Too much and yet not enough

Just today's zukes, cukes and gherkins
Just today’s zukes, cukes and gherkins

Slaving over a hot stove on a hot summer day isn’t my idea of fun… well actually – it kind of is. But that is what I have been doing.  Processing the harvest. Now that the holidays are a thing of the past and the beach sand has been well and truly shaken from our shoes, the garden is getting more attention than it has seen in weeks.  It would seem the garden is quite grateful as it is rewarding me with more than enough produce.  Not that I’m complaining…  well I may be a little moany about the zucchinis.  I have already reached the point where whoever sets foot across our threshold immediately has several zucchinis thrust upon them with the desperate plea of “please take them.”

Help yourselves
Help yourselves

I thought I had my zucchinis under control when I only planted out three and gave the rest of the seedlings away, with the traumatic year I had six plants firmly etched into my memory as something never to repeat. I was proud of my restraint.  Last year had fooled me a little as it was a bad year for pumpkins, squash, cucumbers and all things Cucurbit.  And I was lead to believe three was quite a manageable number.  Nope – wrong.  In a good season, even this is too many.  The zucchini refinement will go on into next season and probably beyond that.  But I do see trouble ahead.  I currently grow a “normal” dark green zucchini and my favourite kind – a Lebanese variety with light skin and it is sweeter than the dark green one.  But over the holidays one of our wonderful hosts had bright yellow ones in their garden.  I now want yellow ones too.  How cool would it look on the plate to have all three?  Therein lies the problem. I have already established three is too many!

The gherkins are also having a fabulous time.  I pickled five jars yesterday and that was from just a couple of days of harvesting.  There are more out there again now…  Luckily we love gherkins and all that remains of last year’s crop is a few slithers lurking in the bottom of a jar in the back of the fridge.

A dainty little butternut, dwarfed by the spaghetti squash lurking in the background
A dainty little butternut, dwarfed by the spaghetti squash lurking in the background

The spaghetti squash scare me.  This year (fooled by last year’s less than ideal conditions for all things squash) I decided to plant them with the butternut squash instead of in their usual position on the cucumber climbing frame where they invariably take over.  But they have just gone nuts!  There are at least a dozen monster sized squash and the plant shows no signs of slowing down.  I am considering stopping it in its tracks by nipping out the growing points.  I don’t normally like to do this as I’m a greedy gardener and want all I can get.  But it is driving me to it – it must be stopped before it takes over the world.  Next year I think I will plant it by itself in some naughty corner where it can do no harm to anyone.

Six months I waited, and that is all I have to show for it!
Six months I waited, and that is all I have to show for it!

But not all things have been so rampant.  I shall mention this only once and then we shall never speak of it again.  My garlic completely failed.  The entire crop has been relegated to the compost heap with not even a slightly edible bulge where the bulb should be.  I am determined enough to peel pitiful cloves.  I grew it, damn it I’ll eat it!  But there wasn’t even anything to peel.  The terrible wet spring encouraged the rust to feast on my poor wee garlic and at the same time made the soil to inhospitable for the garlic to want to grow.  The incessant rain made treating the rust next to impossible and it didn’t stand a chance.  I am not looking forward to having to buy garlic for the next year, but it adds a certain something to almost every meal, so it has to be done.  Sigh.  Next year will be better – even if I have to hold an umbrella over the crop myself!

blimey...  look at the size of these beetroot!
blimey… look at the size of these beetroot!

The beetroot on the other hand got off to a great start and just didn’t know when to stop!  I should have harvested it before Christmas, but it just got too busy.  I finally got round to harvesting it the other day and it was ginormous!  I thought it would be all woody and inedible, but was pleasantly surprized.  It end up as beetroot chips, diced in salads and in chocolate beetroot muffins.  I’m not sure I have jars big enough to put them in to pickle them, but I’ll try my best to squish them in.  You can’t have a good burger without a slice of beetroot!

Join me on a quick post holiday tour of the garden.  It’s not looking too bad all things considered.

Come again soon – the bird battle is about to commence, they will not take my tomatoes!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

33 thoughts on “Too much and yet not enough

    1. Hi Thymewarp. I think mine could have stayed in the ground for ever and a day and not get to fat. The spring was too wet and they don’t like that, and mine got rust as well. The rule of thumb is plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest so if yours had a good 6 months with half of it cold then it should have been long enough. I hope next year is kinder to our garlic. Cheers Sarah : o )

  1. ooh, spaghetti squash… I didn’t even know we could get it. feel free to ‘burden’ me with some of that… as for my zucchinis – they must be growing on your plants 😉 and my cucumber is convinced that it can only grow one fruit at a time…

    1. HI Gwenda. Consider yourself burdened. Once they ripen up I’ll give you some. The good thing is they keep for ages so you can have them right through the winter.
      Keep up the watering and maybe give them liquid feed pick me up. They do need regular water in these dry days.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Terri. I think things may start to look a little brown around the edges soon. The summer is really starting to act like it supposed to.
      I like spaghetti squash too, but I dare say I have too much!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. What an awesome and amazing harvest Sarah! We are just starting to get a few bits and bobs out of our garden but we are a month behind you. Thanks to your help, I have a lot more going on in the veggie garden this year but no crazy spaghetti squashes, only mad pumpkins scrambling for purchase everywhere. They are growing vertically and taking advantage of the lack of possums about at the moment (but I know they will be back so look out pumpkins!) Lots of interesting new plants, tomatillos, basil (new for me), globe and Jerusalem artichokes and lots more as well as learning how to grow sweet potatoes from cuttings. MUCH easier than from the roots. All in all a wonderful time to be in the garden and you guys will be able to feast off your garden produce all winter long. Well done! 🙂

    1. Hi Fran. At the moment it feels like the garden is just being a bit of a bossy, demanding mistress – water me, feed me, weed me, pick me, grow more of this, grow more of that, don’t get sunburnt, feed the kids, tidy up after yourself… nag nag nag. Actually that is the voices in my head. But to be able to crack open a jar of strawberry jam or gherkins in the middle of winter to go with something delicious all will be forgiven. And the fresh food is yum to. I am experimenting with the favourings in the vinegar each time I pickle gherkins. Today it is kaffir lime leaves, star anise, loads of chilies and a dash of sugar. I can’t wait to see how that batch turns out. The carraway seed one also seems interesting. Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. I don’t think they could be called gherkins any more, I think they have gone over to the dark side! Maybe they need an altogether more grand name than humble gherkin…what about “Asiatic fragrant cucumber pickles” or “Heady scented Asian organic chilli pickles” 😉

  3. I made zucchini relish yesterday. Would you like the recipe, Sarah?

    Birds are getting to my tomatoes – grrr! Yet, I notice that my neighbours are not having this problem. I am watering their garden while they are away.

    1. Hi Lindy. Yes please – I’d love the recipe. I have extra kids today so will use a few with a chocolate zucchini loaf but the things keep growing. I might eat a few flowers stuffed with cheese and fried to slow them down.
      I am having to harvest my tomatoes at the first sign of a blush and ripen them on the window sill. Just until there are enough to share with the birds. I’m not happy about sacrificing them when they are only coming ripe one at a time! I wonder what your neighbours are doing differently.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. 1kg zucchini finely chopped or grated
        750g onions finely sliced
        2 peppers, pick from red/yellow/orange – deseeded and chopped

        Put all these into leg glass bowl and add 3tbs plain salt. Stir in and leave 30 mins. Then add 3 c water, mix well and drain completely.

        Put veg into pot and add

        2c white vinegar
        2c sugar (I use slightly less)
        1 and a half tsp turmeric
        2tsp celery seed
        2 tsp mustard seed
        1 tsp chili seasoning
        I also add a small amount of water as this recipe is quite thick

        Simmer 30 mins stirring often. Mix 1 tb cornflour and water , stir in and cook5 mins more. Put into hot clean jars.

      2. I have way too many kamo kamo an no zucchini so am using the small ones just like zucchini – I have chips in the dehydrator right now and am off to use the other half to make some of this, thanks.

  4. Hey Sarah, I know exactly what you mean about zucchinis. They are machines! I couldn’t imagine having 6 of them … ever! LOL Oh, what a shame about your garlic, that would have brought a tear to my eye. Mind you, a similar thing has happened to my Egyptian Walking Onions .. 50% didn’t form properly and started rotting in situ so they were hauled out. Shame! Happy New Year to you too Miss!

    1. Hi Julie. I did feel like having a little cry when I pulled up my garlic. I never expected such an absolute fail. But there is always next year. I might try as source different varieties so then there is a chance that possibly one type will make it through the ups and downs in the weather. My onions weren’t too bad.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  5. Well you are ahead of me this time. Garlic still in the ground from previous season. Hohoho. I need to make some time to dig them out this season. Had ONE zuchini plant 2 years ago and cant keep up with it, no more after that. Have you tried growing watermelon yet?

    1. HI Justin. I hope your garlic is much better than mine. I have an aunt in the South Island and her garlic was amazing so hopefully yours will have had similar conditions to hers. I have several kinds of watermelon in the garden but the conditions have to be perfect for any kind of success although I do have two in the greenhouse that seem to be doing well. Fingers crossed. Cheers Sarah : o )

  6. Hello Sarah. Your sphaghetti squash looks a lot different than mine (from the same seed source) mine is like a yellow Bright yellow that is ball, starting out a small golf ball and growing from there. Any idea what else it could be? Markvs

    1. Hmmm Mark, maybe it isn’t a spaghetti squash. You may need to pop over at some point for an identity parade to see if you recognize it here. I have pumpkins and squash up the wahzoo!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Virginia. Garlic is normally such an easy crop to grow. It take roughly six months. You can normally tell when it is ready for harvest when a third of the leaves are brown. These are the protective layers around the garlic bulb. If you harvest too soon then the cloves will be too little and a pain to peel and use. And if you leave it too late then the protect layer begins to rot and storage becomes a problem. Oh and don’t dry them out in the sun once you harvest them – they don’t like that either. And as I have found out, they really don’t like an excessively soggy spring! But they are easy to grow. All the best with your crop. Cheers Sarah : o )

  7. I can’t imagine the challenge of a summer garden, right in the middle of the Christmas holiday. My hat is off to you, Sarah.

    Sorry to hear about the garlic, but my goodness look at those beats.

    1. Hi Alys. Having the festive season in the middle of the growing season is a real challenge. You have to be really organised because you can’t not do something that would lead to Christmas being a disaster, yet at the same time if you neglect the garden then all the work of the previous months would be wasted and there would be no harvest! A fine balancing act.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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