December 29, 2018

Let's Talk About Those Vegetables!

With all the flower-growing going on this past year, the vegetables were a bit overlooked--at least in blog posts. Well, we did grow some, and had quite a bit more success with them than last year.
(Admittedly, not hard to do, as last year was almost completely a failure in that department!)


Sweetmeat Squash

My oldest, in the midst of the squash's garden takeover.

We planted 2 hills of sweetmeat squash, each with 4-5 big, flat seeds.
Boy, did they ever take off! 
Perhaps it's a good thing that none of the other stuff we planted next to them (5 feet away) came up, because they would have completely over-run it anyway!

From those 2 hills, we harvested around 11 squash.
The smallest ones still weighed at least 7 or 8 pounds, and the biggest were probably more in the neighborhood of 15-20 pounders. 
When ripe, they are a silvery greyish green color that was really pretty.

We stacked them all up in our back pantry and have slowly been eating them.
They are delicious!
However, one squash cut in half and baked yields enough meat to keep us in squash for 2-3 weeks! So, yeah. We've been spacing them out a bit.
In fact, I think it's about time to cook up another. 

A bonus in the garden: where the squash spread, the weeds weren't nearly as prolific.


I'm giving tomatoes the 2nd Place ribbon this year.

With all of my seed-starting failures learning experiences, I was tickled when these tomatoes actually came up and grew strong! These were seeds that Adam received from his Grandma--and we realized later that they were actually nearly a decade old! It's amazing they grew at all!

So, we started them in jiffy peat pellets, inside this makeshift little seed-starting chamber, made from a large water jug with a lid cut into it.
They did great!
After some hardening off (probably not enough), they went into the garden in early June.
They were all cherry tomatoes.
We also bought some regular-sized tomatoes as starts from the high school's spring sale. they were in August. 
It's so incredible that a handful of tiny seeds yielded this kind of abundance, but it really happened.
We picked many tomatoes.

You may notice in the photo above, that they look rather gangly and flopped over.
Well, that's because they were! 
Our soil is so rocky, that our usual 4-pronged round tomato cages didn't work at all!
You couldn't get the legs deep enough into the ground no matter where you placed them.
They would just hit a rock and stop.
So the tomato cages were useless. They fell over and we were stepping over tomato plants all season long. I'm looking into other ways of supporting tomatoes for next year.

The regular-sized tomatoes that we bought did fine also, planted over in the kids' gardens.

We harvested enough tomatoes that I decided to give homemade tomato sauce a try.
I never have done it in the past, because it takes something like 40 POUNDS of tomatoes to make 7 PINTS of sauce. Then my parents brought a couple of buckets of tomatoes, on top of what I already had, so I went for it. Used my Vittorio strainer with it and was quite pleased with the results.
As expected, however, all those tomatoes yielded only 4 pints of sauce, which I froze.

The Rest

We actually harvested peas this year!

So, a quick rundown on the rest.

PEAS: planted a mix of shelling and sugar snap in one long double row.
For the most part, they did fine. I did have to reseed in a couple of spots, but nothing major.
We harvested enough to keep us happy in late June/early July.
Like I say every year--I need to plant more peas next year!
Maybe next year I'll actually foray into fall peas.

CARROTS: Had a pretty good row of these planted, and after a long time, we got some decent germination. It was really hard to keep the weeds out of these! Bindweed, in particular, was my nemesis amongst the carrots.
We harvested enough to process some for the freezer.
I did not take nearly enough pictures this year, and I'm too lazy to go see if I wrote in my journal how much we did! In any case, some for the freezer and quite a few for fresh eating.

BEETS: What is it with beets? Why do I continue to plant them? 
We actually got a decent crop this year, and yet they have sat in my refrigerator for 4 months now and recently went out to the compost bin. The ones we ate were good. 
Still--no more beets!
I like eating them fine, it's just cooking and peeling them adds about 45 minutes on to my dinner prep--at least it seems that way--so I generally don't choose to do it.

CUCUMBERS: With one whole row planted to cukes, we should have been swimming in them! Alas, only 2 plants came up--total. Even with a second round of seeding in early June.
Not sure the deal with those. 
We harvested maybe 3 or 4.

CANTALOUPE: A surprise success! I wasn't expecting much, but we actually harvested some about the size of softballs. They were the perfect size for one meal, and tasted delicious! 
I'm sure we will be planting more of these next year!

WATERMELON: Also harvested 3 or 4 of these this year! Very small, icebox variety. We need to do better at waiting to harvest until they're completely ripe, but we had enough to share with my son's soccer team one day, so hey--it's a win! 

BEANS: Surprisingly, these did not do well at all! 
Late to come up, and didn't thrive once they were up.
We maybe harvested a couple of handfuls total.

PUMPKINS: Also complete no-shows, even with multiple seedings.

I'll have to ask the kids to remind me how their gardens did.
I know they harvested peas, radishes, and tomatoes.

We didn't plant corn or potatoes this year, since my parents planted a lot of each and very generously shared their harvest with us.

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