I suppose it has been a week since the last vegetable harvest, at least for the pole beans. Today I walked away from our garden at Farm Chastain with enough beans for the family, 3 ears of Silver Queen corn, and one of Silver King. I also picked a cucumber for Martha and some squash for this week. The corn was a little early to be picked but it sure was good. I think it has another 10 days of fattening up to go, but I ran across several worms which made me nervous so I went ahead and picked some for dinner. Picking the green beans is a challenge for sure, they are super healthy so there is a ton of foliage to get through to find the beans.
I am most proud of the corn. If I were to be stranded on an island it would be a must have for me. You can also see a yellow pepper in the picture above. It needs a couple of days to sweeten up, but also looked in danger of getting eaten up out there, so I went ahead and picked.
We had two watermelons growing nicely only to come back today to find them totally rotted out. Not sure what got to them, but they were super nasty. I'll spare you that picture.
Over the past couple of days I have noticed some of the green beans getting pretty big in the garden. This morning I picked a couple of handfuls of beans and two pretty red tomatoes. Tomorrow night I believe we will be having green beans, tomatoes with basil and a cucumber for dinner!
After picking a few of the straight eight cucumbers this summer I have realized mine are not going to resemble either of those descriptions. A straight eight cucumber is supposed to be long and straight, about 7-8 inches. The first fruit was really fat and short, and while I waited on it to grow, it turned yellow and became compost food. This time I picked it when it looked about right, just not straight or eight. Here is the picture I got of it. On the right side you can see it oozing from the fresh cut. Click on the image below to see the hi-res version on my website.
Based on some articles online this shape is due to a lack of bees getting their pollinating on. I have definitely noticed a lack of bees this year for some reason or another.
The Matthews back yard garden is starting to produce fruit in the way of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. Below are some pictures of the progress. We are still waiting on the zucchini and green beans to start fruiting. Not pictured below are the bell peppers which are starting to change from green to red, and now have a purple tone to them.
At Matthews Farm, 2016 will be the year that I defeat the squirrels and chipmunks. Each year my garden has grown bigger and bigger, and each year more critters come out to enjoy the harvests the night before I come out to pick the fruits of my labor.
This offseason I decided to build real cages around each raised bed, and my strawberry & carrot bed has a hinged top as well. The other bed cages will be organic, as in they will grow with the crops as needed. I plan to build trellis’s for the tomatoes, cucumbers & squash, and keeping those caged in will be an ongoing process.
Below are lots of pictures of the evolution of the garden, the planted crops, and some early seed bloomers (pole beans) that will grow in a bamboo teepee. I am also quite proud of the set of sawhorses that I built thanks to direction from familyhandyman.com.
I’m looking forward to a summer full of fruits and veggies from the back yard!
Dear Mr or Mrs Squirrel, if you are going to take a bite of my tomato, at least do me the favor of eating the whole thing like you do with the blueberries. This was my first tomato of the year, ready to be harvested… The square off continues.
Here are some pictures to give you an update on how the summer raised garden is coming along. We have 30-40 tomatoes growing, one bell pepper which appears to be turning red, and some baby squash (I picked the first one too early and it was not ready). We had lots of blueberries but those were eaten soon after harvest. We can’t wait for those to mature so we can have gallons of blueberries in the summer! Until then we have veggies…
I followed the recipe just as it is, but instead made it on the big green egg using the plate setter and cast iron grate. Let me tell you that chicken was superb, juicy like no other I assume due to the brining. Anyway it’s a simple recipe using household items plus some basil and a lemon. I also used some basil to top some tomatoes. mm good!
Over the past year I have been drinking some sort of smoothie just about every day for lunch or dinner. The smoothies have evolved from heavy fruit with orange juice and a lot of spinach to tons of vegetables and a variety of fruit. The evolution had a lot to do with the blenders I was using. I started off with a Ninja bullet which did the trick pretty well as long as you didn’t mind chewing your smoothie. My next blender was another Ninja Professional Series which I thought was going to prevent me from having to spend $400+ on a Vitamix. The blender was fine but did nothing better than it’s predecessor. This year I caved in and bought a Vitamixat the Cook’s Warehouse. People have been raving about them forever, literally they have been around for a really long time.
It’s really clear why everyone loves them, there is no comparison. Before I was limited to soft fruits and even then I was chewing seeds and skin. With the Vitamix there is none of that and the ingredient list is out of site!
Here was my smoothie before the Vitamix:
2 Cups of Frozen Strawberries
1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
Two handfuls of Fresh Spinach
Orange Juice and Water
Or Watermelon for Juice
Here is my smoothie recipe today with the Vitamix:
1 Cup of Frozen Strawberries
1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
1 Cup of Grapes
Two handfuls of Fresh Spinach OR Kale (previously not an option)
Orange Juice and Water
1/2 of a Beet and Foliage (previously not an option)
1 Carat (previously not an option)
1 Whole Apple (previously not an option)
1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds (previously not an option)
This makes a 32 ounce smoothie with 381 calories and endless health benefits. Over the past year I lost 40 lbs and 4 pant sizes drinking this smoothie, exercising several times a week (running around Chastain Park 3 +/- miles) and eating relatively healthy meals at other times. The “eating relatively healthy meals” was not and has not been consistent, but the smoothie has been, and I have maintained the weight I am at for 6 months. I say this because often times I eat what my kids are eating, whether it’s at the concession stand or Chick-fil-a. So far I have found that if I am consistent with the smoothie and exercise, I can eat whatever for dinner and they offset each other.
So for those of you out there looking for a healthy smoothie recipe, this is the real deal and tastes great!
Several years ago Martha gave me a Big Green Egg for Fathers Day. I felt unworthy then and still do now, but it’s a really amazing tool, and until this point has lived in a “nest” with fold down arms. For my 40th birthday Martha sort of gave me a new Big Green Egg table for it to live in. The reason I said sort of was because I had to call the guy and order it, go pick it up, and stain/seal it before I could use it.
A buddy of hers gave her a link on craigslist of a company in Auburn Ga that makes these unfinished cypress tables for the Big Green Egg. I pulled it up, found the one I liked on their website www.CypressGrillTables.com, and placed my order around 8:30 on a Thursday morning. It took me about 45 minutes from Buckhead to drive to their shop which is located off of Highway 316 on the way to Athens. I got there at 10:30, loaded up the table, in and out in five minutes or less.
Here is a picture of the unfinished table in my man room ready to get stained:
To get it finished I went to Ace Hardware on Roswell Road as they are all knowledgeable in the Big Green Egg arena. They pointed out everything I would need to go from what I had, to the finished product. I decided that I wanted it to be a darker color to offset the beating it will take over it’s lifetime, burn marks, dents, scratches etc. I used MINWAX Wood Finish (Special Walnut 224) which gave it a nice rich brown color. I applied one coat of that and let it dry overnight.
After the stain dried I put on the first coat of the sealer which is MINWAX Helmsman Spar Urethane. It is a clear semi-gloss water based sealant. Now this had to be applied 3 times all over the table which took a few days to get through. The can actually says 4 coats are needed for exterior use but I went with the guys recommendation at Ace and did three.
The final touch was to go to Lowes and buy some robe hooks that might go on your bathroom door. They are an oil rubbed bronze and look great with the table.
Here are a few pictures of how it turned out. I could not be any happier with the results.