Archive for the ‘NOT on the menu’ Category

tomatoes NOT on the menu

ok fine i give up. my tomatoes just aren’t good enough. bar ag has a standing order set up with heart arrow ranch (aka mendocino organics) for about 100lbs a week. my measly 20lbs just aren’t gonna cut it. their biodynamic tomatoes are unbelievably amazing. mine are just plain old amazing. oh well.

started from seed

in the ground

first ripe

so what to do with all these tomatoes? short answer: eat them. i planted mostly cherry tomatoes (sun gold and washington cherry) that are intensely sweet and flavorful. they make amazing sauce and soup – its just a little more work to deal with lots of tiny tomatoes instead of big juicy ones. i think its worth the extra effort.

about a month ago i decided to harvest all the ripe tomatoes i could find and can them to use in the coming (tomatoless) year. this was the first time i’ve canned something other than jam or marmalade and i think it went pretty well.

the harvest

tops

peeling

reducing

canned

at the end of the day we “put up” three and a half gallons of tomatoes. should last a while.

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i went on a two week vacation in the middle of september which coincided perfectly with the ripening of my large heirloom tomatoes (moskvitch and cherokee purple). when i got home i had to compost 80% of these tomatoes that were rotting on the vine. heartbreaking. the few that are ripening now are going in lots of sandwiches and caprese salads.

in the compost pile

summer squash NOT on the menu

my bed of squash has done very well this season. it pumps out a couple of pounds of squash every week which is more than enough for me and my parents but not gonna cut it for the restaurant. they buy 50lbs+ of squash at a time. i would need three whole beds of squash planted to produce that much for a single harvest (and i have 9 beds total). the other problem is that i only go to the garden once a week and the plants should be checked out almost daily to ensure harvest at optimal size. i often go and find massive squash that nobody would want to buy. i’ll probably skip planting squash next season but they’ve been nice to have around. i’ve shaved them raw into salads, made squash fritters, soup, “zucchini” bread, sauteed them with other veggies and had them with eggs for breakfast, but more than anything else: grilled them on the BBQ. yum!

a few weeks ago i noticed some powdery mildew on the plants. i tried to take out some of the most effected plants and sprayed with a baking soda and water solution but things just got worse. the plants as a whole are now almost totally covered and appear to be close to death. still pumping out squash though!

broccoli romanesco NOT on the menu

broccoli romanesco has got to be the coolest looking vegetable ever. thats pretty much the only reason i wanted to grow them. sure they are delicious and nutritious and blah blah but just look at this thing.

just look at it. more of a cauliflower than a broccoli with crazy fractalized “curds” (the individual pieces of the head – my vegetable geek term of the day) which are themselves arranged in a fractular way to create the craziest looking alien vegetable around. i stole that image from wikipedia. the ones i grew couldn’t have been more different.

this is my first true crop failure. so many things went wrong with these guys. things got off on the wrong foot when i started the seed in reused potting soil from a failed batch of starts. it seemed like a convenient and economical thing to do until my farmer friend pointed out that nutrients would have been leached from the soil making life more difficult for my new starts. they barely grew and after eight and a half weeks under the grow light looked close to death. i transplanted them anyway and they started growing normally but i’m sure their early days stunted them in the long term. to make things worse i planted them too close together. crowding and competition for nutrients and water no doubt stressed the plants and resulted in less growth. yet another distraction: the plants were started too late in the year. when they finally headed up the heat of summer caused loose curds instead of a nice dense head. i poked around the internets and found i’m pretty lucky they headed up at all. lots of home gardeners out there grow nice big plants that never send up a head. i guess it could always be worse.

the good news is that, although tiny, they are delicious. they just won’t be ending up on a menu.