Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 27-07-2011

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GARDEN UPDATE (07/27/2011)

This is posted from Titusville, Florida where my family and I are spending a week with friends.  What a relief to get to Florida where the temperature is only in the low 90s and we get showers every afternoon.  When we left Beaufort, the heat index was 115 degrees.  not very pleasant.  Terry and Peggy had been watering the garden every afternoon so it had not turned various shades of done.  In fact, the recent plantings of cantaloupes were looking good as was the okra.  The balance of the corn was slowly growing (about 14 inches) and the winter squash was still green and approaching the “log growth” stage where it shoots up.  I have removed the large heirloom tomato plants but still have to address the hybrids.  The plan is to sterilize the soil via the sun’s heat under a clear plastic sheet.  This we will do next week.  it is supposed to take 2 months but it will kill all soil born problems for us and we will plant our fall/winter crops in these beds.

I had harvested most of the melons before I left as the raccoons had discovered them.   They were OK but we have to improve on growing them to catch up with the commercially grown melons available in the grocery stores.  I did save the seeds (these were heirloom varieties) so we are ready for next year.  I also made a batch of the melon pickles that I posted about here earlier.  They are very good.  I have 12 small 1/2 pint jars for co-0p members to share.  I made them using both watermelon and cantaloupe rind so they have more color than you would expect.

I understand that bush beans do well in the hot July heat so I may try a planting since the Kentucky Wonders failed to do well in the summer garden.   I will report again that the blackberries and boysenberries are really doing well and filling  in the supports we have built for them.  If we protect fruit with netting next year, we should get a bumper crop.  I think I have mentioned the bumper crop of figs we grew this year.  I was not able to make preserves because I was away when they came in but we did enjoy them fresh picked.

It is approaching the end of July and out Jerusalem Artichokes (a sunflower) have not bloomed but the plants are very robust and should form a good root crop this fall.  I also noticed our Zinnia planting.  I am impressed with the various colors and number of blooms but no one has pick any yet.  It is definitely a flower we will plant next year.  Also not being harvested are the three varieties of Basil  that are thriving in the garden.  I picked some before leaving and it was a treat. I am not accustomed to fresh green seasonings and it was very good on a tomato sandwich.   We will have to harvest and dry some for winter use.  Our peppers continue to produce.  Peggy, I have had to harvest several that turned a deep yellow and were starting to go bad on the plant.  You and Terry need to watch them closely and get them while they are at their prime.

Sweet potatoes are rooting runners and making yams.  They are also going everywhere.  We will have to plant them in the melon bed next year and let them go.   We did not plant many peanuts this year (just experimented) but they really did well.  If we get a good bunch from each plant, we need to consider it as a good crop selection for next year as it is a good crop to add nitrogen back to the soil.



We need to spend more effort on our egg plants next year because Kathy and Davis list it as one of their favorite vegetables.  I’m pretty fond of it myself.  Most don’t like the bitter skin and avoid a very good garden vegetable because of  this.  I have discovered a great way to prepare egg plant that doesn’t have this bitterness if it bothers you.  First cut off the cap and a small slice at the bottom.  Then slice the plant into 1/2 inch long sections.  Here is where you can cut the skin off the edges if desirable (I leave mine on because I am lazy).  Next, start the grill -gas, charcoal or wood- and spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt or use a seasoning rub (Greek Seasoning is good). Grill on each side for 4 minutes.  Done!  Good hot or cold.  Try them on a BLT with tarragon mayonnaise [1/3 cup mayo with 2 tbs. of sun-dried tomatoes and one tbs. chopped fresh tarragon (or basil)]. You can saute with seasonings also but summer is too hot to “fry” so I like this grilling method this time of year.  We should be able to produce a lot of egg plant (many different varieties) as they are very much like tomatoes and peppers.  I will research any special attention they need.  If any reader knows any secrets, please share.



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