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Garden progress

After a rocky start, the garden is actually looking pretty good. Our first cherry tomatoes were ready to harvest around the third week of July and they are delicious. I’ve harvested around 60 of them so far, with many more to come.

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So far the PVC trellis is working really well. It supports six potted tomato plants, some in large plastic pots and others in fabric Smart Pots. As they grow, I tie the plants to the trellis with old tights, which are gentler on the stems than twine. I wear tights a lot and this is a great way to recycle them when they become torn or stretched out.

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Abe Lincoln heirlooms

I think the plants are a little too close together, but so far there haven’t been any problems. One of the plants is just slightly taller than the trellis right now, but putting them in pots controls their size somewhat.

The bell peppers are also doing nicely so far, and if all goes well we will have a really good harvest.

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The eggplants have blossoms, but no fruit yet.

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I also got my first batch of finished compost from our tumbler. I had to sift it to remove some pine needles and whatnot, but it looked really good. I applied it to the existing plants and worked it into the soil for the fall crop of radishes and greens. I’m hoping for more success with this new round of vegetables.

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Mid-September garden update

The past several weeks been very hot and dry, which has taken its toll on some of the plants. I gave up on the strawberries a long time ago, but everything else is holding up fairly well. It has been two months since my first tomato harvest and there are still plenty of tomatoes and even new blossoms.

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I’m ashamed to say I’ve let a lot of them go to waste because I can’t keep up with them. I’ve frozen some (just popped them into the freezer whole in a single layer, then transferred them to bags when frozen) and today I’m slow roasting some more.

There is one tiny eggplant and we will probably get at least one more. I haven’t been the best about watering this plant, which is probably why it has taken so long to get fruit.

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The herbs are doing fairly well. I cut back my Italian basils significantly to remove the flowers and some yellowed leaves, and removed quite a few leaves to make pesto. I plan to make another batch of basil soon. My Thai basil looks a bit sad and I haven’t used it at all. The rosemary is fine; I don’t use it as much as I had anticipated, though. I will look into preserving it by drying or freezing soon. The mint is huge.

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I haven’t used any of it–I bought it with the thought of using it to flavor water and tea, but I never think of it. I’ll need to figure out something to do with it fairly soon.

It was a small garden this year, but it turned out fairly well despite my negligence when it comes to watering.

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Simple tomato sauce and more

Today’s CSA share was huge and gorgeous.

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We have a lot of vegetables to use up, so we got started right away. This week’s share included four pounds of tomatoes. I already had a few tomatoes left over from last week in addition to the cherry tomatoes from my own garden, so I wanted to use them up quickly. I searched for an easy tomato sauce recipe using fresh tomatoes. I love the simple, fresh taste of real Italian tomato sauce and wanted something similar. I found several that I liked, but based my version most closely on this one from Lidia’s Italy.

I began by blanching and peeling four pounds of tomatoes of various types. I added 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil to a saucepan along with 2 cups of chopped onions and a bit of garlic. After sauteing the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes, I added the tomatoes.

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I cooked them on medium high, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. I added chopped basil about halfway through the cooking time when I realized I’d forgotten it, and ground in some pepper when the 20 minutes were up. It smelled and tasted quite good.

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I used the immersion blender to create a smoother consistency, then poured half into a jar to use this week. The other half went into the freezer to enjoy later.

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We didn’t actually try it out on pasta tonight because Jared made baingan bharta with this week’s six little eggplants. Roasting them on the grill gave them a wonderful flavor.

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The baingan bharta was a bit time-consuming to make, but it tasted wonderful.

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Mid-June garden update

It’s hard to believe that June is halfway over–where has the time gone? We have had quite a bit of rain this year and the garden is doing beautifully. The tomatoes are getting really big, and I was happy to see a fat bumblebee buzzing among their flowers. I transplanted one of my cherry tomatoes from its too-small pot into a five-gallon fabric Smart Pot. I’ve been curious about how well these work after reading reviews on Amazon, so I ordered one to test out. We’ll see how it does. While transplanting, I discovered a few little green tomatoes on two of the plants.

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So tiny!

The strawberries don’t seem to have grown much, but one of them has blossoms (which didn’t photograph well).

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I also found a spot in the garden for the tiny eggplant from last week’s CSA share; I hope there will be enough room for it to reach full size. It has already grown a bit, as you can see by comparing the picture from the 4th of June.

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The herbs are also doing well; the basil and mint are getting pretty big. Since my last garden update, I added rosemary and Thai basil to the little herb garden along with the new basil from the CSA. We should have more than enough basil soon. Everything is going well except the weed situation–I hate weeding and am hopelessly bad at it, but I’m trying to keep up so the plants will stay healthy.

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I like vegetables

The title comes from an awesome 1960s era book I found at a school library giveaway. Right now, I am feeling the vegetable love as things are ripening and becoming delicious in the garden. First, some beautiful tomatoes.

At least one of these is destined to be part of a Caprese salad later today, along with some of my fresh basil. I have already eaten two tomatoes from this plant, both in Greek salads, and they were delicious. There are still twenty or more tomatoes on this plant, most of them green.

The hanging tomato isn’t doing as well. I removed the two with blossom end rot and the two or three tiny ones left are showing no signs of it. I also cut off some of the more yellow branches from this plant, hoping it will become a bit healthier.

The branch from this plant that I rooted in the ground seems to be doing fine. I wish I would have skipped the upside-down planter altogether and just planted this one traditionally.

We also have another eggplant. Jared put the last one in a stir fry and it was quite good. Eggplants are very strange–they look like alien creatures or something.

Finally, our pomegranate seems to have more blossoms than ever before.

I’m hoping to finally make some progress on my mom’s dress tonight. As the fall semester approaches, procrastination becomes more of a problem.

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Tomatoes and other growing things

It has been a while since I’ve done a garden update. Our peas succumbed to the heat wave, but not before we enjoyed several of them. My dwarf pomegranate is beginning to flower. Usually we get several flowers but no fruit, but last year one tiny pomegranate developed. I don’t know if they are edible or not and we didn’t try to eat it; maybe if we get one this year I’ll try it out.

We also have a lovely eggplant that looks almost ready to harvest.

Our tomato is doing beautifully. There are more than 20 green tomatoes of various sizes and more blossoms. They have not started turning red, though.

My hanging tomato has three fruit. They look good, right?

Except the bottoms are turning black. After a quick Google search I found that they have blossom end rot.

Yuck. The two bigger ones look like this, but the smaller one seems okay so far. I found that tomato end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency or uneven watering. I gave it some fertilizer and some water with a couple of dissolved calcium tablets. I think the problem is that the plant is just too big for the upside-down planter and the roots don’t have enough room to grow. I should have done a bit more research on the best tomato for this type of planter. I cut off a damaged branch from this plant and put it in water–it only took about a day to grow roots and I planted it in the ground. I don’t know if it will do well or not, but I really want some heirloom tomatoes.

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From the garden

Today we harvested the first peas from the plants that Jared grew from seeds in the late spring. They were delicious.

My upside-down tomato plant is getting huge and has several yellow blossoms. I wish tomatoes grew more quickly.

We also planted a tomato in the ground; that one is not nearly as big, but looks to be doing well. And we had a lovely purple blossom on our eggplant as well. Exciting stuff!

Here are some more lovely tomato blossoms.