I know it's finally summer when I spend more time picking fruits and veggies than I do weeds. Such a great feeling to fill up a couple of bowls of NOMmies, and take it into the kitchen and prepare it for where ever it's going to go.
Yesterday I picked a bowl of cucumbers. I'm trying to pick them when they are relatively small, because last year I found that the smaller they were, the tastier and crunchier they were when I made them into pickles. The larger cukes became soggier pickles. So my plan of attack is to make smaller ones into baby dills, and any larger ones into relish. I have had a small bowl of whole baby cukes soaking in salted water in the fridge overnight.
I also picked a good size bowl of banana peppers. I think I only planted hot nanas this year. Last year, the hot nanas I got from the farmer's market were so tastey that I mixed them in with my own mild nana peppers when I pickled those. We've been eating canned nanas on EVERYTHING. hot dogs and brats, pizza, you name it. It's been awesome. I had promised to share some of that bounty with some of my internet friends, but I didn't, because the recipe I used made them pretty salty. I don't want to be responsible for anyone retaining water or getting high blood pressure from my salty nanas, so if you are still out there, and haven't defriended me for going back on my promise, I swear, You will get some this year!
I also picked some young carrots yesterday. They were 3-4 inches long, and oh so very sweet. We planted lots, and plan on planting more before frost because I can't bear to eat commercially grown carrots anymore. There is such a taste difference. I have a friend (I'm looking at your, JayBee), who loves the pickled carrots that come in canned jalapenos. I plan on canning up some of that this year, too - just reversed - more carrots than jalapenos (which I am also growing).
Then there's the beans and raspberries. The only produce that seems to be hit each year by Japanese beetles. Those creepy beetles are pretty to look at, with their iridescent brown backs and a stripe of black with white spots on either side. But they are like little zombies hanging on the leaves of my plants. Clacking at you with their little mandible. Flying at you when you brush up against them. *shudder* All they do is munch on leaves, and do what appears to be the horizontal mamba with each other out in plain sight. HAVE THEY NO SHAME? I've been making DaHubster go out ahead of me, and he swoops them into a jar of soapy water to kill them. UGH! they creep me out.
Anyway, Hubby picked a small bowl of yellow beans, and I blanched them for eating with Sunday's meal. First beans of the season, YAY!
The raspberries are winding down. They ripen so fast that it's hard to keep up with them. They seem to ripen, then go to mush within a day. I've been out there almost every day picking and picking and dodging those creepy beetles. Then I freeze them for jamming later. And no, there will be NO beetles in the jam. I prommise.
Our romas are continuing to put out plump juicy looking tomatoes, but they are still very green. I learned this week that if you freeze whole tomatoes, the peels will fall off when defrosted as if you had blanched and shocked them in cold water. This will knock off about 1/3 of the time it takes to can those puppies. So that is what I plan to do, if they ever freakin' ripen.
My bell peppers are coming along. Not much exciting there. They say you should take off the first large peppers while still green, then you can let the next set of peppers ripen to whatever color they become. So I will be picking the first bunch in a few days.
My pumpkins are a disappointment. They are flowering like mad, and I see the bees are loving them, but they are not setting fruit. The flowers are all male. I had this happen with zucchini a couple of years ago. I don't know if there is anything I can do differently to make them set female flowers or what. I need to research this. In the meantime, the pumpkin patch is doing what it normally does, sprawl all over the place with vines and giant leaves - it's starting to choke out other plants. My original plan was to see which pumpkin plants set fruit, and pull out the excess plants so that the sprawl was semi-sort of contained, but that is not going to happen. Ahh well...such is the life of an urbanite farmer here at the micro mini-ranch. :)