Thursday, July 22, 2010

Striped Tomatoes and Herbs, Oh my!

A little trip to the garden this morning gave my lots to talk about.  There is so much going on out there I hardly know where to start and for me this is exciting!

IMG_2382Cleaning up some pots on the deck a little visitor landed on me and wouldn’t leave which is fine with me, he is a very welcome visitor.  He loved posing for pictures.  I hope he hangs around a while!  He is just a baby, in the picture he is on my pointer finger so I would say he is about 3/4 of an inch long.IMG_2405

  Then on my way to the garden I found an asclepias (or butterfly weed) that was growing wild, meaning that we didn’t plant it it just came up on its own.  It looks so pretty growing next the sage that also came up on its own.  IMG_2377Guess that would explain why we have so many butterflies around here.

Strolling along into the garden where we have lots of zucchini that have been producing an abundant crop for a few weeks I see that there are lots of tomatoes on their way to our table.  It hasIMG_2406 been pretty hot here for the last week or two and they are growing rapidly, but not quite coloring up yet.  I personally love the colors in a green tomato.  Did you know there were so many shades of green?  The first tomato I see was one where the tags got IMG_2409mixed up so we weren’t sure if it was ‘Chocolate Stripe’ or ‘Orange Purple Smudge’ but, this morning I can see that it is definitely ‘Chocolate Stripe’.  I guess we planted several varieties that are multi colored because there are also lots of ‘Red Zebra’ and ‘Striped Roman Candle’.  Looking  especially good thisIMG_2407 morning was the ‘Cherokee Purple’ that is loaded with lots of huge tomatoes, still green of course, but soon to be purple!  An uninvited visitor to our garden has been the tomato hornworm.  I have never had so many visit my past gardens as we have had here. One day the fisherman was so fed up with the amount of hornworms he was finding that he made an example of two of them to serve as a warning to others thinking of visiting us.  He hooked them onto some fishing hooks and IMG_2344hung them on the tomato trellis.  Well, it might have helped if the yellow jackets hadn’t come to eat them.  It seems the hornworm is poisonous and birds won’t eat them, but they are meaty enough for yellow jackets to find them tasty.  They were gone in a day! 

IMG_2410There are more green, stripey fruits growing in our garden.  There are several watermelons growing at a high speed.  Guess they are loving this heat.  This one was the size of a golf ball 2 days ago and today it was more like a softball…tomorrow it may be a football! 

More wonderful tasty greens in the garden are the many herbs and this is the best time to be harvesting and drying them.  I have the dehydrator full of orange mint and apple mint right now, but I harvested some thymes, oreganos and even some lavender this morning to get in next.  I like to rinse them with cold water to get all the dust off and any little insects that might be harboring in IMG_2414there.  Then I let them dry off on a towel for a while.  I spread them out as much as possible and fill my trays.  I usually leave the leaves on the stem and remove them after they are dry.  When they are fully dry, which takes about 2 days at 95 degrees in our dehydrator, I put the leaves in glass jars with a tight fitting lid.  I have found this method keeps the herbs looking fresh and green, not the ugly brown you get sometimes from hanging and air drying.  Plus I know they are clean and not dusty.  I usually dry a lot of my basil and then I mix the different varieties and make my own special blends.  I am going to do that with my thymes this year since I have several varieties growing.  I have ‘German Winter Thyme’ and ‘Lemon Thyme’ harvest right now and I think they will mix together nicely.  We dried Italian Parsley about a month ago and when you open the jar it has the most wonderful aroma, not what you get with dried parsley from the grocery store.

IMG_2411 There is more than just green in our garden right now though, there are lots of strawberries being harvested and I think a batch of jam is in our future!  I made my first batch of homemade yogurt yesterday and added strawberries to it.  I will have to experiment with yogurt recipes though until I get one I like because it is quite sour to me, but I think if I add more strawberries and maybe honey, it will be pretty tasty.  There is just nothing that I like better than knowing I can make my own food with things I have grown myself with no chemicals…it is a very good feeling.

Gardening…time well spent! 

Spend a little time in the garden!



Magnolia Bay Quilts said...

I love your garden! Those horn worms are a little creepy, though!

D-lyn said...

Looks wonderful and delicious!
I appreciate your comment.
I'll get to work with those patterns soon.