The tomato plants have fruit, but I’m awaiting them to ripen. The pepper plants are starting to produce. The strawberries are on their second round of harvest. In the mean time, the squash and zucchini are providing us with food of plenty. Yesterday I picked four zucchini, all from the same plant. This morning, I grabbed two more before leaving for work. This doesn’t include the half-dozen or so that we’ve already picked and are awaiting consumption in the kitchen. We’ve also got several variety of yellow summer squash as well as two green stripped squash/zucchini plants, both producing about a fruit a week.
It’s getting to be overwhelming. How are we going to keep up with all of this produce? Aside from Erin’s love of zucchini, we’re not eating it nearly as fast as we did last year. It looks like I’ll be breaking out the dehydrator again to make some zucchini chips, great for just snaking on while lounging around the house. Erin also made some zucchini break last night. She made one gluten-free and egg-free loaf that tastes good, but didn’t really cook through properly. But such is the plight of making gluten-free pastries without eggs. The regular loaves turned out great. I had a piece fresh out of the oven last night a la mode for dessert, and two more pieces for breakfast. With all this zucchini, bread might become a staple over the next few weeks.
This year, we planted some less-traditional squash. I say less-traditional in that they are varieties not often seen in the grocery store. Exhibit 1. Ronde de Nice. These are short, round summer squash that are supposed to be good for sautéing, baking, and stuffing. I plan to experiment with the latter. The idea is that you cut the top off the tops and scoop out the flesh leaving a hollowed out bowl. You then cook the flesh along with some other stuffing materials – onions, peppers, sausage, bread, or whatever you fancy, and return the filling to the squash before adding cheese and baking the whole thing in the oven. It sounds so delicious, yet time consuming. Thus, I haven’t actually proceeded with this plan quite yet, but the four squash I have picked are ready and waiting.
Exhibit 2. Kabocha Squash. Specifically red kabocha squash. These look like pumpkins and are sometimes referred to as pumpkins. These winter squash originate from east asia and are supposed to be very pumpkin-like in usage. They’re sweet and can be cooked down and used in pies, soups, pastas, and stir fries. In fact, when looking up these squash, one of the first things I found was a recipe for kabocha squash with thai curry. With so many options, I’m not sure how I’m going to use the few that I have. But these squash seem to grow better than the pie pumpkins around here, so I think we’ll look to put more in next year.
We tried growing watermelon this year. Erin bought a variety that doesn’t grow very large, though I was expecting fruit a bit larger than what we produced. But we actually did get some watermelons and tried the first one Monday night. It was either not ripe enough, or too ripe. I’m not sure. Much of the flesh hadn’t turned pink yet (or maybe the rind grew too thick?) and it just didn’t taste sweet. I maintain that we took it off the vine too early, though Erin thought they were ripe. We have a second one that we’ll wait to cut into, hoping that it will ripen more off the vine. Overall, the watermelons didn’t do so well. One pile of plants barely grew, the other grew sufficiently, but the leaves were always curled, a sign of not getting enough water. I think that the location of our property is just too dry to support a crop that needs a lot of water. Maybe I’ll try again next year, but it won’t be a main focus of the garden.
Overall, we seem to do well growing squash and leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and chard. The greens are particularly happy early and late in the season when temperatures are cooler. I’ve already removed several rows of lettuce that have bolted, but replaced them with new seeds that are already sprouting. We should have lettuce well into the fall when everything else has succumbed to the frost. The sugar snap peas grew well once we were able to keep them from getting eaten. Next year I’ll try using peas and beans to shade the lettuce. Tomatoes and peppers always struggle to ripen as the growing season comes to a close. But I love growing them, and one of these days I’ll figure out how to get them to harvest early on. It’s funny that we’re only 25 miles away from Moscow and not much higher, but the growing season is significantly shorter.