Monday, August 23, 2010

8/23/10 Harvest - Summer to Fall Transition

There have been many changes in our Indiana garden during the last two weeks while I’ve been gone.  Unfortunately, the common theme of these changes appears to be death.  Well, I say “unfortunately” but I suppose this is all part of the natural garden cycle, the inevitable transition from summer to fall.

Early Girl Tomatoes: the tomato plants have been croaking, slowly but surely.  There were still a dozen or so green tomatoes of all sizes left on the plants, but we decided to pull the plants to make room for fall planting.  I understand that green tomatoes picked at their full size will most likely ripen red.  Do immature green tomatoes picked before they reach their final size still ripen eventually?  I guess we’ll find out.

Do you like Keith's artistic presentation of our green tomatoes, plus one red?  I sure did!  That one red tomato actually ripened to that color on the vine, even though the tomato size stayed tiny.

Keith picked these three tomatoes last week as they were just starting to blush.  They had already ripened to this deep red color by the time I got home this past weekend.

Cucumbers: the bottom half of the vines look like they are completely dead - brown and brittle.  However, the top half are still green, and putting on more growth and cucumbers.  We decided to let them live for another week.

Yeah, I know, these cucumbers don't look all that fresh or healthy.  They were picked last week and they are in their it's-been-one-week-in-the-fridge condition in this picture.

Carrots: the Indiana carrots were a total bust this year, very much unlike their girthy California cousins.  Or are they siblings, if the seeds all came from the same seed envelope?  Anyway, we pulled all the carrots from our square foot gardening beds, except for one square that we left alone to see if they would get bigger with more time.

This was "only" about a third of our total harvest.  I'm going to spare you more pictures of our micro carrots.

Onions:  these onions from sets never really sized up properly.  We also discovered that one onion (from a bag of 100 yellow onion sets) was actually a red onion.

Green beans:  our late-spring planting of green beans squeezed out their last harvest about two weeks ago.  We attempted successive plantings of bush beans, but the later plantings of bean plants just got eaten up alive by the cucumber beetles and other evil vegetable-eating bugs, and the new leaves just couldn't grow properly without turning completely hole-y from bug damage.  I gave up and pulled all the remaining bean plants to make room for fall vegetables.

Zucchini: I started out with three zucchini plants this year.  100% germination rate from three seeds, so I thought I was off to a good start.  All three plants grew well and fast.  Then came powdery mildew.  Long story short, I ended up with one zucchini the whole season.  Ugh.

That’s pretty much it for all our spring/summer vegetables.  The only plants still left growing outside are herbs (basil, sage, garlic chives, thyme and oregano), some green onions and our experimental plants in five-gallon buckets:
  • SUPERmarket cantaloupe: grown from seeds from a generic supermarket cantaloupe
  • Jelly bean tomatoes: grown from seeds started in the indoor grow box
  • Cayenne peppers: grown from seeds started in the indoor grow box
  • Mystery plant: we thought this was possibly a bush-type of Hale’s Best Jumbo cantaloupe, but our more experienced garden blogger friends tell us that it looks nothing like any Hale’s Best Jumbo they’ve ever grown, so now we have no idea what it is.  We have now had at least two readers comment that it looks like a weed, possibly in the mallow family.  I am completely baffled.  Could I have been pampering a useless weed for the last two months, in a five-gallon bucket?  Yikes.  If you would like to take a look and tell us what you think, we would very much appreciate it!  Whatever it is, I sure hope it's edible. 

Visit Daphne's Harvest Monday for more harvests from other gardeners.


Anonymous said...

I love that picture of green tomatoes and one red. I hope in time they will all turn red.
My cucumbers are at same stage where yours are - bottom part of plant completely dead, but the top is growing more flowers and leaves. I will leave them as long as I can get a few cucumbers every week.
I have looked at your Mystery plant from 2 days ago and I have no idea what it is. As you have been growing it for such a long time, you might just leave it and see what happens.

Linda said...

Carrots are fiendishly difficult. At least you got some - gourmet baby carrots you can call them.
How funny about your one red onion. I got one too in my bag of 100 golden 'Sturon'.

Robin said...

The immature green tomatoes will most likely ripen. They usually don't taste good though. I make green tomato jam out of mine. It is really good.

I have no idea what your mystery plant is. It will be interesting to see if it is a weed or a veggie. I think every gardener has pampered a weed at least once!

kitsapFG said...

My experience with ripening tomatoes off the vine is that the fruit must be mature enough to be breaking color - even if only ever so slightly - in order to go on and ripen properly. Small can still be basically mature though so I would just keep what you have and see what happens.

Engineeredgarden said...

I think Keith did a great job with the presentation. Also, I bet those tomatoes were yummy when you got home for the weekend...

RandomGardener said...

Sorry to hear about your declining produce/plants in the garden! Ours will soon go that way too, but it is still a few weeks out- around Sept 3rd week. Loved the presentation on the tomatoes. I think the carrots might still grow(that's exactly how a few of mine look, so I've left them still in the soil) Your onions look great! Mine were similar too, with lots of different sizes, although they started with the same size and planted at the same time.

Looked at the Mystery plant and have never seen anything like it! Sorry!

Daphne said...

I hope all your tomatoes ripen for you. I don't think tomatoes that aren't starting the process of ripening will ever be ripe, but sometimes as you say the little ones have already started. I picked a hole bunch off some tomato plants that I pulled and I can only hope.

thyme2garden said...

vrtlarica - since I have ventured out to the world of canning, I'm perfectly happy getting just a few cucumbers every week. Even if my Mystery plant may very well turn out to be a weed, I guess I'll do like you suggested, and let it grow into its full potential just to satisfy my curiosity!

* * * * *
Linda - I want to believe what you said, but I saw first-hand that it's not only possible but very easy to grow giant (and good) carrots, in my mom's garden in CA. And these seeds all came from the same source! Argh. I guess we both have special onions, one in a hundred!

* * * * *
Robin - green tomato jam? Now you have piqued my curiosity again.

* * * * *
kitsapFG - that's what I thought about tomatoes ripening, too. More of "wait and see what happens" is in store for me in the garden as well as the kitchen.

* * * * *
Engineeredgarden - Thank you! The three red tomatoes got used up in more homemade pizza. Yummy!

* * * * *
RandomGardener - That's okay, thanks for taking a look at my mystery plant/weed! I'm glad to hear that you get to enjoy your garden for several more weeks!

* * * * *
Daphne - thank you! I hope all your and our green tomatoes ripen eventually!

~Holly~ said...

Nice harvest! Purty line of tomatoes you have. I hope they ripen on their own. Cute carrots! I'm sure if you let them go, they'll get bigger. My first carrot harvest were in the ground forever until they were baby carrot sized. They were worth the wait. There's nothing like sweet baby carrots with dill butter! YUM!

meemsnyc said...

I love your artistic photo of the tomatoes! So cute that you have them in descending sizes. I think if you pick the tomatoes before full size, they will still turn color. It's been our experience at least.

Your question about the habanero, interestingly enough, our one plant produces yellow, orange and red peppers on the same plant! Isn't that neat? When they start turning color, the turn red, orange or yellow rather than gradually changing from say orange to red. One thing about habaneros.... They are extremely hot. So hot in fact that I learned that I should wear gloves next time I handle them!

meemsnyc said...

Oh, and regarding your carrots, we had the same problem with the tiny puny carrots here. We learned that our soil was too hard, rock hard, so it couldn't grow as big as we liked. We are going to add more compost and potting soil mix next year.

thyme2garden said...

Holly - thank you! I hope you're right about the carrots, but I'm just too impatient at this point, after having seen carrots from my mom's yard. The dill butter you mention sounds delicious!

* * * * *
meemsnyc - thanks for letting us know about your tomato ripening experience. I hope all ours eventually ripen, too. Your habanero plant sounds totally fascinating!

And about carrots, your explanation about soil makes sense, but our soil should have been good enough because we used Mel's mix (equal parts compost, peat moss and vermiculite). The only negative was that the SFG bed may have been too shallow with 6 inches of depth.

Dirt Lover said...

Love you artistic presentation! Carrots are tough, but you are tougher, so I'm sure you will end up with some bigger ones.

Mac said...

The tomato lineup is so cute.
I don't have patience with carrots either, I'm growing them in large containers so they don't occupy precious real estate.

thyme2garden said...

Dirt Lover - thank you! These carrots really stayed annoyingly small for the last three months. I'll just leave the rest in that one SFG bed square and see if they get any bigger, but I'm not holding my breath. It would be nice if someone could invent a small hand-held x-ray machine to see the size of these root vegetables without having to dig one up!

* * * * *
Mac - hmm, carrots in containers, that's not a bad idea. I hope they are growing well for you in your containers!

Manda said...

Nice harvest :) I am also familiar with the week-old cucumbers in the fridge look, although in my case it's usually because I stick them in the fridge, forget about them, and then find them a week later :P My tomatoes are slowly puttering along, too; some are still going strong and some have definitely seen better days. The weather finally hit summer temperatures here in the last two weeks, a little late for some of the poor plants... but oh well. Such is life.

Carol said...

Tiny onions? I pop mine in the freezer for use in soups and the like. They look great!

foodgardenkitchen said...

I don't think your onions look all that tiny...we too have problems with carrots sizing up but the small ones taste good too.

Cucumber and tomato plants tend to die from the bottom up. It's amazing how much they'll keep producing even when the bottom portion of the plant looks so bad. Unless we need the space, we tend to just leave them to do their thing.

For green tomatoes that don't ripen, there's always fried green tomatoes :)

foodgardenkitchen said...

Oh, another thing about root crops... have you had your soil's pH tested? Root crops are more picky about pH than leaf-based crops. And about the compost (we learned the hard way...) - it matters where the compost came from. Most commercially-available compost comes from factory farm type of operations and the pH tends to be quite high because of the diets factory-farmed animals are fed. We ended up having to sulfur our beds 2-3 times to bring the pH down - Mel doesn't mention this in his books... I learned it from local farmers and my cooperative extension agent.

thyme2garden said...

Manda - thank you! Maybe my plants weren't more productive because they knew that I still don't know how to can and process any of my produce. They didn't want to meet the wrinkly fate of being stuck in the fridge, only to head to the compost later! But I promised myself, that as soon as I learn to garden more productively, I will learn to process all my produce, too. At this rate, that probably won't happen until next year.

* * * * *
Carol - sounds like a good idea! Soups are not yet a regular part of my kitchen recipes, but I'm working on it. Maybe this winter, with all the kale that I'm trying to grow as part of my fall crops.

* * * * *
foodgardenkitchen - that's because you haven't seen them in person yet! :) Fried green tomatoes, yes, I would like to try that sometime. No, I haven't done any soil testing yet. Thanks for telling me about the commercial compost and pH levels, that's really helpful information to know.

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