I’ve definitely had my fair share of salad this summer, so I decided to switch things up a bit and cook some warm food. Zucchini Boats are a great recipe for people who don’t like the taste of zucchini, and they are terribly easy to make. Here’s the recipe:
1.) Remove the skin from a large zucchini, and cut it in half. Remove the seeds from the center.
2.) Fry some ground beef, adding a small amount of butter (for taste, not needed).
3.) Microwave the zucchini until it is fairly soft.
4.) Grate some Mozzarella cheese, and place a small amount on the zucchini.
5.) Mix the ground beef with spaghetti sauce, marinara sauce or pizza sauce.
6.) Fill the center of the zucchini with the ground beef and sauce, then cover with Mozzarella cheese. I’ve used two types of cheese in the photo above.
7.) Place in a toaster over, or stove on medium heat until the cheese melts and just starts to turn brown.
I’ve had peach trees in my front yard for at least five years now, and I’ve never noticed peaches growing on any of them. While wondering around this weekend, I noticed one of the peach trees that George ran over last winter had two small peaches on it. These trees always looked as if they were barely hanging on to life in past years, and I’ve sprayed them with Deconil fungicide the last two years. The fungicide seemed to cure a problem whereby the leaves would be deformed, and the plants looked very unhealthy. This year, the leaves look natural, and the plant is just peachy.
While I was snapping the peach photo above, I could feel something crawling around on my shirtless back. I then discovered lots of little ants running around. After brushing them off, I noticed where they came from, and was surprised by this new to me ant colony method. It seems these ants have decided to turn a 3 foot tall weed into a colony, with what appear to be tiny eggs tucked up on the underside of the leaves. I’ve never known ants to build their colonies in this way, so I thought I would share.
I was picking a shopping bags full of produce when I discovered this zucchini with white blisters on the fruit portion. I’ve looked around on the internet quite a bit and have not discovered what this affliction is. Needless to say, I will not be eating this zucchini, but I’ve very curious to know what might have caused this ?
I’ve been working on quite a number of things which seem to consume my daylight hours, so I didn’t get to look through the garden till after 10 PM. I have two very small LED lights which I use to navigate my way through the growing micro forest, and locate the treats that fuel my gardening habit.
I’ve finally started getting a good supply of Chablis peppers, and I’m picking them early before they are ripe. I also found a Brandywine or Cherrokee purple tomato that is beginning to ripen, and I won’t know which it is until the color fills in. These two crops are just beginning to reward me for my hard work tending to their needs, and sprinkling them with nutrient enriched water. I’m still finding more Red Alert cherry tomatoes then I can eat, which always makes a happy gardener while giving away the surplus.
The lettuce just keeps growing as if it’s some sort of magical plant. I give away large zip lock bags full of it one day, and the next day the plants seem undisturbed and taller then ever. I’ve gotten so much lettuce that I’ve been eating it almost daily on my lunch break. Why should I pay $5-$10 for fast food that is no good for me when I can have a free salad that is homegrown, healthy and most of all tastes better ?
The zucchini plants continue to recover from the early summer ground hog onslaught, now that some of these animals have… err… moved on. The small plants which bore the brunt of the attack are beginning to grow very fast, and the zucchini and cucumber seeds that I planted in mid-july are popping out of the ground almost in victorious celebration. I planted far more seeds then usual, hopping to balance out the ground hog side of the equation. Now that the ground beasts are missing in the math, the equation will hopefully be out of balance in favor of lots of veggies for canning and freezing.
While I was wondering around in the moon light free darkness, I spotted something I would have dreaded as a child: Broccoli that looks edible. These days I’ll be happy to try it out, hopefully smothered with cheese and free of those pesky green worms I always seemed to find in store bought heads. Perhaps if I slice them thinly and fry them in butter with garlic and salt they will taste like broccoli chips.
Here is my most promising cabbage plant to date. It is also the one of the very first seeds to find it’s way into the soil this spring. I had planted a row of mixed cabbage seeds, and this was the only seed to poke it’s way through the soil. As a child, these green leaves would have haunted my dreams like a water sourced monster reaching out to pull me under. The adult however sees this plant as a large bowl of sauerkraut, something I enjoy, and hope to ferment the cabbage from this plant into.
I never thought there was much variation in vegetables, and each year I find this assumption to be more and more incorrect. I’m finding out that there is a world of new flavors to be discovered if only you look past the corn based products sold in most grocery stores. (Seriously, find the closest edible product and look at the ingredients list, I bet there is some form of corn in it).
The top zucchini with the dark stripes is a volunteer that grew on it’s own, so I do not have a name for it, but it’s got a very good nutty flavor, and is a great replacement for cucumbers in a salad.
The fat striped zucchini is an Italian Heritage Cocozelle. These have been growing the best so far, and I’m very happy with the taste. I had Zucchini Pizza made from these just last night.
Below the Italian Cocozelle, it a Black Beauty, and a yellow type I’ve since lost the name of. Black beauty are great grilled on an open fire, and they carry a traditional zucchini flavor.
The zucchini patch is doing much better these days. It seems the ground hog that I have yet to eliminate has decided to munch on only one of my zucchini patches, and leave the other alone. While I’m happy for something of a compromise for now, I will not loose to this beast, and I’ve got a long term mentality in mind. I realize this will be the location for my garden for years to come, and this family of rodents must be eliminated before all of my plants are as worn out as my aging checkbook.
The plants are still a bit small, but their ambitions must be appreciated. Most of them have three inch sized zucchini, pretty impressive for a plant which is less then two feet tall. One of these plants is sporting a double growth of produce.
I think the biggest reason for this turn around in my plants growth is directly related to the Miracle Grow I’ve been using to encourage life in these plants. I’ve sprayed a few gallons of the water/crystal mix on both patches of zucchini. It seems both areas are growing faster, and one will produce enough to keep the ground hogs away from the other. These rodents are also munching on the zucchini alone, and leaving the recovering cucumber plants alone as well.
Some of the first seeds I sowed in the garden were Waltham Butternut Squash, which are my second favorite winter treat, second only to Yukon Gold potatoes. I wanted to give these plants plenty of time to get growing well, but it didn’t seem to work. They have been popular snacks for deer and ground hogs, and most plants are shorter then the kitten that runs in my house every time I open the door. I’m going to make them a priority for side dressing and the blue water miracle grow mixture I’m using, as soon as I get some time.
Although the ground hog had trimmed my zucchini and with that action also trimmed my pride, I still have a good deal left. The front portion of the garden is growing very well. Here you will find two tomato patches, 7 rows of Yukon Gold potatoes, beans, celery, and onions. I’ve side dressed the celery and onions in an effort to kick start their growth, and I’ve applied lots of water on these brutally hot days. At least one day a week, I will cover the whole garden with four hours of sprinkler time.
The other end of the front row is also looking pretty great. My broccoli are slowly beginning to form heads, the colorful chard and lettuce are growing faster then I imagined and the beans are doing well enough considering the local deer populations appetite. My kohlrabi plants are still low to the ground at about 5 inches tall. These are cool weather compatible, so I’ve got plenty of time to get bushels of space cabbage. I’ve also planted a few pak choi plants near the kohlrabi, but they are still too small to see in the picture.
Just to note, the camera was about 15 feet in the air when I took these pictures, so the garden looks much smaller then it really is. The total length is about 250 feet long, and about 60 feet wide. I do tend to get carried away some times.
Most of my zucchini plants are quite a bit behind schedule, and it shows. These plants have been the victim of ground hogs, which is a new arch-nemesis for me as well. In the past there was only one ground hog, and he didn’t spend much time in the garden. This year I’ve spotted little ground hogs, and so my garden has a whole family of munching beasts to deal with. I’m going to fight back with every item in my arsenal, but this time I used Miracle Grow. I’m hoping a “shot in the arm” or heavy dose of nutrients will push these plants to out grow the hogs appetite. I’m also aiming the sprinkler at my plants which seem to need the most care: my cucumbers and zucchini.
With all this chaos in the zucchini patch, I wasn’t expecting to take this picture. I recruited Davie and my niece to help me pick the peas in this photo, and while we were in the area, I decided to check on the plants which invaded my strawberry patch. That’s when I discovered this treasure trove of green squash. In the top right corner, I found my first conjoined squash, which looks really neat. In the bottom left are a few young radishes we picked to give our salad some flavor.
I had started constructing a small area in which I hoped to get my Strawberry plants growing year after year. I may have made a mistake however when I choose the location for this berry patch. I broke ground where I used to have a small chicken coop and compost pile. I often supplemented my chicken food with garden goodies, and some of the seeds must have found their way into the ground, where they have been growing like mad.
I’m a bit undecided how to respond to this All Volunteer Invading Army. I’m sure the plants are squash, but I’m not sure what kind. If they are Zucchini, I would welcome a very early treat, but if they are winter squash, I’d be more concerned for my Strawberries. I’ve spent about $20 on five different types of strawberries and other supplies to get them to grow great, and I was really looking to make an all Strawberry patch. For now I guess I can let them grow a bit more, and check on my berry plants daily. If the berries seem to be struggling, I’ll just have to choose: Berries or very early Zucchini.