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!!
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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!
Want to know what you do when it's 12:30am and you can't sleep because you took your thyroid medication too late in the day? Well, I'll tell you! Better than that, I'll show ya! Because this is what I did last night:
First, I grabbed my alpahabet stamps, my Stayz On ink pad and some rocks that I collected from my brother's house. He lives on the Yuba River, rocks are plentiful. And free.
Then I stamped the names of all the plants I planted recently: green onions, eggplant, beans, cilantro, basil, basil, basil, you get the idea.
The next day, after the ink was dry, I set them out next to the plant they belonged to. Aren't they just perfect?
Yeah, I had to make several "basil" markers because I have, like, 38 basil plants. But that's OK because I have lots of free rocks!
I actually goofed the "beans" one up the first time around. But it was no biggie, I just flipped the rock over and stamped it over. And that's another great thing about using these rocks; there are 2 sides so I get 2 markers for the price of one. Uh, which was free. Well, you know what I mean. Maybe next year I won't grow cilantro but I can still use the flip side of the maker for some other crop.
And this is the reason why I made heftier markers. Like a good little gardener I put all the "freebie" plastic plant tags in the soil along side the plants but every time I water they get unearthed, the wind blows them all over the place and come one, admit it, my stamped rocks are cuter! I'm going to pull out all of those ugly plastic markers and keep them in a drawer somewhere.
I wish I was brilliant enough to think of this one on my own, but I saw it over at Martha Stewart's site. That Martha, she's pretty clever sometimes.
Last weekend I got most of my garden planted in big/medium size pots and I have been so excited to watch everything grow. In just one week there has been some great progress!
So far the cilantro is doing well, growing fast and hasn't yet been pilfered by the critters. Last time I tried to grow cilantro some hungry animal snuck into my garden in the middle of the night and ate it down to nubs. I'm sleeping with one eye open this time.
This is pole beans and is an experiment because I've heard that they are prolific so I just planted one tiny plant next to my tomatoes. It has already doubled in size.
One week down and I have already eaten several thimble sized strawberries off my little plants. They were so sweet and perfumed with a sort of floral aroma, I'm really looking forward to later this summer when I will have enough for a shortcake or crepes.
So far this is the only setback, my basil. I think it went into a little bit if shock when I transplanted it. Or it's just not happy with the watering situation. I'm not sure yet but I trimmed it back to take some stress off of it and hopefully it will start doing better.
My poor succulents! I completely forgot to bring them in over the winter and by the time I remembered the frosts were nearly over. I was afraid to go out and look at them but lo and behold... They survived! Not only survived, that one creeper variety took off! So now I'm on the lookout for a new variety to fill that last bald patch of dirt. Any favorites??? I kinda want something upright and compact, like the taller reddish one that's already planted. Let me know if you see something good! BTW: this post is a test run of the WordPress app on my IPhone. Keeping my fingers crossed it works ok because with it I will be able to post when I'm away from the computer. Like when I'm in the garden, planting my plantation of basil that I have planned this year. Or when I visit Lucero's olive oil tasting room (planning that trip now). Or when I'm sitting on the couch and just too darn lazy to walk over to my laptop. I'm not saying that's where I am right now... but could be...