Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Green Tomatoes

I'm awaiting my first ripe tomato. Here are the green tomatoes on the vine, with their flowers as well. I think the first to ripen will be my Sweet Chelsea Cherry Tomato. There are at least three sprays of green cherry tomatoes on the plant.

I have quite a few green Roma tomatoes on my two plants.

The Pink tomato hasn't set fruit well and currently this is the only fruit developing.

Here is an unknown Heirloom tomato from a mix. It has a nice spray of three fruit set.

I think it is interesting that the Green Zebra flower has light and dark sections, just as the light and dark sections are developing on the fruit. I shared this seed with a friend and her five-year-old daughter asked me last month, "How do you know when a green tomato is ripe?" I don't know the answer to that. I guess we'll just have to see when it is soft and comes easily off the vine.

The Yellow Brandywine Tomato is having trouble with the fruit being malformed and cracking. I had the same problem last year, but I saved the seed because the tomatoes tasted so good. Someday I'll have to invest in better seed stock for this variety.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Harvest

Inspired by Daphne's Dandelions, here is a Harvest Monday post. Last week was a slow week and we didn't harvest anything except a few leaves of lettuce here and there. Today I harvested a lot in order to empty some squares for Fall crops.

1.5 oz of lettuce and beet greens for a salad for lunch.
11 heads of garlic.
Here they are cleaned up. 6 heads were medium and 5 heads were small. Now they are hanging in the shed to dry.

12.25 oz of golden beets. The mystery here is that the first set I planted still look like seedlings. I left them in the ground and harvested these. There were three of a nice size and the rest were small.
13.25 oz of Purple Haze Carrots. Most of these were larger than I thought they'd be compared to the size of their foliage. Most were long and nice sized, a few were strangely squat.
I'm looking forward to harvesting tomatoes and zucchini but so far there are only green tomatoes and male squash blossoms.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Currants and Raspberries

After making one jar of currant jelly on Tuesday I decided I wanted to make more. So we returned to Cherry Hill Farm and picked seven and a half pounds of currants last Thursday. Currants are fairly easy to pick. You just lift up the branch, and strands of currants hand down. You lift the whole strand off the branch.
I used the recipe from Joy of Cooking's: All About Canning. Basically you wash the currants, but don't have to remove them from the stem. You put them in a pan stems and all, crush some of them to release the juice, and bring to them to a boil. Then simmer the currants for about 10 minutes until all the berries have burst. Strain the juice through a jelly bag. For every cup of juice, add 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil in a large pan and cook until the jelling point. Pack into jars that have been sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then process the jelly for 5 minutes. My yield was (7) 1/2 pint jars of jelly.
The owner also gave us some of these champagne currants. I cooked them separately and then mixed in some of the red currant juice so that I had enough to make one 1/4 pint jar of jelly. We'll have to wait and see if it tastes any different, but it is a lighter color.While we were at Cherry Hill Farm we couldn't resist picking some raspberries as well. We picked about two quarts.
Matt had made a great apple tart before from Joy of So I headed there and found a Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart Recipe. We added in a few currants too, and it looks like they burst in the cream cheese during the cooking. It's a very good tart and we're still enjoying it for breakfasts.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Carrot Harvest

Yesterday I harvested my square of Chantenay Red Core Carrots. I planted these on 4/11 and they sprouted on 4/25. The seed packet says they should be ready in 65-70 days but my time from planting to harvest was 97 days. I imagine that is due to the rainy and cloudy weather we've had this summer. There were 4 or 5 large ones, the rest were medium and some were still small. I think I probably didn't thin them enough. After trimming the tops, the total weight was 14 and 3/4 ounces. I'm happy with the harvest. We ate the baby sized ones on a salad for lunch. For dinner, I quartered the larger carrots and braised them with 1/2 cup of broth, 1 tbsp of butter and a dash of salt. I cooked them in a covered pan for about 15 minutes, and then uncovered to let some of the liquid evaporate. I tossed in some fresh thyme. They were very tasty.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wildlife around Maryland

Last week I enjoyed a vacation at my parents' house and the surrounding area. Here are some wildlife photos I managed to capture.

A blue heron in Wilde Lake
A bunny in the back yard
A frog at the edge of the pond
A bluebird that I chased around the driveway, trying to photograph.
Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers on a tree near the bird feeder

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

In participation of May' Dreams Garden Blogger Bloom Day, here's what is currently blooming.
In the flower gardens:
Pink Lily Rock Garden Flower

Weeds & Wildflowers:
Nettle Leaved Bell Flower
UnknownAster Family

In the garden:
Broccoli Raab
Swiss Chard Flowers