Today I had my first harvest of mini eggplants! Can you call 4 tiny eggplants a harvest? Oh well, I'm going with it. Those two purple eggplants are the infamous Bert & Ernie. Kermit is still safe on the plant, growing a little more. The other two are mini green eggplants whose variety ironically is named... Kermit.
One of the challenges in the garden this year was that I have never grown eggplant, full size or mini, before so I wasn't sure when to pick it. I looked up a few articles on the internet and they all said to be sure to pick them before too many seeds form inside. Inside? How am I supposed to know how many seeds are inside until I pick it and cut it open?!
So I guessed and know I know that the purples ones were just the right size. The little green ones were slightly overgrown, too many seeds. Next time I will know better.
Bert and Ernie did not go down easily. It turns out some of the purple eggplants have thorns on them. After suffering a couple of puncture wounds I wrangled them into the kitchen and sliced them up along with the mini green ones and tossed them in olive oil, salt & pepper.
I let them get some good grill marks and grilled off some pencil asparagus I had picked up at Whole Foods. I added that to some rigatoni, basil & garlic chicken sausage, freshly picked basil, fresh grated Parmesan and homemade pesto I had saved in the freezer.
It was a very satisfying and tasty Sunday dinner!
I think next week will finally yield my first red Roma tomato!!
The sun continues to shine and my garden continues to grow! Here's an update on what's happening out in the backyard: As you can see, the strawberries are getting bigger and more plentiful. And they are DE-LI-CIOUS!
I have been anxiously watching my tomatoes, hoping they would ripen soon, but also hoping I would get to the first ripe tomato before any bird or gopher could get it's grimy claws (or beak) on it. For weeks I've had lots of green tomatoes on the vine, but no red. And then while I was watering today, I pushed aside a big leaf and found this little guy: my first ripe tomato! It's a Sweet 100 and it was just that!
And speaking of green tomatoes, look how many Roma's are on the vine! It's very exciting, tomatoes are one of the few foods I crave on a regular basis.
Everyday I water my eggplants and everyday I wonder, "When are those blossoms going to drop?" So I reached down to feel the big flower you see in the front and I discovered a little baby eggplant growing inside! I was so happy, I named him Bert.
And then I realized I had a 2nd "blossom" that also had eggplant fruit growing. I call him Ernie.
But there was one more! A little one that was hidden behind the leaves. I shall call him Kermit. I spend way too much time out in the sun.
These are my little green eggplants, when they are ready to pick they will be just over 2 inches. Just about there! There are too many of them to name.
The Mystery Peppers continue to grow and I am so curious as to what they will taste like. It's kind of like getting the mystery box on Chopped.
There is no longer just one bell pepper, there are many! I used to wonder why they had such weird shapes and now I can see the reason. When they grow, they get lodged in between the stalks, causing them to have weird indentations and lumps. It won't affect the flavor, though!
I lopped off the basil last week and it's already grown back. I will have to do another Basil Harvest soon!
My succulent garden is still surprising me. I found blossoms all over most of my plants last week and this week I found this... stalk... growing out of the Happy hens-n-chicks succulent. I think it might bloom... or it is an alien coming to take over the planet? If so, I hope it kills snails.
Lots of food growing out there, next week should bring a mini-harvest!!
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First it was the untimely weather. Next came the devilish earwigs. Then it was the sneaky slugs. This week I went out to the garden and found this:
SNAILS! Look at those slimy destroyers! They wrapped all the way around the pot and were hiding on 2 other pots. After I woke up from the shock, I did what any self-respecting, backyard gardener would do... I grabbed the salt. And I sprinkled it by the handful all around my pots. And I showered it over the snails that were sticking to the pots. And I had flashbacks of Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in African Queen when they killed the leeches...
...anyway... with all that salted mess I made this (this is the point where you squeamish folks should look away. If you revel in the death of garden pests who are attempting to eat your hard-earned crops, you will find this as satisfying as I did):
That's right, I made Snail Lattes. Those slimy fiends didn't know what hit them as they foamed and frothed from the salt. They fell to the ground and my little green tomatoes cheered. I'm not crazy, really. I just hate to see the snails prevail. Hey, they didn't plant those eggplants! They didn't go out every evening and water the basil! They didn't fertilize and prune! They don't get to eat what they didn't work for! I have to admit, it is satisfying to walk out to the garden and now see the graveyard of snail shells.
As for the rest of the garden...
It's hard to believe that just barely 2 weeks ago this plant was down to about 3 leaves and I was worried I would have to toss it and buy all new plants. As soon as the sun came out it exploded. I could almost see it growing, it filled out so fast. Making pesto this week.
I was so enthralled with the blooms on this plant I didn't realize there was a bell pepper already growing on it! It's coming right along, hopefully the gophers won't steal it before I get to pick it.
I am so excited about my cherry tomatoes, they are going to be ripe soon. They are the reason I planted my garden this year. My tummy is growling just talking about it.
I also planted Roma tomatoes this year and I find their shape interesting. I think there are about 4 tomatoes on the plant right now but plenty of blooms so I expect there to be several Romas soon.
Remember the barrel of lettuce I picked last weekend? It's already growing back! Talk about a thrifty crop; I only planted about 1/4 (if that) of the seed packet and I have more loose leaf lettuce than I know what to do with.
I don't see any little eggplants yet but the plant continues to bloom. There will be a bumper crop shortly.
This green onion plant has become a forest. Every time I brush past it to water the other plants I smell like green onions.
This plant was a surprise when I got home from the nursery. I don't know how it ended up in my cart and I'm not completely sure what it is. It is some sort of mild pepper, it will be interesting to find out what it tastes like. Maybe I can throw it in a salad or quesadilla.
Speaking of surprises... I was tending the pole beans and found these peaking out from the dirt: toadstools! Where on earth did they come from?? What do they want?? Are they trying to ruin my beans?? I pulled them up and left them out to die in the hot sun. Hopefully they don't come back.
Things are really picking up in my little garden. It makes me hungry to think of all the yummy, healthy foods I'll be eating soon!
The sun finally came out here in the Sunshine State... hooooray! And the garden just soaked it up. Do you remember this picture?
Look at it now just barely 2 weeks later:
Just 2 weeks later and it has grown enough for this huge bowl of greens plus some:
That whole bowl of mesclun only cost me approximately $.20! A sprinkle of seeds, a little bit of water (mostly rain), a little bit of fertilizer & soil, and I have enough lettuce to last the whole the week! The books all say it will come back after I cut it down, we'll see....
My eggplants, despite the earlier battle with earwigs, are thriving as well:
Those beautiful purple blooms are going to beautiful purple eggplants before you know it!
The green onions rooted well and are ready to be plucked out of the pot whenever I need one.
It's alive, it's alive!! My basil is making a great comeback after all the unseasonal rain and pests. I'm so relieved and I am so looking forward to the first caprese salad of the season.
And speaking of caprese, my first tomatoes are just about 2 weeks from being picked! Look at those little green nuggets, I can hardly wait!
All in all, it's a been a fruitful 2 weeks of sunshine and growing in the garden. Fingers crossed... maybe I'll get to pick a cherry tomato or two next week...