Monday, August 25, 2014

Indigo Blueberry Cherry Tomato - Short Version: Don't Do It!

I've yanked out onions and sugar snap peas in the last week, and need to do the same with two out of my three pots of basil. ("Mommy, why do we have three basil plants?" "Bad planning, honey.") I have to wait a bit for the tomatoes to wrap up before taking them out, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be a long wait. Last year I was harvesting until November; this year, thanks to the nonperformance of the Green Zebra - exactly ONE fruit to date - and the lackluster performance of the Indigo Blueberry, we are under-tomato'ed.

The Indigo Blueberry grew to a respectable height quickly after it was in the ground, then spent wasted lots of time spreading and blossoming. Now, not only is it taking up too much space outside its cage (crowding is a possible factor in the Zebra's problems) it's very hard to tell if it's ripe. The fruits have to be pink ON THE BOTTOM. Hence, you have to CROUCH DOWN and squint UNDERNEATH at each individual fruit. Just because one of any given cluster is pink doesn't mean they all are. You have to look at them ALL. What a pain. You can see how many fruits there are on the bush... Who has the time for this kind of minute examination? Nothing special about the flavor, either. I am mad at myself for succumbing to the lure of the well-named tomato.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fall Planting

"Can I do the carrots, Mommy?"
Today is the first sunny day this week - and ironically enough, it's time for fall planting. "Assisted" by my three year old, I cleared a spot that hasn't been planted in a couple seasons (due to the previous bamboo problems). I dug in some new soil additives. My kid enjoyed mixing the two kinds of dirt together. Then we sowed beet, carrot, lettuce, and cilantro seeds. I'd like to do favas, but I don't have the space right now.

I haven't found a good plant marker I like. Or should I say, one I can put in the ground that my kids won't move. So today I just scribbled in chalk on the fence what was in each row. My daughter added some art to my notes. That should get us over the forgetfulness hump until (if) the rainy season, by which time something identifiable had better be coming up there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More is More

... unless it's less, which is how many of these cherry tomatoes actually make it inside to be prepared in a meal. I sauteed a slew of green beans last night; yum.

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of School

First day of first grade today, which means I have 50% fewer helpers. Too bad for me I'm losing the helper with an attention span of more than 30 seconds!
I had to bite the bullet and pick a zucchini today. I get nervous when they start stacking up in the crisper with nothing on the menu plan to use 'em up. My husband claims he's going to try Cook's Illustrated latest z-bread recipe.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mid-August Menace

Wall of sound - no, berries.
Here's the scary berries, and the rest of the August growth. I got a shock yesterday when I noticed the indigo "blueberry" tomato plant had a couple with pink underbellies - first sign of that color on them all summer. I tried one. EDIBLE. First edible fruit off that plant! There's about a million more coming. I cannot believe how long it took. Stupid innovative tomato.

I took out the alliums of mystery, and (right after taking this photo) the sugar snap peas. I *think* green beans may be wrapping up, but that could just be wishful thinking. HOW MANY THAI CURRIES CAN ONE FAMILY EAT.
Everything else. Just looks like a lot of work at this point!

My son's zinna is really brightening up the joint, even through the Fog-ust.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

More of Everything

That's the thing about harvest, at least when you're not too adept at timing crops. IT JUST KEEPS COMING. More of everything today, including nectarines, tomatoes, green beans, lemon cucumbers ... I don't even turn my head to look at the berries when I go outside this week; it's too scary. I am being MENACED by ripe blackberries. We don't have time every day to do a fruit stand, but we certainly have the produce for it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"HEY! Do you want to get some fruit???"

That was the cry echoing up and down our block the other evening. While I love the idea of crop swaps, and there are many nice people who attend, most of them are at an awkward time for my family, right around dinnertime/bedtime. I am also ever so slightly tired of getting a small amount of a lot of produce - too little to cook with, too much to snack on.

But being the frugal person I am, I cannot stand the idea of wasting food from my yard, even - or especially (guilt) - the produce my family doesn't eat. This fruit stand idea has been percolating for a while as a way to offload some produce while working on math skills, and last week we finally were available at the right time to catch the evening commuters who walk past our house (located a block from the BART station).

The first two sales were to two discrete fellows who each bought 5 gooseberries. Huh. Then things started moving along and they sold almost everything we had available - basil, gooseberries, blackberries, and nectarines. The kids and I (lurking in the background) were outside for over an hour, and they were pretty attentive to the project for a good 45 minutes. They also made a good team, with the more outgoing little one flagging down pedestrians using her big Outside Voice, and the older one counting out the produce. They made about $4, and have been incessantly begging me to do it again ever since.

Note on the signage: My older child wrote "Fruit Stand", then absolutely refused to do the price list (summer learning loss, argh!). The younger child taped on the sequins. What a helper!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mt. Zucchini

- has been temporarily conquered. I am enjoying an estimated 24-hour respite from picking and using zucchini, thanks to intensive cooking lately. I made Thai tofu curry with zucchini and green beans, enchiladas with ditto, and a batch of zucchini bread. Phew! I used up all the zucchini on hand and made a fair dent in the green beans. No zucchini is ready yet today, so I get a break! Let's not talk about the green beans currently sagging off their vines... I need the me-time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Nectarine retrieval with daddy assist
Bring the funk, bring the fog... it's August in the Bay Area. We've had cool temperatures this week and overnight rain sprinkles the past few days. Last week we were out of town at family camp near Yosemite where the high reached 100, so I don't mind the current coolness right now - stay tuned, I'll be griping about it next week.

I'm behind on all my garden chores due to vacation, but this afternoon is slated for catch-up time. I had a friend do harvest while we were gone so at least nothing got wasted. 

Less than 100 days until Halloween! The pumpkins start to become critical. One got some sort of disease or bug infestation ("mine", according to the kids' designation), but we still have three more total coming along. Everything else is bustling - more harvest will be job #1 this afternoon when the kids get home.

One pumpkin bit the dust...
... but some still flourish.

Small child weeding! Stop the presses!