Tomato Overload

Yup, it must be the end of the August once again if every counter and floors in my home are covered with tomatoes. At the farm they're in overdrive and I've been picking them every 2-3 days now and many just don't get into the house. I've been giving them away, cooking into sauces and still plenty to eat fresh. Of course, having tomatoes as my favorite veggie I'm loving every moment of the season, because come December I'll be savoring tomato sauces in my meals while dreaming of perfect ripe tomato from the garden. But for now I'm definitely enjoying the season. Some are picture perfect, and some are large but not so perfect, and all very tasty.
Of course it's not just one type of vegetables that make it to the house. We've got gorgeous peppers with plenty still to be ripened, picked a lot of green grapes for more jelly and plenty still ripening for eating.

Busy week of harvests

It's been a scorcher outside for past few weeks but finally this week had a break through after storm and cooled down to mid-80s. So of course with us getting close to end of August, harvest time really kicked into high gear. Fantastic time of course, but so tiring.  Home garden not producing too much, but I do get few things here and there, like beans and peppers and some tomatoes. I even gathered first basket full of grapes and had few figs for snack together with a lonely peach.
And made first batch of jelly out of it - it's too "foxy" to eat fresh but in jelly it came out wonderful.
On the farm however, everything is in overdrive. Tomatoes are really kicking in high and I've loaded up my car with them this week and on the weekend. First few peppers were snipped, few eggplants, more kohlrabi and a boatload of squash that will be going to the kitchens tomorrow.
The winner of the week were green beans from Hesperides Organica CSA U-Pick area. They had u-pickers come and take beans this Saturday, but not many showed up. To avoid wasting 200 feet of beans on the vine, I offered to pick them all out. Jacob, who was running U-Pick this weekend, happily agreed.  I brought him a basket of my tomatoes and some sauce in exchange.  And  loaded up my car with the green goodness.
Before you ask, no I will not be actually using any of them myself as I have plenty of my own at home. But I am doing a fundraiser at work, combined with my tomatoes for a charity that I'm sponsoring - Milo's Sanctuary for special needs cat rescue group.
It's a win-win on both sides. CSA won't waste produce and Milo's will get help with medical bills after being hit with a virus that killed 3 furbabies and put several others in danger and currently fighting for their lives in the hospital.
So what are you harvesting this week? Stop by Daphne's page to see what's happening with other gardeners and their bounty. 

Harvest Aug 16

Another week flew by.. and not much has been done other than gather veggies. It's been well over 90 all week long and I can't function that way. So go out very early in the morning to the farm and back before it gets too hot.  So far it's the same loop - squash, beans, tomatoes.  I've let others pick remaining kohlrabi and fennel and don't bother bringing most of the squash home. I did have a nice roasted Delicata for dinner during the week - very nice and sweet.
This weekend I flew out to LA for one day and brought my sister few of my black tomatoes. At least she'll get to enjoy them for few days.
Beans went out to my friend who was visiting for a week her family and we got to spend one evening at dinner. At least something that others can enjoy.
So what are you harvesting this week? Stop by at Daphne's page to see how are others doing.

What's keeping me busy...

Someone emailed me offline recently, commenting that I haven't been very active on blog and asked what's keeping me so busy this year. Well for spring I had to do my Master Gardener course, which was completed in mid-June. So now I'm putting my 100 hours of work, mostly with raising veggies for RAH program - Rutgers Against Hunger (yup, all that squash and beans and soon to be tomatoes). In addition trying to do some work offline with the office, staffing local events like NJ State Fair etc.

On another hand, we are doing some major work landscaping our home property. Or "hardscaping" would be more accurate. Last fall I got the crazy idea that we really need a new patio to have a summer BBQ - the current small deck that we had is odd shaped and not comfortable for sitting. That came to a solidified decision after one of the large tree from back was cut down and left an ugly view. So thankfully having a hubby who's an engineer, I got him to start planning and building it. Yup, all ourselves. No construction crews helping. It's a huge project but it's finally starting to come together. This is what it looked like early in spring before we started.. UGLY!

And after laying everything out, my hubby rented a machine to level area - there was 3 feet difference between left and right side so he had to lower one and raise another to keep it leveled.  And he dug up outline of the future ponds on both sides of the patio while he was at it.

At that point he realized that we'll need retaining wall to keep hill from sliding onto the patio, and on another side to keep patio from sliding to the side. And more construction followed.
Did I mention he's doing that all by hand himself?? Well, I did help with spreading gravel and sand.. but it's mostly him doing the work. So we picked out paving stones and had 16 pallets delivered - he put everyone of them down by hand on top of gravel and sand. Considering that average stone is about 30-35 lbs, this is heavy and exhausting work. But it came out beautiful!
And last week we started setting up furniture - we selected it back in May and it's been sitting in boxes in the addition. So of course my dear honey set it all up himself :)  Two round tables with chairs for taller group and we'll have separate sitting area for "shorties" like myself :)
Here's my sweetheart, working hard on one of the tables - this will be our "dining" table.
The bird-view shot shows how much more we still have to do - edging, ponds, landscaping etc. It' snot complete but it's getting there! I'm so excited that it will be done soon and we'll have a proper place to entertain. Now we have to select gazebo with cover for sitting area and some additional soft furniture. In the meanwhile, we picked out whole lot of cut stones for ponds and that's our next few week's project. Then I'll step in for landscaping.

So yes, together with our gardens, community garden, farm, MG work and this -  we've been busy :)

Harvest August 10

Very hot week and no rain, everything is struggling to survive in the garden. I really hope it will cool down soon so I can get few things done outside.  But, for now still harvesting. Beans went into overdrive and I've frozen quite a few, but mostly giving them away at this point. You can see single harvest vs couple of them combined. I'm beaned-out.
On another hand, tomatoes are really starting to come in, which makes me happy camper. I love them. And I made first batch of sauce for past and chicken for my hubby last night so he's happy. Some of the smaller ones will be used for salsa together with the chilli peppers - that will be very good to put on top of stuffed squash.
And speaking of squash, we have enough to eat daily, but at the farm squash is overwhelming so it's all going straight to the Harvest House kitchens to feed others. Not even taking anything out of the car. I've added some kohlrabi and fennel to go with it - the ladies that are making meals will be happy with these veggies as it gives a bit of a variety.
And lastly my sad looking grapes - I should have picked them when they were under ripe. In one week almost all my good grapes were cleaned out. Not sure who/what the culprit was, but all the varieties that I wanted to eat were stripped. I got leftovers.
Oh well, we will have the "bad" grapes that I use for jelly. Those will come in much later. '

So what are you harvesting this week? Share your link on Daphne's page so we can all see.

First slicing tomato!

It may sound silly to most people, but I get an adrenaline rush from picking first large slicing tomato. It's part of the waiting since winter and watching them grow. Especially when it happens to be one of the "purple" or "black" varieties like this time - Black Krim. 

The taste is far more superior than anything you can get in a store, and I love the complex flavors. Besides, it makes for a pretty darn good snack for my afternoon :)

So, what makes you excited when you know it's almost time to harvest..

First week of August Harvest

Welcome to the last month of summer. I can't believe it's August already. Time went somewhere and I didn't notice it. Oh well. Garden is turning toward producing more of hot-weather staples and is definitely in transition. First tomatoes starting to come in, while brassicas are on their way out. We definitely have a good variety to eat at home and plenty to share.  Sadly my berry run has come to an end - no more wineberries and some of the last blueberries have been scooped up. It was really good year for them. I have few struggling blackberries for later and will get some grapes but it's not the same. We did get to try one tiny bunch that I stripped from large one from front garden - it's a first time that this variety produced so I couldn't wait to see what it would taste like - it was wonderful! still can use 3-4 weeks on the vine, but already very sweet.
At the farm, the beans have finished producing - I've been giving them away without even bringing home. I saw that potato wines are dying out so will be picking potatoes soon. At home I only had enough to eat "young", but most of the storage potatoes are going to be from farm.
And my yellow and purple beans at home went into round 2 of production so will have plenty to eat each day. I find that I like yellow ones better than purple, though my hubby likes them all.

So what are you harvesting in your gardens this week? Stop by Daphne's to see how others are doing.