"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cucurbits, Flowers, and Pickles

While this gardening year was off to a very slow start we are quickly making up time heading toward the finish line. The above picture depicts one of our first (Janice Brown) daylilies sent to us from a friend in Virginia...they are beautiful.:)

Not only are some of our flowers "finally" starting to bloom but we have also been harvesting ample amounts of zucchini for a couple weeks now. This has also been a trial of patience for me. Of course, where there is one there is a dozen all ripening at the same time. I guess I know what we will be incorporating into every meal possible for the next month or so. I am very grateful though because we do love cooking with zucchini and I am glad that it is such a steady producer as we have been waiting a long time for them. Just the other morning I put on a pot of rice while we took the dog for a walk and upon returning threw together a nice stir fry full of garden veggies, including summer squash, for breakfast.

Our squash, planted in various locations, is coming along fairly well. Yesterday I noticed a few pumpkins, spaghetti, hubbard, and others of notable size. Not a lot of fruits yet, but I do see some. The papaya pear summer squash are also looking good even though they lost their shape many years ago, perhaps a sorted affair with a crookneck or, heaven forbid, a zucchini.

Sugar Pie pumpkin

My favorite golden nugget plants do not appear to have had any of the pollination issues that have been worrying me and are loading up with little ones. They are such a nice compact plant taking up no more room than a zucchini, early to fruit, and they store well too.

I am growing these two golden nugget plants separately from any other squash to assure that I retain pure seed.

The cucumbers have started to produce steadily and we have been canning them in small batches as they come on. I know that it is not considered safe according to the USDA but I would be very interested to hear from any rebels that can their pickles in the oven and what they think of that method especially from a pickle crunchiness standpoint. I am aware that refrigerator and lacto-fermented pickles hold their crunch but am curious about any methods that will allow me to have a longer term storage option.

Now here is an interesting blunder on my part. I thought it would be a neat trick to grow a few rattlesnake beans on the same fence as some of our tomatillos. My thoughts being that the beans would help tie the tomatillos to the fence, that aspect of it all seems to be working like a charm. Unfortunately, I also planted a few squash in the same area and miscalculated how much room our hubbards and pumpkins would consume, forgetting to diligently trail the vines in the other direction. So now I am faced with a few issues when it comes time to gather beans and tomatillos, both of which will be ready before the squash...oops, no room for me.:) Looks like I might even have to pick a couple squash off the barn roof this year.


kelli said...

great photos! love the flowers. lilies are one of my favorites. did you enjoy your stuffed zucchini?

Anonymous said...

they are beautiful.:)

And edible too - http://blogs.wsj.com/magazine/2009/03/25/mini-specialistfound-food-daylilies/

I am growing these two golden nugget plants separately from any other squash to assure that I retain pure seed.

Or you could manually pollinate to be absolutely sure that you have no cross pollination occurring. Suzanne Ashworth in Seed to Seed says that "different varieties within the same species must be separated by ½ mile or hand pollinated."

Anonymous said...

Everything is looking beautiful and very healthy. We had so much rain lately that I am not sure how much time I have before everything turns brown and yellow. And night temperatures are very low, so summer is over for us.
On the topic of canning in oven - as I have mentioned already - it is standard process of caning here. I have never tasted US pickles so I can't compare the crunchiness. But they store for at least a year if canned like that. We usually pick them very small (finger size) and can whole.

Erin said...

Mr. H everything in your garden looks so vibrant and happy! Lovely photos, as usual. So inspiring :)

I did some online looking last week when I scored several pounds of pickling cukes and found this post you may like:

I just did a big batch of lacto pickles but would like to can some as well so I'll be trying it out this week. I had never given the idea of adding a tannin much though. I've seen it before but it never sunk in. Anyway, Happy canning!

It's me ...Mavis said...

We are still a week away from cucumbers... I don't think I'll pickle any this year. If you have extra zucchini... you should really try JJ's zucchini relish... It's great to mix in with egg salad!

Here's the link! http://mamasminutia.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-it-breaks-down.html

GetSoiled said...

Aaaaaah! What are the reddish flowers in the second pic called again? I love them so much and tried growing them in different areas of our garden from seed...no such a luck. They grew to about 1 1/2 feet high and then they literally vanished. All of them! So I am enjoying immensely seeing your flowery (and zuchinnish) bounty!

GetSoiled said...

Hollyhocks! I remembered! :-)

Leigh said...

It's a delight to look at your photos. So much of what is doing well for you has already peaked for us in the south. :(

I was interested that you oven can pickles for crispness. Crispness and its elusiveness are the challenge of pickles! I thought I might try lacto-fermented pickles this year, but haven't gotten to it yet. The soaking of cukes in ice water seemed to help last year's batch. This year I read to pour boiling water in the jars and let the cukes sit 10 minutes in that before pouring off and adding then the brine. That's supposed to keep them crisp though I haven't the foggiest idea of how! I'll be very curious when we open that first jar.

Faith Kolean said...

So nice to see a large harvest! One day our garden will be as productive as yours.

My sister-in-law makes the best refrigerator pickles. I could eat a whole jar. Probably drink the juice too.

Faith Kolean said...

Oh and on the zucchini - zucchini relish is great. It is a big seller at our farmer's market. And delicious too.

Mr. H. said...

Kelli - We loved the stuffed zucchini, we had it both for dinner and breakfast the other day. The only thing I did differently was to add some diced eggplant to the mix.

Anonymous - That was a very interesting article on foraging, thanks for the link. As far as the squash goes I lucked out in that the golden nuggets were the first to bloom and set fruit so I am fairly confident that they did not cross. I do have that Seed To Seed book and use it as a reference all the time...really great book.

Vrtlarica - I think I am going to try your oven method with a few of my pickles. My biggest concern is that our jars and lids are so much different then the ones you use. I think I will also take your advice on trying to get much smaller pickles to can...easier said than done though as they do grow quickly.:)

Erin - Thanks so much for the link, I do use grape leaves in all my pickle recipes and think that perhaps it does help some. I wish the lady that wrote the article would have said how her oven pickles turned out. I'll have to ask her.

I think we are going to do a few batches of lacto and refridgerator pickles too but I am going to wait until the end of the season so they last a bit longer. I do like the lacto pickles.:)

Mavis - If you recommend it and Momma makes it I'm sure that it's good. We looked at her recipe and really like it so we might even make a batch up tonight as we have all of the ingredients on hand.

I thought for sure that you would have me beat in the cucumber department.

GetSoiled - Too bad, they are such and old world flower and one that I have always liked...they are edible too but we prefer to just look at them. I get in big trouble for eating anything but nasturtium flowers.:) Maybe someone ate yours?

Leigh - I have not tried oven canning yet but thought perhaps it would make for a crunchier pickle. I hope that yours turn out great this year. Let me know what you think after opening that first jar.

Faith - I love refrigerator pickles too, the only drawback being that they consume a whole lot of room if I do up more than a small batch. You and Mavis have sold me on the zucchini relish, I will be trying it soon.:)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Spectacular! Today I'm making the last round of zucch bread. Both loaves will be for the freezer to be enjoyed this winter.

Another stir fry for breakfast fan - at last! Technically my fav breakfast is fried rice with an egg on top!

Sending well wishes and best of luck with those beans!

LynnS said...

Your garden areas look wonderful! You have quite a start for this year's squash already. I love the climbing squash going up the side of the barn. Those vines are amazing, aren't they?

Lovely flower photos, guys. Our daylilies bloomed back in June. We have mostly annuals blooming now but we are also enjoying Chrysanthemums as they pop open. Seems much too early, but the plants know more than we do.

Mrs. Mac said...

It is a delight to see all that is growing in your garden. My broccoli planted in April (by seed) is just now getting heads on the plants. Did you mention nasturtium seeds in a comment? I'm gathering them each morning to pickle in a small jar to use as capers .. and of course same some to plant next year. I have a few questions about growing grapes and berries ... will email you later. Happy pickling! (Just made refrigerator dill and bread-n-butter today). Will lacto-ferment and can. Last year my fridge-pics lasted until January (crispy).

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Things are looking great! It's kinda funny that some of your winter squashes are looking not far behind mine. I too had that problem and looked like a ballerina, tip toeing around trying not to step on any stems...I did not succeed.

Looks like you will have a pretty good show this year!

Stefaneener said...

What a lovely dilemma. I suggest that a machete might be a key part of your farm equipment.

Heiko said...

In the US they seem to tell you all sorts of things are unsafe that Europeans never seem to worry about, nor European books on preserving. As for pickling gherkins, I'm still looking for the best method. I'm not familiar with those terms, lacto-fermenting and what was that(?), I've pickled according to Piers Warren's How to Store Your Garden Produce. He simply says to cover your gherkins for 24 hours in coarse salt or brine, rinse, place in clean jars, top up with vinegar and seal. I must admit that the vinegar is rather on the agressive side like this though, so I'm looking for a better method.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Heiko - I laughed when I read your comment about the US. Its true. The big fear here is... unpasteurized milk! Shocking! I had a friend from Germany who had never had pasteurized milk until she came here.
(sorry to go off topic, Mr H)

Mr. H. said...

Ohiofarmgirl - Fried rice and eggs makes for an excellent breakfast, especially if you have a little homemade salsa to go with it.:) Freezing zucchini for bread is next on our to do list.

Lynn - Yes, those squash vines sure do like to travel. Some of our hubbards end up 30 or more feet away.

I think poor Janice Brown and friends were in shock this spring not being used to so much cold and rain in June but they have since come around and are ready to pursue their life in Idaho. Thanks.:)

Mrs. Mac - Our piracaba broccoli is doing the same thing, just having recently put out little heads. I will have to try pickling our nasturtium seeds this year, they are supposed to be a good replacement for capers. I look forward to hearing your berry questions.

Diane - I think all in all this will be a fairly good gardening year for us, not the best by a long shot but still more than adequate. Wish me luck with my tip toeing.:)

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneener - I agree, Micki would love to take our (yes, we do have one) machete to parts of the garden. It's a jungle out there.:)

Heiko - It is a bit challenging to find any information on how people can their goods in other countries. I just read something that stated there are more infant deaths from botulism on average in the US than in Italy and quite a few other countries. Check these sites out for good information on fermenting pickles - http://www.wildfermentation.com/resources.php?page=pickles


Anonymous said...

Here I have found some links on canning (if you can call this canning):

This is how we prepare pickled vegetables. I have found Turkish link, but the process it the same. We call it Tursija.

This one is in Croatian, but has nice set of photos on how we make sauerkraut, also very, very popular here. Only ingredients are cabbage, salt and water. There is some annoying music in the background, so turn the speaker off before clicking.

Mr. H. said...

Vrtlarica - Thank you! I found those links to be very interesting, especially the one on kiseli kupus (sauerkraut). I had never seen sauerkraut made with whole heads like that before.

After looking at the kiseli kupus recipe I stumbled across one for Croatian ajvar which appears to be some sort of relish or spread made from red bell peppers, with eggplant, garlic and chili pepper. I really want to try that one.:)

Anonymous said...

Oh, ajvar is the greatest! We have made about 15 l of it last year and this weekend ate last jar.
It is somewhat complicated to make it: baking, pealing, grinding, cooking. But I think it is worth it. You need meaty peppers so they can absorb the oil.

We make kiseli kupus with whole heads, as later we use the leaves from the heads to make our traditional winter dish sarma.

AJK said...

Beautiful pics as usual! Love the variety of cucurbits! I've been attempting to save seed on our Double Yeild Cukes but, the seed germination is not happening. Our first batch cukes and zukes are done for the season but, we're gambling on weather to see if we can squeeze in a second planting before fall weather sets in. We've had a relatively cool summer just until last week when the digits finally hit triple consecutively.

Sense of Home said...

Ha! I always forget how much room plants take when they are mature and I try to squeeze too many in.

Your garden looks terrific.


Mr. H. said...

Vrtlarica - I found a good recipe for ajvar and hope to try it as soon as a few more of our peppers ripen up a bit...I can't wait.:)

AJK - I have always had a hard time with saved cucumber seeds as well. I think that the trick is to let them become really large and start to yellow before removing the seed. Good luck with your second planting, cucumbers do like the warmer weather.

Brenda - You should see some of our other rows. Every year I plan on leaving more walking space and every year I find myself having done the opposite by the time everything has been planted.:)

Elizabeth said...

Wow you are blessed. Your garden is a raw foodists dream come true!! Wish I could come over and fill up a basket full of your bounty.
Peace and Raw Health,

Kim said...

I only gave pickles a try last year after I was assured they would be crunchy. I put up 26 jars using cukes of every size and cut.
Last week (1yr later) I pulled out one of the last jars to test long term crunchiness......still fantastically crunchy!!

The secret is a grape leaf in every jar. My control batch was mush months ago.

A yummy addition are peppers too. My recipe recommended jalapenos but I just used a diff. variety of the same heat level.

Good Luck

kitsapFG said...

Your garden is hitting it's stride now! I have been getting several cucumbers a week - but not enough to do a batch of my favorite dill pickle relish or to do a batch of pickles - so we have been dropping them into the refrigerator dill pickle solution and have been eating them up almost as fast I drop them in! Delicious and very crisp (no cooking). The cuke plants are loaded with a flush of fruit that should mature at roughly the same time - so I should have enough soon to do my processed pickle products too.

Those nugget squash look very interesting. Is it a sweet dry flesh - similar to buttercup squash?

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - Thanks, we do enjoy a plentiful supply of raw garden goodies. I honestly can not imagine a diet that did not include fresh fruits and vegetables.

Kim - It sounds like a wonderful recipe. Having a crunchy pickle 1 year later is quite a feat. Thanks for the ideas.:)

Laura - I decided to do my canned pickles first this year as I am worried/paranoid about an early frost so we have been doing them in very small batches as they come on. I am looking forward to doing up some of your refrigerator pickles towards the end of the season...they are always the tastiest ones and a great way for us to finish of the cucumber season.

As to the golden nugget squash, I would say that yes they are semi sweet but not really dry as far as the flesh goes. Maybe more like a hubbard in flavor and flesh. Buttercup squash is definitely a little different in comparison.

Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

ah yes, those winter squash vines do take a LOT of room, don't they? Our butternut squash plants are doing well, some of the other cucurbitaceas not quite so well: darn squash bugs!

Mr. H. said...

Sylvie - I think we will have a fair squash year, definitly not a great one. The squash growing by the barn are doing really well, probably because of the extra heat being reflected on them. Our other plots are not performing as good. I will say that the one type of cucurbit that seems to thrive no matter where I plant them are the sugar pie pumpkins.

Robbyn said...

HA, you're being crowded out by the zealous vines in that last picture...what a delightful problem :) LOVE to see what did well in your glorious garden...we never get tired of looking. You're such an encouragement to us!

cabby415 said...

Can I move in with you and your wife? you have my drean garden and chickens! I live in L.A. and only have an 11x20ft plot in a community garden. I would like to try the golden nugget you mention in your blog but the companies I use and multiple others are out of stock. Would you be so kind as to spare a couple of seeds for me? If so: Renee D.V.- P.O. Box 76571, Los Angeles, CA 90076. Thanks for sharing your garden stories with us!

Mr. H. said...

Cabby415 - I will do that for you.:)

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