasing quantities as the cucumbers and tomatoes come to season.   Last year I foolishly planted lots of all 3 herbs to come to maturity BEFORE the cucumbers and tomatoes were ready.   This year I am smarter.  Dill will be at maturity when the cucumbers and pickling cucumbers are ready.  Basil and cilantro will be in high season when the tomatoes arrive for salsa and tomato/basil salads.

Enjoy the garlic flavor of the week.  This week is a German White Porcelain Hardneck garlic.  It supposedly has a "Moderately spicy flavor".  So enjoy!  Hardneck varieties last 3-6 months so those are the garlics you are getting first.  Later in the season you'll get the softneck varieties that will last 6-12 months.  There are 9 more varieties to try the rest of the summer so keep track and let me know if you liked a certain type so that I can plant more of that for next year.

1 comment:

SteveandAlina said...

Annette, I love that gorgeous photo of your garden with the rolling hills a pretty horizon in the background. Do you still have those pretty Maryland sunsets??

Also I was going to ask you about the bees!!! We took the kids to a "living history" farm in DuPage County over the weekend. The farm is a working farm... but only farm implements and tools from the late 1800's are used. No modern equipment. The farm had a big garden and orchard with a bunch of the while bee boxes you posted. While we were there I thought about your farm and figured you must have a beehive of your own... We learned how important the bees are to the orchard and garden. Sounds like that will be next year for you guys! We also learned that you can plant certain flowers which attract bees next to the plants (like the zucchini). So maybe you can try that. We also learned there are certain plants which attract "good bugs"... then the "good bugs" eat the pests. Okay now I am babbling!