The runaway

giant marrow 08-10

A BIG runaway! DISCLAIMER: This one is way too big to eat! I entered this in 2010 in the State Fair instead!

At this time of year if you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ve experienced it—zucchini runaways. One day you go out and see this cute little zuke and think I’ll give it one more day and the next day you go out and it grew into a baseball bat. It’s like overnight it got on some steroids and went ballistic.  Now it’s too big so what do we do with them besides hide them under the bed in case an intruder comes in? Well you could use them as door stops or take them to the fair but here are 4 ideas to eat them!

Savory Zucchini Pancakes
Take 2 cups of grated zucchini, add two beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 2 teaspoons of some fresh herb you have and 1 cup feta or mozzarella or cheddar or whatever cheese you have (please, no Velveeeeeta). If you want more, then just up the ingredients like 3 cups zucchini, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons flour, etc. Just don’t up the herb, keep it at 2 tsp so not to overwhelm the flavor of the zucchini (what? zucchini has flavor? Yes, at least two varieties do – Costata Romanesco and Benning’s Green Tint (not a zucchini but a delicious summer squash). All the others, in my opinion, are worthy of either the compost pile or the chicken coop or both) Then saute them in olive oil until brown on both sides. This is my favorite way to cook super-sized zucchini.

Garlicky Zucchini Medallions
Slice them into medallions and saute them in olive oil with some crushed garlic cloves until tender in a BIG fry pan. Sprinkle lightly some red pepper flakes and add fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top and cook a few minutes more till melted. This is also great with a little left over spaghetti sauce drizzled over them.  (Can you really drizzle spaghetti sauce. No—but you get the idea-don’t drown them.)

Zuchinni Soufflini (This one comes from my mom-thanks mom!)
1 1/2 lbs zucchini
1 large onion, chopped
3 TLB butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 TLB butter

Cook squash whole for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Cool. Dice into cubes. Saute’ onion in 3 TLB butter and add to zucchini. Stir in cheese and seasonings and allow mixture to cool before adding beaten eggs. Spoon into buttered 1 quart casserole. Toss bread crumbs with 2 TLB melted butter and sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°F about 30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serves 4-6 people.

Of course there is always the infamous zucchini bread but how about chocolate zucchini bread? I got this recipe from a friend many moons ago and it is excellent. Your kids, friends, spouse or partner will never know they are eating something healthy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 ¼  cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ¾  cup sugar
½ cup butter
½ c vegetable oil
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cup unpeeled zucchini, grated
6 oz choc chips
¾ c chopped walnuts

-Preheat oven 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 13” x 9” x 2” baking pan
-Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt into large bowl.
-Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients, alternate w/ buttermilk in 3 additions each, fold in zucchini. Mix in choc. chips + nuts. Pour into the baking pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean in about 50 min. Cool completely in pan.

So the next time you get a runaway, don’t despair, now you have some ideas on how to use them besides hiding them under your bed!

Review of 2012 vegetables

fall harvest

2012 VEGGIE LIST

Here is my review of what I will and won’t grow again from last year’s vegetables that I tried and why. I will put tomatoes in another list since there are so many of them!

WILL GROW AGAIN
ARUGULA
-Apollo-nice leaf size and flavor

BEANS
-Rattlesnake bean/pole-remarkably flavored pole bean-grows very tall-great for trellises or arbor
-Tarbais bean/pole-dry bean-after much work FINDING IT last year in the states, you can now get this wonderful bean from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. I will make a french dish called cassoulet with it.
-Fava Bean/bush-wonderful flavor and 2 crops last year. A little work shelling it twice but worth it. Also is a good cover crop replenishing the soil with nitrogen.
-Golden Scarlet Runner/pole-I grow runners for their flowers/foliage-the foliage on this one is a striking chartreuse color against the scarlet flowers-simply beautiful

BEETS
- Craupadine-BEST tasting (but ugly) beet around
-Cylindra-long cylinder shape, great taste, easy cutting into slices

BOK CHOY
-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-wonderful flavor-I like to cut one in half, saute it in olive oil, and add tamari when you flip it

CARROTS
-Atomic Red-great color and flavor
-Cosmic Purple-one of my favorites

CHARD
-Bright Lights-adds great color tucked into the garden and good flavor
-Argentata-thick juicy stalks with huge leaves-very cold tolerant
-Ruby Red-one of the prettiest and tasty chards out there

CUCUMBERS
-Parisian Pickling-used for making cornichon pickles
-Boothsby Blonde-used for making bread and butter pickles
-Poona Kheera-best flavor for eating
-Armenian- fun to grow, good flavor, few seeds

EGGPLANT
-Fairy Tale-sweet, no bitter taste and tender (not tough) skin

LETTUCES
–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce

PEAS
-Dwarf Sugar Gray-great in salads or steamed, grows about 3 ft tall

PEPPER–want to try some different varieties from Europe this year as well
-Shishito (Japanese non-hot pepper)-one of my favorites
-Poblanos-mildly hot (I call it warm), great for chile rellanos or scrambled eggs, wonderful smoky flavor

POTATOES–first year grower and I’m hooked!
-French Fingerling-OMG, the best flavor!
-Peruvian Purple-I loved the flavor of these as well

SPINACH
-Bloomsdale and Tyee

SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI
-Costata Romanesco-best tasting zuke around

SUNFLOWERS-technically a flower but they are veggies for the birds!
-will grow another huge patch of different varieties-beautiful and the birds love them
-Russian Mammoth AND Titan- for us/birds to eat
-Black Oil-for the birds only

TOMATILLO-Green-good for tomatillo salsa-only need one plant as they are so prolific.

WON’T GROW AGAIN
BEAN-Emerite bean/pole bean- great flavor but didn’t grow high enough to cover my teepee and I will grow others this year.

CARROTS
-Paris Market-too small, bland flavor, not impressed

CALABICITAS SQUASH
-seed from local grower-turns out it was a native winter squash, not calabacitas squash.

CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

FENNEL/FINOCCHIO
-Di Firenze-might grow one or two but not 25 plants like last year!

PEPPER
-Jalapeno-I don’t use them enough to call for space in the garden. I’ll just buy the few I use throughout the year.

POTATOES
-Russian Banana-too crunchy and watery

What’s wrong with this zucchini?

What’s wrong with this zucchini? The one on the left is yellowing and shriveling up. It wasn’t either fully pollinated (some bee didn’t do her job) OR once again it was too hot when pollination happened and it didn’t take hence it is self aborting. Just like tomatoes, all squash likes the heat but not when it is trying to pollinate. The zucchini on the right side of the photo is fine.

Tomato Lady of Santa Fe returns to the Farmers Market this Saturday August 25, 2012

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 25, I am returning to the Santa Fe Farmers Market as ‘The Tomato Lady’. At this time I have over 15 varieties of organically grown heirloom tomatoes from luscious black tomatoes like Purple Cherokee, supersweet yellow Virginia Sweets to Italian Red Costoluto Genevese and many, many more . I have over 50 plants and 25 varieties that will ripen as we go through the season. They are beautiful. They are gorgeous! And they taste wonderful! Magnifico!

I also have Shishito peppers, Costata Romanesco zucchini and Fairy eggplants that I will sell as well. Next week I will add some sunflowers out of my sunflower forest and Emerite French filet beans. I’ll be inside the building-look for ‘The Tomato Lady’ sign above my booth. Hours are 7am-noon. Hope to see you there!

My Garden Kicks Ass!

I think this is my best garden ever even though I don’t have a lot of produce yet-but it’s all coming! It’s gotten so lush with just a couple of days of rain. I don’t mean to brag but I must-it’s really hard to grow a garden like this in the high desert. I fight the pests and have problems too just like you but diligence and hard work has really help. Hope you enjoy these photos.

This is the same angle from the corner of the garden I’ve photographed  since the beginning of this year.  Wow what a difference 2.5 months makes.

55 tomatoes planted May 15th!

Here is the same corner in  the beginning of the season back on May 15, 2011

Here the view is looking towards the entry from inside. Zucchini, flowers, scarlet runner beans, rattlesnake beans tomatoes, corn, asparagus, sunflowers, rhubarb all stuffed in the entry!

These Emerite pole beans are hiding the teepee now.

Corn, asparagus, flowers, rhubarb and sunflower coming along.

Baby cucumbers- these are Boothsby Blonde variety. They will make great bread and butter pickles.

Caleb, my apprentice, gave me a gourd seed that someone had given him but he didn’t know what type it was, so I call it-Caleb’s mystery gourd. Notice the purslane in the left corner. I’m going to try some this year so I left it in..

Flower bed to the right of the entry-zinnias, cosmos nasturtiums, pole beans and sunflowers. I can only imagine this when they all bloom.

My one lone cosmos flower yet but what a beauty-Magenta cosmos flower

Here is Caleb’s baby mystery gourd-wonder what kind it’ll be. Kind of looks like a pear right now.

The tomatoes have really shot up-about 5 feet tall now. Now the Long Gourd tower in the background doesn’t look as tall.

Best tasting zucchini ever-Costata Romanesco

Pepperoncinis’ with eggplants behind them

The Long Gourd is stretching towards the top of that 10′ trellis tower I built! Never thought I’d see that!

Scarlet Runner bean flower-beautiful!

Here’s  one of Caleb’s bees doing it’s thing with the pumpkin flower.

Finally the Shishito peppers are kicking in.

View from the inside looking out towards the gate. The Rattlesnake pole beans are producing and growing over the arbor now. Way in the background inside the corral is the pumpkin patch.

Finally a baby ‘Greenie’ pumpkin-about 5 inches in circumference right now-small but I’ll take it!

Put my cell phone on top of the giant pumpkin today to give it some perspective. It put on 11.5 lbs yesterday— went from 56.5 lbs to 70 lbs.  Hope the squirrel doesn’t get it. Been hiding all the pumpkins under row cover and burlap to discourage the squirrel.

Today’s small harvest-slow but steady!

Vegetable Garden July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th! Here’s a look at the main garden so far this summer. This year is definitely slower than this time last year due to lack of precipitation but with the monsoons here, it should take off this month and kick butt. To see last year’s garden at this time, go here.

The cukes I’ve had to replant due to something eating the seedlings several times even though I’ve covered it with row cover..

I have 2 Costata Romanesco zucchini plants. The leaves are very delicate compared to other zucchini types. Hope we don’t get hail. I grow it because I  think this is the best tasting zuke ever. I read about this Costata Romanesco in one of Debra Madison’s vegetarian cook books-‘Local Flavors’. She lives in Santa Fe and  has several vegetarian cookbooks out. Great books on what tasty things you can create with your veggies. I’m not a vegetarian but am  always looking for new ways to use my vegggies so I don’t get bored.

We didn’t get ANY strawberries this year because I almost lost them all when we had that -25°F this winter. I have June bearing strawberries so I know the time has past. I had just a few plants this spring that survived but the strawberry patch is coming back nicely. Next year I will cover them with straw before winter to help insulate them.

This variety of pole bean is called ‘Emerite’ from John Scheepers. It is a new variety for me. I also have my favorite, ‘Rattlesnake’ beans and another new bush variety called, Verandon, which is a french fillet style of bean. I made a teepee out of bamboo. Notice the row cover in the background covering some of the cucumbers.

Here is the eggplant patches. They are doing well. The patch in the foreground has ‘Fairy’ eggplants in them, a variety that get 3″ long and are my favorite. Their skin is always tender and they are never bitter. You don’t have to soak them in salt water like some varieties-and they are beautiful-purple fading to white. I like to saute them in olive oil and throw them in a stir fry with noodles.

The patch in the back with me are a new variety of eggplant called ‘Rosa Bianca’ and next to it are 4 ‘Peperonchino’ peppers that are growing well.

This year I planted rhubarb among the asparagus plants. I found them this spring at one of the nurseries and they were the sorriest plants I’ve ever seen at that time. They say they grow well with asparagus. Now they are beautiful! Seem to like their location. On the left is row cover I use to help protect new flower seedlings. I take it off in the day and back on at night. Once they get a little bigger, I take it off completely.

The biggest disappointment of the garden so far. The ‘Shishito’ peppers are still slow but finally don’t look sick any more. Still small and something ate some of them so they are really small but they will come back. Some of them are producing buds. No wonder they are so expensive at the SF Farmers market-they are not so easy to grow..

Overall I am very pleased with the tomatoes this year. They are doing well. Everything is done except for my scheduled organic fungicide spraying every 10 days-especially now that the monsoons appear to be here. I’ve only lost 2 tomato plants and another 3 are suspicious. I will cover those with some row cover in case they have something contagious but if I think they are dying I will pull them pronto. Notice this picture taken from the some angle as on May 15th below-when I first planted them-they have come a long way!

It has proved to be a more challenging year what with the lack of rain for so many months but I feel confident  for all of us with some more rain we will have a good garden this year.

costoluto genevese tomato

Planting, planting, planting…

Well, if you are wondering why I haven’t been posting, it is because I’ve been out PLANTING, trying to get the last of the garden in. So far, I have 70 tomato plants, ‘Rattlesnake’ pole beans around my trellis, 4 ‘Pepperocini’ pepper plants, 16 eggplants, 2 rhubarbs and put additional wall of waters around all of the tomatoes and created some new drip sections for all these.

Tomorrow (Sunday) goes in 12 shishito pepper plants, bush bean seeds, pole bean seeds, 4 different types of cucumbers seeds, ornamental japonica corn, flowers and a new drip system manifold (I take a deep breath now) I hope to get this done (early-way early!) before the BIG WINDS come in AGAIN and make life MISERABLE….

Monday goes in 2 giant pumpkins, 1 giant greenie squash, 2 giant marrows and a giant pear gourd go in. The long gourds will have to wait till I make them a trellis later this week or next.

Phew! It is always such a big push in spring to get things in the garden and fall come harvest time. The rest of the time I feel like I’m just cruising in the garden! All this on 4000 sq feet of garden which is only 1/10 of an acre…

My favorite summer squash to grow

I like summer squash but won’t grow varieties that I can find in the stores or my farmers market. Why grow something I can already buy? So I’ve tried a number of different types of summer squash and definitely have my favorites. So here are my three favorite summer squashes.

Costata Romanesco-picture courtesy of uprisingorganics.com

ZUCCHINI TYPES:-#1-COSTATA ROMANESCO: This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE of ANY type of summer squash. Costata Romanesco is a ribbed zucchini from Rome, Italy and a famous Italian heirloom. Often considered to be the best tasting and best textured zucchini.  The flavor is sweet and nutty. The long fruit are fluted with medium, green-striped skin. The cut slices are scalloped. They are popular fried whole with the flower still on when still small. They are very flavorful and a perfect, gourmet variety. Pick this variety when it is 7-10 inches long.

Lungo Bianco

#2-LUNGO BIANCO: This variety is a light-green-cream heirloom zucchini and another popular squash from Italy. They are smooth skinned, mild and sweet. Pick this when it is 6-8 inches long

Bennings Green Tint-picture courtesy of sustainableseed.com

SCALLOP TYPE: BENNINGS GREEN TINT: My FAVORITE SCALLOP variety of summer squash is Bennings Green Tint which is a light green scallop squash. It stays tender longer and is extremely flavorable and not bitter.  Very nutty like flavor. I’ve tried golden Custard, yellow types, white types and striped types but ‘Bennings Green Tint’ tops them all for the scalloped variety. I like the colors of the other varieties but the flavor is missing. Pick this when it is 2-3 inches in diameter.

2011 Vegetable Lineup

I finished my vegetable list for my main garden. I will grow many heirloom tomatoes, Fairy eggplants, Shishito peppers, Costata Romanesco zucchini, Galeux d’ Eyesines and Red Warty Thing winter squash, Rattlesnake pole beans, and several different cucumbers and some greens. I will have to expand the garden one more time but not before the season starts but sometime this summer. This is so I can get my tomatoes on a 3 year rotation. I’m ok for this year but need a new section for them by next year. I hopefully will be at our Farmers Market this coming year again. We have to apply each year and they have a jury system to get in as it is so popular and has grown so much. Looking forward to a new growing season!

2011 TOMATOES
HEIRLOOMS
PLUM STYLE
(2) Goldsman Italian American-red-BH
(2) San Marzano-red plum/80 days/AFN
BI-COLOR
(4) Striped German-bicolor-SFGH
(2) Gold Medal-bicolor-75-80 days-BH
(1)Ananas Noir
BLACK OR PURPLE
(2) Paul Robeson-black/75-85 days-AFN
(2) Cherokee Purple/80 days-AFN
RED
(1) Pantano Romanesco-red/70-80 days-BH,TOMFEST
(2) Costoluto Genovese-red/78 daysTOMGROWERS
(2) Goldsman Italian American-red-BH
CHERRY TOMATOES
(2) Black Cherry-black/75 days-AFN
(1) Green Grape-green/
(1) yellow/62 days-TOT TOM
HYBRIDS-I grow a few hybrids
(2) Lemon Boy-AFN
(3) Park’s Beefy Boy-red-70 days-AFB

2011 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS-Rattlesnake (remarkably favored pole bean)
PEPPER-Shishito (Japanese non hot pepper)
SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco (best tasting zuke around)
WINTER SQUASH-Galeux d’ Eyesines and Red Warty Thing (that’s what it’s called!)
EGGPLANT-Fairy (best sweet, no bitter taste and soft skin eggplant I’ve tasted)
CUCUMBERS-Parisian, De Bourbonne, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kera, Armenian and Parade? I grow cukes for either taste or which variety is best for different types of pickles
CORN-not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)
LETTUCES-From COOK’S GARDEN-Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem
SPINACH-From COOK’S GARDEN-Bloomsdale
CARROTS-Purple Haze and Scarlet Nantes
ARUGULA-Apollo

2011 HERBS-Following is a list of herbs that will be planted or exist on the property
Basil-new
Lime Basil-new
Thai Basil-new
Oregano-exists
Thyme-exists
Lemon Thyme-exists
Chives-exists
Dill-usually self seeds
Marjoram-new
Mint-exists
Sage-exists
Lavender-exists

Veggies I will and won’t grow this year and why in 2011

Here is my veggie list from last year. I thought it important to go through it and tell you what I will and won’t grow again and why before I forget. Look at my SEED LIST PAGE next week (as it could always change) to see exactly what I am growing in 2011

TOMATO-HEIRLOOMS
San Marzano-red plum tomato-YES-I will try again even though ALL 4 died. I hear too many good things about this tomato

Striped German-bicolor tomato-YES-I WILL grow it again for my third straight year-One of my favorites even though it takes a little longer to develop

Black Cherry-YES- I will grow this for my third straight year-another favorite

Paul Robeson-black tomato-YES-A Farmers Market favorite although I prefer others.

Cherokee Purple-purple tomato-NO-I missed this one last year but it is wonderful. As good as Brandywine.

Cherokee Chocolate-YES-Just as good as Cherokee purple but a little brownish color. I will choose between one of the Cherokees due to space.

Prudens Purple-purple tomato-NO-not as good as the Cherokees nor as prolific but planted it because it was suppose to ripen sooner-not true for me last year.

Black Krim-black tomato-NO I didn’t do this one last year but had it in the lineup because it is only 69 days to ripen. Never had good luck in previous years.

Pantano Romanesco-red classic tomato-YES-wonderful tomato from Italy

Great White-NO- novelty-lost both plants

Costoluto Genovese-red tomato-YES fantastic looking-fluted and great taste

Goldsman Italian American-large red plum-YES even though I lost 3 out of 4, and it took forever to ripen, it makes the BEST tasting tomato sauce I’ve ever made

Aunt Ruby’s German Green-NO-Novelty-lost 2 plants

Gold Medal-bicolor tomato-MAYBE-took longer to ripen than Striped German but great taste

TOMATOES-HYBRID-I grow a few hybrids
Lemon Boy-MAYBE-didn’t get any in last year but it is a sweet terrific tomato

Park’s Beefy Boy-red tomato-70 days-YES-only 70 days and great taste

Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-NO-kinda like a lot of yellow cherry tomatoes but super sweet.Want to try something different.

Original Goliath-red tomato-NO- nice size, early ripener but can’t remember the flavor

TOMATO-COMPETITION (biggest)
Big Zac-red/80 days-YES-takes the longest to ripen but taste is great and chance to grow a huge one.

2010 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS-Rattlesnake-YES-great tasting pole bean over my arbor and Tavera-NO average tasting bush bean

PEPPER-Shishito-YES-I love these-not hot but full of flavor

SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco -YES wonderful taste and Lungo Bianco-NO-it was good and more prolific than Romanesco but not as flavorful. Sticking to one kind this year.

SUMMER SQUASH-SCALLOPED-Yellow Custard and Bennings Green Tint-NO on both. I’m only growing Costata Romanesco

WINTER SQUASH-Marina di Chioggia-NO-powdery mildew problem and not many squashes and Galeux d’Eyesines-YES-prolific-great taste-3rd yr.

EGGPLANT-Little Fairy-YES-prolific tender skin and great taste, third year in a row. Thai Yellow Egg-NO-took all season to develop and then froze at first frost. What a disappointment.

CUCUMBERS-Parisian, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kera, and Parade-YES TO ALL-Third straight season

CORN-not sure if I’m growing. Might just pick it up at Farmers Market

LETTUCES-from COOK’S GARDEN-Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-YES

SPINACH-from COOK’S GARDEN-Indian Summer and Double Choice-NO-will look for bigger leaf variety.Too puny.

CARROTS-from COOK’S GARDEN-Kaleidoscope (mix of red, purple, orange and yellow)-NO want only orange and purple ones this year.

BROCCOLI-Brocolli Romanesco-NO-takes too long to develop.

ARUGULA-Apollo-YES

BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-YES

CHARD-5 Color Silverbeet-YES TO ANY CHARD

PEAS-DWARF SUGAR, OREGON SPRING II-YES

2010 GIANT PUMPKINS
895 Grande (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)-YES-grew the 2010 NM State Record Pumpkin-421 lbs + 3 other new ones

GIANT MARROW (like a giant Zucchini)
206.5 Wursten 09-YES-didn’t grow last year but will this year

75.4 Wursten 09-YES-grew the 2010 NM State Record-43 lbs

GIANT TOMATOES
7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open) YES-grew a 2 lb 11 oz tomato in 2010

5.416 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open-YES

Big Zac (from Totally Tomato)-YES

GIANT SUNFLOWERS
Titans-YES

‘The Tomato Lady’ returns to Santa Fe Farmers Market

‘The tomato Lady’-first day sold out of Tomatoes

Yesterday I returned to our Farmers Market here in Santa Fe, NM as the ‘Tomato Lady’ and sold out of my tomatoes by 10 am.

It’s been a long wait all summer for my tomatoes to ripen and they have started but are not full blown yet. So I had some tomatoes but not a ton. In another couple of weeks, I should be overwhelmed with tomatoes. I also had Costata Romanesco  and Lungo Bianco zucchini, Bennings Green Tint and Yellow Custard scallop summer squash,  Fairytale eggplants, Shishito peppers, Padron peppers, Parade, Armenian cucumbers and Rattlesnake pole beans. For tomatoes I had Early Wonder, Pantano Romanesco, Goliath, Sun Sugar and Black Cherry and a few Costuluto Genovese. Hope I have lots more next week!

How to control squash bugs

Squash bug adult-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Well it’s that time of year-Squash bugs Ughh! You can control squash bugs in your organic garden. Here are some ORGANIC things you can do to deter squash bugs:

-Plant a crop late in the season if possible. Many areas of the country only have one generation of squash bugs and if you plant later you may miss them. If you live in the south where they have 2 generations, read on..

squash bug nymphs-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

-Cover your plants with row cover to keep them off. This works beautifully but you may have to piece some row covers together to cover some of the larger plants. I use clothes pins to clip them together.

-Use Neem. It is an organic pesticide (and an added benefit is a fungicide). It must be sprayed very early before the bees come out or at dusk when they aren’t around as it won’t hurt them if it is not a direct hit as they only visit the flowers and it is a contact spray. I think it mostly helps deter the squash bug.

squash bug eggs

-Inspection, hand picking and kill the little buggars. (now you know how strongly I feel about them) By far the most labor intensive but very effective. I hate to handle squash bugs (or any bug-I’m squeamish) so I use gloves, a bucket of soapy water (it drowns them) and inspect each leaf underneath to look for nymphs, eggs, or adults. The adults I throw in the soapy water and if a leaf is really loaded with nymphs, I cut it off and throw it in the soapy water otherwise I just squish them. For the eggs  (they are a cluster of rust colored eggs attached to the underneath side of the leaves) I usually just tear off  or cut out that portion of the leaf (it won’t hurt it) and throw them into the soapy water. The key to keeping it under control, is to catch them before they multiply too much. I looked up the life cycle online of the squash but and it goes from egg to nymph in 7-10 days so if you get out there every 7 days you will catch them before they get out of control and multiply. Most people wait too late. Get out there and look at your plants!

-Companion planting. I think it was in ‘Organic Gardening Magazine that I read under ‘letter to the editors’, that a lady wrote in to say that you could deter squash bugs on pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and marrows with diluted/strained onion juice. Evidently just grind one or two up, put it in gallon of water and strain the onions out so your sprayer doesn’t clog. Well she went on to write that doing that was too much work and she plants onions bulbs with her squash every year and hasn’t seen a squash bug since. Well I did the same for my summer squashes, but not for my winter squashes. There have been no squash bugs on the summer squash but I found one on the marrow which means there will be more. I told one of friends that owns a garden nursery about the onions and he said it was too late to plant onions but he was going to throw some chopped onions out in his patch. I’m doing the same today for the marrow and winter squash and will let you know what happens! It can’t hurt and maybe it’ll work!

organic fungicides to use for Powdery Mildew

We’ve been getting so much rain lately that I am worried about Powdery Mildew (PM) and other fungal and bacterial diseases caused by too much rain. It is a blessed curse. The garden takes off  and really grows from all the rain but the conditions are right for PM so I am trying to take precautions by doing several things to be as preventative as possible.

First I’m cleaning out all dead or yellow leaves that are usually underneath the canopy of the squashes and beans and tomatoes. I use clippers to cut out the dead stems  or yellow leaves (like on the tomatoes) and I sterilize them between each plant so not to spread any diseases that the plant may have that I don’t know about yet. The idea is to clean up under the canopy of  leaves and provide more air space. I have a small container that I fill with 4 cups of water and I put in about 1/4 cup bleach and use this as a disinfectant for my clippers and gloves. I just dip my clippers and hand with my glove into the container and then move onto the next plant. You can use isopropyl alcohol instead but you could go through a lot of alcohol and the bleach works just as well. The next thing I do is spray weekly with Neem and baking soda or instead use copper fungicide which is stronger but still organic. I think the Neem and baking soda are more preventative and if you get some fungal diseases then the copper can kill it. Copper is organic but one still needs to follow the directions but you can spray it right up to the day of harvest. All of these need to be sprayed on both the top and underneath the leaves and have to be resprayed if it rains. The third thing I’m doing this year is using a biofungicide that is used as a drench. This is new to me but it is just certain soil organisms that help the plant ward off many fungal and bacterial diseases. I’m using it on my giant pumpkins and will let you know how they do. Another biofungicide is Mycostop which is also suppose to do the same thing. There may be others out there, just google biofungicides.

Garden Harvest from July 24

First harvest from July 24

Here’s a picture of the first garden harvest that I actually got on July 24! It was small but tasty! ‘Romanesco Costata’ summer squash, ‘Lungo Bianco di Sicily’ summer squash, ‘Yellow Custard’ scalloped summer squash, ‘Bennings Green Tint’ scallop summer squash, ‘Fairy’ eggplants, bush beans, cucumbers, ‘Shishitos’ and ‘Padron’ peppers are really kicking, and a few tomatoes. Now on August 2, almost everything is going bonkers except the tomatoes-I’m still waiting for the tomatoes to really show up soon in a major way!

Calabacitas breakfast

Breakfast Calabacitas With Egg

Here’ a recipe to make a southwest favorite here in Santa Fe. I add an egg on top for a complete breakfast.

(6) 6-8 inch zucchini
1/2 of onion chopped
1-2 ears of corn kernels
1 tsp cumin
Northern New Mexico green chili sauce

Slice zucchini or any summer squash and chop onions. Saute in olive oil till soft and liquid has evaporated. Cut kernels off fresh corn and add to mix. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of cumin (more or less to taste) on top and stir in. Cook a few more minutes till corn is cooked but doesn’t ‘pop’. Cook an egg in another fry pan and put on top of mixture on plate. I add warm green chili on top of each plate to each person’s taste-some like it hotter and some like a little.