After a long summer of hot days, the clouds spread out their reach and allowed the cold air to descend. The weather man predicted frost, which is a last call of sorts for any gardener. The name of the game this time of year is pick it or forget about it.
Picking peppers and celery isn’t that hard, unless the temperature is barely above freezing like it was when we began our harvest. We filled our bags till the weather chased us indoors, which is were the real work began.
After cleaning each of the stalks of celery and removing the leaves, we used a food processor to chop the stalks into small pieces. These will be useful in soups or as an additive to tuna fish.
After plowing through the celery, we moved onto the peppers which require a bit more attention.
First the tops are removed, then the pepper is sliced down the center vertically. Next all of the seeds are removed. At this point, the pepper halves are feed into the food processor which spits out evenly chopped slices. Slicing these peppers by hand would have taken far too much time, but with the chopper things moved along pretty quickly.
The food processor has a good assortment of blades, but one in particular worked very well on the peppers, leaving the perfect size chunks for soups, salads, or fried peppers.
When we all got sick of processing veggies we cleaned up our mess, and packed the celery and peppers in boxes. These will help greatly to organize a freezer that is about full 0f veggies from the garden.
We finished up Saturday, and before calling it a day, we weighted the processed peppers and celery. I was pretty surprised to find we had 34 pounds of veggies ! The next day we finished off the remaining peppers filling an additional box.
This bounty was provided with 36 celery plants and about 100 pepper plants. Next years garden will probably contain fewer celery plants, but about the same number of peppers, perhaps a few more.
Now we just need to survive picking and processing apples and it will be time for some cool weather veggies.
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I stopped by Sandy & Davies house to return a hydraulic jack I had borrowed, and just like any other time I visit, I had to check out their garden. My niece led the way into the tomato patch, where she sampled, and declared ready, many of the cherry tomatoes that were growing.
I usually plant a few Red Alert cherry tomatoes in my garden, simply because they ripen sooner then the larger slicing tomatoes. Sandy is far more devoted to the cherries then I, and she even visited a commercial greenhouse to purchase these plants ( I usually start of all the tomatoes and peppers for the whole family in my greenhouse).
I planted Waltham Butternut squash hoping to repeat the success I had last year, but the plants are doing poorly. Sandy’s plants are doing great though, and I often find myself wondering why our two gardens behave so much differently. I guess it’s got a lot to do with water and soil. My garden is sometimes too well drained, but Sandy’s garden tends to retain a good amount of moisture. Her garden also enjoys some shade from a row of trees nearby, where my garden is exposed to the direct sun like an ant in the Sahara desert.
The Swiss Chard in both gardens are doing great. The colors alone are worth planting for, but having this plant be edible, and good for you is an extra bonus.
I couldn’t believe how well the celery plants were doing. These are the same tiny seeds that grew so slowly after I planted them 11 weeks before the last frost. They are nearly as tall as the zucchini plants in the row beside them, and it’s pretty amazing to see one of the harder to grow plants do well. I still need to work on my gardening skills with eggplant, kohlrabi, and pak choi, but I’m getting better every year.
I stopped in at my sister’s house this weekend, and as usual, I wound up taking a bunch of pictures. Sandy and Davie didn’t plant much last year since they were helping so much with my garden. After missing their backyard buffet last year, they made their garden a top priority this season, and it shows. In the center of their garden they have a row of old tires with lettuce, herbs and chard, with a plum tree at the end closest to their driveway. The four tires shown provide all of the salad they care to eat, and then some. These plants seem to grow very well due to the warming effect the black tires have on the soil.
Sandy’s herbs are doing great, with basil and parsley stealing the show above. There are chives growing very well on the left of the picture, but they are hidden by this monster of a basil plant. Also included in the tire: an artichoke plant. When I brought over the herb plants from the greenhouse, I added a artichoke plant in the mix, and somehow Sandy and I must have had a case of miscommunication. She thought the little plant was sage, and added it to the tire of herbs.
Sandy and Davie have used a unique system of trellis to hold their cucumber vines up off the ground. The trellis is constructed of two parts, with the bottom section forming a upside down V, and the top portion standing above the V.
The cucumber plants will then climb up the v portion, and the cucumbers themselves will hang down from the trellis as shown.
The celery is also doing great, nearly twice the size of the celery in my garden. Since these plants are from the same seed starting date, I can guarantee that this mulch or soil is to blame for the distinctive vertical differences.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Sandy’s house without posting a picture of one of her many animals. Here is her last chicken, the grand-paw of many a colorful chicken, and father of my rooster.
My corn is about 8 inches tall, and I really don’t think it will reach the “knee high by July” standard that most farmers judge their crops by. I’m not worried however, as this corn is more in the range of 70-80 day corn then 90+. I had similar sized corn last year, and had way too much then. This years corn plot is about a third of the size as last year, and should still deliver plenty.
This is the first year I’ve had celery plants in the garden. Last year, I tried to plant the seeds in a row and it didn’t work too well. Celery is a slow growing plant, and should be started 11 weeks earlier then the last frost. The little plant above is approximately 20 weeks old, and less then 6 inches tall.
This year, I’ve started about a week later then past years, and so I’m trying to be maticulous in tracking my plants growth. I’m curious to see just how important the planting times are.
Above you can see my jungle of tomato plants which cover the center table in my greenhouse. With all of the rain, I’ve used some of the time I would normally spend mowing grass to arrange the plants by category. I have even separated the Roma type tomatoes from the slicing tomatoes….. I’m such a dork = )
It’s amazing to see the many different leaf patterns on tomatoes. Some of them have thin leaves, while others have very broad leaves like the San Marzano plants above, which are similar to Roma tomatoes.You can see some of the plants which were started fairly late in the background, they’re only inches tall.
Here are some of my shortest plants. Peppers and Eggplants seem to be very slow starters.
This is my first year for eggplants, and I’ve never tried one before, so it may be the last. In the very front of the photo my celery plants barely grow. I see now why they are started 11 weeks before being moved out of the greenhouse. I bet it would be safe to start them in February next year.
At planting time last year my tomatoes topped out at 16 inches tall. With about 2 weeks left in the greenhouse, they have about 7 inches to make up this year. The rain may have played a part in their shortness, but I think the extra week may have played a integral role last year. I’m really hoping the rain will slow down, the clouds will part, and these plants can get some sun. If you really break the whole process down, gardening is converting sunlight and chemicals into food. Without the sunlight, the chemical reactions needed cannot happen, and plants grow slow. This is why oil is so valuable…. It’s basically stored sunshine from only two periods in time millions of years ago.
My peppers are a little behind too, but I’m sure once they get some sun and side dressing, they will be popping out peppers. These are the one garden crop which I didn’t grow enough of last year, with about 60 plants. This year I planted about 200 seeds, and I’ve gotten around 110 plants. Once I counted the plants and realized my low germination problem, I planted about 100 more, in the small plastic planting cells. Most of the crops I grow leave plenty for everyone including storage in freezers for the winter. I’m hoping to get overwhelmed with peppers this year, like all of the other things I grow. It’s nice to grow enough that your happy to give a lot away.
I was very happy with last years Pepper harvest, and in an effort to duplicate the results again this year, I’m planting my peppers a few days early. I’m changing my methods a little however, In the past I grew almost exclusively Non- Hybrid plants so that I could save the seeds from one year to the next. I figured with these saveable seeds, I’d have a way to continue planting if something should happen where I would be unable to purchase new seeds. This year I’m scrapping that mindset, and rolling out the best of what I hope is some great pepper lineage. I grew Chablis peppers last year, and I was exceptionally happy with the volume and timing of the peppers. I picked my first Chablis pepper on July 9th, just 39 days after moving a seedling out of the greenhouse.
I’ve also planted artichokes, eggplant, brussels sprouts and celery in the last few weeks. My celery seedlings look like very thin wires sticking out of the soil with tiny leaves on top, while the artichokes are growing much like a cucumber seedling. I’m planning on re-planting brussel sprouts as they have become very long and spindly.