Garden Happenin’s

Some really strange things going on in the tomato patch. I had a lot of trouble getting seedlings going this year – think I’ve found the problem and corrected it – so I started taking care of renegades that popped up in the garden as a possible salvation in case none of my new plants made it. Over the years I’ve planted literally dozens of varieties and hundreds of plants. Invariably some tomatoes fall off the plants and those seeds go into the soil accordingly. Or if a caterpillar drills into a tomato and makes it undesirable, I pull it and pitch it into the compost pile. That plus when I end the tomato season I pull out the old plants and deposit them in the compost pile. There are usually a few rotting tomatoes clinging to the old vine so those seeds are also buried in the compost. Every few months I move the compost from the pile into the garden – no doubt moving some of those seeds as well. The net of all that is that in the spring, from about March thru now, many of these seeds germinate and pop up as “weeds”. Since they’ve probably been cross pollinated with who knows what variety, the children are of mixed heritage. You never know until they start to put out tomatoes just what you have. In a good year when all my desired seedlings have made it, I just pull out all the renegades. One of these Strangelings appears to be a cross between a cherry and a San Marzano. Can’t wait to see how that works out.

One of the scourges of the garden, and specifically with the squash/zucchini, has been aphids. At the start of the season I read that planting nasturtiums would keep the aphids away so I decided to give it a test. I put in the flower seed amongst the squash plants and sure enough, I’ve had no aphids this season. It may be just the particulars of this season but at this point I’m giving the credit to the nasturtiums. Plus they dress up the garden a bit. You probably know that cucumbers are in the same family as squash or at least they look like they could be related. They are planted in the row adjacent to the squash so may be also getting the benefit of the nasturtiums.

As you can see, the cuc’s are coming on strong. This is one plant so you can just imagine what the crop from the six I planted will be. I did stagger plant so hopefully it’ll be a long, productive season. This particular variety is hands down my most demanded crop. Everybody we know asks when the cucumbers are coming. I have a feeling the on bush count will drop dramatically while we’re in Alabama.

here come the cuc's
here come the cuc’s

It’s Florida corn season and we saw an ad on the tube talking about ricotta corn fritters. The corn in our garden won’t be ready until mid June but we decided to buy a few ears on sale at the market and make a batch of fritters so when our own corn comes in, we’d have another way to use it. I googled “ricotta Corn Fritters” and the recipe popped right up along with one entitled Ricotta-Corn-Zucchini fritters. Since we still have a long position in zucchini and always on the lookout for a new way to use them, we went in that direction. Really, really good. We halved the recipe and still ended up with 6 fritters about 4-5” across. Also learned something. The recipe called for a small capsicum chopped. I had no idea what a capsicum is and planned to just skip it but as long as I was googling, I searched capsicum. Turns out it’s a variety of pepper that longs like a regular green or red bell pepper to me. Just happened to have one of the regular varieties so the only ingredient we ended up omitting were some chopped chives. Whatever! Can’t wait for our fresh corn to start happening.

It’s blueberry season in Florida. We have a great U-Pick place a few miles from where Nancy plays bridge so it’s convenient to load up during the one month season. We bought 15 pounds this first time – which was all he had picked and we’ll probably repeat that for the next couple of weeks. Last year we simply didn’t load up enough so we’re determined not to make that mistake this year. The main use is with cereal in the morning but some end up in muffins along the way. I wonder about putting a few handfuls in the next batch of zucchini bread. FYI – 15 pounds packaged into 13 quarts.

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