Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yellow Does Not Become You

I'm talking to you, cucumbers.

Pretty, but....

Yellow may look wonderful on our sunflowers and our pear tomatoes, and even on our yellow peppers. We always wanted to try yellow 'green' beans and are planning to try those next year. But yellow cucumbers are not a delicacy! Unless, of course, the variety of cucumber is supposed to be yellow, like this one or this one. However, in our case, we did not have one of those special varieties, we had planted regular old green garden cucumbers.

We noticed they were looking yellow, and because I am still new to gardening, I assumed they were supposed to be yellow. I picked one, brought it in, sliced all looked quite delicious. Until the first bite. Bitter, dry, and disgusting! Granted, harvest time is late. I should have picked the cucumbers when they were still green; most cucumber plants are long finished by now.

Not tasty!

So, first and foremost in avoiding yellow, bitter (although admittedly pretty) cucumbers, PICK THEM!

Leaving the cucumber on the plant too long is not the only reason that cucumbers can turn yellow. I found the following information in a gardening question/answer page, and will keep it in mind for next year. Hopefully I'll only ever have to deal with making sure I harvest the cucumbers on time, but these answers will be good to know if needed!

  • My cucumbers do not turn green; they are yellow and bitter. This is the second year this has happened, the fruit is large, the plants have many flowers, and are producing, but this yellow cucumber is all we get.What can I do to correct this, or do I just give up?

This happened to me when I planted squash plants near my cucumbers. They cross-pollinated and the results were off-color and not tasty.

  • I have planted pickling cukes and they are turning yellow and they are almost shaped like a ball, round. Can you tell me why they are yellow?

Rounded cucumbers especially pickling cucumbers, mean that your soil is missing key nutrients, also poor irrigation can cause this problem. I learned this the hard way "by it happening to me!' My suggestion is to get a soil testing kit to find out what nutrients you are lacking. Also if your soil is hard and poor quality it can cause the water and fertilizer you put on not to soak enough into the roots. make sure to soak them deeply and often if your soil is hard. I would suggest next year to put in some soil ammendments, like some top soil, natures helper soil conditioner, garden lime and maybe even a little sand, to raise the ph and loosen it up a bit.

  • My cucumbers are blooming and producing cucumbers but when they become about an inch long the bloom falls off and the cucumber turns yellow and dries up. What is going wrong?

Most likely they have worms inside. Cut one open and make sure that they are not being eaten from the inside out.

  • We have healthy looking plants, but the cucumbers turn yellow and fall off. Why?

I had this same issue this year and read that it could be the lack of calcium! I had a small bag of gypsum from last year and spread it around the plants and now they are starting to take off! You can also clean your used egg shells, let them dry and crumble around the base of the plants!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lingering Promises

Summer is winding down and many of our plants are closing up shop. Frost will be right around the corner. We miss our green beans; they stopped producing a couple of weeks ago. Most of our herbs are looking very bad, or are completely wilted away. Some of our plants, however, are thriving, and promise to deliver, soon! They keep the excitement of the warm summer alive for us!

Soon we will be looking for ways to extend our harvest into the colder weather. Stay tuned! ;)

Will we finally have peas, after 2 previous failed attempts?

Tigger Melon gets bigger each day

Of course, we still have some beautiful red tomatoes

Yellow pear tomatoes, which grew entirely on their own this year (love those little surprises!)

Beautiful eggplant!

There's another little one peeking out behind

Our potatoes in a pot; we have no idea if anything has grown 'underground'...stay tuned for the harvest!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sugar Pickles

Otherwise known as Cucumber Salad!

If you have a big cucumber glut like we do, this is a really tasty recipe to use some up. The flavor screams summer.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Awesome Recipe for the Last Green Beans--Greek Potato Salad

There's a big kid in the garden! Even my almost 15-year-old gets involved with the garden, and though he finds it a bit uncool to get excited about anything, I think Patrick secretly likes the fact that we try to grow food. I've overheard him telling the neighbor kids "You should see all the stuff we have growing on the side of the house, it's crazy." I'll take that as genuine interest. ;)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Dare You Not to Smile

When you come face-to-face with a sunflower!


You've got to click The Strange History of the Sunflower for some absolutely stunning pictures of sunflowers. They are just so incredibly photogenic!

Below I posted some info I found at, along with some pics of OUR very own sunflowers. They've been bursting open with such dramatic color the past few weeks, filling us with renewed wonder. I could spend hours just sitting among those flowers and staring at them!

Primary Significance: Gifts of radiant warmth, sunflowers are the happiest of flowers, and their meanings include loyalty and longevity. They are unique in their ability to provide energy in the form of nourishment and vibrance, an attribute which mirrors the sun and the energy provided by its heat and light.

No flower can lift spirits quite like sunflowers can. Bright and cheery, bold yet comfortable, the sunflower is a warm and caring gift. With brilliant yellow petals that surround the flower's center, sunflowers have an unmistakable sun-like appearance that has made them a passionate flower choice for many. Sunflowers come in a number of varieties, ranging from small to large and from daylight yellows to sunset reds.

Sunflowers originated in the Americas in 1000 B.C., where for centuries they were cultivated as a valuable food source. The use of sunflower images as religious symbols has also been documented in some native societies. With the European exploration of the New World, the sunflower was brought to new areas, and the flower's popularity eventually spread as the rest of the world began to appreciate its beauty and sustenance. Artists throughout history have appreciated the sunflower's unique splendor, and those of the Impressionist era were especially fixated on the flower . Today, sunflowers continue to provide a resource for commonly used seeds and oil, but they have also become recognized as a floral symbol of great significance.

This one is from our visit to Erin and Kenney's!

Future Farming in the background. :)

Much of the meaning of sunflowers stems from its namesake, the sun itself. Wild sunflowers are often photographed with their tall stalks and bright petals stretched towards the sun. This unique behavior, known as phototropism, is a motif that has appeared in many ancient myths and is viewed as a symbol of loyalty and constancy. Their physical resemblance to the sun has also influenced their meanings. The sunflower's petals have been likened to bright yellow rays of sunshine, which evoke feelings of warmth and happiness. In addition, the sunflower is often associated with adoration and longevity.

For a flower which reflects so many of the sun's positive characteristics, it is little surprise that people enjoy basking in the sunflower's warming glow. With the sense of brightness and warmth that sunflowers naturally impart, they have become an ideal choice for sending sentiments of cheerfulness and sunny get well thoughts.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Critter on the Loose

I'm not sure who the culprit is, but when Simon and I went out tonight to pick tomatoes, I found this.

There were five tomatoes like this, all near the bottoms of the vines. Otherwise beautiful and perfect, until we turned it over and found half of it eaten. Why do critters only eat half of things??? I remember during our first year of gardening, we were absolutely taunted to insanity by a gang of chipmunks that would take tomatoes from the vines, take a few tiny bites, and then leave the tomato carcasses all over the yard and driveway. I was endlessly frustrated, and may have even yelled out loud one day, "Just eat the whole darn thing!" I don't know if the chipmunks have returned; the neighbors' outdoor cats have been so good about patrolling the area and keeping critters away. Perhaps it's time to meet with the cats and discuss a payraise? Two happy calls of praise instead of one per day?

I threw the 5 half eaten tomatoes into the compost, and felt a renewed appreciation for these particular tomato plants, which have produced like mad all summer long. I didn't feel so terrible about losing a few, when we've been harvesting so, so many. I have been so happy with Baker Creek's Amish Paste tomatoes; I'll be saving seed this year, and I have some left from my original purchase. Plenty to share if you are interested in having some!

Simon and I set to work filling up our bowl, and as you will see in these pics, our tomato plants have become very heavy. Cages leaning, plants sprawled on the ground...I've got to take note that next spring we'll need stronger tomato support. I've got plenty of ideas (some of which I've posted here on the blog), but cages are just so easy. It's not until halfway through the summer, when the tomato plants are ginormous, that I always realize why those flimsy cages just don't cut it.

Alien tomato! A worm or caterpillar had eaten right through to create 'eyes', and a crease on the tomato looked like a creepy smile. Spooky! I'll spare you the grisly details of Simon's decision to kill the alien. Shudder.

A mess! Cages bent over and the plant on the end is completely on its side. I'm letting them go so I don't damage anything. I've been tying them up all summer long; now they can go crazy until summer's end.

Just hang on a little while longer! There are about 6 big green tomatoes on this plant our neighbor gave us (still a mystery on the type. I'll post a pic soon).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Beefsteaks; Not Just for Slicing!

This summer, I have mostly focused on our Amish Paste roma tomatoes, but I don't want anyone to think they are the king of the garden. Though they make great sauce because they contain few seeds and juice--mostly meat--that doesn't mean you have to disregard your other tomatoes when you are preserving your harvest.

Beefsteaks are known for their wonderful flavor and the way their copious juice dribble down your chin as you eat them, slice by slice. But how many beefsteaks can you really eat before they so bad?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

We WILL Have Peas!

We have never had very good luck with peas. Sadly, our much-anticipated straw-bale project has failed; the pea plants are dried and shriveled and it's not looking good at all. The beauty of learning to grow things is that a small failure is just a speed bump. The kids and I can learn a lot more than we expected when we go about our garden projects: trying again after a disappointment is the key to a great life and a great garden!

Sad looking pea plants in our straw bale planter

We had half a packet of peas left and decided to give it one more go, hoping for a small fall crop. Our whiskey barrel planter in the back yard seemed like as good a place as any to throw the seeds in and try it.

Ella and Noah helped sow the seeds, and we've been watering them each day. We want some fresh peas, and we won't give up until we have them!