Monday, August 26, 2013

When Your Garden Smiles Back at You! (Harvest time for Jack-be-Littles)

One of 13 adorable pumpkins!
One of my favorite Philadelphia Mummer's Songs to hear on New Year's Day is "When You're Smilin'".  It not only reminds me of my PopPop, but also makes it impossible not to smile!  So as I put my kids on the bus today for the first day of school, I couldn't help but smile.  This same day that is a day of sitting at desks for them, is freedom for Mom's everywhere!  That also meant more time for me to get back to the garden.

While I was away doing back-to-school shopping, my Jack-be-Littles all turned orange.  It's harvest day for this gardener!  And don't you just love when your garden smiles back at you!  Sing with me. 

"When you're smilin' keep on smilin'
The whole world smiles with you
And when you're laughin' oh when youre laughin'
The sun comes shinin' through..."

[Shared at: Clever Chicks Blog Hop]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pico de Gallo Overwhelmed by Cilantro and Stink Bugs

It looks innocent now, but wait till you smell it!
With the overabundance of tomatoes, I decided to get creative and experiment with some recipes.  I'm a huge fan of eating a tomato sliced with salt.  I love them.  I grew up with the deliciousness of the "Jersey Tomato" just over the border.  So when my garden gave me plenty, and some even tasting Jersey-ish, we have eaten our share.  My husband calls it the "no option salad" we get every night with dinner. 

Last year I made at attempt at homemade marinara sauce that was a big fail.  I guess I'm just a store-bought sauce girl.  So this year I decided to try my hand at yummy pico de gallo.

So armed with a knife, cutting board, homegrown tomatoes and red onions, I started chopping.  Then came the other ingredients including the store-bought Cilantro.  Now let me back up a minute to yesterday when I bought this cilantro at Wegmans.  By the time I got to the check out, I asked the cashier what smelled of stink bug.  She didn't smell it.  Hmmmm.  In southeast PA, and many other areas, we're still recovering from the invasion a few years ago.  The bug's name is appropriate, it stinks!  When I got home, the smell was overwhelming coming from the groceries in the back of the car.  I thought for sure a stinkbug had hitchhiked home in my bags.

So what do stink bugs and cilantro have in common? Apparently, a lot!  They both smell alike.  Turns out, cilantro smells (and tastes) like stink bug to some people.  To other people, it somehow tastes very different with almost no smell.  I don't get it.

So I chopped it up convinced that when all the yummy ingredients blended together, that I would not taste the cilantro. That's like saying you won't taste the coffee in one of those frou frou Starbucks concoctions.  Oh, it looked so pretty.  And it made my wrap look so healthy.  However, one bite into it and STINK BUG taste!  Yuck!  My lesson from the garden for this week is to leave out the cilantro next time!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Garden Update: A day in the garden in photos

If you live in the Northeast, you'll agree this was a crazy summer of high heat and lots of rain!  If it wasn't a heat wave, it was raining.  Sometimes, we had both!  Apparently, this was great for my garden and the daily harvest is still so much that I have to share.  In fact, sometimes I think my neighbors are tired of me begging them to help me eat all the tomatoes.  That said, here's an August update in pictures.  Enjoy!

Six heirloom tomato plants gone wild!  I've picked over 100 tomatoes already!
Cherry Tomatoes almost ready
The cucumber outgrew it's trellis so I spread the tomato trellis around the back. 
It came all the way down the other side to make a tent perfectr for a kid.
Cucumbers hiding under the trellis

The Jack-be-Littles aren't so little anymore!  The plant has wound around the house!
There's at least a dozen of these tiny pumpkins hidden through the two plants. 
Can't wait for them to turn orange!

The 3 zucchini plants have been the under-producers this year.  I've only picked 4 zucchini so far. 
This time last year I had at least 2 dozen!
We can't forget the flowers.  Here's the mandevilla I added to the deck this year.
The roses are also gorgeous again!
After the camera was put down, I found six huge cucumbers waiting to be picked!
In a few weeks, the cucumber vines should be withered and I'll be ready to plant my fall lettuces and other cold-weather crops.  It's been a great season already!