Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July Garden

When I look back at the pictures of the garden from just one month ago, I really cannot believe how much growth there has been in such a short period of time. The lettuce, spinach, arugula, and mesclun are done, though I have planted a new crop with the hopes that they will survive the hot summer sun. I can't bring myself to buy lettuce from the store again. Here is my garden update for July (all pictures taken with baby on my back, so not many close-ups!).
The Scarlet Runner Beans grew up the tepee and then back down again. I did not realize how tall they would get! The sunflowers are getting tall as well. Maybe a little too tall. I think they are providing too much shade for the zucchini growing beneath them.
The two varieties of cosmos starting blooming this week. I planted them with the hope that I would have enough blooms for a couple bouquets of cut flowers. The dill is also getting really tall. These were volunteers from last years crop and they are more sturdy than ever. I think they look like little yellow fireworks bursting open in the herb garden.Soon we will have some little cucumbers to nibble on. Or rather, I will have soon cucumbers to nibble on. So far, I am the only one in this house that likes them in their natural, pre-pickle state.Curtis is waiting patiently for the tomatoes. These are a yellow pear variety, good for snacking. We also have four plants with a larger heirloom variety that are doing quite well.A couple weeks ago I pulled up a carrot, just to see how they were coming and was surprised to see how big some of them were already. The Cosmic Purple and Amarillo Yellow carrots are pretty and tasty too. Along with the carrots we have harvested bush beans, onions, and Swiss chard. And last week I went out and harvested most of the basil, but not because I wanted to...The Japanese Beetles are back in full force. It is so frustrating! Every day we go out with our pail of soapy water and handpick dozens of the nasty little things. They are especially fond of Genovese basil (they leave the Purple Opal alone, for the most part), runner beans (I tried a new variety this year hoping they wouldn't like them, but no such luck!), and the strawberries. So before they destroyed the entire crop of basil, I decided to go ahead and harvest most of it to make into pesto.

If you would like to make some pesto, good on sandwiches (Curtis uses in his paninis) and adding to pasta sauce, here is my 'What To Do When The Japanese Beetles Are Eating Your Basil' Recipe:

3 cups basil

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts (optional)

salt to taste

In a food processor (or with a stick blender) blend together 1 cup of basil, garlic, nuts and olive oil until a thick paste forms. Add the rest of the basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and continue to blend. Add more olive oil as needed to reach desired texture. Adding just part of the basil to start makes it easier to blend the garlic well. The lemon juice keeps the basil from turning brown in color. I then spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Once frozen, you can store the pesto cubes in a freezer bag and just take out one or two cubes as needed.

Despite the beetles, it is really a treat to be able to go outside and pick our own organically grown vegetables for dinner. I like searching for new recipes and building our meal around what is in season. The best part is when Noah actually eats what I have prepared. It makes for one proud mama :)

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