Now that summer is at its peak and the heat has been cranked up, the garden has kicked into high gear.
I'm harvesting several tomatoes daily. I love tomatoes, but we've hit the point where I can't eat them fast enough.
I'm sticking them in the freezer now and will be canning them soon. The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to freeze them first, then run them under warm water. The skins come right off.
The cherry tomatoes are producing best. I eat cherry tomatoes off the vine while I'm in the garden - they're my reward for weeding and watering - but there are plenty to bring indoors and eat for lunch each day.
I'm also growing Arkansas Traveler, Marglobe and Rutgers. I'm still not impressed with the Arkansas Traveler variety. Some of my neighbors love it and say it grows best for them, but after three years of mediocre harvests I'm going to give up. I've grown the Rutgers variety for several years and am happy with it.
The bell peppers are producing a pepper or two each week. Two years ago I harvested so many peppers, which I cut into strips and froze, that I still have some to use up.
The perennial walking onions need to be harvested. There are some small plants growing from last year's bulblets that will overwinter, and this year's bulblets are beginning to droop over. I need to start some of the bulblets in one of the raised beds.
I'm growing five different varieties of squash this year. Our granddaughter used them for a Girl Scout science project this summer: she cut a leaf from each plant and compared them in size to prove whether or not squash grow best in full sun or partial shade. Yep, the leaves from the plants in full sun were much, much larger and the plants look stronger and healthier.
First is the zucchini growing in a large tub. I've only had one zucchini squash so far but there are two more that will be ripe soon. I'm planning zucchini boats for dinner one night soon.
Next is the straight-neck yellow squash that's growing in the first raised bed. This one is truly prolific; look at all the baby squash in the photo above! (What to do with this much squash? See my post on 10 Ways to Enjoy Summer Squash.)
The crookneck yellow squash is growing in the shade of the tomato plants and isn't nearly as big. Full sun is the way to go, even in central Oklahoma's summer sun. I've only had one squash off of these plants so far, but there are more flowers so hopefully a few more will develop. Next year all squash plants will be planted in full sun.
Straight-necked squash leaves
The tatume squash is growing in a 2-gallon pot because the rest of the raised beds haven't been filled yet. It's growing well and has produced flowers this week.
The fifth squash variety is buttercup, an heirloom butternut-type winter squash. I love butternut squash. The vine is flowering like crazy and there are several tiny baby squash on it.
Bumblebees are frequent visitors to the squash plants, and one day I was buzzed by a hummingbird that was attracted by the mimosa tree nearby that was in flower. I've had a few squash bugs but I picked them off right away and haven't seen any more ... yet.
One day's harvest
Cantaloupe, eggplant and watermelon plants round out our summer garden.
The nicest thing about the summer garden is that there are few weeds to pull - actually, there are no weeds, just bermuda grass that has to be pulled before it gets out of hand. You might remember that the bermuda grass is my nemesis, so I am thrilled that it has been controllable this year. Yeah!
How is your garden growing? What are you planning to plant in your fall garden?
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
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