Tough Decisions

This weekend I decided to bite the bullet and tear out our lovely, beautiful lone tomatillo plant. 
If you remember right I posted earlier that I made the rookie mistake of only planting one tomatillo plant. 
You know, the old saying, it takes two to tango? Well that applies here.
Tomatillo plants are self infertile which means they need two plants to produce fruit. 
Since I only planted one plant the tomatillo was going to do nothing else in my garden but draw bees (good thing), take up room (bad thing) and bring shade to my pepper plants (also bad thing). 
So, it's gone. 

In it's place I planted some Cumin seeds that I hope will come up soon.  Edward and I love cooking with Cumin so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  This will be a new spice for me to grow.
I also have one other spice that I will be trying soon but a blog will be following shortly on that to cover that one.

So onto the state of the garden. 
First we had a few new discoveries.  We actually have now a total of four winter squash. Not three.  Two of the vines have just shown us their parentage.  We have two Crookneck Winter squash which are part of the cucurbita moschata family. 
This is what the finished product will look like. Not my photo by the way!

We never actually ordered seeds for this type! At least I should say, we never officially "bought" the seeds.  We obviously obtained them from our CSA at Brad's Produce when we received a Crookneck Winter squash in one of our weekly shares last Autumn.  Just like many of our tomatoes, they obviously were thrown into our worm bin where they sat until just as of this Spring.
Black Futsu
Note to self and other vermicomposters/composters out there.  When throwing out your remains of kitchen scraps, make sure to take out the seeds if at all possible.  Otherwise you have what we have this year.  A garden full of wannabe stow aways, eagerly looking to hitch a place in your garden. 
Now, that all said, I still have one Black Futsu squash, one (possible) Marina di Chioggia, one Delicata, and a Partidge in a pear tree.  (just kidding about the Partridge and Pear tree.)

Now I might sound as if I am complaining about all of this, but actually I'm not that unhappy with it.  It just means we will have a more varied selection of squashes to pick from come Autumn and Winter. 
On top of that, it just means I will be perfecting my culinary skills with winter squash in general.

I always love a challenge!


This past weekend we came back from camping in Ocean City, Maryland and quickly got to work on some of the more neglected parts of the garden.  Namely the lettuce bed which is closest to the house.
Earlier this Spring we had Chinese mustard greens that flowered and seeded in there.  The greens in there were growing like crazy but they were also eaten badly by slugs and cabbage worms.  I have tried a few times to throw down diatomaceous earth but it seemed as if Nature was conspiring against me because the very next day or two it would be washed off by the rain.  So, we gave up and decided to harvest all the greens, taking care to throw out the ones eaten by slugs.  We have found that the leaves of our lettuce and other greens that have been devoured by slugs to be incredibly bitter so we never eat those ones. 
What was left was sauteed with some garlic, swiss chard also from the garden, some dandelion and long leaved plantain all in a little rendered goose fat that I still had in the freezer from last years Christmas dinner.  It was a wonderful addition to my husbands birthday dinner of Chicken Kiev and a hearty Winter Squash (blue hubbard from last year) and shitake mushroom risotto. 

In the newly tilled up bed we decided to plant the Bolero and Napoli carrots, the Mammoth Salsify and I threw some Romaine and spring onion seeds that I had sitting around since 2010. 
Behind that bed on the fence I've been throwing many of my sugar snap pea and snow pea seeds into the long rectangular pot. 
I'll be happy if I get a few peas that we can snack on while we check our garden in the evening after Edward and I come home from work. 
If we get more, well that's even better. I'll use those in my stir fry with the Ichiban Eggplant, Zucchini and Onions. 
My son giving the catnip a much needed haircut.
It's always great to get  kids outside to help!  






Our tomato production is picking up with around 3 pounds harvested weekly now.  One of these days I have to get myself a kitchen scale and weigh them when I pick them.  For now though I'm content with just throwing them on the kitchen counter, snapping a photo and throwing it onto Facebook.  The rest of the tomatoes that haven't produced anything as of yet are very heavy with green tomatoes of varying sizes.  I have a feeling we are about to be drowning in tomatoes so I'm thinking that canning a jar of Fireballs might be a good idea soon.
You can see on the upper left, we've already used a bag to help support the Winter Crookneck Squash.  It has to be around 4 pounds already! Very heavy and dense!

The Black Beauty Eggplants are fully getting into the swing of summer and are all heavily laden with beautiful black, shiny Eggplants.  I would guess they are about a week away from being picked.
Our cucumbers (remember we ended with three varieties this year. Dragons Egg, Lemon Cucumber and National Pickling) are producing just enough to snack on.  Unfortunately I might not be getting a whole lot more of these too because it has just became apparent today that my cucumbers (possibly just the Lemon Cucumber) has Mosaic Virus.  This can be transmitted by Spotted cucumber beetles which I know I have as I have been killing them left and right this year. It can also be passed along or transmitted by aphids which I haven't seen as much of.
I can only hope the cucumber beetles do not pass the virus onto my other winter squashes as once a plant has this there isn't much you can do.  As of now it's incurable.

I'll be making Traditional Fermented Pickles out of the Lemon Cucumbers in my fruit and vegetable drawer.
I usually make sauerkraut and Kimchi in the traditional way but I have had not had as much success with cucumbers. 
Here is the link to the recipe I'll be using for this.
http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com/lemon-cucumber-pickles.html
I'm going to add a bit of Lemon Pepper to this as well as I want to see what happens, flavor wise.
I have decided that once we use up our Dragons Egg seeds we will never grow THAT variety again. I don't like how bitter some of the cucumbers get and they are mostly seeds and very little flesh.

I'm still watching our two experiment tomatoes.  If you recall from a previous post, I am trying something different with two of my tomato plants.
Miracle Gro Tomato(white pot)
Vermicompost/Worm Tea Tomato
We have two rather sickly and ailing plants that I have decided to give a bit of extra special treatment.
One is getting worm tea which is the liquid in the bottom bin in our makeshift vermicompost bin.  The other is getting regular doses of Miracle Gro. I applied both of the fertilizers about a week ago so it's hard to tell if there is that much of a difference.  I'll post new photos next week to follow the progress.


A bit of sad news  We lost our cream of saskatchewan watermelon.  The military housing crew that comes by and maintains the lawns chopped it down accidentally with their weed eaters.  It was just starting to flower too.

Our Okra is growing along and should be producing within the next two to three weeks however as I've been watching them grow I remember last year we thought we should have planted more.  We were only getting a few at a time last year which is fine when adding to a dish or drying or freezing them but does no good for a main dish.  I've promised our neighbor she can have a few handfuls of them in return for the handful of Jalapenos she gave me recently.









I have yet to see if we will get anything out of our Jerusalem Artichokes.  Like some of the other plants this year, this one is new to me. (Like I said before, I like a challenge)
We did plant it a tad bit late in the season but they are growing massively it seems every day.
They should end up looking like this come Autumn.  







And this is what they look like now
Little Red Russian Kale seedlings surrounding these. 

Well onto the last bit.  After all the name of this blog is TOUGH DECISIONS.
Edward and I have been talking a bit and we want to set ourselves a challenge. (there's that word again!)
We want to see if we can abstain from shopping at the grocery store/commissary or Walmart for one whole month.  30 Days.
It's not a new idea really.  It's been tried before. We tried it ourselves last year somewhat.  We just never actually made rules like we are now hence the reason it never stuck!  This type of challenge has been written about before too.  
We know from talking to Bowman's Butcher Shop in Churchville that come hunting season Venison becomes super cheap and hunting season does start in September.
We also know, come September our garden will be pushing out massive quantities of food.  We will have our CSA share from Brad's Produces which includes farm fresh eggs and locally baked bread.
So here are our rules for ourselves.

  1. It has to come from our yard
  2. If not from our yard, then the dairy, butcher shop, farm, orchard or the Bel Air Farmers Market.  There is also a new Amish Farmers Market  in Aberdeen, MD we can visit on Friday afternoons.  
  3. We are allowed to spend however much we want at those locations.  
  4. We are allowed only $30 every other week at the local grocery store.
  5. This challenge starts September 1st.
This is not because we are going out on an all out attack on oil consumption and it is not because we want to only support local business, however both of those are good reasons in our opinion to take on something like this.
Instead we want to see what happens to our eating habits when we can only consume fresh local foods, right near us.  
We will be able to have ice cream, and cheese, fresh butter and honey.  Fresh meats, gourmet sausages.  Eggs and Bacon.  All sorts of goodies but no seriously processed junk that we always tend to buy at the grocery store.  
So September 1st.  It starts.  

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