Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tomato Update

The incredibly hot and mostly dry weather has not been kind to the plants.  In fact, missing one watering killed off two pots of strawberry plants, a few very young basils, and a particularly beautiful lavender.  I'm going to be better about keeping my potted plants moist.

I spent a good half hour pulling dry leaves off the tomato plants today and the job still isn't entirely done.  They're still going strong, though.  My one complaint is that the not one of the three Brandywine plants have produced so much as a single tomato.  I'd heard that they're not a prolific variety, but sheesh!  I shake the cages every time I'm out there to try and help them along, even though the Oklahoma wind should be enough, and still nothing.  I'll keep taking care of them, though.  They mature later than most varieties, so maybe it was already too hot for them to do well by the time they matured fully.  Maybe they'll give me a nice late crop if I keep them healthy.

Meanwhile, in addition to the occasional cucumber, I'm bringing in a tomato harvest like this every couple of days:


And there are always a few over-ripe cherry tomatoes that I throw along the fence-line in hopes of volunteer plants.  I left quite a few on the vine that I felt could stand just one more day of ripening, since I enjoy serving up a bowl of fresh-picked cherry tomatoes at our D&D session each Friday night.

I look forward to having an additional raised bed next year.  I didn't plan for a varied mid-summer harvest this year, but I'd like to have one next year.  Meanwhile, I'm about to start some more seedlings for the fall.  Little broccoli are going strong!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Trip to the Farmer's Market

I went to the farmer's market around 10 this morning and was amazed to see such a crowded parking lot as I pulled in! I'm normally a little later than 10, so I had no idea how many people could pack in there at one time.

As I walked up to the building, there was a loooooong line of people, all with bags of okra in hand, waiting to check out. I'm not a big enough fan of an okra fan to wait in line for it, but I definitely want to grow it next year.

Inside the building I encountered more lines, which was slightly annoying to me but wonderful for the farmers. I found one table without a line that had two things I wanted: green tomatoes and pumpkin blossoms. I don't feel like we have enough of a tomato supply yet to start picking them green, but Chad has never had a fried green tomato in his life and I want to introduce him to it. The pumpkin blossoms, which I plan to fry at the same time, are a new venture for both of us. Exciting!

Since the eggs are all gone by the time I normally get to the market this time of year, I was thrilled to see a line at my usual supplier's table. I got right in line and waited patiently behind a man returning three egg cartons (I love that the farmer reuses them). When he finally reached the table, he put down the empty cartons and said:

Customer: I only need one dozen this week.

Seller: But you always order two.

Customer: Well, we're just not eating enough eggs to get two dozen anymore.

Seller: OK... but I had two dozen reserved for you.

Customer: Oh... OK. If that's a problem, I guess I'll go ahead and buy the two. But put me down for one next week.

This was when I realized that I'd waited in line this whole time and it turns out that the seller is taking and filling orders, not selling first-come-first-serve like she does in the winter! So I quickly piped in:

Me: Hey, wait, *I* will buy the other dozen!!! I'll take it!

Customer: Oh! Awesome, thank you!

Me: No problem! Thank you!!!

So I bought his second dozen (extra jumbo!) eggs. What a stroke of luck for both he and I, huh? I love when stuff like that happens.

I hadn't had breakfast yet and was too hungry to stand around in anymore lines, but I walked the circle of the market one more time to look at all of the amazing produce. I almost decided to spend the time to get some sweet corn, and I sort of wish I had now, but we're currently short on cash and I decided I would make meal plans for next weekend that include corn on the cob and come back for a big bag. Yum.

So now I'm thinking about frying up the tomatoes and blossoms tomorrow and I'm in a great mood. Even if I'm late, I really need to make myself go to the farmer's market every weekend.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cucumber Salad, Eating In-Season


In the middle of the hot Oklahoma summer, garden salads can be scarce.  It's just too hot to grow decent lettuce and my salad mesclun mix was too popular with the bugs to keep going.  But one cool summer vegetable I do have a steady supply of is cucumber.

I have always loved cucumber tomato salads, but I started searching for a simple cucumber salad today and turned up this wonderful dish on Recipezaar.  Somewhere between salad and slaw, it was a hit at dinner.  Below is the recipe (with a couple notes on my variation).

Cucumber Salad

  • 2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced (I scooped out the seeds first.)
  • 1 red onion, very thinly sliced (I used scallions.)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice (Apple vinegar was great!)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (I opted for granular Splenda.)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (I had dried dill and used 1/2 tsp.)
  1. Mix cucumbers and onions together.
  2. Mix rest of ingredients together in a closed bowl and give a shake.
  3. Add to cucumbers, chill till very cold & serve.

(I just threw all of the ingredients in with the cucumbers and onions and mixed it well, instead of shaking before mixing.)

See?  Eating in season is all about a little creativity.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Overgrown Plants!

We purchased one single Hardy Hibiscus from the farmer's market last year. It was beautiful with its massive, satellite dish flowers. The seller told us to cut it back in the winter and it would likely come back in the spring.

Boy, did it ever!

P7060129 P7060130 P7060132

It went from one plant with two or three stems last year to who knows how many plants with how many stems this year! We love it! It's like a giant, tropical bush!

Speaking of overgrown plants, I can hardly believe that this brandywine tomato plant I just kind of stuck on the side of the house was a stunted seedling. P7050096

I should have pruned it down to just one or two major vines and staked it. As it is, I've been doing everything I can to keep the whole thing somewhat contained to the space that the too-small tomato cage indicates is its "home."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's Been a While!

It's been a little while since I updated, but here I am now!

We've gotten two big cucumbers out of the garden lately, plus lots of cherry tomatoes!  In fact, I served a bowl of cherry tomatoes as a snack when we had friends over the other night.

Most exciting is our first full-sized red tomato of the season!  A Genovese, to be specific:P7050100We'll most likely pick and eat it tomorrow.

No more carrots in the garden until it's time to seed for the fall.  A few of the onion tops turned yellow, so those got pulled:P7020075 They'll probably be drying outside for about another day, then I'll bring them inside for use/storage.  Most of the others will be picked quite soon as well.

It's also time to start thinking about fall crops, around the Oklahoma City area.  Broccoli should be started inside ASAP, if you haven't done it already.  Here's my broccoli seedling set up on the kitchen window sill:P7050105 It's actually a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich container!!!  This, if nothing else, is a perfect excuse to eat ice cream!  Not only does it sit perfectly on our windowsill, but our repurposed toilet roll seedling pots fit into each sandwich slot perfectly:P7050106 These little pots are extremely easy to make. Cut the rolls in half first if putting them in a short container like this, but otherwise follow these instructions over at You Grow Girl.  Just be careful not to over-water, because I find that these are more likely to grow mold than peat pellets.  But once the seedlings need more soil, you can transplant it, roll and all, into its next home.  It's totally biodegradable.

Anyone else prepping for fall gardening out there?!  Here's a fabulous fall gardening document for fellow Oklahomans, thanks to OSU.