A few weeks ago, I mentioned the Summer harvest had started. We’ve had some rain and a lot of sun and hot temps since then, but not much has changed in the garden and I’m getting frustrated. True, I am able to must pick okra everyday and the other night I had enough pods to make a large batch of bhindi masala for dinner, the easiest and fastest way I know to use a large amount of okra. The tiny cucumbers for cornichons are ripening, but only a couple are ready to be picked every day which makes pickling hard as the process need to be started right away. Leaving the cucumbers on the vine only results in monster sized ones, though it gave me the opportunity to whip up a batch of refrigerator pickles for the first time.
I also figured out why my beets and onions were so small – it was just too early to pick them. I left a bunch in the ground just to see what would happen, and they got bigger. So if something seems too small, leave it alone and it will most likely grow. Next year, I’ll remember Spring onions in the summertime.
I have handfuls of full sized butternut and acorn squash, and at least three large pumpkins. The vines are all twisted around each other, and I can no longer tell which ones are my sugar pumpkins for pies and which are the jack o’lantern pumpkins for carving. I guess I’ll find out in the Fall. Finally last night, Will and I spotted several watermelons about the length of my pinky finger. All the vines have been covered in yellow flowers, but I was afraid nothing was getting fertilized and I was so looking forward to melons. We breathed a big sigh of relief.
So there is a lot of success in the garden, but I’m having trouble with my tomatoes and home gardening is really about tomatoes. I’m not sure if it is all the rain we’ve had, or the fact that I got my plants in the ground a few weeks later than I liked, but nothing is ripening. I have quite a few green tomatoes, but they don’t want to turn red. I’ve been good about snipping off the suckers – the branches with no fruit – so the plants would put more energy to making the fruit ripe, but maybe I’ve been overzealous here. Last year I did no pruning, which was a mistake, and maybe this year my mistake is too much pruning? The stink bugs also love one of my heirloom plants – the mortgage lifter I think – and they keep boring holes in the fruit causing them to rot. Almost every tomato on this plant has succumb to the same fate. At first I thought it might be a blight, but after watching the plant and seeing no other signs I realized it completely due to the stink bugs. I have a lot of companion plants for tomatoes nearby and I could try some kind of organic pest control like my beloved neem oil, but I think I’ve decided just to sacrifice the one tomato plant. They seem to like that one above the others, and leave the rest alone when there is a fat mortgage lifter to attack. If I had a good windowsill, I might pick some green tomatoes and let them ripen inside, but I don’t. Have I mentioned before how dark it is inside my house, and how I get very little light? I’m never living in a place with no windows on the south side again.
August is almost here and as long as I can keep my gardened watered well enough, I’m hoping for some changes, melons, and tomatoes. I don’t want to just get two out of the three, because I’ve realized I’m selfish when it comes to my garden!