July garden update: it’s not all pretty

I promised at the beginning of this blog, to tell the entire truth about my household shenanigans.  July had  ups and downs in the garden. It was a gift and a curse.  (Note the Jay Z Blueprint 2 reference).  Here’s the rundown.

1. Amazing purple beans.

2. Huge kale (too much kale – who wants some?)

3. More cucumber beetles than I have ever seen in my entire life.

Neem oil - schmeem oil. It didn't faze these guys.

4. Excessive pepper plants – most peppers will be taken to the fair next week.

5. Squash and cucumber ROT! Yes, rot is a technical term.  All zucchini, squash, cucumber, and pumpkin plants have been ripped out of the garden due to disease. This was probably related to either cucumber beetle or squash borer.  I took pictures, but I am saving them for a blog post on disease: BTD (Beetle Transmitted Diseases)

6. Huge tomato plants.

Square foot gardening

7. Squirrels are picking tomatoes, taking one bite, leaving it by my backdoor, and picking another (repeat cycle).

8. The squash “alien/zombie” plants (as mentioned in an earlier blog) are huge – but may be all talk and no action.  They are on borrowed time.  I’m seriously considering ripping them out and making more room for parsley.

9. The heat has required deep watering two times a day.  The tomatoes seem to love it.

10. I have resisted “conventional” chemicals  and stayed organic – but it sure was tempting to whip out the Seven Dust and fry some bugs.



Blueberry Hot Pepper Jam

Last year my favorite jam was a peach jalapeno.  Aunt Luanne gave me a massive bag of hot peppers when I was at the farm last weekend.  As everyone knows with fresh produce , the clock starts ticking as soon as those peppers leave the plant.  I had 2 containers of blueberries that I bought last week. Blueberries + Hot Peppers = Love.  I think I may have found this years new favorite jam.

Code Red Warning!

For goodness gracious – wear gloves!  One little drop of hot pepper juice in a small paper cut and your hand burns for the rest of the night.  Never ever ever touch your eyes.  Pretend hot peppers are like poison ivy.  They can seriously rock your world. (Visualize me giving you a serious face and pointing my finger directly at you).

1 cup hot peppers cut small (pulse them in the food processor if you have one). If you want this super hot, leave the seeds in.  I left them in and it’s not for the weak of taste bud.  I personally love it super spicy.

3 cups of blueberries

6 cups of sugar

2 packages of liquid pectin

In a large pot, mash-up the blueberries and the peppers with a potato masher over medium-high heat and bring it to a bubble. Stir in the sugar and mix constantly.  Once it’s to a full boil again, stir in the 2 packages of pectin and cook for an additional minute.  (Full boil means that the bubbles cannot be stirred down). Remove from heat and process jars.

Of course – follow the rules for safe food preservation in jars. 10 minutes is all it takes in the water bath.

Jar of blueberry hot pepper jam dumped over goat cheese = instant “fancy” appetizer.  I will probably eat it for breakfast too.  Nothing opens your eyes in the morning better than a little spice.  Zing!

I’m definitely entering this into the fair.  I hope the judges can handle some heat.


Head Space

Oh running visor, I love you.  Allow me to list the reasons why.

Visor layered with headband kept me from freezing during the NYC marathon last fall. Yes, my metal is solid gold.

1. My hair is massive and it only gets more massive as I run.  It keeps my hair out of my mouth and eyeballs.

2. My nose turns beet red if it even thinks about sun hitting it.

3. Rain, snow, tree branch and bird poop protection.

4. It helps my 2 fans (my mom and husband) pick me out of the crowd during a race.

5. It makes me look super sporty and awesome.

6. I can pull it down to hide my face from someone I don’t want to see.

7. It keeps the competition guessing (They can’t see the 10 minute miler glimmer in my eyes)

8. Open top means the ponytail can breathe

9. It’s fierce.

10. It transitions from run, to lawn mowing, to shilly -shallying around the backyard.

My running mentor, Ann, wrote my first 1/2 marathon training schedule and gave me the confidence to try distance running.  The best advice she gave me was to get a visor.

Moral of the story: Get a visor – it’ll save your life. (Do you notice that the Run Run Rhubarb blog is getting slightly over dramatic?)

No flowers on the tomato plant? That’s “Bull!”

This year I have planted an excessive amount of tomato plants.  In fact – I just ate a small yellow tomato straight off the vine this evening(I don’t mean to brag…well…yes I do).  As I was checking  out my inventory, I noticed that my “Yellow Pear” tomato plant was not only super massive, but has absolutely no flowers or fruit.

All talk and no action

This monster is known as a “bull.” Bull plants put all their energy into foliage and forget about the good stuff. All body and no brains.  The question: How long do I allow this guy to take up space?  This spot could host some additional parsley, dill, or lettuce.  I had my hand wrapped around the base stem of this tomato plant, ready to pull, and…I got scared.  What if it changes?  People change. Can tomatoes?  Am I falsely calling out “Bull!” when in reality it’s just a “late bloomer.”  The social worker in me took over and saved it from the compost.  Live it up Bull tomato.  Don’t think you’re getting any fertilizer though.