As the tomato season winds down...

Yes, it's that sad, dismal time of year once again. The time where night time temperatures start to drop into the 60s (and even lower), signalling the beginning of the end.

And for me, it's time to give the tomato plants a hair cut.

While the tomato plants are all still flowering, there is no way those flowers will have time to develop into tomatoes. So, I went in and cut out a lot of dead/dying leaves, growing shoots with flowers, and any tomatoes too small to grow and ripen. Even though our first frost is (hopefully) a ways away, the cooler temperatures mean the small fruits simply won't grow, and I'd rather have the plants spend their remaining energy on ripening the existing, larger fruits.

The pile of trimmings. Lots of dead leaves- Septoria leaf blight was an issue this year.
Trimmed plant. Some almost ripe tomatoes, and a few green ones that will hopefully still grow and ripen.
Oh, and do NOT wear your good clothes when working in the tomato patch. Because, the plants are covered in...
... shiny, happy, glistening little trichomes (microscopic hairs) on the tomato plants that result in...

... this. Green gunk, aka Tomato Tar.
This stuff will NOT come off with just soap and water, and WILL stain your nice white hand towels. Ask me how I know. Rubbing alcohol to the rescue: before you wet your hands, rub some rubbing alcohol on them. Then soap and water can do their trick.

So, how did this season go? Not bad, not bad at all. I tried a couple of cherry tomatoes in pots, and was not happy with the results - I only got a handful of tomatoes off of each plant. Of course, I do have a tomato thief in my midst...

"That wasn't a tomato seed in my beard, honest!"
Yeah. When your dog comes in with tomato seeds all around her mouth, that might just be the reason you aren't getting as many tomatoes as you thing you should.

"I'm the good dog!" Yes, but you are SCRUFFY!
But even with the dastardly thieving, the plants in the pots were no where near as large as their counterparts in the garden. So next year, no tomatoes in pots. Except maybe one...

Prolific monster - Aunt Ruby's German Green cherry tomato
I grew a green tomato this year: Aunt Ruby's German Green cherry tomato. It farking took over the ENTIRE bed! And talk about prolific! The only problem (in addition to being the tomato that ate New York) was that it's, well, green. And thus, it's hard to tell when it's ripe - especially in my typically over-grown tomato bed. But since I REALLY liked the taste of it, I'm thinking that growing it in a pot next year will solve two problems: it wouldn't be quite as monstrous, and it would be easier to keep an eye on the fruits and pick them when ripe.

For other varieties - well, I don't know. I'll have one and a half beds for tomatoes next year (the other half is devoted to sweet peppers), and I give each plant 4 square feet, so that means 18 plants (no, that is NOT too many for one person - and one thieving dog). 10-12 of those will be pastes - and no, I still don't have a favourite paste tomato. The Federle this year had nice fruit, but inconsistent sizes, and it wasn't that productive. I grew Amish paste last year, which was really productive, but it had tiny fruit - a pain in the arse to peel for canning. And I'd like a determinate variety for paste tomatoes - it's easier to have a few big canning days, rather than have dribs and drabs of tomatoes coming in over time, in my opinion.

I still want indeterminate varieties for eating tomatoes, though - and Stupice will be back. I can't argue with a variety that gives me tomatoes that early! Other than that, I don't know.

Sob.

Taste is SO individual. For example, I think I'm the only person who liked the German Green. And while I found the yellow cherry okay (at best), my neighbour RAVED about them. I'm tempted to toss some money at my local tomato genius, and ask her to send me a selection of tomatoes that taste like tomatoes :)

But still, life is good. Even though the tomato season is winding down, I picked over three baskets today (those are 3L baskets, if anyone is wondering - and a bushel is around 35 L). I'll have one more big canning session, and get some crushed tomatoes done, and maybe another batch of sauce. And there are still tomatoes in the garden, soaking up the last of the summer sun. And maybe, just maybe, I'll get two full months of fresh tomato eating this year.

A garden tomato, every day, from July 12 to September 12? Not bad at all!

Sauce, salad, sandwich - the best of the summer, all in one fruit!



Four - Eight of Twelve

I thought I'd better catch up on my Twelve Months of Food posts. As a refresher (because, yeah, it's been a while), instead of Christmas gifts last year, I gave the adults in my family food, in the form of one meal a month.

To date:

January: pulled pork
February: chili
March: breakfast!

And to update:

April: Lasagna - yum!
May: Roast local chicken, plus all the trimmings.
June: Grilled burgers & sausages, plus potato and macaroni salad
July:  Grilled chicken, grilled pepper & onion skewers and potato salad. The onions and potatoes were all from the garden.
August: Grilled steaks, local corn-on-the-cob and garden tomatoes.

Sorry, no pics - I was too busy eating :)

My sister was nice enough to host June and July at her house, since my old grill wasn't large enough to cook large amounts of food. But, I took advantage of end-of-season sales, and bought a new charcoal grill - my old one, in addition to being small, was literally on it's last legs. I don't think it would have held up for one more summer, and a container full of hot coals collapsing suddenly just seems dangerous to me ;) I also bought (my first ever) a patio table and chairs. Makes it easier to have the family over in the summer!

The point of these meals is to make something that, in addition to (hopefully) being delicious, can be made from mostly local, in-season ingredients. Where I can, I use local sources, including my own garden, and plan the meals around what is available. So, no asparagus in September, and no corn-on-the-cob in March. I'm not saying I do buy everything locally (lack of sources, lack of $), but everything I make could be sourced locally. Except, of course, things like spices and oils that are used in small amounts, and not as the basis of the meal.

You will note the lack of desserts. These are meant to be "everyday" meals, not feasts :) But we have had desserts, supplied by other family members, especially if we are also celebrating a birthday at the meal.

Going forward, I plan to post monthly on these meals. Oh, and also take pictures!



How to Make a Hot Pepper Ristra

Or, more accurately, how I made a hot pepper ristra*. Because, of course I can't do it the normal way ;)

I grew 4 cayenne peppers plants this year, and wanted a way to both dry and store them. The traditional way of making a ristra uses a needle to thread the string through the pepper itself. I have issues with that:

  • I don't have a needle large enough** for the twine I'm using, and I'm too cheap to buy one.
  • Even if I did have a needle that large, I'd have to put it somewhere for 11 months of the year, and then remember, every August, where I put it.
  • My peppers are not ready to pick all at the same time. So, if I used the needle method, I'd have to either keep threading it every time I had more peppers to add, or leave it on the string, which just seems like a bad idea to me ;)

So I decided to try my own method, just by tying the peppers onto the string.

Supplies: hot peppers (I only dry cayenne peppers this way - I'd have to use the dehydrator for larger peppers, due to the humidity), heavy string (I used garden twine), and scissors.


1. Tie a loop into the end. This will be what you use to hang up the resulting string.


2. Start a second knot in the string, close to the loop.


3. Snug the knot up as much as you can, while still leaving room for the pepper stem. This helps, since if you leave the knot too big, trying to hold the pepper in the knot while tightening it at the same time is hard. At least for me. You might be more adept ;)


4. Put the stem of the pepper into the knot, and make it as tight as you can. Note to self: leaving the stems longer helps.


5. Start a second knot, close to the first.
 

6. Add the second pepper, and tighten the knot.


7. Lather, rinse, repeat. If anyone is looking closely, you'll see I changed the order of the peppers: I had to try this a couple of times to get the spacing right. Too close, and the peppers radiate out in a circle (also, spacing the peppers a bit further apart increases air flow and helps them dry). Too far apart, and it just looks odd. Keep the extra twine on the string, and add more peppers as they ripen.


8. Hang to dry and store. Then eat throughout the winter, in pasta sauces and chili and pizza and...


No, it's not Martha Stewart good, but it works for me, and no needle required!

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*Fancy pants name for "string of dried peppers".
**I do have a large-eyed darning needle, but it's plastic, and I don't think it would hold up to the peppers. Besides, I don't know where it is...

The Garden in August

In this last week of August, the garden is indefinitely winding down.

The second bed of potatoes is almost ready for harvest. These are (hopefully) my winter potatoes, so I'll leave them in the ground until the foliage is completely dead, then dig them up. I thought that two beds of potatoes might be a bit much, but considering I've eaten my way through at least 3/4 of the first bed already...
 
Potatoes!
The garlic has all been harvested, and it's apparently a Goldilocks year. 

Garlic!
Onions and garlic hanging out in the shed on my fancy-schmancy curing tray.
I planted three varieties (no, I don't remember what they are, because, even after all these years, I'm still under the illusion that I'll actually remember things like variety names). One variety was too small - it produced wee, little, tiny, pain-in-the-ass heads. I've already used the entire harvest, making roasted tomato sauce. The heads were so small, the easiest way to use them was to roast them - trying to separate and peel the minuscule cloves was. not. fun.  Another variety was (almost) too big. As in almost-as-big-as-my-hand big. And each individual clove is enormous. I don't remember it being this big when I planted it...
It's huge!

And one variety was just right :) I'll keep cloves from these two varieties (as long as the taste is okay) for replanting. Oddly enough, I'm second guessing myself, and I'm tempted to try some fall planting again.



Just right - and purple!
I pulled out the Lazy Housewife beans - they aren't really producing, and I don't like them anyway, so off to the compost bin with them! I'm keeping the Rattlesnakes going for a while, even though they've only produced a handful of beans in the last couple of weeks - hopefully with some more rain and cooler temperatures, I'll get another flush of beans. I'm amazed though - last year at this point, the bean trellises were so full, they were in danger of falling over. This year? Ha!

But what about the Scarlet Runner beans? Complete, utter, 100% failure. Oh, they are pretty enough, but not one bean from 32 plants. Not one.

We don't need to be productive because we are pretty!
I'm assuming they aren't getting pollinated? Because they are flowering heavily, but pods simply aren't forming. And there are pollinators around, right Katy?

What's that? Can I eat it?

Carpenter bee - that explains the sawdust in the raised beds!
There are also hummingbirds around, so I'm not quite sure why I'm not getting any beans. I do know, however, that it's doubtful this plant will make a repeat appearance in the vegetable garden. The flower garden, maybe...

Burgundy okra
One crop that will come back is okra.  I'm really liking it, especially in vegetable soup. I had hoped to save seeds this year, but had one of those brain fart moments: Even though I know they are insect pollinated, I didn't think about cross-pollination. And since I grew two varieties...

I still might keep the seeds, since I really have no preference between the two, and see what I get. And to all those people I promised okra seeds - oops! Yes, I should really have known better :(

 I'm cautiously optimistic on the squash front. Even though my grand total for zuchinni zucchini (OMG - it only took two attempts this time!!) this year will be four, and the cucumbers are a complete wash, and the winter squash plants look like complete, wilty, mildewy crap, I might, just might, actually harvest something from them this year. There are still two Chersonskayas - the others, unfortunately, never grew and ended up rotting :(
Look at the stem getting all brown and hard!

Smaller, but still okay. And yes, that is an acorn squash along side.

Ugh.
There are two good Winter Sibleys too, which I hope will make it.

Winter Sibley among the ruins (and weeds) :)
And hopefully 2-3 spaghetti squash. 
Hang in there, little squash!


The acorn squash are still looking good, but I'm kinda disappointed - only 4-5 fruits in total, and they are small. Oh well - they'll be a good size for individual meals. And really, squash is squash - considering the failure from past years, I shouldn't be complaining about any that I'm actually able to grow!

The sweet peppers are all done, and had a respectable harvest this year, even though each pepper was somewhat small - lack of water, I think.
Yummy yellow peppers.
 And of course, the tomatoes are still going strong. I'm still picking at least one 3-liter basket every day - not bad at all!

Have I mentioned that I love summer?


The Great Dry Bean Experiment - and giveaway!


You may remember that, after my success with dry beans last year, I decided to try a bunch of different varieties this year. I ended up with 15 different varieties, which is truly a drop in the bucket when it comes to dry beans. And of course, being the geek I am, I did things like monitor germination rates and harvest totals.

Blue Jay - the most incredible purple-blue colour.

What, doesn't everyone?

Calypso. Or Orca. I like Orca.

Well, most of the results are in. There are a few varieties that aren't ready to harvest yet, which is actually a bad thing - if, in this year of insane heat, they aren't ready in 3 months, what hope will they have in a cooler, "normal" summer? But don't worry - I won't bore you with graphs and table and statistics. I wanted the information for my own use, since hard data is useful for making certain decisions - like which beans grow better than others. Of course, taste matters too, and I'll be doing taste tests this fall and winter. Like the Lazy Housewife green beans, if they don't taste good (to me), I won't grow them.

Mrocumiere. Yes, they really are that colour.

Since I only planted a single row of most varieties, I don't have a lot of beans for each variety. And I want to keep some to plant next year (a single year trial, especially when that year has abnormal weather, really isn't enough to make firm decisions) and some to eat, of course!

But, I'm excited about being able to grow such a good source of protein. In such pretty packages ;)

Littlefield's Special. Or, as I like to call them, Holstein beans.

I'm so excited, I'm willing to send seeds to anyone who wants to try to grow dry beans next year.  Yes, for free.

Caveats: 
  • Limited to Canadian addresses, since I'm getting mixed info about mailing seeds across the border (If you are really interested in getting some to try, and live in the US, e-mail me, and we'll work something out). 
  • You will only be getting a few seeds (4-10, depending on the variety and the amount of requests). I'm trying to share the joy of growing dry beans, not take business away from seed growers.
  • I make no guarantees about germination, disease contamination (but as someone who worked in plant pathology for years, I'm pretty confident in saying these are good, clean seeds) or hybridization, as I took no effort to separate varieties, since beans seldom cross-pollinate. 
  • Amounts are limited, so when I'm out, I'm out - first come, first serve! 
  • I still want to dry the beans out a bit, as well as finish the harvest, so I won't be mailing anything out for a month or so.

What do I ask in return? If you have a blog, please blog about this (and link back here, naturally), and blog about your results next year. And hey, if you want to send me some seeds in return, feel free :)


List of varieties (see key below for the varieties in the first photo):
  • Ireland Creek Annie (limited)
  • Black Turtle (good harvest)
  • Calypso (harvest not complete)
  • Blue Jay (good harvest)
  • Littlefield's Special (limited)
  • Canadian Wonder (good harvest)
  • Black Valentine (good harvest)
  • Saskatchewan Dry (limited)
  • Fall Speckled (limited)
  • Mrocumiere (harvest not complete, should be good)
  • Lina Sisco's Bird Egg (limited)
  • Romano (limited)
  • Pinto (VERY limited - only one plant grew!)
  • Jacob's Cattle (limited)
  • Soldier (harvest not complete)
How to get seeds? Leave a comment here, and e-mail me at myoldnewhouse at gmail dot com with the list of varieties you want to try and your mailing address.

Oh, and if you have any good bean recipes? Share!


Whimper

So, this lion escaped from the zoo, and I had to wrestle it to the ground before it ate a small schnauzer...

No?

I saw a purse snatching, and ran after the dastardly thief, finally subduing him with a flying tackle...

No?

Would you believe that terrifying space monkeys maybe got loose*?

Not even that?

Fine.

Yes, I hurt my back**... picking garlic.  

My life is way too exciting. 

__________________________________
*1,758 Internet Points for anyone getting that reference. And a gold star.

**Just so you know, the only difference between regular pain killers and those labelled for muscle aches is that those will make you drowsy. So, if you aren't having troubles sleeping, skip the expensive "back ache" pain killers, and go for the regular ones. And this is why I pester pharmacists with questions :)

And so it begins....

Garden goodness
This was the harvest from the other day: potatoes, okra, zuchinni zuchhini zucchini (my second of the year - woot! Sigh), carrots, tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes. Not pictured: the two large bowls of tomatoes already waiting for me.

Also not in the basket - the monster Federle tomato, which finally ripened:

It's huge!

With Kiphead for scale
I'll make another large batch of soup, and I'll grill some to add to the previously grilled jalapeno peppers (I have an idea for a smokey salsa thingy - no recipe yet, but I hope it works), and I'll make a batch of roasted tomato sauce - yum! And then, the real canning will start!


Good thing I know what to do with any tomatoes that are left over...


Conversations with Dog


Katy: I want to go outside.

Me: It's raining.

Katy: I want to go outside.

Me: It's raining really hard.

Katy: I want to go outside.

Me: REALLY, REALLY hard.

Katy: I want to go outside.

Me: You'll get wet...

Katy: I want to go outside.

Me: Fine. Go.

video
Katy: I want to go inside.


5 minutes later? Repeat entire conversation.

but good news - IT'S RAINING!!!!!!!!!


__________________________________________
*no, my dogs don't really talk to me. Somedays, I wish they did - it'd be easier... maybe.

The Gardener's Best Day

The best day for a gardener? The first day you manage to make a meal, entirely from garden harvest.

For me, that day was July 30th. I turned this:

Celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, tomatoes, okra and cabbage
Into this:
Yummy vegetable soup
A few minutes cleaning and chopping the veggies, a bit of time in the soup pot with some water, salt and pepper, and a meal that costs next to nothing.

The next day, I turned this:
Yellow, green and red tomatoes, a green pepper and red onion.
Into a Greek salad (sorry, no pic!). I added feta cheese, oil and vinegar, plus salt and pepper. Those items, of course, weren't from my garden, but still. That day, I had a toasted tomato sandwich for breakfast, the salad for lunch and leftover soup for supper. That's an entire day's worth of food, mostly from the garden.

This is the time of year when the garden starts producing enough to eat for most meals - and soon, will start producing enough to start preserving. In fact, the bowlful of paste tomatoes I picked yesterday have a date with some onions, garlic and celery, and will soon be magically turned into the first pot of sauce. The hot peppers are coming on strong, and will be roasted and picked and dried. The onions are ready to pull and cure, the first bed of potatoes is ready to be completely harvested - and replanted with fall crops.

This is the busy season in the garden, but the results make it all worth while!

Geeking the Olympics

I not afraid to admit it - I love the Olympics. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all the issues with it - the cost, the possibility of "doping", the whatever-else-people-want-to-complain-about.

I know all that, and I still love them. I love watching the opening ceremonies, with everyone full of hope. I love watching the parade of nations (and trying to figure out how many of them I could place on a map). I especially love seeing the athletes from small countries - how amazing it must be to be one of a handful picked to represent your country at such a large event. I love watching the closing ceremonies, and seeing the athletes come together as one large group, instead of divided by country.

And I especially love being able to watch seldom-seen events. How often do you get to see badminton on TV? Or archery? Or discus? Do most people even know what the three day event* even consists of? Or what of the modern pentathlon* - a sport that seems to be designed for Hemingway-esque heroes (minus the drinking, of course).

The one thing I don't like? All the whinging I hear about how "that's not really a sport".


Equestrian "isn't really a sport" because "the horse does all the work".

Cycling, luge, bobsled, canoe, kayak, skeleton, rowing, sailing - all sports with "vehicles", without which the athlete would be, well, up a creek without a paddle (ha!). But it's somehow different because a horse is alive, and is somehow considered to be able to compete on it's own.

As someone who has actually ridden (poorly) a horse trained as a three-day eventer, let me tell you - unless the human on the back knows what he or she is doing, the horse is just going to wander around. Nibble some grass. Poop. Oh, yes, the horses are trained to an incredible level - but the horses can no more compete without a human as a bobsled can make it down the track without it's crew.

Beach volleyball "isn't really a sport" because... well, not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the fact there are bikinis involved (oh, and not by choice - it's a rule in the sport, which was relaxed for London 2012 due to the possibility of inclement weather).

Have you ever tried running on a sandy beach? I mean in the loose sand, not the hard-packed stuff by the water's edge. It's hard - harder than running on a firm surface. On that basis alone, I'd say beach volleyball is more of a "sport" than court volleyball, which is never singled out as "not a sport".

Curling "isn't really a sport", because you can do it whilst drinking beer. Well, one could probably do most sports whilst drinking beer, if one was good enough. You'd run an unacceptable risk of spilling your beer in some events, but I don't think that's a great way of deciding what is and isn't a sport.

I've actually curled in two bonspiels - again, not at all well (even though I do have a trophy for winning one event. In all honesty, it was more that the other teams lost, but still. Trophy). Like so many other things, it's harder than it looks. And that's just the physicality of it - the strategy the world-class players have to have leaves me in awe.

I could go on and on about events labelled "not really a sport", but that's not the point of this.

The point is: it's not up to me to decide. It's not up to any of us.

Yes, there are events I'm not too keen on - but I won't say they aren't sports. There are events that you'd have to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks to get me to watch - but I won't say they aren't sports. 

There was recently a kerfluffle in the "geek" community about who can, and cannot, legitimately claim to be a geek. There were a lot of good articles written about the topic, but the take-home message was: whoever wants to.

If you want to call yourself a geek, you'e a geek.

And if an event is in the Olympics, it's a sport.

Now stop whining and go watch some!


____________________________________________________
*No, I'm not going to tell you - google it!

The Garden in July - Everything else

 I started my onions from seed this year, and unfortunately, one of the four varieties - Australian Brown - had almost a complete germination failure. Out of the entire pack of seeds, I managed to get 6 to transplant out in the garden. The other three varieties had great germination, but the Ailsa Craig didn't transplant well (I lost almost 50% of them) and then didn't grow well. The largest reached maybe 2" in diameter, and the rest are much smaller. The Rossa Di Milano are doing well, and the largest, while smaller than my red onions in past years, are around 3-4" in diameter. The pickling onions, White Pickling, did very well - I just didn't plant enough of them!

White Pickling onions
The leeks germinated and transplanted well, and despite of the drought, are growing well. As is the garlic. Since I plant in the spring (too much risk of rotting overwinter), the harvest is later than usual, but I got scapes this year for the first time! Unfortunately, because I'm an idiot, I harvested them, tossed them in the fridge - and promptly forgot about them :( The garlic still isn't quite ready to harvest, but I should have enough to do me for the year, with some left over to plant next year.

Scapes!
Garlic, with leeks hiding in the background and the onions behind the leeks.


Three lessons learned from the alliums this year: I need to plant more, plant closer, and mulch! I won't have anywhere near enough onions to last me the winter, let alone enough to preserve or use in things like salsa and chili sauce.

Another group of mixed results were the legumes. The peas got hit by the early heat, and didn't yield enough for me to even take into the house - ever pea this year was eaten, fresh off the vine, right in the garden. And the winged asparagus peas were a HUGE disappointment: they didn't grow fast, they didn't grow large, and they didn't produce enough for me to even bother cooking them - and they taste HORRIBLE raw, just so you know. Sorry, but since I can grow both asparagus and peas, this is one crop that won't be making a repeat appearance in the garden!

Winged Asparagus Pea (please ignore the weeds!)
Both the pole beans and dry beans got planted right before a spate of cold, WINDY weather, which pretty much destroyed the first true leaves on all the plants. The dry beans recovered, and are growing really well (there were a couple of varieties that had no (or VERY low) germination) The lentils got hit by some disease and curled up and died - there is a reason we don't grow certain crops here, while they do very well in the drier regions of the country!

The pole beans, however, are SLOW! Only the Lazy Housewife and Rattlesnake have actually produced anything so far, and that was only in the last week. The Scarlet Runner beans are, well, not exactly running. More of a casual stroll. They do have a few flowers, so I hope they will actually produce a bean or three eventually. One of these days. No hurry.

Oh, and one good thing about planting different varieties? You get to taste the different varieties (assuming they actually produce anything worth tasting. Are you listening to me, Scarlet Runner??). Because Lazy Housewife? A great big bunch of meh. Especially when compared to the Rattlesnake beans. And add the fact that it's WAY easier to find the Rattlesnake beans to pick... well, Lazy Housewife is looking like another non-repeater.

Pitiful pole beans - from the left, Lazy Housewife, Rattlesnake and Scarlet Runner
 The beets and carrots got planted late this year, since they went into one of the new beds. So, I've only picked a few small carrots, and didn't get a picture of them. Cool colours, though, and good tasting! The beets are a quicker crop, and have done really well this year - I'm amazed that they didn't all go woody with the lack of rain! I planted the 3 Root Grex and a mix of different beets this year, in addition to Bull's Blood and Cylindra. I'm really liking the grex. They seem to be sizing up more consistently than the mix, which makes it easier to get a bunch that are all the same size - easier to cook that way, in my opinion, since you aren't trying to fish out the small beets from the vat of boiling water :) I'm not completely sure, but I think I'll stick to the grex from now on - but I really like Chiogga beets, and Cylindra, so I might just have to plant more than one variety ;)
3 Root Grex
Beet mix
The potatoes, like so many other things, are a mixed lot this year. The Yukon Gold and Chieftain have done really well, but the blues have produced VERY few decent sized potatoes, and lots of little marbles. I ordered organic seed potatoes this year, and had them shipped across the country - and ended up with Black Scurf on a lot of them (no, I didn't notice any on the seed potatoes, but since this bed has never had potatoes in it before, there is no other source of the disease)). I am less than impressed, since this is a disease that, once introduced in a bed, is almost impossible to eradicate. Potatoes with scurf are still edible, but have to be peeled before using. And dammit, I like potato skins! It also means that I can't keep any potatoes I grow this year as seed potatoes for next year.

And quite honestly, from now on, I think I'll be buying my seed potatoes locally - it's cheaper and I can get the varieties that do well. Blue potatoes are a neat novelty, but I'd rather have a bed full of large potatoes that will actually feed me, than a bunch of small marbles that are next to useless, especially after peeling!
A pot of potatoes, destined to become potato salad - and it was good!
Despite the dry weather, the celery is doing well. I'm not sure I'll get anything that appears to be a bunch of celery, but I have been cutting off bits and using them. Cool!
Celery!
And, in the grand tradition of saving the best for last - tomatoes! And peppers.

First tomato - Stupice, picked (and eaten) July 12.
The tomatoes and hot peppers are doing REALLY well.  I came to my senses, and planted fewer varieties than I originally planned, but I'm glad I included Stupice. The tomatoes are small (is that normal?), but tasty - and I've been eating tomatoes daily since July 12. That has to be some sort of record for this area! I have a bunch of paste tomatoes that are ripening, so sauce making will start soon! I planted all the hot peppers in pots again this year, and I think this is something I'll continue to do - it works really well, and leaves more space in the actual garden.

Oddly enough, dry as it is, I'm been getting what looks like anthacnose on all my sweet peppers (it's caused by a fungus that is in the same genus as the one I worked with for years, so I'm pretty good at identifying it ;) ). The unaffected parts are still usable, but it's a bit disappointing, none the less.

And so, that's the garden update for now. Some hits, some misses, but always lessons to be learned!
Hungarian Hot Wax pepper

Yellow Cherry - not too impressed with the flavour. I can't remember the variety - it was one I planted at the workshop I went to this spring

Federle paste tomato, with hand for scale!

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