Friday, July 30, 2010

Tomato Bonanza

Last year, tomatoes were hit by the blight, but this year we have had a perfect growing season producing a bonanza of tomatoes. Pictured above are the Crista tomato which came from our garden. We are pleased with this meaty tomato and selected it because of its disease resistance.
Brief History
Tomatoes were discovered in the Aztec culture about 500 BC. The Spanish explorers brought the plant which produced small yellowish tomatoes back to Europe where it became popular. In the 1590's the British believed it to be a poisonous fruit as it was a member of the poisonous nightshade family. But with the mingling of cultures, especially Italian, the tomato became a popular item on tables. Now tomatoes are developed  for cooking, canning, shipping, fresh sliced, salads, etc. Next year you may want to try this new variety.

I hope you have plenty of tomatoes peeking out from your vines. What variety/varieties of tomatoes do you grow? What is your favorite and why?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Corbin's Cabbage

Corbin deciding how to go about cutting the behemoth cabbage.

Today is the day Corbin cut his cabbage. On July 5 I posted about the cabbage growing contest sponsored by our local high school FFA (Future Farmers of America) and Bonnie plants. He (and all of the family) have been watching this cabbage take over the garden. It dwarfed our cabbages. Needless to say we were all excited to see the final product.

 I have had readers interested in his project, so here is a photo of the nearly fourteen pound cabbage with its proud grower. Even if it doesn't win the contest, it was a lot of fun this summer with our grandson.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Recipe--Roasted Vegetable Sauce and Rigatoni

It's that time of year when the garden produces quicker than you can pick. If you are enjoying a bonanza of produce, use this recipe to help you use all those zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers in one large dish. This is easy especially if you can talk your DH into helping chop up the veggies. Enjoy!!


3 c. zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 c. eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 med sweet onion, peeled, diced into 1-inch pieces

3 c. freshly sliced mushrooms

2 c. red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used green and banana peppers as that is what is in our garden)

1/4 c. freshly chopped basil

1 T. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried

3 T. olive or walnut oil

2 T. balsamic vinegar

6 med red ripe tomatoes, washed, cored, and left whole

12 oz. rigatoni, cooked according to package directions

1/4 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

2 c. tomato sauce or favorite pasta sauce, optional

3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large shallow sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or use non-stick pan. (I used a pan covered with foil, then sprayed with cooking oil.) In a VERY large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Sprinkle with the oil and vinegar and toss well to coat vegetables. Spread veggies on prepared pan. Place the tomatoes on a separate pan.

Bake the vegetables and tomatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, turning vegetables every 10 minutes or so to promote even cooking. After 30 minutes cut through the tomatoes with a sharp knife and fork to chop them up and add them to the pan with the other vegetables. Meanwhile, drain the cooked pasta and transfer to a warm serving dish. Toss with the roasted veggies and walnuts.

Serve garnished with crumbled feta cheese. (I used mozzarella and parmesan cheese and let my guests add the cheese to their serving.) If you would like more sauce, add the 2 cups pasta sauce. Makes 6 generous servings. (to me it looked like enough for 12 people!! especially if used as a side dish.)

This recipe is found in Carole Sutphen's inventive cookbook, There Must Be 50 Ways to Fix Your Zucchini (with apologies to Paul Simon).

Carole put this recipe book together with all proceeds going to the Fremont United Methodist Women's mission projects.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cucumbers and Zucchini Galore

The cucumbers and zucchini ramped up production big time this week. The hot humid weather and good rains have contributed to making a monster! In the last two days, my DH has picked 24 cucumbers. The zucchini, as usual this time of year, are turning from darling little green veggies to enormous baseball bat size in a matter of hours it seems...LOL.
I believe it is about time to celebrate the annual "Leave-Your-Zucchini-on-the-Neighbors'-Back-Porch Weekend."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Deer, Deer, Go Away

At this moment, deer are not beautiful or graceful anymore to me. They are destroying our garden. They are as pest-like as having a colony of rats in the neighborhood. We started the garden with a small fence to keep out the rabbits this year as they were a problem in previous years. The rabbits have not appeared, so we thought all was going great until this infestation of deer began feasting on the garden. As the weeks wore on the height of the fence grew. Nothing helped. I guess our veggies are delicious.

Last week, DH put up deer fence netting seven feet tall attached to steel posts. The next morning, the netting was in shreds. These hungry creatures just went right through it. Not only do they eat the lettuce, strip the leaves from the scarlet runner beans, chomp on pepper plants, etc, they leave their droppings in the garden. (I don't know if you can say poop on the web...)

The next day Ted put up a fence of three feet of welded wire with four feet of chicken wire on top. I dislike the look of the fence as seen below in the picture, but that seemed to stop them finally. However they are now munching on our flowers. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fremont FFA Partners with Bonnie Plants Cabbage Contest

The Fremont FFA (Future Farmers of America) of Fremont High School, Fremont, MI is partnering with Bonnie Plants and their "Bonnies Crazy Cabbage" program to supply third grade students across the state with an O. S. Cross cabbage plant. Students will be responsible for growing the plant throughout the summer. In August students from West Michigan will send their applications to the Fremont FFA and then the FFA will select third grade class winners and send the apps onto Bonnie Plants. One student from Michigan will be chosen to receive a $1000 scholarship from Bonnie Plants.

Needless to say our  grandson, Corbin, is all gung-ho to grow the biggest cabbage and win this contest. Little did we know that this small cabbage plant in May would grow to be this monster in the garden. It makes the rest of the cabbages look like miniatures and it isn't done growing yet!

The literature that came with the contest states that the Giant Cabbage can grow to 40 pounds or larger. It is named O. S. Cross which stands for Oversized! Corbin is very proud of his cabbage, especially that it dwarfs the rest of the cabbages in the garden.

He will cut the cabbage in order to show it in the Newaygo County Fair Aug 7 and hopefully win a ribbon. Only size matters I guess since nothing is said about tasting the monster. I'll be anxious to test the flavor. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather and no pests!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tree Take Down

Ths morning my DH helped our neighbor take down a huge old tree that bordered our properties. The older neighbor gentleman was afraid a storm would take it down and cause damage. It needed to come down, but it is sad to see any tree chopped down. It did shade our garden on the east side and towered over a lovely lilac bush. Now with it gone, the garden is opened up to a lot more sunlight.

One of the major considerations when planting a garden is the availability of sunshine. Most garden vegetables like a lot of least eight hours a day. Always check the seed packages or information with your plants to find out the optimal placement in the garden to produce your finest veggies.
The garden is filling in with healthy plants. We are getting broccoli, cauliflower, cukes, zucchini now. Strawberries are done now.
As you can see, most of our garden is in a lot of sun. Next year even more sun on our strawberry beds after this tree take down. We will see the results next spring. It is exciting to get into this time of year when gardeners can reap the rewards of their labor.