Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Heat Has Taken Its Toll on the Garden

The last several days have been brutally hot. We have had 90+ temps for 14 days, and we just went through three days of over 100 degrees. Two of those days were at 105 degrees at the Norfolk Airport, and Portsmouth is historically 3 or 4 degrees higher than that location all year. So I took my AC probe thermometer out into the garden to measure what the equivalent heat would be on me if I were working the garden that day. It registered 108 degrees!

My potatoes in the barrels are looking very weak, even with watering thoroughly every day.

My chayote fruit is looking poorly, although it is developing two blooms. I believed that this was a hot area plant, so I don't know what's going on with it. I water it every other day, and fill the white container with water, and it drips out slowly through a 1/8th inch hole I drilled at the bottom. That's to allow the water to soak in good. It is supposed to bear between 75 to 100 fruits a season. That's not happening this year. Harvest time for it is supposed to be in September.

The tomatoberry is finished, and the horseradish plants are looking significantly stressed.

The tops of the snap beans are scorched from the heat.

Some of the tomatoes are suffering from sun scald.

The squash have been cooked by the heat. No more yellow squash this year.

I pulled up all the Henderson Butter Bean plants because all of a sudden the plants were collapsing and turning brown, even with ample watering. I only got eight pounds of butter beans from this crop. I'll till up the area and plant some more for a fall crop.

Well, that's all for now. Stay cool and drink plenty of water.

Thanks for visiting.

Veggie PAK

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Benefits of Vegetable Gardening

I made homemade tomato soup using my Mother's recipe. It came out wonderful!

I ended up with 20 quarts of homemade tomato soup!

After weeks of waiting, the day finally came for the great grape harvest!

Before I knew it, the entire grape harvest had been completed! The talley: 1 ounce of grapes! But the important thing is that they were home-grown organic grapes.

I wanted to make this a memorable occasion since it was the first grapes I had grown in my life. So I decided that we would eat the grapes at the Willie Nelson Concert that night. Lynn and I shared the grapes with Jonathan, Liz, Celie, Beth, and Dan. Everyone really liked them, but Celie liked them the best!

Yesterday, I used the cucumbers and giant marconi green peppers from the garden to make 5 quarts of cucumber salad with store-bought vidalia onions for keeping in the refrigerator. Tonight I made an additional 7 quarts of the cucumber salad, using the last of my cucumbers for this year. I also had to buy the peppers for it, since my peppers had all been picked so far.

We'll see how the bounty for the rest of the harvest season goes, but I'm concerned that the heat may have a major impact.

It's time to begin getting ready for the cool weather crop fall planting, so get those seeds into the soil blocks or peat pots, whichever you use. Remember, vegetable seed germination roughly takes between 7 to 21 days or so depending upon the vegetable you have selected. That would take the seedlings into early to mid August when they would be ready for transplanting.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Let's get those seeds germinating!

Veggie PAK

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sweet Banana Pepper Mustard

I made some of this sweet banana pepper mustard last year and it was so great tasting, that I knew I would be making it again this year. It had to boil hard for five minutes at least, and as you can tell by the picture, it was really hot. I ended up wearing a cooking glove on my hand while constantly stirring to avoid getting burned.

If you are not familiar with banana peppers, they are not what you would call "hot". I would call them "mild". So we're not talking about peppers that would burn your mouth. These are very tasty.

I used 105 peppers to make this batch of sweet banana pepper mustard. It turned out to be even better tasting than last year's batch. Probably because I boiled it for 2 or 3 minutes longer this time. It is so delicious on hot dogs or hamburgers, or any deli meat sandwich. I ended up with 13 pints of sweet banana pepper mustard this time.

Now I'm off to can tomatoes. I picked 61 pounds of tomatoes yesterday, so I'll be in the kitchen the rest of today putting them up.

Have a wonderful day, and thanks for visiting my blog.

Veggie PAK

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Harvest Time

This cluster of grapes is turning various shades of burgundy. I'll have to put some netting over that area to keep the birds from getting them before I can. While I was gone, the grape vines grew quite vigorously, so I have to tie them up so they'll grow correctly on the supporting wires.

My daughter-in-law with my 1 year old grandaughter checking on the Parks Whopper tomatoes.

The garden grew very vigorously while I was gone. Look at the size of these organic tomato plants!

This is my wife helping me with the picking upon my return. She took care of watering the garden while I was away.

My youngest son helped by harvesting the Ruby Red Swiss Chard during my absence.

When I returned to Portsmouth, we did a major harvest of ready-to-be-picked organically grown vegetables. Here are pictures of the Brandywines and Park's Whoppers we picked all in one day.

This is what we picked the next day. We had some rain, and that caused some to begin to split. Almost every Brandywine Tomato was well over one pound each!

I began scalding the tomatoes in order to get the peel off before canning them.

The last of the scalded tomatoes in the porcelain pan my grandmother used in her garden on the farm to put her picked vegetables in when I was a little boy.

A 21 quart pot full of steaming hot tomatoes ready for the canning jars. The scent of cooking tomatoes filled the house as it did when I was a child and my mother and grandmother were canning tomatoes. It smelled wonderful to me then and now!

The result of our efforts thus far...

21 quarts of homegrown organic tomatoes!

Here is my wife holding the prize of the garden in her hands. A two and one half pound Brandywine Tomato!

Thank you for letting us share our vegetable gardening experiences with you. I hope it serves as an inspiration for others to plant the seed and enjoy wholesome food from their very own garden, be it in containers or otherwise.


Veggie PAK

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our Grapes Are Turning From Green To Burgundy

The grapes are finally starting to turn to their burgundy color. Hopefully it won't be many more weeks before we can pick our first grapes from the vines.

I'm having a problem with aphids, but the ants think they are a delicacy! Go ants! Just don't bother my grapes!

I'm going to Upstate New York to visit my Mom while my little sister is vacationing in Texas, so I won't be posting again until after I return on July 10th.

I hope everyone is having a productive vegetable garden or container this summer!

Remember To Enjoy Life!

Veggie PAK