LAKE MACBRIDE— The summer weather has been as good as it gets, a reminder of what it was like as a child, with endless days to play in the sunlight, safe and without worry. This summer has been unforgettable. Besides the weather, it has been a different and somewhat tribal life after turning to those with whom we live out our lives in the neighborhood.
A quick garden update. Removing the green caterpillars with a medical grade forceps did the trick of removing the pest, and the new leaves are growing bug free. The white butterflies are around, so there may be more, and I lost one plant, but the new growth looks great.
Today, I harvested the rest of the green beans, composted the plants, and planted a row of cucumbers from seedlings. I planted the seed in pots on July 13, so they are two weeks from seed to seedling. The benefit of growing them this way is with the wet root ball, they can tolerate diverse conditions better to get off to a good start in the ground. They bring their own moisture with them to the initial planting. I watered them well and mulched. With my newly developed pickle addiction, I may plant more before summer is gone. There were some seedlings leftover from planting a row, so maybe next weekend.
The current crop of lettuce is suffering. Not from the heat, or lack of water, but from disappearing. There used to be three full rows here, and some plants are missing. Not sure what is the pest, but it seems doubtful deer are jumping the fence as there are no deer footprints inside. Perhaps a rabbit, or something else. Whatever is left, will be enjoyed by the humans. The leaves are big enough to pick, so when I return from my trip, we’ll bring some in for a tasting.
Finally, the tomatoes are maturing and three varieties have begun to ripen: two cherry tomatoes and Roma. Tomatoes have been the continuous crop in our garden, since the first duplex where we lived after our wedding ceremony. Perhaps there was a gap in Cedar Rapids, but not much of one. This year’s crop was the first I planted as seeds, and based on the results, I’ll do that next year as well.
The primary concern this year is to finish processing tomatoes before the apples come in. There are a lot of apples. I know what I want from the tomatoes: 12 quarts and 12 pints of tomato sauce, the leftover juice, 24 pints of diced tomatoes, and maybe a dozen pints of hot sauce using the cayenne and jalapeno peppers. Knowing how to approach it is half the battle.
Tonight for dinner, I made a pizza. Thin, wheat crust with tomato sauce I canned in 2011 mixed with fresh basil and salt. Toppings were half an onion from the CSA, thinly sliced zucchini, diced green peppers, sliced green olives with pimiento, halved cherry tomatoes and 6 ounces of mozzarella cheese. It is out of the oven, so I had better go sample.