Saturday, July 5, 2008

Let's Hear it for the 3-Day Weekend!

It has been great to have extra time to relax and enjoy some home time. Although at different times throughout the day yesterday it looked as though it were going to rain, it never did and we had the full day to spend outside. Our family cookout was a lot of fun. Now that the girls are grown and living on their own it can be difficult to get all the family together, so we were thankful that both daughters plus my parents were able to come over. We have not all been together in the same place since last Thanksgiving.

We had a campfire and cooked seasoned beef patties with mushrooms in foil packets over the coals. We also simmered a big pot of beans on a tripod over the fire. We ended up with a lot of great food, including a delicious dish made with garden zucchini and fresh carrots. You simply cut the carrots into matchsticks, and lightly steam them before adding a fresh zucchini cut into slices. After the zucchini has lightly steamed for a few minutes, drain, and stir in about 2 tablespoons of prepared pesto. The aroma was fabulous and it tasted great. We also had coleslaw made from the cabbage I had picked the day before. In addition, Mom brought over some beet greens cooked with bacon and a broccoli salad. Fabulous! Add to that one daughter's "Avocado Cavier" with tortilla chips and the other's lemon bars, and there was some good eating going on! I love the tastes of summer.

After lunch, the girls picked some raspberries and cherries with their dad in another part of the yard while I showed my parents the garden boxes. We picked a zucchini and enough fresh lettuce so everyone could take some home. We also found 3 new acorn squash--so cute. Many of the tomatoes are blooming now and there are even some green tomatoes on one vine. One tomato plant, a Husky Red, is so sturdy and full. If the tomatoes turn out half as beautiful as the vine, we are in for a real treat.

Today I sprayed Bt on the broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These plants were discovered by cabbage moths who left some uninvited picnickers behind. Bt is safe to use even up to the day of harvest, so I don't feel too badly about spraying the plants. I also took some time to spray a calcium mixture on the tomatoes. I decided to take this precaution against blossom end rot since we've had so much rain. I also decided to move 3 pepper plants from the boxes into the ground. Next year I will only plants peppers with other peppers. It seemed like it would make for attractive plantings to mix some different varieties of vegetables together in the boxes. It did, however, the vining crops are so lush that they started overwhelming and shading the peppers. So, even though the pepper plants were a bit large for transplanting, I decided to take the chance. I plopped them in to the ground with some granular fertilizer and plenty of water and suspect they will really begin to thrive with more sun and space to grow.

One final garden note. The purple cauliflower I picked last Thursday turned out to be a fraud! After preparing it to put in the refrigerator, I discovered it was not cauliflower at all, but broccoli! I was simply dumbfounded. I even went outside and pulled the tag. Sure enough, it read Purple Cauliflower 'Violet Queen.' All I can figure is that someone must've tagged the seedlings incorrectly at the greenhouse. What bothered me the most is that I didn't even realize it wasn't cauliflower until I had it in the house. In my own defense, in the garden boxes the heads really do look a lot like cauliflower, especially with the upper leaves shading them. Since the tag read "purple cauliflower," I assumed that's what they were and really never scrutinized the plants. Even after I got the head trimmed and saw it looked exactly like broccoli (except for being purple), I had to taste it before I could believe it. It is a good thing we like broccoli, but I'm sorry not to have any cauliflower.

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