Garden 2012 – Week Fifteen

Another quick one this week:  Due to trying to get the Baked Beans blog entry out, I have fallen behind in the garden blogging department.  Bad me!  =smacks hand=

 Things are chugging along at le jardin a chez Myjo.  We harvested our first real “crop” of cherry tomatoes this week.  

  By crop I mean a handful, but it was enough to be able to cut them in half and throw them in a salad made with farmers’ market greens, and some of our own Swiss chard.  Oh.  My.  God.  It was the most delicious salad I remember having in a very long time.  The greens were so crisp and fresh and flavorful, and the tomatoes were bursting with a vibrant sweetness.  It honestly made me never want to use store bought veggies again!  There is really no comparison.

 I’m hoping that by next week I can also use some home grown cucumber in my salads.  Look at this bad boy!


  Legz has been doing remarkably well.  We picked and ate a few of the pear tomatoes, which were, of course, delectable.  We threw a few of them into that awesome salad, as well, and having two different varieties of tomato in it really gave it depth and life.  Yum, yum, yum.


  The vegetables aren’t the only thing that’s been a-growin’ on our patio.  Bernie the praying mantis just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I don’t know what it is about him, but I find him utterly fascinating, with his sleeve-like front feet (?), his goggle eyes, and his delicate antennae.  I love to stand and watch him, but that usually makes him freeze in place and just stare back at me.  I don’t want to freak him out, so I don’t watch him for long.  


  It’s been really hot all of a sudden, and it’s been tough for us to keep consistent with the watering.  I work all day, and the sporadic nature of Bro’s job means that while some days he’ll be around all day, others he can be gone for twelve hours or more.  We try to keep up communication between us to make sure the garden is taken care of, but with the sudden surge in temperature, it’s been tricky.  I’ve come home several times to find that the poor Swiss chard has wilted down to almost nothing.  On the flip side, though, what a dramatic example of how resilient plants can be!  I rush to get everything watered, and seemingly in no time, it’s all perked back up, as if nothing had been wrong. 

   When Bro planted seeds at the start of Garden 2012, he scattered a bunch and forgot to mark them.  So throughout the season, we’ve had mystery shoots popping up all over.  In retrospect, this might not be the most practical use of our garden space, but it’s certainly been fun trying to guess what we’ve got growing!


  That guy, for example.  I think it’s flanked by Malabar spinach, but what it could be beats me.  We keep hoping it’ll turn into something identifiable, but so far it’s only gotten bigger, not clearer.  I think it would be hysterical if it wasn’t even anything we planted.  We have trees nearby that like to send out seeds, which then sprout in the cracks of the pavement and such.  I think it would be hilarious if we were actually growing a small decorative tree.  

  One of the mystery starts we *did* manage to suss.  It began in a pot of dead thyme buried near the back of the garden on the concrete floor.  Initially, we believed it to be a tomatillo.  Bro had scattered some tomatillo seeds in that area, so that theory made sense.  Within a couple of weeks, though, it shot straight up and into the sunlight, and turned out, very obviously, to be a tomato of some kind.  And now, this week, it has blossoms!


 This sort of thing never fails to impress me.   While we were carefully tending, shading, fertilizing and staking the more established tomato plants, some of which have thus far produced nary a bloom, this lanky fella, the very definition of an upstart, came out of nowhere with next to no assistance from us, and is already blossoming.  How about a round of applause for nature, eh? 

  Less a mystery are the Abe Lincolns that have started developing recently.  


  They seem to be growing relatively slowly, but as they are meant to be large beefsteaks, I’m guessing that’s normal.  They are apparently getting hefty, even if they’ve not bulked up much size-wise; I went out to the patio one day to discover their weight had pulled their entire branch of the plant over.  That happens naturally in the wild, and isn’t bad for the plant, but given our limited space, we sort of need to keep the plants contained.  So I found myself once again contorting my body to squeeze carefully into and around the tomato shade in order to tie the branch up with twine.  Again, yoga schmoga!  :D

  Our basil is about ready to bloom, as well, which means they are preparing to go to seed. 


  With some herbs and lettuces, this means they are no longer very tasty, often times becoming bitter and hard, and so it is recommended that you top them to keep them from reaching that point.  I’m really not sure if basil is one of those herbs, so because we have so much of it growing, I decided to experiment and see for myself (looking it up on Google would have been waaaay too easy).    I’ve pulled the buds off of a few of the plants, but allowed others to go to seed, and we’ll have to see what happens.  Even if the ones I do let spread their DNA ultimately turn tough, I figure that’s still not a bad thing.  After all, seeds = more basil, theoretically, and more basil means more yumminess in the kitchen.  It’s really a win, win.

 The Hungarian sweets started to turn red.  Because I only ever remembering seeing them green and pickled, I panicked, and harvested most of them.  I did leave a couple to turn red, out of curiosity.  The rest I threw into a vinegar/water solution with salt, garlic cloves, and chives from our garden.  We should have plenty of yummy pickles for our sandwiches for some time!

  One of our Fresno peppers also turned red.  It’s not the end of the world if that happens; red Fresnos are prettier, but also hotter, so I generally prefer to pick them while they’re green.  What gorgeous color, though, eh?


  And as we’re talking peppers, let me give you a quick pick of our lovely Jalapenos, which are just flourishing in this heat wave.  We’re gonna have SO much fun with these!  :D


  Lastly, here’s a shot of Sam Jackson, who appears to be making a run for it across the top of the tomato shade.


  On that note, it’s time I made a run for it, myself.  Have a lovely week, everybody, and I’ll catch you in Week Sixteen!  


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