Lazy Days of Summer

orange tomatoes on a plate
The garden is in the lazy days of summer these days. Actually, the garden is super busy, but I’m not, and that is a good thing. The garden seems to be progressing well and has been generally incident free lately. Everything is growing nicely, the banana squash are poised to take over, and we have more tomatoes on the vine than is typical for this time of year, even though most of the plants were topped by deer.

cucumber blossoms

We have had small harvests of most things so far but I expect that to change in a few weeks. Last weekend I harvested almost 8 pounds of the red creole onions. They are hanging out under the house where it is a bit cooler and dry. The weather forecast shows a good probability of rain so the temperatures have moderated some.

red creole onions

For the next few weeks I guess I’ll just watch and wait while fixing the occasional irrigation leak.

banana squash on vine

Busy Long Weekend

baby cucumber on vine

It was a busy but relaxing long weekend over the 4th. There were no major catastrophes to deal with, the deer seem to be staying out of the garden, regardless of whether that is because of the defensive measures we took or they finally moved on, and the monsoon rains have started, at least for last week. The one issue I did have to deal with was completely self-created – I punctured a main irrigation line while staking a fence and did not know that until I ran the water to check something else a little before leaving. Luckily I had all of the components for a repair and got it up and running in no time.

fresh picked peppers and tomatoes

We harvested the first non-cherry tomato over the weekend, the earliest we have harvested such a tomato. It is from what is labeled as a determinate tomato plant. My understanding of determinate tomatoes is that they grow to a certain size, then set the fruit at about the same time. These “determinate” tomato plants did stop growing, but we have everything from blossoms to almost ripe tomatoes on the plant. Oh well, the more the merrier.

banana squash blossom

The one issue I am having with the peppers is identifying them. I know, I know, I should both be able to identify them and I should have labeled them. As it turns out, unripe Aleppo peppers look remarkably similar to ready-to-pick shishito peppers. Now I have to leave a few on each plant to determine what they are. At least the super hot and fairly hot peppers look very different, otherwise that would add a whole new dimension to pepper roulette.

bottles of homemade gin

We also did something entirely new this past weekend. We made gin! No, not from a still (being arrested for being a bootlegger was not on last week’s calendar), but by flavoring vodka. It was from a kit and actually tastes quite good. Next I will have to find the homemade tonic recipe I found years ago but never made. Then I can have homemade gin with a homemade tonic made with herbs from the garden. I know, you’re shaking your head and wondering what cliff I am about to jump off next. Don’t worry, most others are too.

Deer Alert

Tops of tomato plants eaten by deer

The enemy has escalated their attacks, preferring early morning raids. So far no shots have been fired, but, I don’t rule that out in the future. The attacks have prompted us to step-up our defensive posture. Last weekend was spent positioning additional barriers around and over the garden. I also figured out why the camera wasn’t working and repositioned that to see if the deer make it into the garden this week. 

In the past the pesky deer have moved to other ground by this time of year. That has not happened yet. The deer ate the top off 60% of the tomatoes and one more of the tomatillos. Because the tomatoes are being grown in the garden and not a greenhouse, I leave the “sucker” shoots on the plants for extra production and protection from the intense sunlight. 

I won’t be able to see if our increased defenses were successful for a few days. We ran a lot of barriers so I am fairly optimistic. That combined with the start of monsoon rains should allow the munched plants to recover quickly. 

Ripening Sarit gat peppers

One of the Sarit Gat peppers was ripe so I gave it a taste. The first bite was fairly fruity and mellow. The second bite, however, was quite hot, though still fruity. These plants are showing they will be very productive, so I will have to try them in a batch of hot sauce. 

growing tomatillo plants

Have a good holiday. 

Thief!

tomatoes growing on the vine

I had planned on doing a post on drying and tasting an Aleppo pepper and planting a couple of seeds. That post will be postponed due to thievery. As near as I can determine, a small, flighty thief found my Aleppo pepper while I was letting it dry outside during our record heat, and absconded with with the pepper. Can you believe that! Finding nothing after looking around my yard to at least recover a few seeds, I accepted reality and resolved not to dry anything else outside that isn’t covered. Lesson learned. Birds, Beware!

My Aleppo was not the only thing stolen from the garden. We have something systematically eating the tomatillos. Whatever is eating the tomatillos is eating them neatly, going down the row, one each night. We now have a motion camera pointed at the tomatillos to try to identify the culprit. I also covered the plants with netting, hoping that our predator is not small enough to just walk under the elaborate protection.

Sarit Gat pepper turning yellow

We had record heat over the weekend – not something we look forward to this time of year seeing as it is already too hot. Severe weather at the garden is always a bit nerve wracking because I’m not actually at the garden during the week. Hopefully the increased watering will be enough to keep the plants alive and somewhat happy. Hopefully the heat will drive the deer to higher ground. Actually, I don’t care if they go to higher ground, as long as it is different ground.

In the meantime, we have a record number of tomatoes on the plants for this time of year. The peppers continue to thrive, and there are even some eggplants busy ripening. Although I doubt many tomatoes or peppers set during the heat, the ones already on the plants seem to be doing well. With a bit of luck we will be trying our first Sunrise Bumble Bee tomato and sarit gat pepper this coming weekend.

Now, if only I could remember to do this year’s harvest log so I can keep track of what we harvest. So far we have harvested some kale, radishes, beets, onions, and a few different peppers.

The Aleppos are Coming

ripening Aleppo pepper

The plants continue their onward march to full-production. Even the tomatillos that looked very unhappy when I planted them seem to be doing fine, if a bit small. What surprised me the other day while walking around the garden was a crinkley reddish pepper. At first glance I thought it was a Cupid pepper going bad, so I picked it. Turns out I was wrong; it was a ripening Aleppo pepper. Once I realized it was not going bad, I had to save it and give it a taste.

I know the pepper wasn’t fully ripe so I expect the flavor to change a bit. As it was, it had a quick, front of the tongue heat not quite as hot as a jalepeno that quickly went away. I am not aware of any of my other peppers doing that. It also had a surprising amount of a bell pepper taste. Some of the cumin and earthiness was there. It is quite thin walled, which will make for easier drying and grinding.

With any luck this is just the start of the produce. As for the Aleppos, next step is letting more ripen, then seeding them, so I can save the seeds to determine how stabilized they are, then drying and grinding. If the plants survive the predicted heat this coming week we should be in good shape with an early harvest of most everything.