Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow?

Notice I say "My Garden" because the Mrs pretty much has left it to me to tend to. She did pick out most of the plants for this year. Mostly from a school fundraiser. She bought 72 tomato plants and we ended up planting around 50. So we're up to our necks right now in tomatoes.

We set up the garden during the first week we were permitted (I think it was around the 2nd week of April). The town plows the entire garden under that week, so it's a good idea to get set up because the weeds grow with a vengeance here. About 3 weeks in, the Mrs noticed a lot of sunflowers popping up in gardens that hadn't been set up yet. So she poached them. Legal and moral issues aside, they're only flowers and (as you can see) everyone gets to see them. Some are at least 8 feet tall.

In the foreground, we have cucumbers, hot peppers, one eggplant and some other stuff I'm not sure of. In the center are three pumpkin plants that aren't doing to well. We were late planting them, but some people have huge vines with basketball size pumpkins on them all ready. In the background are whats left of the strawberries, some jalapenos that I planted and some asparagus that didn't do well at all. I'm sure there's some tricks to the asparagus - I just don't know what they ae. This is the 3rd season for the strawberries. I take them out at the end of the season, pot them and put them in our backyard (covered with leaves). They keep coming back.

Here's a close-up of the ill-gotten sunflowers.

Here's the loan egg plant that I hope to use for Intuitive Eggplant's Smackdown.

My Jalapenos. They're doing pretty good.

Here's a shot of a good portion of the farm. We have a corner plot (A1) and, although I've never really paid attention, I'll bet I'll bet it goes down to Z1. I'll have to pay attention the next time I walk around (there's markers at every plot).

Oh, I forgot, here is probably the biggest cucumber we ever grew.

Part of my routine when I visit the farm is to pick and weed our garden, hit it with a bunch of water, then go for a walk around the entire farm. This is for exercise, to let the water soak in (I water again after my walk) and to see what's doing in other people's gardens. I'm nosey that way. This woman's flower garden is probably the best on the farm. She's there practically every day.

A lot of people grow sunflowers (all the better for the Mrs to pilfer next year).

Last year there were probably 3 dozen plots that went unplanted. That is, people signed up, paid their fee and did nothing to the plot. The woman that runs the farm is really cracking down on this because she has a wait list of around 50 people. This year I noticed only around 1 dozen plots unattended to. There's a lot growing up here. Some people have interesting and unusual planting techniques. One Asian guy uses a lot of PVC pipe and roof gutters for planting. I'll have to get some pictures of some of the other plots for a later post.

Tonight I'm going to attempt a vodka cream sauce and pasta with some of our tomatoes. Then I have to get up to the farm for watering. With this heat and lack of rain (a huge storm hit about 2 miles south of us last night and we didn't get a drop) I have to go up every couple of days.


Karl said...

Good afternoon Buzz Kill,

Wow, 3 posts in one day. I'm impressed. And thanks for the view of the garden. That's a neat way to set it up. How big is each plot? Do you have water onsite?

I think you're right about asparagus, we have yet to get any that we could eat.

moi said...

Very cool post. It wasn't until my cousin hitched himself to a New Jersey farm girl that I actually realized how fertile your state can be. FIFTY tomato plants? Wowza. And if you need ideas about what to do with all those jalapeƱos, let me know. I have an easy but so delicious recipe for a jalapeƱo relish that is all flavor, no heat.

Sharon Rudd said...

Loved this post - thanks so much for sharing! I take it the farm isn't too far from your house since you're able to go several times a week to water?

I'm not much of a gardener, but two things I've heard about growing asparagus are 1) you have to plant it really deep, and 2) it takes several seasons to get a good asparagus bed going, but then you should have good results for years to come.

Looking forward to your contribution to the Smackdown - but remember, it isn't "mine," it's "ours"!

Jenny said...

Mr. Post! I love it. Love the garden. Wow.Very organized. Strawberries can take abuse and they seem to keep coming back.

What do you do with all of the tomatoes? Because that's a lot!

Dani said...

So damn cool!

Buzz Kill said...

Well, I wasn't counting on winning (and hosting) the Haiku. The others I've had in the works for several days.

They have a water main running the length of the farm with hose bibs every 50'. Our plot is within 25' which is nice.

The asparagus was the Mrs idea (because she knows I like it) but with having to dig up the plot every year, I don't see us doing it again. If I can transplant them to the house in the fall, I might try that.

That's why it's called the garden state. Although farm land has really given way to development here in the south over the last 4 decades. I blame the Atlantic City Casinos.

If you have a Jalepeno jelly recipe, I'd like that.

The "farm" is about 3 miles from the house. It's actually a preserved green acres site and has one of the original 18th century farm houses still there. A popular destination for school field trips and they have some artisans that practice old-time crafts.

See above on asparagus and I hope to harvest the 1 eggplant for the smackdown this weekend. Still not sure what I'm going to do though.

It's not near as nice as your garden, but it'll do.

fishy said...

Nice, nice posts Buzz.
Also congrats on the haiku win,
we're all sweating the next one!

I was reading about your eggplant and your jalapenos in that beautiful garden post when I remembered a recipe using both in the New Mexico Cuisine cookbook from MoiLand. I've shared below.

Your community garden idea is awesome. It does sound like 50 tomato plants are a lot. The sunflowers are so cheerful and they feed birds. Is it true the longer you keep a strawberry plant the better the fruit?

Grilled Spanish Style Eggplant:
2 small eggplants
1tbs coarse salt
2 tbs chopped garlic
2 jalapeno chilis, seeded and finely minced
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

Slice eggplants lengthwise @ 1/8" thickness
sprinkle with coarse salt an set aside for 20 minutes. Pat with paper towel to remove remaining moisture.

In a large bowl combine garlic, chilis, chili powder, soy sauce and the toasted sesame oil. Whisk together, add eggplant and allow to marinate 4-6 hours.

Heat a large non-stick skillet, cook slices for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

4 servings

LaDivaCucina said...

Yippeeee, Buzzy's garden! What a huge plot and what a lot of work! Looks great, Buzz, congrats! I wish I had some of your 'maters, as you know our season is long gone. (though some fools insist on trying to grow them in the summer here!) Are you going to make a lot of sauce and can for winter?

So, every time I plant one of my Thai chilies, something comes along and eats them before they get beyond a few inches. Guess what it is? A freakin' iguana! I want his hide (for a belt) and another gardener said "she's happy to share with all God's creatures." I say, "he's not a native to South Florida, he's gotta go!"

Thanks for the cool post, was wondering how your garden grew! Cheers!

Aunty Belle said...

Amazizn' BuzzK!

I wuz really hopin' to see yore garden--thanky.

Ah, SWEATY job , havin' a garden, ain't it?

I read all the comments, an' ditto everythang ever'body said.

But...must be a real honest bunch of folks. Nobody filches cucumbers/ strawberries /tomatoes? or...only sunflowers? I always wonder how ya keep sticky fingers from pinch a few veggies.

I wonder if ya treat the asparagus like the strawberries if ya will git a good crop next season?

Do yore boys hep ya' some?

I know the vodka sauce was superb.

Great post

Buzz Kill said...

The strawberry plants and fruit were the best we've had in 3 seasons. Is it the weather or the age of the plants? I don't know we'll see next year.

I like that recipe. If you're not using it in the smackdown, I might.

I'm giving most of the tomatoes away. I just don't have the time to do big batches of sauce.

We only have deer and rabbits - no iguanas. There are a number of gardenrs here who don't use fences. So they become the sacrificial gardens. I put out some varmint repellant too. I haven't had much of a problem this year.

I thought about the stealing too, but I've not seen (or noticed) it. There are signs posted and I think people respect private property. A lot of non-participants use the park here and just like to walk around and look. Although I'm sure some of the flowers have gone home with people.

If the asparagus is still intact at he end of the season, I'll try and dig it up. I have some rhubarb too, but it's not doing very well.

The Pudge comes up some times to help water and to hike on the trail that goes through the woods. The Boy has more important things to do - apparently.

The vodka sauce was a little dissapointing. I may not have prepped the fresh tomatoes correctly. I'll have to find another recipe.

moi said...

I've never made any jellies, but this recipe looks good:

Vodka sauces are tricky. I usually use a wee bit more than the amount called for and really cook it down to burn off the alkeehol.

That being said, Classico (the only jarred sauce I'll buy, and only in a pinch) makes a good one.

sparringK9 said...

buzz...this is so cool! Look what a fine job you have done. Do you have access to a cannery? if so, take your tomatoes there and have them put away in jars. When i have more produce than i can eat or process, i give it to the food bank. back to the cannery: when I when, i kind of flailed around and the meemaws in there basically did the first batch for me. I love looking at the rows of jars of tomatoes i canned ( in glass ) and used them this winter for that summer taste.

green beans: i blanche in hot water for about a minute or so, rinse in cool water drain and freeze.

squash...same thing.

all my parsley? I processed it in a cuisinart and put the mash in ice trays. I poured boiling water over them (to seal flavor and color) and put them in the freezer. later i took out the cubes and bagged them. whenever i need fresh parsley i just thaw that or throw a cube into soup.

i didnt grow cukes this year.

my pumpkins are failing. too much humidity gave them a fungus.

I had the best strabs this year too. and great blueberries after i saved them from the cherry fruit worms.

now, about the asparagus. Its a few years until you get spears. you put the plants in and water and nurture them. in the early spring the new shoots are what you eat. the first year those will be real skinny. dont harvest them. let them leaf out to that full ferniness and take care of them all summer. in the third year you will have nice asparagus. I have a decent bed of them with a 2 year old and about 9 one year olds.

last year i had so many jalapenos i was covered over with them. what a great production plant!

I actually dont like summer food that much. its spring food that rocks: lettuce, carrots, radish, can do them in fall too. in a few weeks i will rip any failers out and prep for fall.

I love your community garden. it looks nice. and i really like miss tidy garden lady's flowers. thats just gorgeous. I like an orderly garden but every day really is required for that.

Big Shamu said...

It's wonderful to see a garden not fried from the heat. I've pretty much given up for this season. You have a beautiful garden plot and I know how much work that took. Good job.

Anonymous said...

I am NOT using the jalapeno eggplant recipe but I would love to know if it's a good one. With those fresh, homegrown ingredients , it should be yummy.

Tabby Jumbo said...

I am jealous of you sunflowers! It is really tall and blooming beautifully. My sunflowers is a disaster. It grew but it didn't bloom. I don't know why it happened.

Rose Gifts said...

Very beautiful garden! Love the sunflower! I'm thinking of planting next year some in my garden