September 02, 2010
GARDENING ALONG SIDE KATHY HALL
WRIGHT, Wyoming (SmallTownPapers) -- Oops! Sorry about not getting an article out last week. I took a little vacation (for me that means a week of camping somewhere in the middle of nowhere) and I had some technical difficulties that I was unable to repair in the wilds. I'm back, things are working again, and here goes....
After being away for nearly a week the yard and garden has kept me hopping just playing catch up. First day back I picked at least 3 dozen zucchini and several were huge! The search was on for uses for all that green stuff. Okay, I snapped and purchased a couple cookbooks dedicated to the zucchini and it has been incorporated into our daily diet from the 'zapple' pie, zucchini peanut butter brownies, zucchini drop cookies, zucchini Italian casserole bake, stuffed zucchini boats, zucchini stir fry, of course zucchini bread and .. you get the picture.
My cucumbers are picking up the pace and fresh cucumbers for snack-ing as well as several batches of dill pickles have been processed in the last several days. Fresh dill is knee deep in my garden so I'll soon have to dry some for winter use as well as using it fresh for pickling the abundance marching in my door. I even tried some zucchini dill pickles. We'll see how those turn out.
I've been getting some wonderful green peppers as large or larger than the ones you can pick up at the store and have enjoyed stuffed green peppers several nights this last month. (No, there wasn't any zucchini in those.) I am juggling my bell pepper patch trying to pick enough to keep the plants producing but trying also to leave some to ripen into those beautiful red, orange and yellow sweet peppers you pay a premium price for at the grocery store. I've never had a long enough season that would allow for ripening so I am hoping the weather will hold out long enough to reward my patience.
I harvested my first batch of banana peppers and have pickled a large batch of those as well. These aren't your average banana peppers. Those cute little peppers you buy pickled at the store aren't even in the same league. These peppers are 6-10" long and up to an inch and a half in diameter. They are so large I couldn't fit them whole into the canning jars so I sliced them into rings. I am still experimenting with recipes for these and it may be a few years before I settle on a favorite.
My tomatoes are turning red, finally, and I am preparing to can my first batch. As the roma tomatoes start ripening in force I'll make up some sauces for canning as well. My peas are still producing and I get a batch about once a week but the plants are declining and I presume I will not get many more. The green beans have taken the place of the peas and my last picking I brought in nearly a half bushel. That's a lot of beans folks. Freezing and pickling are in store for them as well.
Thank heaven the root crops can wait for a bit as I haven't had time to pull any in several weeks. Their time will come and even if it is after the first frost, days will be devoted to their storage and care.
Winter squash (acorn, spaghetti, buttercup and butternut) are appearing by the dozens as the plants wander miles from their allotted areas. When they say squash plants need lots of room they aren't joking!
I still have broccoli and cabbage waiting their turn to find their way into the house and amazingly enough I am finally seeing a few small cauliflower heads forming. I was beginning to think they were just a large decorative plant. The Jerusalem artichoke plants are as tall as I am and I am curious as to the state of the roots. (That is the edible part) My sweet potato plants are growing and I am hoping that the tubers are forming as time is running out. The rest of the garden is growing well and corn, potatoes and onions shouldn't be scarce this fall. I have my work cut out for me to get everything brought in and taken care of in a timely manner. It will make for long days and not much more time off until the garden is put to bed for the year.
I have to smile as I sit here writing this weeks article listening to the popping of lids sealing on some freshly canned dill pickles. It is music to my ears!
Beside freezing and pickling produce this summer I have dabbled in the art of jelly and jam making. I started with the peaches I picked up at the farmers market a few weeks ago and made some wonderful peach jam. I couldn't resist after walking past the sand cherries on my way to the garden every day I finally broke down and picked them and have several pints of cherry jelly to show for my lack of restraint.
While in the mountains last week I notice the raspberries were ripening and with the abundance of moisture they were thick on the plants. Of course this led to a long afternoon of crawling through the prickly raspberry bushes on rocky steep slopes to pick nearly a gallon of juicy red berries. Yep, you guessed it! Raspberry jelly is now on my shelf. Can you guess what is next? I ran across a recipe for "zucchini marmalade". I quote from the cook book, "anything is good if you add enough sugar." I'll soon know if that is true. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Out of the garden and into the yard I am hoping this cooler weather will give the lawn a break and allow it to recover a little green for the fall. I have struggled to keep it green all summer long with the intense heat and lots of wind, I have failed. Maybe in the years ahead as my trees grow and offer some shade the struggle will not be as difficult and the water bill won't be as high. Even the shrubs are suffering from the heat and wind and often in the afternoon show signs of wilt even when the soil is moist. All that can be done is to make sure that they have the proper moisture and mulch to keep the soil (and their roots) cool.
Unfortunately with the garden demanding all of my time I haven't made much progress on any of my projects. I have discovered the pea gravel in my little water way doesn't want to stay put when the dog tears through it after the feathered intruders in the yard. I'll have to experiment with some of the products available that can be added to 'harden' the mix into a less mobile entity. Yes, concrete. If done properly it should still retain its pebbly surface and look more aesthetically pleasing than just pouring a concrete gutter.
I have managed to work up a section of ground for a hollyhock bed I want to plant before winter hits. The drip irrigation line is installed for it I just need to install the spray jets to get a bit of moisture into the soil so it can be tilled deeper and add a bit of organic matter so the seeding hollyhocks can settle in and adjust before winter get here. This bed will serve a dual purpose adding much needed color to my young landscape as well as creating a bit of a screen to section off my side yard.
A couple small raised beds have appeared in my garden area as well and are just waiting for someone to get the time to run some irrigation through them so that soil and compost can fill them for planting. These will function nicely to contain my fall planted garlic and winter onions. I need to keep these in a separate area so they won't get damaged when I work up the main gardens in the spring.
There are a few colorful patches around the yard this late summer. Russian sage makes quite a show this time of year as do my Shasta daisies, purple cone flower, gaillardia, sedum and coreopsis. I think the coreopsis is running a bit late but I won't complain. I see flower buds appearing on the mum plants that managed to survive from last year so soon there should be a touch of color from them as well.
That's all for this week. Enjoy the cooler weather of fall.
Copyright 2010 High Plains Sentinel, Wright, Wyoming. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.
© 2013 High Plains Sentinel Wright, Wyoming. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers.