Monday, July 29, 2013

70's in July?

We had a week in the 80's. It was nice. Now we are experiencing a week in the 70's. Are you kidding me? I wore flannel all weekend. I actually started to wonder about how it would impact my peppers and tomatoes. Is it too cool? Never had that thought in July before. The worrying is ending there too. I'll take these last 2 weeks of weather any July without issue.

Lots going on. Today I sowed seeds in the garden or pots- spinach, collards, kale, carrots, turnips and rutabagas. A few days ago I sewed some okra seeds. We are due for rain today through tomorrow and then back in the mid-80's.

Tomato harvest is about 5.5lbs each harvest, which is every couple of days. Most of the maters are Black Plum or Black Russian, Ivory Egg and German Lunchbox. I've started to get some Gypsy, which are pink, squat and small. They are acidic and prone to cracking. I'm taking them off of my list. Adding to my must keep list are the Ivory Eggs.
The Ivory Eggs are the yellow, egg-shaped ones.
Peppers are also coming in. Eggplants are small yet. 

I roasted the tomatoes, almost cut all the way through down the middle. When done, stuffed them with a mix of garlic, aleppo pepper, salt and thyme and marinated them in olive oil. Allow to marinate in fridge at least 24 hrs. I crushed them and put them on crusty bread with melted smoked cheese and some sliced olives. Rave reviews from the the housemates.

Lemon squashes are arriving. I picked this variety because
Baker's Creek said it was very productive and one of the most resistant to bugs. 
It is more sprawling than your typical summer squash.

I roasted the squashes and red onion and made a lasagna with tofu. 

Patisson Strie Melange- scallop squash
Yellow Crooknecks
All of the squashes are doing well under the tulle. 
Although, I did notice one seemed to have rust on the leaves. 

The cowpeas I bought from Baker's Creek, Old Timer, were described as being a bush size.
They are climbers. I didn't plant for that, so now they are ramblers. This is my first harvest of varying
maturities. I found a recipe for a Tunisian Tagine that called for white beans so I shelled and used these instead. It was outstanding! I did not use the cheddar cheese called for because it didn't seem to fit and I subbed berbere spice for the paprika (also seemed more authentic). Pre-bake it looks like this:
It's gorgeous and puffy when it comes out of the oven (and smells as lovely), but I didn't get a post-pic because we were too hungry. 

The above amount of unshelled beans yielded:
When these are dry they are tinier and mottled brown. Pretty.

Mom and kiddo picked thornless blackberries. They weren't much on flavor so 
I mashed them up for jam. 

I roasted a tray of maters, one large red onion and four jalapenos, blended them up with salt, a few dashes of smoked paprika and a little cumin for this salsa or sauce. It's fairly hot as I didn't seed the peppers. 

Can you tell I am on summer break? 
Classes ended Thursday and I've got 3 weeks to squeeze in some pleasure. 
So- more projects! I'm really happy about this one:
Part of my new fence. The color was inspired by Hayefield's Nancy Ondra and her rust colored fence, which seemed to go well with her log cabin and all of the colors of her flowers. I guess rust goes with anything?
And another quick project of random scraps:
The "new" wren house. I was inspired by a house wren gathering twigs this week.
Is the cool weather making them broody? Wren houses are suppose to be 4 inches tall, wide and deep and this can fit the bill. 

I had an idea to clean out the coralberry bed one evening. The next day I went out to inspect it and 
I found it was covered in tiny blooms AND all sorts of pollinators- hover flies, small bumbles and these bee-mimicing flies. I saw two different varieties of these flies this weekend. The other one was all over the calamint. Needless to say, my plan was promptly thwarted. The pollinators are much too important.
Fly that mimics bees

See the hover fly on the right and the fly butt above?
The bumbles would come in from below making it impossible to photograph.

Here is a closer shot of those tiny, but awesome flowers.

A mess of calamint, snapdragons and agastache.

 Nicotiana- Fragrant Cloud

Prairie Dock 

Brown Eyed Susans 

The last tiger lily. 

A friend let me know about some bee research going on at U of I where you can submit your
photos and they will id your bee and in turn keep track of pollinators throughout the state. It's called
Beespotter. So far it is only open to Illinois residents. I submitted 5 photos and found out I had 4 different species in them. Yay for Citizen Science!

A kid plays in the wilderness of Foggy Bottom Refuge.


No comments: