End of Summer Doesn’t Mean End of the Growing Season – Yet

August 31st, the end of summer, not officially of course.  That doesn’t happen until September 22nd 10:48am to be precise, autumn officially starting a minute later.  Some kids in our area have already started back to school; my son started his freshman classes at Ithaca College and my daughter starts her Junior year of high school next week. The last days of summer come far too rapidly for most of us.
The garden has been producing delicious lemon boys, succulent supper 100s and other gorgeous and scrumptious heirlooms for months now.  We have canned various sauces, frozen a few and instantly enjoyed many others. The eggplants keep coming in; they did very well this season in the two containers we grew them in.
The cucumbers have been plentiful, inspiring new ways to enjoy them. Mark made a delicious cold cucumber soup for me last week since I had had one earlier in the summer and had raved about it.  The kids love the cucumbers and will eat them sliced up anytime I put one down in front of them. The leaves on our vines got dried up and yellow though — thankfully after the family had been over for a family luncheon to send my son off to college — I trimmed back the leaves and dead stuff and discovered we have at least another 10 cucumbers growing healthily on the vine.  I am amazed at how plentiful the cucumbers have been, so far this season we already have taken in from the garden close to 30 cukes and as I stated there at least another 10 out there still growing!

The beans continue to come in as well, next year I want to plant more of those since the kids devour them.  The also loved the snap peas which I also would like to plant more of those as well.  Those were so good they hardly ever made it the 65 steps back into the kitchen from the garden being enjoyed immediately by who ever was around.
The cooler temperatures of September will bring new crops which I recently planted from seed — lettuce. About a week ago I planted a few containers with a variety of lettuce seed. Winter Density lettuce and Red Sails lettuce are two varieties of Lactuca sativa which should compliment each other not only in the containers but in the salad bowl as well.  Winter Density is a mix between romaine and a butterhead lettuce; whereas Red Sails is a red- bronze tipped leafy green with a buttery flavor. Yum!  Too bad I have to wait a little while longer.
Gardening vegetables teaches you patience, particularly when starting from seed. But the rewards you get are many and in the grand scheme of things you don’t have to wait too long to enjoy your harvests.  We forget in these days of instant gratification and high speed this, that and the other thing that you should slow down now and again and stop and smell the flowers. In this case the beautiful flowers which eventually become tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants etc…
Taking care of the garden this summer, we shared the experience with the kids and theri friends. They watched us as we built and planted the garden and became active recipients of many of our homegrown harvests as we headed back to the kitchen.  Initially they were casual observers, but as the fruits came in their interests increased. Not surprising since we are talking about a bunch of teenagers. They enjoyed the beans and snap peas – some had their first bites into cherry tomatoes. They munch on banana peppers and of course the cukes!
I hope they got a taste of how rewarding having a vegetable garden can be and hopefully will one day remember their time sitting in our yard enjoying the fresh produce and try to do it themselves.  As the dog days of summer end, I look forward to the fall harvests and the beautiful autumn colors.

 

Garden of 2012

[Update 8-16-12] I pulled another 8+ pounds of tomatoes out of the garden last night and decided since the tomatoes were too big now for the vegetable bin in the fridge that I should make a sauce.  I made a mix sauce this time, combining the lemonboys with the celebrity tomatoes. Here’s how it came out.

A combination of Lemon Boys and Celebrity tomatoes make up this sauce.  That and some basil, oregano, onions and garlic – YUM!

Most of our country is experiencing one of the worst drought since the 1990’s, yet our portion of the country has been wet. I don’t know how wet exactly compared to the norm but I will look that up later for both our curiosities’ sakes.   I have been writing about my garden this year on my other blog – I hadn’t yet decided to dedicate a blog purely to vegetable and herb gardening until recently, like ten minutes ago. No it’s really like two weeks ago but I procrastinated about it and was busy with all my other blogs (none of which I have been working on other than in my head). It’s been a busy month – both in the garden and out.
You see my first born, my only son is going to college soon. The last minute realization of – oh shit! we need to get our crap together has started to hit us as I find myself placing last minute orders from Amazon for things I think he might need/want in his dorm.  The past few weeks as the summer days have been ticking away ever closer to the first of his groups departure – the boys would hang out on the patio by the pool and admire all fruits and veggies in the garden.  Earlier in the summer one of them had actually said they had never thought about growing his own food – ironically, it was the kid who is most outdoorsy. Recently, I witness a priceless expression on his face in relation to the garden but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Keep in mind the boys I am talking about are all 18, 19 years old from the Connecticut suburbs of New York City. 41 miles to be exact. [I’m a City kid, so my point of reference is my old apartment building to where I live now in Connecticut.]  Anyway, not to distract you from my main point which is that these boys hadn’t thought about where their food really came from or could come from and they have been amazed* at what went on here this summer. *I’m only assuming this since I haven’t really asked them but I base my statement on what I saw them eat from the garden and their reactions to it that I actually witnessed.  When your child is that old and about to embark on the next stage of their life, you rarely get to see firsts any more. It’s like witnessing Hailey’s Comet; you’re either not there to see it and if you are lucky enough to be there, blink and you could miss it altogether. My most recent “sighting” was when one of my son’s friend – the outdoorsy one- bit into a cherry tomato for the first time.  The expression on his face when the small tomato has gushed with and splattered juice all over his chin was priceless.  His eyes popped from surprise. He had never had a tomato before.
As I started to say before the boys distracted me as they usually do, our weather this summer has been perfect for our gardening needs. We’ve had a mix of rain and sun which has produced tomato plants which tower to heights of 8 feet or more – if we had stakes that went higher the plants wouldn’t have any problem reaching eights of 10 feet I’m sure.  The eggplant harvest so far is 8 pounds and counting. The tomatoes are close to 12 pounds, maybe 15 pounds and certainly we have another 15 pounds still growing on the vine!  The cucumbers have gone crazy and I haven’t weighed those but we have taken off 5 or 6 nice sized cukes and have plenty more growing on those vines.

A collage of some of the produce we have harvested this season so far!

Yummy delicious cherry tomatoes. The kids love these and are constantly eating them while hanging out by the pool.

Some of our many lemon boys I have come to love so much.

We have already harvested 8 pounds and there is probably another 10 on the vine. So I am actively looking for eggplant recipes.  I made a killer eggplant parmigiana the other day.

Another collage of the veggies!

Are they beautiful?! Every day practically I am hauling in colanders of vegetables.

I love looking at the beautiful fruits hanging from the plants in the raised bed garden we put in.

The first of many canned sauces.  Two red and one lemon-boy sauce.

I have been really pleased with the lemon boys. I hadn’t been familiar with them and I adore the way they taste!  We made a sauce from a batch which taste really good once you get passed the fact that its yellow and not red.
I brought in another 7 plus pounds of tomatoes tonight in from the garden.  Last this week we will have to get some more fresh mozzarella to enjoy with the tomatoes and I guess I will be making some more sauce.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.  ~Alfred Austin

 

Peace ~ Xine

Our Garden

[The following is a blog entry from May 7, 2012 in my other blog, It’s a 4 Dog Life, http://itsa4doglife.blogspot.com/. Since I recently decided to dedicate a blog specifically to our vegetable/herb gardening – I felt it was important to include and needless to rewrite.]

This spring I have done something I have wanted to do for a very long time – start my own vegetable garden. I have fond childhood memories of working with my mother in our garden in Sherman, Connecticut.  During my adult life, I have had my fair share of small container gardens for herbs primarily.  My boyfriend (a stupid term for the man who I live with but I am not married to) has always had a small garden as well where he would plant tomatoes, basil, peppers and corn.  

About a month ago, we started on building the form for the raised bed after we had scoped out the best and easiest place for the garden to go. We did our research on how to build the form and not to use chemically treated wood which could leach contaminants into your garden effecting your produce.
We made multiple trips to the town mulch pile to get what we needed. A mixture of that, cow manure and some top soil filled the bed.  I had tilled up three bucket fulls of rocks from the bed before laying the form and the mulch mixture since I planned on planting carrots I wanted to make sure that the pathway was clear of rocks. An impossible task in Connecticut which is why we opted for the raised bed method, plus we can control the soil mixture more that way.
April 17, 2012
April provided us with a few days of warm weather which had us planting a few starter plants but not everything.  There were a few days which frost warning had us putting plastic containers on top of the crops over night to protect them.  We escaped without any casualties.  We started off in the bed with about 8 corn plants, 3 tomato plants, 3 green bean plants, a couple of peppers. I was concerned right off the bat of one of the corn plants since I had been drinking a beer while planting and I spilled the beer on the soil right where one plant went in.  
Deer aren’t as much a problem for us with the four dogs around.  To keep the four dogs from trampling through the garden bed, we put posts in each corner and wrapped a plastic fencing around it.  We stapled the fencing into the posts leaving one side that we could open to get into the garden and use a bungee cord to secure it.
May 5, 2012
At the same time we also used our patio containers to plant cauliflower, red lettuce, Boston lettuce, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce and spinach, broccoli and strawberries. Last week, we were able to pick off a leaf from every plant and used it for our Greek Steak Sandwich Wraps. It was delicious and so rewarding to walk in the backyard and get out lettuce from our very own garden!
After this weekend planting the raised bed is now full.
We have quite a bit of rain in the area and now are needing some sun. Over the weekend we added more tomato plants – a few heirloom, super 100s and Lemon Boys. I also planted some snow peas, and the carrots that I had started form seed a few weeks ago.  The “beer corn” plant looks to be doing well and has I think gotten over the drunken phase it may have been in.  Who knows maybe I stumbled upon something 🙂  The strawberry plants have buds and flowers and a real strawberry in progress. 
Strawberry plant May 7, 2012

I am excited about the prospects for the garden this summer. Sharing this experience with my family is a big part of starting this garden. I look forward to adding our crops to the dinner table as the months tick on.
“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”  ~Author Unknown
Peace – Xine S.