The end of the tomatoes

Starting, finally, to get some afternoon thunderstorms. No where near enough to impact the lake level but at least I’m getting a break watering the garden.

Pulled out all the tomato plants except one that has maybe another 2 weeks in it plus all the summer squash so the garden is looking fairly empty at this point. This coming week will mark the end of the cucumbers and I’ll probably yank out the beans as well. My plan is to let it rest for a month except for those items planted in the last month or so – that would be the sweet potatoes, eggplant, okra, and cherry tomatoes – then start planting new stuff. I’m reasonably confident that the heat and humidity in July and August will doom anything started new, but it just doesn’t cost much to try and maybe something will defy the odds and survive.

After pulling these plants out by the roots, I’m confident I can tell exactly what the nematode situation is in any one place. Out of a dozen tomatoes planted, two crashed with a couple of months and the roots were severely damaged. No surprise. Among the remaining plants 6 grew extremely well and produced an exceptional load of fruit; the other four grew well and produced a good crop but were definitely not as robust as some of the brethren. Sure enough, the roots on those exceptional plants were ultra clean, full, and lengthy whereas the lesser plants exhibited roots with some signs of nematode damage deep down. This is all good news because I know exactly what I did to the soil, pre-planting, at each location and it will be quite easy to duplicate the successes.

This is going to be one of those bad, bad days – two days actually. I have a colonoscopy tomorrow, just a routine checkup, but it really screws up my daily routine. I scheduled the event itself for a 6:30AM arrival so that I can get in and out of there with the least chance of delay due to a backup at the medical center. But then I got to thinking, that means I have to be up before 5AM to complete all the pre – event stuff. The good news is that breakfast is my favorite meal and the medical facility is close to my favorite breakfast place – that would be the best biscuits in town.

Back on line

Had a brief lack of internet when our signal unexpectedly dropped to near zero. I called the provider several days in a row and was told they were working on it. Our system is wireless and I thought it involved satellites but can’t imagine sending somebody up to fix the satellite. So it must be cell tower based. Anyway, back on line so my bride is a happy camper.

This Casey Anthony trial sure has my daily routine screwed up. I normally get all my outside work done in the morning, between 9AM and noon, before it just gets too hot. With the trial starting at 9, I’ve had to shift my yard work to fit when the trial breaks for lunch – when the temperature and humidity have soared to peak levels.

Got one more, the last one for sure, batch of tomatoes and sauce. By my tally, that would get us to 88 quarts for the season. Freezers full. I have some seedlings ready to hit the garden about mid July – maybe they’ll survive, maybe not. Way fewer than the original batch and intended for regular sliced tomato eating and salad – no more sauce.

Finished off the corn. I wouldn’t label it a total success but we did get a fair amount relative to previous years and identified an area of the garden needing a bit more attention. It was successful enough to encourage another crop try.

Have a few okra plants poking through the soil. I’m trying two different varieties in hopes of finding one that produces pods that remain tender at a larger size. The types I’ve tried to date have gone woody when they get much more than 2” long and I’d really like them at least double that. Also spotted my first Louisiana Long eggplant. It’s a heritage variety. I bought the seeds last season and have had zero success getting them from seed stage to garden vegetables – very poor germination rate and then difficulty moving seedlings to the main garden. I managed to get one plant growing nicely and putting out plenty of blossoms but no fruit; that is until I spotted two yesterday. The fruit is long, thin and green so it looks nothing like a conventional eggplant and hard to spot on the plant. The Lavender Touch variety, in the pic last post, is the variety that overwhelmed us last season and looking good again this year.

Father’s day at the beach

We had a great father’s day. Tom suggested we all do a day at the beach. They have the beach gear including a large canopy, portable gas grill, and boom box. The water was perfect and it cooled off nicely mid afternoon. I had guessed that we’d make it half a day but it turned out we were all having such a great time that we didn’t pack up until late afternoon. Even caught a small pompano. We topped it all off with dinner at a little country chicken restaurant in Bunnell. Missed Chris and little Tommy.

Just spotted something that surprised me. A large, green grasshopper flew out of a grapefruit tree about 20′ from me with a Cardinal in hot pursuit. The Cardinal caught him in mid air with some really fancy flying. Here’s what surprised me. I thought Cardinals were seed eaters, exclusively. Looks like an occasional grasshopper fills the protein requirements or maybe this guy was a rogue, rebelling against the vegan bit.

And another wildlife event. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that our trash can and the neighbor’s has been dumped. We’ve bounced between thinking it was a bear or a raccoon with the raccoon being the most likely suspect. More evidence today that it’s a bear. George’s can was dumped last night but this time it looks like the culprit decided to bed down in the vicinity of the trash. A circular area about 5′ in diameter in the jungle right behind the can was flattened – a clear sign of a sleeping spot for something larger than a raccoon. Our guess now is a small bear.
lavender-touch-eggplants
Another 20 pound basket of San Marzano’s, another 16 quarts of spaghetti sauce – just in time for some eggplant parmesan. (That’s Olivia holding a couple freshly picked Lavender Touch eggplants.) By my count we are now up to 72 quarts. Looking at the withering plants remaining, I suspect we can do this one more time next week before it’s all over. I’m starting seeds for another 4 plants to hit the garden mid July. Instinctively I suspect it will be too hot but the cherry tomato plants I put in a few weeks ago are showing no problems at all with the heat so why not try a few regular varieties. I’ll do the same in mid-August and hopefully we’ll have a continuous supply on through Thanksgiving this year.

Got some reinforcement on the San Marzanos. I was watching an episode of Man vs Food taped at a Brooklyn pizza place called Spumoni’s. Supposedly they have the best Sicilian pizza in the galaxy. They asked the chef what the secret was to his sauce and he said they used only San Marzano tomatoes. Nothing else met their standards. Everyone around here who’s tasted it agrees it’s awesome sauce.

Bonding with Olivia

This year I had a joint birthday party with Olivia. Should have done this years ago – the level of attention is way higher!! Joey and Mark had been sidetracked in Italy so they missed out on tons of leftovers but ……………… One good thing is the large quantity of veggies and spaghetti sauce that was used in the meal – baked ziti. The antipasto salad incorporated the usual provolone and salami and veggies including three varieties of summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans and onions – all fresh from the garden. We pondered early on about how much pasta to use for 14 adults and vacillated between two pounds and three. We opted for two because of the large salad, 8 pounds of sausage, and three loaves of Italian bread that would accompany the ziti. After we got the pasta boiling we read the box and it suggested 8 oz of pasta would work for 14 people. That sounded ridiculous but it turned out that the two pounds turned into about 10 pounds of finished product. It’s lots of work to make a meal like this and since it would take about as much effort to make half as much, go for leftovers. As it turned out, about 3/4 of the ziti was consumed so the two pounds was probably a good number for us.
baked-zitifresh-garden-salad
Olivia came up to the lake the day before the party and will be staying with us all week. I took her surf fishing and she repaid my kindness by catching more than me. What’s that all about? She did Nancy things for a couple days and then she and I went crabbing. Had a good time but didn’t catch enough large crabs to make a decent meal. In between all those activities, she’s studying her AP Chemistry for next year. What dedication. I can’t ever remember being in the same room with a school book during my summer vacations. Nancy’s going to miss having her nails done on a nightly basis so that her nails were a color match for the next day’s clothes. Olivia brought up a small portion of her overall polish collection – a dozen or so bottles- and added to that on several shopping excursions. So Nancy had some very exotic combinations to show off to the bridge and quilting ladies.
matching-nail-polish-2matching-nail-polish

About the Trial

I’m basically hanging on every word in the trial of Casey waiting for one key piece of information. Did she win the Hot Body contest? If she did, I think that gives her an automatic pass or at least some relief based on extenuated circumstances. Wouldn’t you have thought the prosecution would have showed a video of the event? I kept waiting. Other points of interest: entomologists can make decent bucks – the expert said he was making $30K for his work on this trial; cadaver dogs and the handlers are really rigorously trained, tested, and certified. I’m very suspicious about the duct tape since I’ve never seen any with markings on the tape. The kind I’ve always seen is just plain, silver tape. I’m also wondering if the cadaver dog “Bones” was named after the TV show or visa versa. I wish they would have clarified that for me.

All along I’ve had the opinion that the baby was accidentally killed rather than on a premeditated basis. The logic behind that opinion was that if it was planned, the killer would also have thought about and planned what to do with the body and for certain, not left it in the trunk of the car and dumped it close to the house. That, to me, is a sign of a panic rather than premeditation. Something like – she chloroformed the kid, maybe a regular thing she did, came home to find her dead and panicked. But there is another explanation that also explains a factor I’ve never come to terms with – Roy Kronk, the meter reader that found the body. That always smelled fishy to me. My new theory allows that the last piece to fit with premeditated murder. Caylee is killed and the body disposed of at a location far from the home. Roy Kronk happens on the body, maybe the way he said, and tries to figure a way to capitalize on the finding and get the reward. So he moves the body close to the Anthony home and calls 911. He gets his 15 minutes and maybe some money. The interesting thing is that if the defense is able to prove that Kronk was more involved with the body than just a single event, to me that would solidify premeditation on the part of Casey rather than absolve her.

In the end I suspect she’ll be convicted on something less than first degree murder. Maybe being a bad dancer or something.

More veggie pics

The pole beans are going gangbusters and have been for a couple of weeks. The picture shows the two varieties growing, Smeraldo and Gold Marie; that’s a 9” ruler. The plants are growing quite a bit taller than advertised – at least 12′ vs an expected 8′ – making it a bit difficult to get to the highest growing beans which means back to the drawing board for some mod’s to the next bean trellis.
smereldo-and-gold-marie
The garden is playing out, pretty much on schedule. The Cougar squash, cucumbers, and several of the tomato plants have about given their all to filling our fridge. Pulling the corn out stalk by stalk and gaining access to the underlying butternuts, many of those ready for harvest. Olivia is spending a week at the lake so she’s helping pick the garden and is holding the last few cucumbers and the first of the butternuts. She played bean catcher when I climbed a ladder to get at the higher pole beans. I’m still adding new peppers, okra, and eggplants but by the end of this month, it should be down to about 50% of total capacity. My plan is to leave most of the area unplanted for a couple of months and to start a few new ones from seed indoors. Right now I’m thinking tomatoes starting mid July, cucumbers and squash, mid August. It’s problematic putting in new starts in the summer heat but worth the effort if they will yield veggies towards the end of October. I’m also cogitating a new run at a corn patch. I have low expectations but do have old seed and plenty of space. butternutscucumbers

Pickin’ and Cookin’

Want to see what 30 pounds of tomatoes fresh off the vine looks like? Want to see what 30 pounds of tomato looks like after a trip through the food processor? So far this week – Monday and Thursday – we’ve picked a total of 60 pounds and prepared 32 quarts of spaghetti sauce. With this batch, we’re beginning to see the end – of the tomatoes and of freezer space. I’ll probably pick this much more before it totally plays out.
30-poundswith-fresh-oregano
Right after getting the spaghetti sauce cooking, we start the zucchini bread. We were on a roll and the kitchen was a mess, so why not truck on. The pictures show the sequence from selecting the squash to slicing the squash to shredding it, mixing it with other ingredients and finally to baking it. The particular squash was the same giant 14” one shown in a previous post. We ended up using about 3/4 of that one squash to make all the bread loaves shown.
getting-ready-to-attackshreddedoven-readytable-ready

The end product this year is, to my taste, the best we’ve ever made and since Nancy always uses the same recipe, I have to attribute it to the variety of squash we’re using. This is the first time I’ve grown the Cavili squash so this is the first Cavili bread – maybe the first on record anywhere. This year we’ve made some with a mix of the light green Cavili and the light yellow Cougar which turned out just as good. What’s different this year is that the bread is really moist whereas in the past, I think it’s been drier. It may be that the water content in Cavili is higher than other varieties and it may be that it’s seedless. I also think the skin is softer even with these large ones and I don’t peel them. Whatever the reason, it’s a winner.