Friday, August 30, 2013

Fruits in our backyard

I am so proud of all the fruiting going on in the backyard and decided to show you why I am so happy this year!  Last year plums=0;apples=0.  This year plums=13;apples=100+;snakegourds=24+.  Well, snakegourd is technically not a sweet fruit, but it is growing for the first time ever in the garden and they're not easy to grow in our zone 4.  It's a vegetable, but a very favorite one at home.  Plum trees and apple trees are almost the same age as I recall maybe a year apart or so.  So I would say they're atleast 5yrs now, except Zestar apple tree which was planted about 3yrs back.  They're all either dwarf or semi dwarf trees. 

Tiny fruit formations create a lot of excitement :)  We are now at harvest time - almost.  Plums are already harvested, save for two still on the tree, apples from 1st tree starting falling every now and then, snakegourds already eaten 3....(who's counting? :) 

Oh! Don't be surprised by all the Ziploc bags on the apples, I use them to cover apples when they are dime sized and this is to prevent bugs in them.  This is the second time I have tried it and must say it worked great the first year.  Takes a lot of baggies, and a lot of those are a waste when the tree sheds the apples, but the ones that were covered until harvest were clean and free of bugs!  I have never sprayed my trees, so this is my organic way of growing apples!!   I have not tried this on plum trees and there are worms in them here and there, we just cut off the wormy side and eat the rest.  They're super sweet except for the peel which is a bit sour.

Some more 'Alderman' plums from the same tree
Honeycrisp apple tree on 8/15
Zestar apple tree on 8/15
Sweet 16 apple tree
Snakegourd vine
More snakegourds!
They're really loaded !!
A huge Zestar! apple in my kid's hand
A huge heirloom Brandywine... fills my hand!
Finally a view of my Garden#1 from the deck

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Harvest Monday(er.Tuesday) - Aug 27, 2013

I haven't been able to post this on Monday, because I was busy harvesting goodies in the garden and processing/cooking them. 

This week saw many "Firsts" of harvests.  First Snakegourd of the season was ready!!  It was almost 16 inches long.  There are still around a dozen more that are likely to be harvested before the first frost.  Yipeee!  Another first is our Zestar! apple tree set fruits this year and it is a relatively new apple variety (and a parent of Sweet Tango).  They are supposed to be harvested late August, but due to our colder than normal spring, the apples are inching towards being ready for harvest.  In the meantime, the tree shed about 5 large apples and we were delighted to taste them :)  They were not fully sweet, but 'eatable' nevertheless.  Should be ready in another week or so...Next up was a head of broccoli.  Lastly all but one of the plums were ready to be harvested.  A total of 12 plums!!

For all other harvests visit Daphne's this week!

Snakegourd, broccoli and a tomato
Fallen from tree - Zestar!
Alderman Plums, tomatoes, and broccoli
Green chillies and cucumbers
Zucchini and yellow crookneck
Fenugreek leaves
More fenugreek leaves, chopped and ready to be frozen
Harvest Baskets
Here's what's inside the basket....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Harvest Monday - August 19, 2013.

This week was more of the same harvests - tomatoes, long beans, peppers etc.,  The only new addition would be the eggplants that got harvested.  Finally the plants are starting to put out some tiny eggplants and couple of them were large enough to be harvested for a dish!

To check out everyone else's harvests visit Daphne's Dandelions!

One of the larger onions
Harvest basket!
Inside the basket...
Turnip and greens
Kohlrabi, tomato, red bell, kale
Tomato and green beans
Zucchini and Allstar strawberry(very sweet!)
Dried (seeds for next year) and fresh long beans
Harvest basket!  Check inside...
Floating chillies :) beans and tomatoes
Beet greens
Beets, cukes and a fallen apple
Long purple on the left, fairy tales in the middle, Ichiban on the left
Banana peppers, tomatoes

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Growing Snakegourd and other vines

Snake gourd is a tropical climate vegetable.  The vines need hot weather over a long period of time to grow and fruit.  I've wanted to grow these for a while, but the seeds are quite expensive online and their germination rate is very poor.   The seeds are very thick and take a longer time to germinate, if at all.  Since we are in zone 4 and in our short summer,  the only option is to start them indoors, to ensure the fruit develops before the first frost sometime in September.

Luckily for me, I never needed to buy seeds.  I had bought this vegetable for cooking purposes, from a local Asian store and since it was too mature I saved about 20 seeds.  Early March, I soaked the seeds for over 2 days in water first and then in moist paper towels trying to wear out the outer thick shell, all the while checking periodically and finally planted them indoors in soil.  I also had bitter gourd seeds and all of these seeds were planted at the same time.  One bitter gourd and about 4 snake gourd plants sprouted out of the numerous seeds planted. 

I've grown these vertically on a pvc pipe trellis from an idea online, So this is how it looks today.....

Snakegourd vine is in the middle, to the left is bittergourd, to the right is cantelope
....and the First Snakegourd!!!  (It's not as big as it looks in the picture though)
That's the male flower.
and the female flower(or rather bud), about the middle of the picture- the base of the white bud is swollen!
So that's the first one, behind the leaves to the left and next to it is another tiny one starting to form.  All in all, I counted about 6 fruits...which is very exciting, as this is the first time that I have been successful in growing them. 
I'm wondering if I should let one snake gourd mature and collect seeds for next year or take my chances of finding a mature one from the store bought ones? Hmm...
Here's my lone bitter gourd vine..
Yup, it's a single vine.
If you look closely, you will see a couple tiny bitter gourds...
Lastly, my cantelope vine which I mistakenly thought was a snake gourd vine(they all look alike when little :)
Cantelope vine loaded with fruits!
up close picture of cantelope in netting.
I find that growing vines vertically is much cleaner, but severly limits the plants from sprawling like they do on ground and consequently fruit production.  However, is safer for me to check in on the fruits as we have couple snakes in the yard(non poisonous), but I am wary of them and detest them with all my heart.  I used a regular wildlife netting rather than a trellis netting, on this one and am now wondering if it will support all the weight of the vines.  Will know soon enough.... :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Harvest Monday - August 12, 2013

I have lots of harvest this week and therefore lots of pictures!!  First harvest of tomatoes this week, including a couple mature green ones that my kid pulled off along with red ones:)  I finally harvested two of my three pots of potatoes.  First one was regular sized red and Yukon gold potatoes about 15 or so, then the second pot was fingerlings.  Since I was running out of space to plant them and they were all sprouting, I planted EVERYTHING in one pot and the result.....well see for yourselves -

Tiny Fingerlings potatoes
For comparison- on the left is a regular Yukon gold potato
Red and Yukon gold potatoes
Harvest Basket!!
This is the spread from the basket above - large mild peppers, chili peppers, bush beans, cukes, cabbage
Zucchini, beets
Chioggia beets shredded
Chioggia beets(pink stripes) and golden beets (below)
Zucchini, cukes and cabbage
Harvest Basket!!
Spread from the basket above - Banana peppers sweet, chili peppers, bush beans, long beans, cukes, yellow squash, tomatoes, two mature burgundy seed pods(for next year)
For all other harvests around the world, visit Daphne's Dandelions!