Slowdown

The summer garden crops are finally showing signs of a little slowdown. Not a stoppage, mind you, just a slowdown. The tomato harvest has slowed down to a reasonable level, while the pole beans have gotten a second wind and are giving us nice beans for eating and freezing. The eggplants and peppers are producing a fairly steady stream of goodies, while the summer squash are done for the year.

assortment of pole beans (click on any image to enlarge)

And last week I found something in the kitchen that had been hiding from us for some time: the counter top. Ahhh, it’s good to have you back! It seems like it was covered with tomatoes for so long I forgot what it looked like. Though I have to say it doesn’t stay uncovered for long. It seems like there’s always something coming and going in our kitchen. In the photo below there’s a small butternut squash and two baby delicata squashes I harvested this week. They were the last stragglers of the season. We’ve hauled in 87 pounds of winter squash this year so far. We still have the long neck pumpkins to harvest and some Tatume and Tromboncino I am leaving on the vine to harden up for use as winter squashes. It has been a good year for all the squashes.

counter

And speaking of hiding, these little hedgehog gourds are all over the vines, but not very big. They are easily hidden in the foliage, unless you really look for them. We are planning on using them in some of our soap creations, plus my wife will no doubt find some crafty thing to do with them. They are certainly aptly named, since the little gourds are covered in stiff little spines, just like a hedgehog.

hedgehog gourds

Right next door to the hedgehogs, the luffa gourds are just now opening up some female blossoms. You can see the little gourd in the photo below, behind the withered blossom. Though the luffas are edible when young, we’re growing them for the sponges.

female luffa

The luffa vines are huge. There are two plants growing in the photo below, supported by a remesh tomato cage. The cage is completed covered by the vines. They would be halfway across the yard by now if I didn’t keep moving them back all the time.

luffa vines cover the support

Like most members of the Cucurbita family, the luffa has separate male and female blossoms. In order to fruit, the female blossom must be pollinated with pollen from the male blossoms. The bees seem to be doing a good job with pollination. In the photo below, one of our working girls is visiting the luffa bloom. You can see how big the blooms are in relation to the size of the bee.

 

male luffa blossom with honeybee

The okra plants are giving us a daily handful or so of okra. The pods grow so fast that I try and harvest every day, since the pods get tough when they are too old. Our little planting (a ten foot long double row) has given us over six pounds of okra so far, and the plants should continue until frost. I’ve been freezing a lot of it. I blanch the pods first, then slice and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. The frozen okra will be great in soups, gumbos and cooked with tomatoes.

 

okra harvest

I got the last of the paste tomatoes this week. Those determinate vines are pretty well done for. I have some indeterminate Amish Paste plants, but they haven’t given us much this year. Too bad, as they are nice tomatoes. The Viva Italias did well, as did Health Kick and a newbie called Rio Grande.

 

last of the paste tomatoes

The fall carrots have sprouted. Some of them are coming up, about ten days after sowing the seed. I had to remove the boards I had covering the row, and now I will need to pay close attention to watering them. Assuming I can keep the birds and grasshoppers from eating all the little plants. I may have to protect them with some bird netting. I see some weeds have sprouted as well. I’ll have to keep after them to keep them from competing with the slower growing carrots.

 

carrot sprouts

Well, that’s a peek at what’s going on in the garden here in late August. Our ‘slow’ harvest total this week was 63 pounds. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions.

 

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14 Responses to Slowdown

  1. Marcia says:

    I always enjoy reading about your harvests. Mine will never be the size of yours – don’t have the garden big enough nor the energy!

    I was disappointed too this year with Amish Paste. They did so well for me last year but what a dud this year. Come to think of it I think this year’s tomatoes all were below last year’s production. Must have been the weather conditions.

  2. kitsapFG says:

    Congratulations on finding your kitchen counter! 😀

    Your “slow” week is astoundingly productive. Our whole year has been much slower than normal due to the unusually cool summer we had. It has only just warmed up a bit this past week – but too late for many things like the winter squash (a complete bust this year unfortunately).

  3. Allison says:

    That is so neat to grow the Luffa sponges – wonderful harvests!

  4. Barbie says:

    Grow carrots, grow! Your slow days is what I”m soping for soon! 🙂

  5. kathy says:

    Pickled okra is very very good too! Put a garlic clove and a slice of jalapeno for bite in the jar.

  6. mandy says:

    my amish paste tomatoes didn’t set much fruit this year either…bummer. your haul has me pining for a larger garden! alas, i’ll remind myself i have the kitchen garden i always wanted while we lived in the big city.

  7. michelle says:

    Wow, do you have an army to help you in the garden and the kitchen?! I don’t know how I would keep up with a “slow” week of 63 pounds of veggies. 🙂

  8. Robin says:

    The luffa vine is very interesting. Thanks for posting about it. That hedghog gourd looks like the Burr cucs that I planted. Do they stay small like that?

    The gardens are definitely slowing down and fall is in the air.

  9. Bee Girl says:

    I am completely intrigued by your hedgehogs and luffas! How cool is that!?!? And a “slowdown” total of 63 pounds!? I think I’ve grown a total of 60-something pounds to date! Wow! Congrats on a wonderful harvest!

  10. I’m always impressed how far ahead your garden is. I had to laugh, I think I need to send out a search party for our kitchen counter at the moment. It’s buried under about 60 pounds of summer squash, and I haven’t seen it for weeks! I’m encouraged to see it might return 😉 I haven’t weighed our winter squash yet, but we have one variety, Boston Marrow, that seems to be producing 20-25lb monsters routinely, and has set more than any other variety we planted. I haven’t grown it before, and it’s been so prolific that I really hope it tastes good. If it does, there’s no doubt we’ll plant it next year (it’s seem to grow too fast for the voles to eat it!). As for tomatoes, we’re starting to get a few, but this year, for the first time, it’s mostly a fizzle for us. Next year, tomato grafting, and with the new greenhouse, I’m really looking forward to trying it, and crossing my fingers that the grafted plants will better resist wilt.

  11. Diana says:

    Interesting that you are nearly done and our tomatoes are just now starting to come on: 7 pounds yesterday, 3 today; squash and zucchini continue to give as do the eggplant, and only now will we be picking peppers. For the first time this year I planted 2 heirloom squash: Marina di Chiogga and Galeux d’Eysines and am excited about how beautiful they are… will have to wait to taste.

  12. Lisa says:

    I’m curious about the hedgehog squash soap project.

    I won’t comment on your “small” harvest as envy is unseemly.

    • Villager says:

      When dry, the skin and spines are supposed to peel off, revealing a small sponge inside. We’ve never grown them before, so we will have to see how that works!

  13. I had to laugh about your countertop. I think most gardeners are loosing them this time of the year. I really have enjoyed reading your blog.

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