Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pickled jalapeno peppers

I harvested many jalapenos peppers, more than I could use up so I made pickled jalapeno. This is my first time canning anything. I had one 'real' canning jar and 2 recylced salsa and jam jar. I used apple cider vinegar and a couple of sprigs of thyme from the garden. The jalapenos are now hot, very hot. I used too much vinegar so I made one jar of jalapeno vinegar. I used this for salad dressing and it was really good. I wasn't sure if the recycled bottles would seal, but it did. I'll use these bottles first.
The jalapeno plant is now making smaller peppers. I'll have to think of another way to use it.
         I wanted to post a picture of my miniature sunflower that finally bloomed. I love it, it brightens up the "back" garden.
 Linking up to Wendy's blog for the garden to table challenge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I am very sad to report that the zucchini plant has died:( The leaves started dying at a faster pace and while it was still producing baby zucchinis, it was not as good as the earlier harvest. So I decided to pull out the plant. And sure enough, I found 1 little wormy borer in the stem.
Container sans zucchini plant
Fortunately, I started another zucchini plant so I hope to harvest some more in the fall. The supersweet 100 tomatoes are starting to ripen.
first set of supersweet 100 tomatoes
More tomatoes to come
This is the with the early girl tomatoes, the first was not so sweet. I'm hoping subsequent ones will be as sweet as the name implies.

Cute little supersweet 100

The homestead tomatoes are not doing so well. I don't think they are tolerating the heat very well. I have 2 plants on the balcony and 1 up front in a shadier area. The ones on the balcony are not fruiting much at all, while the one in the shade has many more green fruits. I'm tempted to pull 1 plant that is really bushy but only has 1 little green tomato out and grow something else...but I think I'll just wait to see how the plant progresses.
The homestead tomato on the right is not fruiting at all, the left has 1 cluster of fruit
I am happy to report that the ichiban eggplants are going through a second growth spurt and several eggplants are fruiting. Next year, I'm going to grow more of these ichiban as they are just so yummy!
Right now I am in the process of planting some romaine lettuce, chinese broccoli, bok choy and some swiss chard. I just need to get some composted manure to give the soil some much needed nutrients.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grilled Eggplants...and the winner is...

Ichiban eggplant, hands down. I grilled the eggplants in the oven whole. The fairytale eggplant actually exploded since I forgot to put a slit in the skin. The picture of the fairytale and gretel eggplant blurred so I don't have any to post but compared to the ichiban eggplant the meat is white and slightly dry.  Compared to the ichiban, the gretel and fairytale lacked flavor. The ichiban most closely resembles the flavor and texture of the eggplants I ate growing up, which may explain my preference for them.
I could tell just as I opened the ichiban that it was different based on the color and juiciness. I ate them all with a little soy sauce and wasabi (I prefer ginger but didn't have any). I still have a couple of the fairtale and gretel left over so I am going to try to make some pasta sauce with it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18, 2011 - Harvest Monday

The basil was starting to flower and needed trimming to make pesto. The sweet and purple basil pesto tasted pretty much the same - the purple may be a little milder than the sweet basil.
Some of the thai peppers are turning red - and it looks like many more will be turning red too. I'm not sure what I want to do with them, so I will have to do some research.   The jalapenos also looked like they were starting to turning red too. There was definitely some stink bug damage on the jalapenos. I'm thinking of making pickled jalapenos.
I was also able to harvest some eggplants. I'm thinking of grilling them tonight.
The early girl 50 tomatoes are getting really sweet. They make a great side salad!

Linking to Daphne blog for Harvest Monday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vine borer surgery aftercare

I've been checking my zucchini plants leaves for vine borer eggs. I am using a method I saw on gardenweb using tape and squishing them. I was initially using a little knife to scrape them off but I wanted to make sure they were destroyed.
Vine borer eggs...eek
Removing eggs with tape
I also noticed a cluster of eggs with little fly-looking thing. Of course I yelped and cut the leaf off and stomped on it. (I was in panic mode so I forgot to take a picture).  I'm pretty sure they were eggplant lace bugs. Here is one I found.
Eggplant lace bug
I've noticed little black circular dots on leafs which I think are the eggs (since this is where I found the cluster of the little lace bug).

I'm seeing so many insects I have never seen before. It seems the battle with insects is never-ending...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shading the pepper plants

Tiny peppers are beginning to form on the pepper plants. These peppers are called "Chinese Giant Sweet Peppers".
We've been having some seriously hot days. The pepper plants seems to be suffering the most from the sun (now that the eggplants are gone). They perk right back when the sun goes down but when I came back from work this is how they looked.
Not only is the foliage suffering from the heat, the sun damaged one of the baby peppers.
I was trying to figure out how to shade the plant and came up with the setup below. So now, the peppers don't look all wilty int the afternoon. Hopefully I prevented further sun damage to my peppers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GTTC - eggplant, zucchini and tomato curry

I decided to attempt making a eggplant curry that my mom makes (we call it indonesian curry but I'm not sure if it is really indonesian).  I don't have the exact recipe but I tried to guess based on my memory of watching my mom make the curry. I used all three types of eggplants and supplemented the curry with the zucchini.  I also used the jalapeno and the early girl tomatoes.
The curry tasted very good, not as good as when my mom makes it but good. I think I prefer the dish without zucchini so next time I'm going to just use the eggplants. Out of the three eggplant, the ichiban fit the best for this dish because it had better texture than the gretel and fairtale (I couldn't really tell these two apart) which were more creamy. I'm going to try to grill the gretel and fairytale next time to get a better taste of the eggplants.

Linking to Wendy's blog for the garden to table challenge!

Grrrr.....Stink bugs....

I knew there were stink bugs in Maryland but I had not seen very many (just 1) in the city...well, until yesterday that is. I found not 1, but about 3-4 stink bugs on my jalapeno. I have to say I'm happy they are not doing any noticeable damage on the vegetables (knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood!) but I've been reading about the damage they cause on gardens/farms. University of Maryland extension website has a lot of information about all the research going on to fight these buggers. For now, it seems like there is not much we can do. I want to remove them manually...but I can't seems to bring myself to grab them to drop them into soapy water. I know there is no reason for me to be afraid of them, but I just can't do it. I got a portable vacuum cleaner but the suction was not strong for now I'm just hosing them down knowing full well that they will just climb back up the plant. I'm gonna think about a way to catch them without actually touching/getting close to them.  Grr...

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Since moving the containers into the shade all three plants are doing much better. The ichiban eggplant flowers stopped dropping and have begun to set fruit. These new fruits are smaller than the earlier eggplants, but I'm happy to see that the flowers are pollinating. I'm having a bit of a problem with spider mites (you can tell see that the leaves are looking a little brown and spotty). I'm using homemade insecticidal soap - hopefully it be OK.
The Gretel eggplant is also doing well.  I'm seeing beautiful white eggplants. Looks great.
The Fairytale eggplant is still not growing laterally but there are a couple of flowers and a handful of beautiful purple-white striped tiny eggplants. I love the color! We'll see how it tastes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Warning! Nasty pictures...vine borers

I was cutting off some of the yellowing leaves on the zucchini plants. After I finished I went to pick up all the leaves and saw the most disgusting white grub.  It took me a while, about half the day, to realize this was not a good thing. I googled vine borer and saw a picture of an insect that I had seen a couple of times on the balcony. Before work, I checked the zucchini in the smaller container. Bad sign #1.
Near the bottom there was a saw-dust like pile right where the larvae most likely dug into the stem. I took the scissor and cut into the vine and found this:
and this:
EWWWWW! I was so disgusted I had severed the stem completely. I salvaged all the small zucchinis on the vine and threw the plant away. After work, I wanted to check the plant in the larger container. I slit the stem and found some damage but didn't find any larvae - it is possible that I just missed it. I tried to removed all the damaged stem and attempted to put it all back together.
I tied up the stem to close it up, wrapped the larger stem with a paper towel and buried the smaller stem under some fresh soil (after tying it up).
I'm just going to keep an eye on it and see if it survives the surgery. Maybe it is too late but I'll also try to start some seeds for the fall.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011 - Harvest Monday

Happy July 4th! I hope the weather holds up so I can go see the fireworks! But the sky is looking like it wants to rain.

In the garden I've been getting some more early girls which is very exciting! The summer squash continues to produce, but I have to pick them small since there were no male flowers blooming (I finally saw one today).
The jalapenos now have a little kick to them. I like them sweet, but spicy is delicious too! I see some salsa in the future!
I want to restart some dill since the first batch was starting to get brown. I thought they would get bigger and bushier. Maybe the pot is too small. I am thinking of trying the dill that Granny sent me.
Linking to Daphne's blog for Harvest Monday!

Insalata Caprese

One of my reasons for starting the balcony garden was to make caprese salad. If you have good tomatoes this salad is just absolutely delicious. The first early girl tomato was a little bland but the subsequent picks have been very sweet. The only downside is the skin that is a little on the thick side. But the taste is really good. The combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella is just fantastic!
Linking to Wendy's blog for the GTTC challenge.