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It is sooo satisfying to see all that I have planted and nurtured giving back brilliant flowers and luscious edibles! I have harvested about 7 bushels of plums, a half bushel of apples (so far), 3 gallons of blueberries, 60 lbs of kubocha squash, and an untotaled mother lode of cucumbers, patty pan squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beets and eggplant.
Many vegetables will store for months in the refrigerator or just a dark air-conditioned space; blueberries can be frozen. Then I make pickles and jam. Where can you buy sweet habanero pickles? Or Shiro yellow plum & apricot preserve with orange zest? Fun to give and to eat! (Let me kow if you are interested in a canning class.)
As bad as my tomato plants are looking right now with the early epidemic of “late blight” (isn’t that an oxymoron?), I still have an abundance of tomatoes. My one “Golden Girl” plant has already produced over 20 lbs! When I finish picking the last one off the vine, it will be time to pull up the plant. Late blight is a fungus that turns tomato leaves ugly yellow, spotted and then crispy brown from the bottom of the plant up. Growers spray fungicides (I don’t) to delay the onset of the disease because it invariably weakens the plant. But bless it’s heart, disease or not, I think 20+ lbs of tomatoes is all anyone can expect from one plant!
The orange and blue kubocha squashes are so delicious, these 5-7 lb beauties are NOT to be confused with watery pumpkins! I cleared the vines as soon as all were harvested. Keeping sick plants in the garden past their prime simply harbors insects (squash bugs) and disease (powdery mildew) that will spread to anything you think is still healthy. Cleaning up allows immediate space for new seeds/follow-on crops. Plant again or mulch heavily – weeds will take over bare garden soil like ants in a sugar bowl!
Here is what can fill those empty beds NOW: Replant Cucumbers & Summer squashes for fall crops. Put out your Collard seed ASAP (Just sprinkle it on good soil & water it in.) August 1-15 Plant Beets, Bok Choi, Lettuce, Kale & Turnips from seed, and Broccoli & Lettuce transplants; these will do best under row covers until the weather cools in September.
University research is not the only source of valuable information. I learned something this week from a woman who grew up in a family where gardening was necessary to survival (me too). They stored potatoes under the house for winter, but dusted them first with LIME (powdered, not pelletized) to prevent sprouting and rot. My dad probably knew this too, like Borax for the pear trees. Pass this on, younger generations may be glad to know.
My favorite Cucumber Soup – This recipe was shared by my friend Inara Zandmane after she served it for dinner. I have made it (over & over again) every summer since. It is amazing that anything so healthy can taste this good! I hope you love it too.
6 large cucumbers, peeled and shredded or finely chopped in a food processer (No need to drain the juice.)
2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, minced & crushed
1 tsp salt
½ cup raw walnuts, finely chopped
2 -3 cups Greek yogurt
Combine all ingredients. If you want a thicker consistency you can add 3 oz of softened low-fat cream cheese. Garnish with whatever fresh herbs you have in the garden – minced mint, chives, dill or parsley. Serve cold.
Truly it is magical what comes from the earth. It makes me feel grateful, unworthy, and in awe of the beauty and abundance. Life is good. Happy Gardening!