I love gardening!
If I've said it once, I just may have said it a hundred times this year… I love gardening!
More precisely, what I love at this very moment is reaping the rewards of all my efforts, as I bring my delicious, organic produce in to my kitchen!
Here's my sweet little girl, showcasing our first 8 pickling cucumbers for you. Yesterday we washed and cut these little babies up, and made a batch of genuine pickles (as in, the old-fashioned fermented ones, a la Nourishing Traditions). We've done this once before, and I didn't post about it, because it was a flop. The reason it was a flop, however, it because I apparently don't like to follow directions well.
The recipe said to leave the jar of pickles out in a warm place (on the counter, in a pantry, etc.) for 3 days, no more, no less, and then put it in cold storage (ie. the fridge). Sounds simple, right? You'd think I could handle that.
But noooooo, I decided that 3 days couldn't possibly be enough, and set out to leave them for a week. Well, I forgot and left them for 2 weeks! What were supposed to be crunchy dills turned out to be soggy, mushy, yucky cucumber slices. Not so appetizing. This time, I actually put a little sticker on top of the jar reminding myself of what day to transfer them to the fridge!
These 3 bad boys are from my extremely productive zucchini plant. I've tried to pick my zucchini smaller than this, but it was cold and rainy for a bit, and by the time I remembered to go out and check for zucchini, there were three big ones already!
That's okay, because I'm going to use one to make a zucchini lasagna for us since we're on Phase 1 of the Maker's Diet and are not eating grains (does anyone have a good recipe?). The rest will be grated and frozen. Did you know you can do that with extra zucchini? I had no idea, but I was talking to one of the older women in my care group the other night (I hope that's not insulting- she's not old, just older than me!), and mentioned my proliferate zucchini, and she told me that's what she always does. I am going to have enough bags of shredded zucchini to make bread and muffins and spaghetti sauce and meatloaf all year long!
I wish very much that I could say this was from my garden, but sadly, it is not. I do have a plant that's growing this very variety of watermelon (sugar baby), but all of my seedlings died in our June cold snap, and had to be replanted. It's growing well again now, but I'm not sure I'm going to see any fruit that actually matures.
I just had to show this watermelon anyways because the amazing produce market I go to had several different varieties, aside from the typical hybrid watermelon that everyone else sells (which I find mildly bland). Not this heirloom, though. Oh no. It is bursting with flavor and it has real watermelon seeds (not the wimpy ones that you can just chew) that make you want to have a spitting contest. This is the real thing. Hooray for heirloom varieties!
May I also just say that whoever told you when you were 7 that you couldn't eat watermelon seeds because one would grow inside your stomach was so very, very wrong? Trust me. They don't grow that easily. I think we're all safe.
Aside from all of this bounty, I've got yellow onions drying underneath my porch stairs, carrots waiting to be picked, oodles of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes getting ready to ripen, Lemon and Japanese Long cucumbers getting bigger every day, corn that has ears growing (I can't believe I'm growing corn!), hordes of winter squash taking over my yard, and even two little teeny peppers on the plant!
A couple weeks ago I planted more carrots and broccoli. Today I ordered some spinach and garlic (oh yes- if you want garlic for this fall- go order it tomorrow- I'm not kidding, or you will miss out as I almost did!), and I've got more pea, beet, turnip, radish, lettuce and carrot seeds awaiting. Too. much. fun. 🙂
Where are your gardens at? What are your plans for fall gardening? I assume I'm one of the latest ones for being in the midst of my summer harvest, being so far North. What have you all been harvesting and preserving so far?
Not sure what all your restrictions are but “zuchinni boats” are a great way to use large zuchini’s. Just cut in half, scoop out the seed til you have a “boat” and add a meat mixture of your choice. We love a mild sausage with lots of good seasonings. You can add an egg to bind it all (more like a meatloaf recipe) or not.
I always precook mine and then cover it with foil to keep it from burning but I don’t think you have too. Take about 40 minutes at about 350 degrees.
I’m so jealous of your cukes! Our June here was so wet and humid all my plants contracted the powdery mildew disease. We’ve had a few good cukes, but most have been rather odd looking. (I also tried to make some fermented pickles and they flopped big time! My problem was I kept opening the jar t see what they tasted like. 🙂 I guess I just love me some pickles! So I’ve made some regular sun pickles, but hope to try the fermented again next week)
This fall we’re going to till in some major natural fertilizer. (a.k.a manure!) to help out with the garden next year, as our soil is so sandy and not great for planting. So I won’t be planting anymore this year and will probably be purchasing quite a bit from the farmers markets to freeze and can.
Here is a good zucchini lasagna recipe from “The No Grain Diet” by Dr. Mercola:
6 to 7 zucchini squash, sliced in thin long strips
2 cups ricotta cheese
pinch of nutmeg
1 pound raw spinach, steamed for 1 minute or 1 cup basil, chopped
1 pound grated organic mozzarella cheese
Tomato Meat Sauce (use your own or I can give you that recipe too)
Mix the ricotta, nutmeg, and steamed spinach or basil. Set aside. Spread 1/4 cup meat sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 pan. cover with a single layer of 1/3 of the zucchini “pasta”. Scatter 1/3 of the ricotta mix over the zucchini. Add 1/4 of tomato meat sauce followed by 1/3 of the mozzarella. This makes one full layer. Repeat for 2 more layers. Finish with mozzarella. Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Ugh, my cucumber plants died, my large tomato plants never even flowered, and something ate my cherry tomatoes! I got a few teeny radishes, and my beets.. I don’t know about them yet. I have about 4 peppers. Container gardening didn’t work out so well for me this year. Well, we’ll try again next summer.
I really should try those pickle slices I made and see how they turned out. I’m such a chicken. LOL!
Mmmm… your veggies look so good! I have a small garden in my very teeny-tiny subdivision backyard, but unfortunately I haven’t been keeping up with it as much as usual this summer (I just found out I am pregnant which explains why I have been too exhausted to do much of anything lately=). All I planted this year was lettuce and tomatoes, but I usually also do peppers and a variety of herbs. My husband’s gradparents also supply us with lots of fresh produce in the summer from their HUGE garden. Right now we have four ripe watermelons sitting on our kitchen table. Yummy! We also keep chickens in our backyard which, by the way, is easier than it sounds even in a tightly packed subdivision. They are just about old enough to start laying and I can’t wait for some fresh eggs!
My zucchini always get away from me too! I really like them small, though. So I’ve done the same: just shred and freeze those big guys. I do like that pale green color of the ones you have pictured!
Willow, those zucchini boats sound good. I’m sure we’ll end up trying them!
Donielle, I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time in the garden. If it makes you feel better (because misery always loves company, right?) I’m dealing with powdery mildew on my squash plants, and I’m having to work really hard to keep it from my cucumbers. We have the opposite soil problem as you- thick and clayey. Neither extreme works well, does it? I added quite a bit of peat moss and manure to mine before I planted this summer.
Leah, it’s cooking in the oven right now! Thanks so much!
It has been an extremely difficult year for gardening here. For farmers, too. I know of many who lost their entire crops. I feel blessed to actually have what I have, although I really was hoping for more. On the plus side, all the cool and rain (record breaking- its the most rain I’ve ever seen and I’ve talked to many older people at my church who say the same) the rain means no forest fires. So there is always a plus. 🙂
I have had lots of beans. I didn’t even plant many. 3 4×3 areas and I have had enough to eat every night for us 3 for supper since about July 20th and then I also have frozen 22 quarts. I’ve also had tons of lettuce and peas. One benefit of the cold. Lettuce definately cannot bolt. 🙂 My carrots are doing okay- I think they need more time as they didn’t get enough sun (rain plus crowding- I learned the hard way). I have got a lot of green tomatoes, which I will wait for them to ripen if I can, but with frost potentially only a few weeks away I am not sure but I can always ripen them indoors. My vines mostly got blossom end rot due to all the rain, and normally prolific zucchini has produced 3 zuchinis that made it (the rest got the rot thing). Same with the other vines (cukes, pumpkins and squash) but some have managed so far- We’ll see what happens. So basically its been a good year for beans, lettuce and peas. Another year I am sure it will be a different story! Plus next year I hope to have a cold frame. Enjoy your garden! I love mine too.
Did you know there is nutritional value to watermelon seeds? You can clean them off and dry roast them like pumpkin seeds. Add a little salt and yum! Tasty little insides! Actually, the whole fruit is for eating. You can juice the rind, roast the seeds, and devour the flesh!
Nola, I’m sorry you’ve had such a hard year gardening 🙁
Ambre, I did not know you could eat watermelon seeds- thanks!