Archive for the ‘harvest’ Category

I must admit, I was pretty excited about the prospect of a pumpkin in our garden this year!

The first one was a false start:

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The whole plant died shortly after I took this photo– I have no idea what happened to it!

But a couple of weeks later, I spotted this cutie on the other pumpkin plant.

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It kept growing, and it was actually suspended/balanced on the vine and the end of the “anti rodent” fencing around the garden plot for a while.

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As it got heavier, it tumbled off its perch, and I was a little bit worried that the stem had ripped too much in the process.  But it was okay!

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It got orange fairly early (the photo below is in the first third of September).

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But I left it on the vine for a while longer, thinking that it would do better on the vine than in my house or out on a doorstep in the heat and rain we’ve had.

We finally harvested the pumpkin on September 29!  Unfortunately, we left it too long, and some bug started eating it, so it got a hole and was mushy at the bottom…and it was a little oozy. But it had a good side! 🙂

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We let it sit on our front porch as a nice fall decoration until it needed to be composted!


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Throughout the month of June, we had our deck replaced, as well as some other work done on the rear wall of our house.  Because the contractors were out there every day, I didn’t tend my garden quite as attentively as I should have!  As they finished the work, I decided that the jungle-that-was-my-garden needed to be tamed.  I put the kids in the inflatable pool right next to my garden patch, pulled on my long sleeves and pants, and got to (the HOT) work!


After a couple weeks of "neglect"-- I made the excuse of not working in it because of the deck remodel-- the garden was looking really overgrown.

After a couple weeks of "neglect"-- I made the excuse of not working in it because of the deck remodel-- the garden was looking really overgrown.

After a couple weeks of “neglect”– I made the excuse of not working in it because of the deck remodel– the garden was looking really overgrown.


the garden after a big weeding, pruning, and tying up spree

the garden after a big weeding, pruning, and tying up spree

the garden after a big weeding, pruning, and tying-up spree

I was pretty proud of how everything looked–weeded, tidily pruned and tied up.  I was also excited to see how many of my plants were on the cusp of producing yumminess!!

Cherokee Purple tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes

flourishing cucumber vines... but no cucumbers yet!

flourishing cucumber vines… but no cucumbers yet!

the kids' tomatoe plant-- in a pot in the middle of the garden!

the kids’ tomato plant– in a pot, now in the middle of the garden!

Super Fantastic tomatoes

Super Fantastic tomatoes

Tami G grape tomatoes

Tami G grape tomatoes

On Sunday 7/17, I made my first harvest from the garden!  –a small handful of grape tomatoes, three cucumbers, and some cherry tomatoes from my kids’ plant!  I was so excited for the harvests to come!

First harvest! A tiny handful of grape tomatoes and three cucumbers.

However, the bounty hasn’t materialized for us — at least not yet.

We had a dry spell (and I am notoriously lazy about watering, even though we have a lovely rain barrel to provide us with “free” water), and even though I was collecting large numbers of cucumbers (as many as 7 every few days), they were so bitter as to be inedible (even when peeled).  Since we’ve had some rain, the cucumbers have improved, though!!  So thankful.

Today's harvest: seven(ish!) cucumbers. Thankfully they are sweeter than earlier cucumbers we've gotten.

Harvest 8/5: seven(ish!) cucumbers. Thankfully they are sweeter than earlier cucumbers we’ve gotten.

Even more disappointing– not one large tomato, and only about 5 grape tomatoes since that first harvest!  The tomatoes are literally disappearing– both green and also when they are just about ripe.  We have a strong suspicion that a deer is coming and making a smorgasbord of our plants.  Even though we’ve never had a problem with deer in the past, it’s the only explanation we can think of for why ALL of the tomatoes– even the ones in the back of the garden– are disappearing.  Husband thinks that they are stepping right over the fence to reach the ones not along the edge.  The deer in our area are quite bold– we actually saw one come up to our garden in the middle of an afternoon!  I had to go out onto the porch to shoo it away (knocking on the window wasn’t enough), and even then it stopped at the edge of our yard and stared back at me as if it was sizing me up (I’m having flashbacks to my rodent wars days!).

EDIT: My neighbor told me that it’s actually squirrels!  They are carrying off the produce one piece at a time!

I haven't had the motivation to take very good care of the garden, since it seems as though a deer is eating every single tomato that approaches ripeness...

Sadly, since it seems as though deer (and the squirrels!!) are eating every single tomato that approaches ripeness, I haven’t had the motivation to take very good care of the garden.  The deer (and the squirrels) don’t seem to mind, and I’m not going to trim up the garden just for it!  It’s a bummer that we aren’t getting any tomatoes for ourselves; however I am glad that the cucumbers are improving.  I guess next year, we’re going to have to put up a deer-proof fence! (and do something about those pesky squirrels)

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This summer’s garden was pretty successful, I’d say!  All summer long, I had grand intentions of posting photos of my harvests and how the garden was growing… but that didn’t happen.  As autumn sets in and the gardening season ends, I thought I’d do a post “reminiscing” about the garden this year and all the lovely things we collected from our plants.

For a good portion of the summer, I actually kept up with my goal to prune the tomatoes and keep them tied up.

healthy garden!

Early in June, I went out and did all of my tending, but ran out of ties.  When I stepped back into the garden, I noticed this little beastie buried in the mulch!

As I was out taking care of the garden today, I discovered this little beastie buried in the mulch. Joel came out and using gloves, got it into a bucket and released it into the brush behind our house. I think it was a bunny?

I’d almost stepped on it, which shook me up a bit.  I guess it was there the whole time I’d been working before!  Husband came out and using gloves, got it into a bucket…

As I was out taking care of the garden today, I discovered this little beastie buried in the mulch. Joel came out and using gloves, got it into a bucket and released it into the brush behind our house. I think it was a bunny?

…and released it into the brush behind our house. I think it was a bunny?


I’d say we had a pretty good year with our tomatoes.  I did keep track of how much I harvested in my planner, but I didn’t make a spreadsheet like previous years!  I kept thinking that I would, and then I never did… oh well.

yum-- grape tomatoes (Tami G variety)

yum– grape tomatoes (Tami G variety)

We had the most success with our grape tomatoes and the Golden Jubilee tomatoes.  The grape tomatoes were everything I’d hoped– sweet, firm and prolific.  Yum.  I’m going to miss them!

I can’t believe it, but I didn’t take a single photo of my lovely Golden Jubilees!  They were the perfect shade of golden yellow, large and meaty, and really, really delicious.  I definitely could see myself having these in my garden again in the future.

First tomato harvest. I should have watered more consistently, as evidenced by the bad blossom-end rot on two of the three Beefsteak tomatoes I harvested.

Our first tomato harvest was the Beefsteak tomatoes.  I should have watered more consistently, as evidenced by the bad blossom-end rot on two of the three Beefsteak tomatoes I harvested.  I must admit, even though I knew it was a problem, I still didn’t make it a priority to get out and actually water my plants.  I would use the excuse of “oh, it’s going to rain tonight…” and then it wouldn’t!  While the other tomatoes didn’t seem to suffer at all (though perhaps they would have been even more successful if I’d watered them more), these Beefsteak plants just went downhill all summer long.

Patio tomato

Patio tomato

Vivian picked her first tomato!

Vivian picked her first tomato!

V enjoyed having her tomato plant on the deck again this year.  I hadn’t realized that it was more of a slicing-tomato-size variety, so I don’t think she enjoyed eating them nearly as much as the tiny cherry tomatoes from last year.  But she was always excited to pick the next red one!

cucumbers and zucchini

The big disappointment this year was the cucumbers!  They look lovely and healthy in this photo, from early in the summer, but this was as far as they went.  They died so quickly, I didn’t even have time to figure out what was going on!  Since cucumbers are basically my favorite thing from the garden, I was pretty sad.

But if the cucumbers were a disappointment, the zucchini made up for it in spades!  (I’m not sure if I should intend that pun or not ;-))

Our very first harvest (before any tomatoes) was these two lovely zucchini…


…and they just didn’t stop after that!

Wow! Lots of zucchini!

I obviously am not going to show photos of them all (I didn’t even take that many harvest photos this year, in general), but I would get multiple fruits every time I went out to check.  And not infrequently, one would grow stealthily under one of those big leaves until it was a 4 or 5 lb whopper!

This monstrous zucchini (4 lbs, 5.5 oz) was hiding in our garden!

I made a LOT of zucchini bread.  These big ones aren’t very good for much else… and each one would make at least 4 batches of the recipe I have.  I honestly lost count of how much zucchini bread came out of my oven this summer…  I made it in loaves and in muffin tins… I substituted part or all of the oil with applesauce…  I shared it and gave it away, and I froze a bunch, too!  (I think we have at least 1 dozen muffins and four loaves in our freezer right now).  The muffins are great, because you can freeze them and take out individual servings to thaw in the microwave for occasional breakfasts…with cream cheese…yum…  I even froze some plain shredded zucchini so that I can make some more this winter, haha!  It’s a good thing Husband reminded me that our food processor has a fine grater attachment, because the first time I shredded one of these monstrous zucchinis, it took me about an hour!  haha.

Even with all of the zucchini bread, we still had zucchini to eat, and I tried to find some new recipes.  Along with our standby favorite of zucchini fritters, we made

  • Zucchini Parmesan
  • Zucchini Bread Pancakes
  • Zucchini Boats (halve a zucchini lengthwise and remove seeds; fill with ground-beef-and-marinara-mixture; top with mozzarella and bake.  There are gazillions of variations on this idea; I dare you to search Pinterest.  We really liked this simple version, and we definitely made it again.)
    zucchini boats: halve a zucchini lengthwise and remove seeds; fill with ground-beef-and-marinara-mixture; top with mozzarella and bake. Delicious!! We had so much zucchini this summer that I was on the lookout for good recipes to use it!
  • Zucchini Stir Fry
    ATK stir-fried chicken and zucchini with ginger sauce
  • Shrimp Scampi with “Zoodles” (well, ours were just shredded zucchini since we don’t have a spiralizer)– thanks, Christine, for the recipe idea!

The garden is nearly done for the year, and I have some more thoughts to share, but I’ll save them for a future post.   As we move into fall and winter, I’m certainly going to miss my fresh tomatoes and my seemingly-never-ending-supply of zucchini!

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First tomato!

My daughter “helped” me to pick our first tomato on July 27!



It was from our Fourth of July variety plants (about three weeks late…I think I’ll start my seeds earlier next year!).

our first tomato!  Fourth of July variety

I didn’t get a chance to taste it, though!  My parents, who were staying with our daughter this weekend, shared it with her and they agreed that it was delicious.  Looking forward to more!

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I am so excited with how my garden is producing this year!  Just look at my harvest from last Sunday afternoon!

today's harvest

Burpee cucumbers on the left, Ferry-Morse cucumbers on the right

That’s NINE cucumbers, people. 

So what do I do with this bounty?  Well, besides just eating the cucumbers in their pure and natural gloriousness, one thing I like to whip together is creamy cucumber salad.

creamy cucumbers

My aunt used to make this for big family dinners, like at Easter.  It was one of my favorite dishes at those meals!  The recipe is very simple.

Creamy Cucumbers

4 oz. sour cream
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk dressing ingredients together in large bowl.

Cut several cucumbers into approximately 1/4″ slices.  Slice a small amount of onion (1/4 to 1/2 of a small yellow onion).  Stir onions and cucumbers into dressing.  Serve immediately (if the salad sits too long, the liquid in the cukes leaches out and it gets watery).

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first (real) cucumber!!

Our first cucumber!!!**  YUM.  This is a cucumber off of the Burpee plant.  It was delicious.  Having recently had a store-bought cuke, I could really tell the difference between it and this homegrown one.  Our cucumber was sweeter and seemed more delicate.

After that first lovely cuke, I harvested two more Burpee cucumbers:


three Ferry-Morse cucumbers:


and one Lake Valley zucchini:


Nerd that I am, I have decided to keep a spreadsheet of the produce I harvest from the garden this year.  I’m curious to see what sort of “return for my investment” I get from having my own produce in my own backyard.  My idea is to count/weigh the produce and then, using an approximate average grocery store price, calculate how much I would have paid, had I bought them instead.  At the end of the season, I’ll write more about it.

As excited as I am about the zucchini and cucumbers, I am also so excited to see that I have tomatoes forming!  Here’s a peek.


There are Jelly Beans (my favorite):

the garden today

And a Fourth of July or two:

the garden today


**I should say that I did prematurely harvest two zucchini and one cucumber at the very end of June, and while they were fine, they were not quite ready to be picked.

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Recent harvests

On August 22, I harvested our first tomato!

harvest 22 Aug 2012: Fourth of July tomato

We got back from our family vacation last weekend, and the next photo shows the tomatoes I collected from the garden upon our return.


harvest 02 Sept 2012: Jelly Bean and Red Cherry tomatoes

I really was expecting more, since we’d been gone for a week, but ah, well!  I am suspicious that a creature is getting to the fruit before I do, so I’ve started harvesting before they’re fully ripe, as you can see from the orange-y specimens above and below.

I harvested some more the other day… They’re just so pretty, don’t you think?

harvest 05 Sept 2012: Jelly Bean and Red Cherry tomatoes

In previous years, I have delighted in tallying the number and weight of my harvests, but this year I’m not (though the Type-A in me is just ITCHING to get out a scale!)…

Because…We’re moving!  Husband got a job in another state, and so we’re (or rather, the movers are!!) packing up and moving a bit further south (hurray for a longer growing season)!  We are very, very excited about the whole thing.  It is going to be sad to leave the dear friends we’ve made here, our first house, and my first in-ground garden…  However, God has opened up this wonderful opportunity for us, and has He has guided and directed us every step of the way!  We feel very blessed.

The garden, of course, stays with the house, and I’m hoping that the new owner will enjoy the tomatoes as much as we have.  {We’ve heard that he has a large dog, so maybe Mr. Groundhog will get a run for his money 😉 }

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I’m going to just skip trying to explain why there hasn’t been a garden post in like, forever (I’ve been taking photos all along, but haven’t gotten them online ’til now), and jump right into sharing the current status of the garden, and make up for it by writing a tome of a post!  (All of the photos in this post were taken yesterday morning…)

Despite very dry conditions in the past few weeks (see how brown the poor grass is?), my garden has been doing well.  I’ve watered it a few times to make sure it doesn’t completely dry up.  That’s a nice thing about in-ground gardens… they don’t require nearly as much intentional watering.  Plus, the mulch is helping the moisture stay in the soil.

Maybe you can see, though, that the zucchini has fallen prey to a marauding groundhog… or deer, or something.  The hostas in our front beds were the first victims, ::sigh:: and then the beastie found the succulent zucchini leaves.

It’s not all bad, though, because we still actually got a nice zucchini — our first harvest of 2012!  You can see it in the photo above, and of course I took a glamor shot…

I added some green onions (Purchased at the grocery store for a recipe…  you can plant the white ends after you cut them, and they grow back!) next to the tiny pepper plant (who knows if that little guy will ever produce in our short season):

Before I go much further, I should make a comment about the garden layout.  Because things have changed a bit since I planted it!

The current garden layout

The week after we planted the seedlings outdoors, we had some super-hot temperatures.  We were also away, and even though a friend of mine came and watered the garden (thank you so much, K!!), the seedlings got fried, because they weren’t very strong to begin with.  So we lost one Fourth of July plant, two Jelly Bean plants, and one of the zucchinis.  The stronger of the two pepper plants met its end when I was over-zealous in my weeding one day (boo!!!  it was so tiny, and blended in with those pesky weeds).  So I had some empty spots.

My friend K, who watered my garden, planted some tomatoes and herbs of her own, and generously offered me the extra seedlings from the flats she purchased!  So generous!!  So I added 2 Big Boy tomatoes and 3 Red Cherry (large) tomatoes to the empty spots.

And now for the confession.  I planted the seedlings and just as I was finishing up, it started pouring.  So I ran inside, fully intending to label my plants when it stopped raining.  But of course I got busy, and thought I’d remember.  But guess what?  I forgot.  Ooops!  I know that tomato #6 and #8 are Fourth of July, and I know that tomato #3 is the one remaining Jelly Bean (my absolute favorite).  But I’m going to have to wait to see for the others! Thankfully there should be a distinct difference in size of the fruit, haha!

Speaking of fruit, the tomato plants are definitely starting to produce little green beauties!

Tomato #1

Tomato #2

Tomato #3 (Jelly Bean)

Tomato #4

Tomato #5

Tomato #6 (Fourth of July)

Tomato #7

Tomato #8 (Fourth of July)

Last, but certainly not least, I have to share my hanging herb basket!!

It hangs over our front porch, and I. Love. It.  It’s perfect!  No groundhogs or other pillaging wildlife can access it, yet it’s so easily accessible by me!  My friend K gave me basil and parsley when she gave me the tomatoes, and the plants are thriving in their aerial home.  I have been reveling in fresh parsley in my chicken and tuna salads at lunch, and basil sprinkled over my pasta with marinara sauce.  I am so very excited for the tomatoes to ripen so that I can make caprese salad!

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On Friday morning, I went out to see how my garden is faring.

It’s having its last gasps of production– frost is imminent.

Really, it’s pretty pathetic looking, and I keep debating whether it’s time to just cut it all down, even though we haven’t had a frost yet.

Since I’m still recovering from a leg muscle injury, I thought massive garden destruction wasn’t quite the best plan on Friday.  So I decided that I would just pick the ripe-enough stuff and bring it in.  There have been a few warm days in the forecast, so I left the really green tomatoes on the vine– who knows, maybe more will ripen?

What I picked looks deceptively good in this photo.  In reality, the large (non-Jelly Bean) tomatoes are rather insipid, so I forsee a batch of sauce in the very near future.  Here’s what I collected:

  • 8 Early Girl (1 lb, 15 oz)
  • 4 Red Lightning (11 oz)
  • 23 Fourth of July (2 lbs 15 oz)
  • 46 Jelly Bean (13.5 oz)
  • 5 peppers (one of them red, two of them turning red, and two of them green)
  • 1 small cucumber

In the next week or so, I will be tearing out the remaining plants.  Does anyone have any suggestions for green tomato usage?  We’ve done the fried green tomato thing, and they’re yummy, but two people (+baby on the way) can only eat so many of them and remain relatively healthy!  Please link or send me recipes for other green tomato goodies if you have them!

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We’re nearing the end of the “growing season” here in upstate New York.  According to average first frost date charts I’ve seen online, we could be getting a frost as soon as next week (though given the weather reports, I’m thinking it will be later.  Today, we’re predicted to have a high of 84!)

The garden is still producing, though as you can tell in the pictures above, some of the plants are feeling their age.  Their leaves are yellowing and I think a few of them have some sort of disease on the leaves.  Since it’s so close to the end of the season, I’m not going to do much about it.  Thankfully, the plant that is most affected is the Yellow Pear tomato, which I have decided I don’t like (I won’t be growing it any more in the future, I don’t think).

You can also tell from the photos above that the tomato plants are HUGE, and I didn’t ever get around to adding stakes to support the tipping tomato cages (shame on me).

~ ~ ~

I’m still getting big harvests, but part of that is because I don’t go out nearly as frequently to collect the fruit.  Some harvest stats:

September 18:

  • 14 Early Girl (3 lb, 13.375 oz)
  • 3 Red Lightning (9.875 oz)
  • 11 Fourth of July (14.25 oz)
  • 31 Jelly Bean (4.875 oz)
  • 46 Yellow Pear (1 lb, 7.625 oz)
  • 1 cucumber (approx. 5″ long and 2″ in diameter)

September 26:

  • 6 Early Girl (1 lb, 6.125 oz)
  • 5 Red Lightning (14.125 oz)
  • 13 Fourth of July (1 lb, 4.25 oz)
  • 25 Jelly Bean (7.375 oz)
  • 15 Yellow Pear (7 oz)

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