Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spring Garden Notes - May 25, 2016

We've had a couple of days of high humidity, but thankfully no rain, although I hear that tomorrow we're returning to a rain cycle for several days.  It's too late for most of our squash plants - they're done for.  A few are continuing to try to bloom, but....
The exception is the Alexandria squash.  It seems the only one that has resisted the mush.  I'll remember to add that variety to my "keeper" list!

The tomato plants are full of green tomatoes in various stages -- I'm ready for them to start turning red because I have lots of jalapenos already, and we need SALSA! I don't think its been hot enough so far to help these guys start to ripen.
 10 Fingers of Naples (Determinate)
 Rapunzel (Indeterminate)
 Florida F1 (Determinate tomato)

We've been picking beans every three days to keep them growing.  So far we've had over 15 pounds of beans! That's lots of bending over to pick them, trimming and freezing, but we're trying to keep up.  Come November, we'll be so happy to have these around Thanksgiving time, but next year, I think I'll be kind to my 65 year old back and try some pole beans!
 Pension Italian flat beans, and Gold Mine wax beans

I've brought in all 4 of the cabbage heads, and I have to say - these are the best I've ever grown.  I think I'm finally learning how to control those cabbage worms.  Next year I'm going to add some row covers, too, hopefully they will be even better.
 We have cucumbers coming out of our ears - over 12 pounds so far.  We really do love these just fresh and crunchy, straight out of the fridge, but I have way too many.

This Dragon's Egg cucumber is my pride and joy this year.  It's one of the crazy new things I like to try every year (that drives my husband crazy. He doesn't understand my obsession with trying new seeds.) There weren't many seeds in the packet, I think only about 10, and only one of them actually germinated.  The taste was really good - a nice crunchy cucumber, and I got a little faint bit of a lemon taste when I bit in.  I just think they're pretty!
 I froze all of the cabbage in quarters.  This is the first time I've ever frozen cabbage, and I decided to blanch it first.  There is conflicting advice on this on the Internet, so I went with what felt right for me.  My mom always blanched everything before freezing, so that's what I did.
 Yesterday I made dill pickles with most of the cucumbers.  I used a pretty basic recipe, and added a grape leaf to each jar, which is supposed to help keep them crunchy.  I hope that helps!  Here's the cucumbers as I cut them into spears.
 I covered them with ice and water for a few hours, and sterilized the jars, then added the dill seeds and a few dill weed from the garden.  These dill seeds were saved from last years plants.
 A clove of garlic, and a few red pepper flakes.  The recipe called for peppercorns, but I didn't have any of those, so I substituted the red pepper flakes.
 I packed in the spears and put the grape leaf on top.
 Pretty grape leaves from the orchard.
Then covered with the vinegar, water and canning salt and processed.  I plastered on my label and now we have 10 pints of dill pickle spears!  I'm going to make pickle relish with the next batch of cucumbers in a few days.
We picked about half of the golden beets today - they are truly beautiful.  This pictures doesn't do them justice - they are a neon, glowing orange.  Just beautiful. Once I get the entire crop in, I'm planning pickled beets with these.
 I'm noticing something strange with some of the elderberry blossoms - some are not developing berries.  I wonder if they are not being pollinated well. although I see bees all over these flowers.  I have both Adams and York plants, which are supposed to be the correct two to cross pollinate, and they've been fine before, so this has me rather worried.  I'll be watching them closely.

It's a busy time in the garden right now - we do a sweep through twice a day to keep track of the veggies.  The heat is coming, though, and we won't want to be out there as much once Texas gets into full blown summer.

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