Summer has been busier than I expected, and it’s been a while since my last post. I’m not the only one who has been busy; the garden has also been busily churning out goodies for us over the past two weeks.
|Sweet 100 Tomato|
Cherry tomatoes are really up and running now, as there are dozens of them ready each day. We’ve had a few large tomatoes, but those were mostly from the first set that had some blossom end rot. Oddly enough, it seems like blossom end rot makes them ripen faster, even when they are slightly underdeveloped in terms of size. Still, I just slice off the bottom and a solid 2/3 to ¾ of the tomato is fine to use (and delicious). Now we have several perfectly blemish-free tomatoes that are almost ripe as well. I have had a little cracking and some more blossom end rot here and there, but overall that problem seems to have worked itself out in most of the newer fruit.
|One brandywine and 2 green zebras.... top and bottom view|
The star of the garden this year, hands down, has been the eggplant. This is my first time ever growing eggplant, and I can tell you that I’ve never been happier with any crop yet. Of course, I must mention that I am eggplant lover, which is good because those stocky little plants just keep pumping out delicious, perfectly-sized fruits at a crazy pace given their size (they are only about 2 feet tall).
|It's called black beauty for a reason!|
I saw one black beauty (your typical “grocery store” purple eggplant) starting and figured it might get 6 inches or so and then stop growing. Wow was I wrong! It became a behemoth 1 pound, 12 ounce fruit that was as tender and flavorful as any eggplant I have ever tasted. For comparison, the round white weighed in at around 10 ounces, and the long purple was 4 ounces. This past weekend we made a nice pan of eggplant parmesan using one black beauty, one round white, and one long purple eggplant. I called it the eggplant parm trio! It was every bit as delicious as it sounds. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the eggplant but this trumps even my wildest expectations for it.
|Top: Eggplant parm fixings! Bottom: lemon and bread loaf for scale to show fruit size|
So far we’ve harvested 7 eggplants between all the varieties, and there are easily another 20 ready to harvest or close to it, with tons of flowers and budding fruit as well! While the heat and blaring sun have caused the tomatoes and bell peppers some stress (thus the blossom end rot) the eggplant are all extremely healthy and amazing productive! Keep in mind this is planting them at the rate of 2 plants per 7 gallon square pot as well (which is more crowded than recommended). The only real drawback (and it isn’t really one for those of us who love eggplant) is finding uses for that much eggplant.
|Black beauty and round white eggplants|
Another star has been the okra. I can’t keep up with it! The only issue is that there are a handful of pods every few days, and there are only so many things you can do with a handful of okra pods at a time. I love to eat them raw (something that many non-okra fans cringe at the thought of) as well as sauté them up to have with lunch or for a snack. I also toss them in an omelet from time to time. If there is a plant that loves the heat as much as the eggplant seems to, it’s the okra. Not only does it look cool, but the flowers are pretty and it just keeps producing and growing. It is easily one of my perennial favorites in the garden.
|Okra flowers and pods (red okra on left, green on right)|
The bell peppers have been somewhat frustrating, as I keep getting blossom end rot on them as soon as they start getting a decent size. I have just been harvesting them and chopping out the bad spot (which leaves most of the pepper fine to use) but I really want some ripe bell peppers! Hopefully the largest ones will turn color soon. Even still, the ones I’ve harvested are tasty, just a bit smaller and greener than I envisioned when I planted them.
|Black krim getting ripe!|
Finally, be sure to check out the harvest tally on the link above! The crops are rolling in!
Until next time, happy gardening!