Archive for the ‘My Gardens’ Category

Todays Harvest Basket 7/25/14


Today’s Harvest Basket, July 25, 2024

2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 2 zucchini

Hard to believe these two tomatoes are the same kind, growing side by side on the same vine.

Hard to believe these two tomatoes are the same kind, growing side by side on the same vine.

Today’s basket only contains 6 things. 2 cucumbers, 2 squash, 2 tomatoes. Those two tomatoes are big, and beautiful, weighing in at a combined total of about 2 1/2 pounds.

Gold Medal tomato

Growing just inches from the ground and wedged together against the tomato stake.

Growing wedged together.

There are four Gold Medal tomato plants this year. They are the sweetest tomato I have ever tasted. These two tomatoes were growing together  just six inched from the ground and so close to the tomato stake that the fruit grew into and around the medal support.

It was impossible to pick one without the other. Growing just inches from the ground, wedged together, against the tomato stake.

Solanum lycopersicum) Most of the tomatoes weigh in over a half a pound. By thinning the tomatoes, you will get fewer but bigger tomatoes.

The plants are huge and need strong support. Stake early and try to keep them well supported. This big plant will quickly get out of control.

These big one and two-pound tomatoes can easily snap off a tomato vine. The big yellow tomatoes need the sun protection of the foliage. Don’t over prune these big plants.

In fact,  one of these four big plants was a broken branch from one of the other three. If that happens to you, try this cloning method: How to make more tomato plants for free

Big, meaty, tomatoes good for fresh eating and canning

Big, meaty, tomatoes good for fresh eating and tomato sauce.

Originally named Ruby Gold by John Lewis Childs in his 1921 catalog. Ben Quisenberry

renamed it Gold Medal and listed it in his 1976 catalog describing it as “The sweetest tomato you ever tasted. The yellow with streaks of red makes them very attractive and a gourmet’s joy when sliced.”

It’s a beautiful, sweet tomato that is like slicing open a sunrise. Gold medal makes a beautiful salsa, the sweet taste balanced with the heat and spice.

Squash and BLTZ

Keep zucchini under control by picking it every day or every other day. These small, tender zucchini are great sliced length wise and grilled. Salt, pepper, olive oil – a little slice of heaven hot off the grill.

Keep picking them early and cooking them like this and you will never have too many zucchini. Or add the grilled slices to a BLT(Z).


Today’s Harvest Basket 7/23/14


July 23, 2014

zucchini, tomatoes, mixed carrots, red onion

Tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions

Tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions.

Tomatoes and zucchini are picked every day. This is the secret to keeping the zucchini crop under control.

Pick zucchini every day or every other day.

Pick zucchini every day or every other day. The small ones are tender, no need to peel.

Onions are the first thing planted in the garden every year. Planting time is 4-6 weeks before the last average frost date. The garlic was planted last fall. So, onions are the first and last thing planted in my garden.

Most of the onions were lifted a couple of weeks ago. I found a few more of the sweet red onions today. These few onions were planted near cabbage and carrot companion plants.

The only alium remaining in the garden are leeks. I’ll just pull them up, as needed. Leeks can be harvested anytime.



Red Torpedo Tropea: Sweet, red, and mild flavored.

Torpedo shaped onions from Italy.

Torpedo shaped onions originally from Italy.

These open pollinated torpedo shaped sweet onions have a keeping potential of about three months.

This sweet onion comes from Tropea, Italy. Tropea is known for exquisite cooking and locally grown red onions. In Italy, 5 or 6 onions are braided together and tied on a nail for display.

Tropea don’t last long because they are so sweet. We use a lot more onions when we have plenty on hand. These are good cooked in recipes or raw in salad dishes.  To stretch out the Red Torpedo Onion season, make a jar of pickled onions to keep in the fridge.

Pickle these red onions in good white wine vinegar and end up with a jar of pink pickled onions. A perfect side served with sandwiches.

The pink onion flavored wine vinegar is the best thing to happen to homemade salad dressings. Add it to potato salads and coleslaw as well as topping cooked greens like spinach and collards.

Find pickled onion and pickled garlic recipes on my Pinterest page: canning, preserving, smoking.


Grow a variety of carrots to discover which grow best in your garden.

Grow a variety of carrots to discover which grow best in your garden.


Grow carrots in the spring garden and again as a fall crop.

If you ever wanted to grow carrots, fall carrots are planted in August or early September in my neck of the woods. (Zone 6A, Southern Missouri, USA.)  I get carrot seed at Nichols Garden Nursery. 

Nichols Garden Nursery has a big selection of carrot seed. The seed is very affordable. That bargain price tempts me to try an assortment of carrots. Check out their online catalog, if you are tempted to grow fall carrots. July and August are the time to order seed and get carrots growing for a fall harvest. If stored properly, carrot seed can be used for up to three years.

Nichols even has few carrot selections that are under $2. Carrot seed under two bucks and it’s enough seed for at least two and probably three years. (Unless you are raising rabbits in the same garden.)

Some days it looks like my back yard is a nature sanctuary for rabbits. They eat and sleep in my garden when I am not vigilant. When I do remember to turn on the Scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler, the rabbits stay away.



The Contech Electronics scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler is a humane animal deterrent. The scarecrow detects and sprays any animal movement within a 1000-square-foot area day and night.

When I do not remember to turn off  that little water blast, I suddenly get hit with a refreshing spray. It’s more fun than some of the carnival rides at the state fair. Especially when it is a surprise.

Find the scarecrow locally or online just type “scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler.”

Read more about carrotsHow to troubleshoot problems growing carrots and cabbages and University of Missouri Extension, Frequently Asked Vegetable Questions is very helpful. Extension recommends planting a 5 to 10 feet per person for fresh eating. Plan to grow 10 to 15 feet per person, if you are going to process carrots for year round eating.

Bright orange Baltimore Carrots picked 6", but would continue to grow to 12"

Bright orange Baltimore Carrots picked 6″.

Baltimore carrots are beautiful, bright orange carrots. They are sweet  and crunchy. These carrots are about 6″ long.

Harvest Carrots: any time their color is bright. This is when their flavor and texture are optimum. Carrots can tolerate a light frost. Irrigate well the day before harvest to ensure the roots have absorbed their maximum capacity of water. Store at 34°F and 95% relative humidity.

All of these carrots were pulled up at one time. They ranged in size from 2-inches to 8-inches. I’ll toss the baby carrots into a mixed vegetable refrigerator pickle jar.

I like raw carrots. Homegrown and picked after only a couple of frosts, carrots are sweeter than any grocery store carrot you have eaten.

Cooked carrots have their advantages. Some of the nutrients in lightly cooked carrots are more available to the body than the raw carrots. Cooking carrots will break down the tough cellular walls of carrots, making some nutrients more useable to the body.

The first batch of full-sized homegrown carrots, are a celebration of carrot growing success. That means carrot cake or morning-glory muffins. If there are more fall carrots, they will go into  beef stew, vegetable soup, pot roast.

So, come grow carrots with me this fall. If you grew up with a clay soil garden, You’ve probably never had much success with carrots. But building a raised bed for your raised bed, well that is a carrot’s dream come true.

Carrot Boxes – The Raised Bed for Raised Beds

In this Missouri Gardener Magazine story, I write about carrot boxes. That is the secret to long straight carrots.

Build a raised bed fast!

Yaya carrots had the widest size range. All the seed was sown at the same time.

Yaya carrots had the widest size range. All the seed was sown at the same time.

If I could have left these Yaya carrots in the garden, it would have been great to stretch out the carrot harvest over a few more weeks.

Learn more: Grow 2 crops of carrots this season






Todays Harvest Basket 7/21/14


Todays Harvest Basket July 21, 2014

Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers

The green and gold pepper (Low Left) was completely gold the next day.

The green and gold pepper (Low Left) was completely gold the next day.

I have a small garden. It has just a little of a lot of vegetables and flowers. But when zucchini starts producing, it does not seem like a little garden.

I hate those waxy, slick cucumbers in the grocery store. ‘don’t even like to touch them. So now we have lots of cukes in the garden and we eat them fresh at least once a day.

Crisp Cucumbers

The crunch that we all love is easy to get in home canned pickles. Use this tip along with your favorite pickle recipe.


white cucumber

Cut cucumbers from the vine instead of twisting and pulling.

For crisp cucumber pickles, rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and snip off 1/16-inch of the blossom end. The blossom end of the cucumber harbors microbes that can cause softening. Cut at least a 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end of the cucumber. That enzyme in the blossom end can make the pickles unsafe to eat.

The stem ends of the cucumbers above are on the right. The blossom end is on the left for both of these cukes.  The blossom end is the opposite from the stem end.

Cucumber season is too short. This time of the year, there is always a bowl of sliced cucumbers in herb vinegar in the fridge.

Today’s Harvest Basket 4/17/14


Today’s Harvest Basket, July 17, 2014

Zucchini, tomatoes, onions, carrots, bell peppers, cucumber

More food than we can eat. Starting to can, dehydrate, bake.

More food than we can eat. I am starting to can, dehydrate, bake. photo PBH

That GIANT CARROT, the one that is over a foot long, (top right) is a Scarlet Nantes. As I pulled these carrots, most were 6 or 8″ long with deep orange color and are sweet. I just have no idea why this one foot long carrot is so big, or the others are so normal.

Sweet and hot peppers are loaded up on the peppers plants out in the garden. Today, these blocky bell peppers would be perfect for stuffing.


All the other carrots grew as described in the catalog. Anyway, the seed came from Nichols Garden Nursery.  If you are interested in growing carrots, you still have time to order seed and plant a fall crop. Fall harvested carrots are even sweeter and they can take light frosts.

Scarlet Nantes is an heirloom. It is sweet and it stores well. The big news item here is that the seed is only $1.65. Amazing to find a reputable seed source under $2. I plan to grow these again this fall. What a bargain.

Nichols has a great variety of carrots, some that are under $2 a packet. There is also good carrot growing info on that website.

Cherry tomatoes

Under the “you get what you pay for” category, this variety of cherry tomatoes is in full production. The white cherry tomato was supposed to be Great White tomato. Oh, well. The seed was free and the little cherry has a good flavor.

The tangerine colored tomato is exactly what I expected from a F1 tomato. I grew it from seed. This Sun Gold tomato is as sweet as can be.

And the almost red cherry tomato is from a volunteer plant that came up where the Sun Gold cherries were last year. It was a curiosity. I wanted to see if it would come up like Sun Gold, but instead the tomato plant came up as a long-lost member of the family tree. It is not very sweet. I think it takes after the prolific side of the family, not the sweet side.

It’s no surprise

When I want to use up mammoth amounts of summer squash, I make Zucchini cake, zucchini pie, and salsa.

The zucchini pie was originally from an old Taste of Home Zucchini Pie  recipe.

As a herb gardener, I had to change-up the recipe a bit. My Zucchini Casserole recipe is on Hub pages. The Sweet and crunchy grape picnic salad is there too.



GBBD 7/15/14


Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

You can never have too many flowers.


I love sunflowers.

So do the birds and the squirrels. The sunflower-seed-loving  gold finches are here.

IMG_0056While practically standing on my head, I took this picture. The yard is exploding in lilies. I didn’t know I had taken a selfie and until I saw me attempting to photograph this lovely orange lily after a rain.













Thousands of unusual orange daylilies.


I have a gazillion of these double daylilies. Their name is a mystery, I haven’t a clue. If you know, please educate me. I’ve looked and looked.






















Yucca Plant in bloom above.













Bachelor buttons and nicotina (L) and Coleus (R)



Did I mention the food garden is blooming and blooming? This Green Tiger zucchini plant is huge, about 4′ tall.





Radish seed (L)  from the white icicle radish that is blooming non stop. (R)










Lavender flowers of Little Prince container eggplant from Renee’s Garden


If I didn’t eat eggplant, I would still grow it because of the flowers.















There are many more flowers in the yard and gardens that I would love to share. But I think I better go out and pick the zucchini while it is still small enough to carry.

Get ideas about eggplants on my Pin:  Ratatouille, or loads of garden vegetables ready now.  and zucchini on my Pinterest sites.

The Tomato Pages here,  on Oh Grow Up!


“We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. What’s blooming in your garden? Share with other garden bloggers on the 15th of each month. Leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

 Thank you for visitiing my blog: Oh Grow Up!

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/13/14


July 7, 2014

Eggplant, zucchini, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots and, onions

This is my Ratatouille harvest basket. The harvest basket filled with everything needed to make ratattouille. These vegetables, along with the onions and garlic that are curing on the covered porch, make ratattouille.

Julia Child’s Ratatouille is online in a gazillion places. The recipe is from her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The Ratatouille harvest basket.

The Ratatouille harvest basket. photo PBH

The cucumbers and summer carrots will go into salads and antipasta. These are the “test carrots”, pulled to see how they are growing and coloring up. The big carrot crop will be planted in the carrot boxes shortly after all the summer carrots are harvested.

This time of year, all I can say, is “What in the world was I thinking when I planted those few “extra” cucumber seeds?” If I made pickles with all these cucumbers,  there would be a shortage of canning jars in Southeast MO.

Basket ingredients and the ingredients for ratatouille are: eggplant, zucchini, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parsley.

As a herb gardener, you know I’ll make a few additions. There’s fresh thyme, basil and parsley added to my version of this classic French vegetable dish.


This is the perfect eggplant for me. They weigh about four ounces each. One patio plant is plenty for me. Eggplant does not freeze well, so fresh eating is best.

These are ccontainer eggplant, “Little Prince” from Renee’s Garden. I grow eggplants especially for ratattouille, and eggplant parmesan.

Stealth garden strategy – In my garden, eggplant is planted in a couple of undisclosed locations. The location changes every year and the plant ideally starts out under ccamouflage ( a bucket or top hat, for example.)

The goal is to slow down the flea beetles that turn the beautiful velvety leaves into what looks like a screen door.

The other thing you can do is stagger planting times, just like the planting locations. Tell no one. This has worked for me. I’ll get a good harvest of small, container grown eggplants growing on the deck.

The one eggplant in the garden was sacrificed to save the other eggplants in undisclosed locations.  By the time the flea beetles discovered the plant on the patio, um, I mean on the deck, the Little Prince eggplant was in full production.

These 3 and 4 ounce eggplants are all grownup and ready to fledge by the time the flea beetles arrived.


Usually, fall harvested  carrots are even sweeter than summer carrots.

Usually, fall harvested carrots are even sweeter than summer carrots.

If you ever wanted to grow carrots, fall carrots are planted in August or early September in this neck of the woods. (Zone 6A, Southern Missouri, USA.) This is news you can use: I get carrot seed at Nichols Garden Nursery.

Nichols has a big selection of affordable carrot seed. Check out their online catalog,  there is time to order seed and get carrots growing for a fall harvest. If stored properly, carrot seed can be used for up to three years.

There are a few selections that are under $2. Carrot seed under two bucks and it’s enough seed for at least two years. It only takes 70 to 85 days from planting to eating.

Remember to plant extra for carrot cake and muffins. Plan on about a 10 foot row of carrots per person.

Pink Coneflower Echinacea ‘Magnus’


Today’s Harvest Basket is full of flowers.


Todays Harvest Basket is filled with Echinacea. A long keeping cut flower.

I believe these are Pink Coneflower or Echinacea ‘Magnus’ .  The tag is long gone. These are the oldest coneflower in the garden. I planted them a few years ago. They faithfully put on a show with little of no attention

Like all coneflowers, these love full sun and well-drained soil. Once established they do not need extra fertilization or irrigation. Plus, you get birds, bees, butterflies. The garden is mulched with chopped leaves during fall garden clean up.

Cut flowers and deadhead blooms to encourage more flowers.

Cut flowers and deadhead blooms to encourage more flowers.

They will grow just about anywhere. They don’t need additional fertilizer, and, once established, will even grow well without additional irrigation. Deadheading faded flowers will encourage the development of more blooms, but it’s a good idea to leave some of the old blooms later in the season as they provide food for birds as well as winter interest in your garden.

And these are hardy pink coneflowers. In Missouri USA, some cone flowers are native. The natives are a bit paler than these.

Last summer I had five or six coneflowers in this bed. Summer had a lot of record-setting hot days. It was an unusually long and harsh winter, too.

Missouri Coneflower, Rudbeckia missouriensis, is commonly found on the limestone glades in the Ozark region of the State MO.  The leaves are very hairy and may stay green through the winter. This perennial coneflower is beautiful grown as a native, cutting garden or in the flower bed.

Native Missouri Coneflower, Rudbeckia missouriensis

Native Missouri Coneflower, Rudbeckia missouriensis

It makes a good cut flower and has a long bloom period in the June through  August. It will attract insects, bees and butterflies.

Native perennial blooms in zones 5-9, full sun.Grows two to three feet tall. Tough drought tolerant belongs in all Missouri gardens.

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/7/14


Today’s Harvest Basket July/7/2014

Big vegetables

Zucchini, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, scapes

Zucchini, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, scapes.

Love those foot long Chinese cucumbers. The organic Chinese cucumbers, “Suyo Long” picked early are already crisp and crunchy. I’ve eaten these while standing in the garden. Just snipped off the vine and cleaned with a swipe across my jeans.


There’s enough zucchini to make a chocolate zucchini cake.  And a side dish of zucchini with garlic and onions for dinner. And a cold rice salad with zucchini. After all that, this squash is still so good. Picked fresh then made into a dozen different recipes we love.

The seeds we planted were three years old. Everyone came up.

The seeds we planted were three years old. Every seed came up.

Zucchini is a “use it or lose it” vegetable. Canning or freezing summer squash is usually a disappointment.

Find some of our favorite zucchini on Pinterest Courgette (zucchini) Everything

Don’t miss this recipe: Easy Pickled Zucchini from Zuni Cafe

This Hub Pages recipe uses a ton of zucchini: Enchilada salsa with zucchini  Add to enchilada filling or tortilla soup.

Yellow onions

Candy – Globe shaped yellow onion is mild and sweet.  Good soil and plenty of water means big, long keepers. It’s too early to pull all the onions in the garden.

This spring, I ran out of room and planted a few onion starts in the containers marked for tomatoes. With the regular watering and extra boost of fertilizer these onions grew up big and fast. I pulled these yellow onions from the pots where tall staked tomato plants are crowding out any other plants.

These big Candy onions are 3"in diameter.

These big Candy onions are 3″in diameter.

With the regular watering and extra boost of fertilizer, these onions grew up big and fast. This is an onion in need of a hamburger. Don’t you think so? Imagine a thick, whole slice of mild and sweet onion on top of a burger just off the grill.

These onions are weighing in between 13 and 15 ounces.  They are easy to pick because they look like they are just sitting on top of the ground. We will let the top completely dry before cutting off the top leaves and bottom roots.

Today’s Harvest Basket 6/4/14


July 4, 2014

Zukes, cukes, and carrots

Enough cucumbers for a small batch of pickles.

Enough cucumbers for a small batch of pickles.

Cucumbers are in full production and these will become a small batch of pickles tomorrow. I pulled a few “test” carrots. Summer carrots are sizing up and the little cherry tomatoes are starting to come on.

Once the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes start to over take our ability to eat them fresh, they will be dehydrated for winter use.


Mean while, one these two varieties of cucumbers are going into garlic dill pickles, and the other for refrigerator pickles.

About refrigerator pickles: Every year I make Jacques Pepin’s pickled vegetables recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Simple and Healthy Cooking by Jacques Pepin  (1994) It is an old cookbook, but I still use it, especially when I have a garden full of fresh produce.

From the garden, I’ll add the baby carrots, green beans, garlic, bell peppers, dill and onions.

This old cookbook has been used and reused until it is falling apart. The book is held together with rubber bands at this stage. I still prefer paper cookbooks over ebooks. I do have a couple of cookbooks on the Kindle, but most are good ol hard cover cookbooks.

Home grown cucumbers are the best way to avoid the slick, waxy coating on grocery store cucumbers.

Home grown cucumbers are the best way to avoid the slick, waxy coating on grocery store cucumbers.


White Wonder heirloom cucumber and those foot long organic Chinese cucumbers, “Suyo Long” aren’t the only cucumbers growing in my garden.

Those short little Kirby-like picklers are getting a late start, since I was trying to stretch out the production times.

Most of the white cucumbers weigh in close to a pound. Since they are just 6″ to 6 1/2″ long, that is a pretty solid cuke. They are firm and crisp, good for fresh eating and pickling. Pick them promptly right at 6″ of smaller and there is no need to peel. Wait, and the peel becomes tough and bitter.



Trellis these long cucumbers to get the straightest cukes.

Trellis these long cucumbers to get the straightest cukes.

Do you know this crisp pickle tip?

There’s an enzyme in the blossom that can make the pickle soft and unsafe to eat. Cut at least a 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end and discard.


Avoid waxed cucumbers for pickling. The brine or pickling solution can not penetrate the waxy coating.

I get the heirloom White Wonder cucumber seed from Nichols Garden Nursery.

Renee’s Garden has the organic Chinese cucumbers, “Suyo Long.”

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