Monday, June 27, 2011

Other sightings

The barn swallows built their nest in a new location this year and the little ones have hatched.

Noisy bunch.

Mom and Dad are both pretty protective but I was able to get a few pictures before they got too close to my head on the fly-by.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Heat and Bugs and No Rain, OH MY!

Heat / drought stressed garden - June 2011

What a spring 2011 has delivered!  As I write this at 4PM, it is 103° and it is not even summer yet.  OH MY, indeed.

With sufficient watering (don't ask about the water bill), the garden is still alive.  Production has slowed but, remarkably, some of the heirloom tomatoes (Cherokee Purple and Homestead) are still blooming and setting new fruit even in 100°+ days.

Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis)
All manner of crawling and flying pests have descended on the garden.  Birds and bugs abound.   Nets have been placed on the tomatoes but they still manage to peck holes in some and I pick off as many bugs as I have the patience to find.  The grasshoppers, however, I have no defense for. The grasshoppers are currently still small but it's a race:  the heat, drought or grasshoppers.
The anoles have not abandoned the garden and help keep the bugs down, at least the small bugs.  I am not sure why this one was still brown as they do change to bright green.  Could the heat slow down that mechanism, as well?

Things still producing at this time:
  • tomatoes
  • jalapenos
  • cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • squash (yellow and zucchini)
  • an occasional green bean
Lots of fresh salsa made here this year.
Enjoying lemon cucumbers and fresh tomatoes.   Searching for another recipe for squash and eggplant.

The garden only gets my attention in the mornings before about 10AM.  After that hour, the heat has driven me inside to the artificially cool house to work on such productive tasks as writing this blog.

When does fall arrive?


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bruschetta or Blue Jay for Dinner?

Just about now, I start into the hate stage of my love:hate relationship with the birds.  I have several bird feeders and faithfully provide seed and water so we can watch the birds as the seasons and populations change.  But then they start messing with my tomatoes and I question any feelings of fondness.

They generally don't completely destroy any given tomato, just peck a hole in them when they are still orange, (not really ripe by my standards).  I have tried picking them earlier but the birds seem to adjust as well and just start pecking on less ripe tomatoes.  I put up netting to reduce the damage but it's never completely secure or the wind blows it open, you get the idea.  

So you have to pick the damaged fruit and try to salvage it.  Sometimes, I cut out the damaged area and freeze the remaining portion for use in soups when cold weather arrives.    But tonight, the damaged fruit was destined for Bruschetta.  A wonderful way to use fresh tomatoes, even blemished ones, and basil from the garden.  It makes a fresh, light appetizer or side dish on hot summer days but should be made with ripe flavorful tomatoes for the best results.

1/2 baguette
several small tomatoes (1 1/2 cups of chopped tomatoes)
2 minced garlic cloves
4-8 large basil leaves chopped
1 T. olive oil
balsamic vinegar to taste
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper

Thick slice baguette and toast.
Chop tomatoes coarsely.  If you want to fully assembly the bruschetta on top of bread, then remove the seeds and only use flesh so the bread doesn't get soggy.  I do not remove the seeds and serve separately  to be assembled as eaten.
Mix tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Serve with toasted bread. 

After dinner that included the bruschetta, I am able to forgive the birds, for today.