Sunday, September 27, 2020

Storm Season and Garden Clean Up

Mercury cukes and Borghese tomato  

After a rainy, cold June... the hot, dry September produced some bountiful harvests. My tomatoes are slow to ripen because I had to restart seeds after losing 2 trays of seedlings to damping off. The outside tomato plants are struggling and probably won't produce much... but in the greenhouse some are starting to ripen and they are beauties! Also the Mercury cucumbers in the greenhouse are going to be hard to live without in the coming weeks of cooler weather.

Sally's Outdoor Salsa 1lb. 13oz.
Last week I picked the first and largest of my 'Sally's Outdoor Salsa' tomatoes, weighing in at 1 lb. 13oz. Not a record breaker compared to last years ginormous specimen that tipped the scale at my record of 2 lb. 5 3/4oz. I couldn't wait to slice into this beauty, the photo below, a single  'slice' dwarfs a Portofino Brioche Hamburger bun cut in half! For sure I saved seeds from this one! I had too many cabbages to use and left two of the early Taiwan Cabbage out in the garden. When the rain started I didn't want them to split so I picked them. 

A slice compared to open hamburger bun
Of course the slugs and earwigs had a good time with them in the garden that long. Also under each, about 4-6 little cabbages had started to grow at the base. They looked like big Brussels Sprouts!

Taiwan Cabbage
This past week we had the first big wind and rain storms come through our area. There is still so much to get done with garden clean up. Next week we are predicted to have sun and more sun with temperatures up to 8 degrees C. above normal. What a crazy year in many ways!!
September Seascape Strawberries
 The strawberries are still producing... this plate of berries were picked on September 19th, and today I ate a few while working. With the warm, sunny days next week, I expect to pick another small bowl of beauties! 

2 lb. Earlichamp melon

Today in the greenhouse, the last 'Earlichamp' melon released from the vine... a beauty at 2 pounds! The sweet aroma is incredible. If you noticed, I'm struggling a bit with the new Blogger format. I will eventually figure it out but there are a few glitches in this post, sorry, this could be a steep learning curve for me!!

 Until next time ... Bon Appétit and Happy Gardening!

Photos by Sally Rae

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

September ... Already?

I'm still trying to wrap my head around flipping the calendar to September! It seems the years fly by quickly anyways but so far 2020 has been a bit weird, learning to live with and through Covid-19! A certain amount of isolation is normal for most Denmanites, many of us have been very happy to just stay home. We are very fortunate to have 12 acres to roam, distance from our neighbors and quiet roads to walk. Even more fortunate to grow most of our own food. 
Tomato and melon side of the greenhouse 'jungle'

I made good use of the greenhouse this year... with 5 varieties of tomatoes (Celebrity, Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Yellow Hawaiian and Borghese), 3 varieties of small salad cucumbers (Mercury, Diva and Patio Snacker), a Partenon zucchini (that I rescued from the garden slugs in May),  Earlichamp cantaloupe, Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon and between all that, lots of flowers to bring in the pollinators. Into a small, sunny corner on August 9th, I added Little Gem Romaine lettuce and Celtuce from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. for winter harvest.
First small cantaloupe - September 1st.
I found the first 'Earlichamp' melon had released itself from the vine yesterday. It fits into the palm of my hand and smells amazing! Unfortunately the Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon had a rough start and by the time it germinated and got going, it was a bit late so I doubt there will be any fruit to sample this year. 
The cucumbers have been incredibly prolific, between 10-17 small cukes every week! I pulled out the 'Patio Snacker' quite early on because it was my first time growing that variety and I was not fond of the spiny skin nor the flavor. The Mercury and Diva are my long time favorites and are more than enough for me to keep up with!

All my tomato starts were late because I lost 2 trays of seedlings to damping off when I transplanted them. The Borghese is from a friend and are mainly used for sun-dried tomatoes. They are small, meaty, oval shaped and grow like a cluster of grapes. In my household these will make a perfect addition to 'Roasted Tomato Sauce'. In mid August I did a severe pruning of the tomatoes... removed leaves for air flow, cut off all the smaller fruit, any new blossoms and shoots. I still have hope that I will get a crop from the greenhouse but the ones outside, in the garden are looking pretty sad. 

Huge Seascape Strawberries
The winter lettuce crop is looking good and is a first time experiment for me. Also for winter harvest I've recently put more cabbage plant starts in the garden... 2 Lennox (110 day) cabbage that will be used in January for my sauerkraut and this year I'm trying 4 Tiara Cabbage for fall harvest. I plant Tiara as an early (45 day) cabbage. They are so delicate, sweet and crunchy it will be hard to live without them on the menu, so this year I'm trying a second, later crop. 

The Seascape Strawberries are in full swing of their second crop and if the weather stays dry, they will continue to produce and ripen into late October. They never disappoint ... huge, juicy and sweet!

Thai Double Blue Butterfly Pea
Another new and unusual seed from Baker Creek was the 'Thai Double Blue Butterfly Pea' ... it was a bit fussy to germinate and an expensive, rare seed. I have seen this flower used to make a blue colored tea that when an acid (lemon juice) is added, it turns to pink. The tea is said to 'refresh the brain and boost its activity and function'. It is also used to color rice and desserts, so I was really excited to find and try to grow this plant! I have it in a pot on the deck, near the door so I can keep a close eye on it. I have been saving the flowers to use later. It is hardy in Zones 10 and 11 so I'll try to overwinter it in my sun-room.

It's time to start planning your garlic bed for this winter. If not already done, sort your seed and get a bed ready for mid October planting. The long weekend weather looks to be sunny and warm here on the Island, so I'm going to take advantage of the great outdoors and start on some garden clean up for fall. I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my big 'beefs' is hauling huge, unruly, slimy squash plants out of the garden once the weather turns to fall. I'm ready to do that with the summer squash now ... in the sunshine! With the Partenon zucchini in the greenhouse I'll have fresh zucchini for a while into fall I'm sure!

Until next time ... Bon Appétit and Happy Gardening!
Please be safe, stay healthy, wear a face mask and take good care...

Photos by Sally Rae