Archive for August, 2015

Eggplants Bounce Back

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Three Good Looking Eggs

Three Good Looking Eggs

Here are three beautiful eggplants. We’ve already enjoyed some of my favorite eggplant Parmesan and our eggplant harvest is going to be very good.

Leaf Damage from Flea Beetles

Leaf Damage from Flea Beetles

Our eggplants are looking pretty good and giving us some beautiful fruit, but six weeks ago, I really thought the crop was lost. The plants were infested with flea beetles and the leaves riddled with holes. I was pretty sure they would die, but I put out some sticky traps to try to slow down the beetle activity and hoped for the best.

Eggplant

Eggplant

A few of traces of the damaged leaves are visible near the bottom of the plants, but the new growth is thick and damage free. Even the Japanese beetles, which are really bad here this year, seem to be leaving the eggplant alone.

As often happens with plants, if they can survive an initial insect onslaught and start putting out some healthy new growth, they can overcome the damage. That’s what happened here. Just a month ago Judy said that it looked like we wouldn’t have much in the way of eggplant this year, but they are back strong and we will have all we need.

Grilled Zucchini

Saturday, August 15th, 2015
Zukes and Summer Squash

Zukes and Summer Squash

Noel outdid himself with the squash plantings in this year’s garden. Barring any complications with squash bugs, squash vine borers, and other varmints that come along we should be up to our eyeballs in squash of all kinds. This includes a wide variety of winter squash as well as at least five kinds of summer types – three different zukes and two different yellow summer squash.

Last year I made pureed zucchini onion and yellow summer squash soups for the freezer. I also roasted and froze zucchini and tomatoes. This year, besides sharing the wealth, I will be drying 1/4″ slices of zucchini. They’re a great addition when added to lasagna. They don’t need to be re-hydrated – they soak up the extra liquid in the sauce.

Preparing the Slices

Preparing the Slices

Noel has been grilling the squash slices basted with a vinaigrette dressing. They only take about 10-20 minutes to cook and are delicious.

Try to pick the squash when they’re smaller and more tender – around 7″-8″ long and about 1 1/2″ wide. Slice them lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces. We have a perforated metal grid to lay over the grill slats. There is too much of a chance for the sliced squash to fall through or stick to the wider slats of the grill. Noel has been using sunflower oil to grease the grid and it’s been working very well both to keep the slices from sticking and imparting some nutty flavor.

Basting With Herbed Vinaigrette

Basting With Herbed Vinaigrette

Brush squash pieces with your favorite vinaigrette or just olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until they are done the way you like them. I happen to like them a little softer.

Grilling  Squash

Grilling Squash

Here’s the marinade that we use:

1-2 garlic cloves, mashed

1 tsp. stone ground mustard

2 T. white wine vinegar

4 T. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

a few grinds of fresh pepper

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Squeeze the garlic and mash with the salt. Mix in the mustard, vinegar and beat in the oil using a fork. Add the pepper and stir in the parsley.

Coat the squash pieces with the marinade and cook on grill preheated to high. Turn down to medium high if it seems too hot. Turn every 5 minutes, basting if necessary with extra marinade, until done.   Obviously, thicker pieces will take a little longer. Yummy!

Garden to Table

Garden to Table

 

 

Onion Harvest

Friday, August 14th, 2015
Harvested Onion Bed

Harvested Onion Bed

Here are about 300 onions we harvested from one of our 5 feet wide by 20 feet long open raised beds.  The red onions are Red Bull, which performed extremely well.  The yellow onions are Copra, a reliable storage onion that we’ve grown for many years.  Both are hybrids.

Grown on 5 inch centers and spaced in a block across the bed, these onions would have required a single row 125 feet long, which is one reason we really like growing in a bed versus rows – many more plants in far less space.

Buckets of Onions

Buckets of Onions

Here, loaded into buckets, the onions will be spread out single layer on tables in the garage to dry. We let them dry a week to two weeks, then we trim the stems down to about two inches.

After drying the onions are stored in the basement in open airy containers. We easily get about nine months good storage with our system. Last year’s crop lasted almost a year before the new green sprouting overwhelmed the usable onions. We know a root cellar and cooler temperatures would improve storage, but right now, that’s a luxury we don’t have.

Red Bull and Cipollini Onions

Red Bull and Cipollini Onions

These are Red Bull and heirloom Cipollini onions we grew in a different bed and harvested two weeks ago.  We find onions easy to grow and store.

 

 

T-Post Squash Trellis Follow Up

Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Squash Trellises

Squash Trellises

I posted on June 28th just after I set up a trellis system using concrete reinforcing grids and T-posts. Here is the post.

I’m happy to report that the trellis has so far exceeded my expectations. The plants have climbed well over the top of the 7 foot high trellis. They remain healthy and have set good looking fruit much of which is almost full size. Barring a catastrophic collapse due to disease or insects (always a possibility, but hopefully unlikely), we are going to get an excellent harvest of butternut, buttercup, acorn, sweet dumpling and several other smaller winter squash this fall. The un-trellised larger squash are also looking good, as are the melons, and we can barely keep up with the zucchini and summer squash. So far so good.