Friday, September 20, 2019

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday!

When the gardener's away,
the okra will grow.
         And grow.
                           And grow!

 I was dogsitting for friends and away from home for a few days.
This is what I came back to.
If okra isn't picked twice a day,
it can grow out of control.
This Bradford Family variety can still be enjoyed if it gets away from  you,
but this is a bit beyond what would probably taste good.
Thankfully, nothing goes to waste,
we have several compost piles for just this purpose.

Since we are getting ready to add a couple of new beds to the garden,
the okra had to be pulled out to make room.
These stalks will be added to our open-air pile.

 The okra stems were left in place,
so that I'll have a "handle" with which to pull them up.
Removing the stems after they've had a while to dry up
is much easier than trying to yank them out while they're still green.
(Ask me how I know.)
Two okra plants remain in straw bales until it gets cooler and they're done.

A wonderful vision as I visited the garden for the first time in days
was the riot of Red Ripper beans, drying on the vines.
This new-to-me crop has been very satisfying to grow.

 It's one of my favorite things to sprout in the kitchen
to use on salads or sandwiches.
Once the pods turn brown, they can be plucked off of the vines.

I'll have my work cut out for me this weekend,
shelling this pile of beans,
but it's a labor of love.

 These beautiful beans will be a great addition 
to any soups or stews I'll be creating this fall and winter.
And, of course, sprouting can happen year-round.

The Diamond eggplant variety is just now getting close to harvest.
With a recent cooling off, I'm not sure if they will continue to grow.

 For some reason, the strawberries are lookin' mighty fine!
It hasn't rained in weeks, but you wouldn't know it to see these.

 Isn't this loofah a beautiful shade of copper?
I decided to try to harvest one,
just to see how difficult it would be to peel.
I cut this one down from the vine
and made slices in the skin vertically.
The husk came off so easily!

It is so exciting to grow something new!
The seeds are inside the loofah,
and removed by shaking or using a long, narrow instrument to coax them out.
Loofah is one of the best exfoliators to be found,
and rejuvenates the skin.

 We're still waiting to harvest even one of our watermelons,
and with temperatures fluctuating,
I hope we still get the chance.

The bush beans transplanted a few weeks ago
have almost all been eaten up by something.
It's the same problem I had earlier in the spring.
I will just direct seed in another week or two,
once cooler temperatures are more consistent.

With no rain in the forecast,
hand watering is still the best way to keep the garden going.
I'm hoping to purchase the materials necessary
so that I can work on my drip irrigation system.
By spring planting, I would like the new beds in place,
and the drip working to irrigate all the beds.
I can't imagine how much time that will save me.

Autumn is (literally) right around the corner!
What have you got planned for your fall garden?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
Summer's fading fast and cooler temperatures are on the way!
Here's where the garden is on this 2nd week of September.

The okra forest is getting ready to be removed.
With fall planting ahead,
I need to make room for our new raised beds.
Next year, less okra will be planted (it was a prolific producer),
and they will be settled into straw bales.
The harvesting is much easier because they are off the ground,
and they do quite well in them.

This was yesterday morning's harvest,
which allowed me to make two jars of pickles,
and have another dozen for roasting.
The two varieties grown this season were
the Clemson Spineless and the Bradford Family Heirloom.

The runner beans seem to enjoy the hot, dry conditions.
This is a new crop for me and I think I will grow it every year.
It's been trouble-free and very low-maintenance.

 The sweet purple blossoms were an added bonus.

 The dried beans are picked off of the stalk and left out to dry.
I hope to have a Mason jar full of shelled beans to use throughout the year.
They also make great sprouting beans.

So far, the t-shirt slings seem to be keeping the melons cozy.
We have 5 or 6 that are growing and doing well.

 Some have been overtaken by critters.
I didn't bother to do anything about these,
just let things run their course.
I'm hoping the beneficial insects will balance things out.
That's something I've been leaning more toward,
trusting nature to keep things in balance.

The loofah took its time getting started,
but once it did, it never turned back.
There are still a ton of blooms on the trellis,
attracting all sorts of pollinators.

 Some of the gourds are turning color on the vine.
I've been told that it's best to let them get brown and dry before harvest.

There are more than I can count at this point.
I love me a carefree crop!

The strawberries in the straw bale looked almost dead at one point.
For some reason, they've perked up.
If I can keep them alive a little while longer,
perhaps we will be in for a tasty treat.
I'm thinking they may need to be covered with loose straw over the winter. 
Research is in order...

The white sweet potatoes have taken over the entire east side of the garden.
With dozens of blossoms and vines running amok,
they don't look close to being ready to harvest.
I'm waiting until the foliage starts to turn brown and dry up
before I begin the treasure hunt for spuds.

sweet potato blossoms

The orange sweet potatoes are far behind,
but are at last climbing the arches.

 The eggplant has been getting picked weekly.
There are two varieties growing, 
the long purple (Japanese) and Diamond.

milkweed seeds

Although I tried to locate them,
the four Monarch chrysali could not be found,
although I know that all four caterpillars grew to adult size.
It's probably too late in the summer to count on any more
making it to that stage. 
Hopefully, next spring and summer, 
we will have many to enjoy.

Look at this amazing spinner I found yesterday.
S/he was dangling from the maple tree
and appeared to be suspended in mid-air!

 This week, Big K and I were finally able to go and pick up
some free mulch, offered by our county.
This will be used in flower beds and underneath trees,
once we get our layer of newspapers laid down.


The new rain gauge I got for my  birthday a couple of weeks ago,
has regretfully not had much use.
We are dry, dry, dry,
but ever hopeful that rain will grace our garden.

I'll be taking some time off from blogging,
but will be back here next week for Garden Friday.
Wishing you continued blessings...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Soup's On! (gf, df, sf, cf)

One of the crops we grew this summer for the first time
was butternut squash.
It's a favorite for roasting or creating one of my favorite soups,
Butternut Squash soup with Coconut Milk.
This crop was a breeze to grow,
and a lot of fun to watch climb the 8-foot trellis.
It also provided a lot of food for the pollinators in the garden.

 We harvested them a few weeks ago,
and left them to cure in the house for a couple of weeks.
They are ready for use and were put to work in this recipe.
It is based on one of the recipes we made recently in 
a Cooperative Extension cooking class.
I changed a few things to my liking
and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
This allergy-friendly soup is soothing, nourishing and filling
and will no doubt be made over and over this winter.
Soup is a great meal anytime of year,
and I am trying to  
w i l l 
cooler weather here
by cooking up a big ole' pot of this winner.
This soup freezes well so there is some for now
and some for later.

Butternut Squash Bisque

1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 T grated ginger
1/2 T thyme
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 large butternut squash, diced
3 C vegetable stock
3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in large pot over medium heat 10 minutes,
or until caramelized.
Add garlic, ginger, and herbs and cook 1 minute.
Add squash and stock and bring to a boil,
then reduce to medium and cook, covered, 25-30 minutes
or until squash is tender.
Puree the soup with a hand or standing blender,
until the desired consistency is reached.
Pour back into original pot and add almond milk
and final seasoning of salt and pepper.
Serves 6-8.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Garden Friday

black-eyed Susan vine

 The garden is beginning the transition to fall,
with new transplants added, plans for new beds,
and the pollinators stocking up for the cool change that's sure to come.

 The Red Ripper beans have really come into their own in the past week,
with the vines covering the arch.

 The beans are harvested when the pods turn tan,
and the shelled beans are left out to dry for a week or so.
They will be added to the pantry for future soups, stews and sprouting.

 The cukes from the garden have been quite refreshing,
although I have to admit,
it's one of the few things I have pretty much ignored in the produce aisle.
We are still getting a few of these each week
and have had some to share with neighbors.

 Okra is picked nearly every day
and it shows no sign of slowing down.
At least not until we get our first cold snap.

 No matter how many different angles I view the plants from,
there is always one or two that escape my vision
and don't get picked at the right size.
Ah well, that's what compost is for, right?

The loofah continue to amaze us with their size,
and it will be fun to harvest and collect seed for next year.

We've now lost two of the watermelons,
one due to the weight of the melon on the trellis,
and the other that somehow escaped the sling.
This one looks better everyday
and will hopefully remain in the sling until picking time.

Green bush beans have been transplanted
into one of the amended beds
where butternut squash had previously resided.
This weekend I hope to be able to direct seed lettuce to fill in the space on the perimeter.
The nasturtiums will remain to deter bugs.

Lookee what I spied on our milkweed plants!!!
They have been furiously eating and getting chunky.

 We are proud of our Monarch Way Station status
and feel honored to help them along their journey.

 The four that are enjoying our goodies will soon be 
looking for a place to form their chrysalis and transform themselves.
I've been checking them daily so that I can capture it on my camera.

Plenty of seeds will make their way to other parts of the property,
ensuring that future Monarch butterflies make their home here.
The white, wispy material helps the seeds float on air,
so that each time the wind blows, more of it gets scattered about.

With the temperatures still in the high 80's this week,
it seems that summer wants to hang on for a while.
We are ready for a change,
but will wait patiently for it to come.
A gardener must be willing to embrace what is.