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shelleybean July 24, 2014 10:59 AM

Virginia Gardeners
What's happening in your garden right now?

Here, I have passed my peak with the beefsteak type tomatoes. I have been canning, making and freezing sauce and drying them and still have several mixing bowls and lasagna pans full of huge tomatoes on the counter. We've had a cooler than normal week and I see a lot of new fruit starting to set so I'll get those toward the end of the summer. I still have some cherries going out there. Very little disease so far, a little early blight.

I have a lot of eggplant on the bushes and I've picked several so far. I expect this to continue into fall.

Peppers, hot and sweet, are doing great. I am letting all the pimentos turn red or gold. Same with the frying peppers.

I got my okra in late and it is just beginning to flower.

All the beans are doing well--snap beans, butter beans and White Acre peas. I hope to stash some of these in the freezer before it's all done.

I had a dozen pickling cucumbers this summer and despite the downy mildew, they are still producing a few. I'll be pulling them out shortly to make room for collards and lettuce. The plants look awful but if I'm still picking even a few, I hate to pull them just yet. I have made many batches of bread and butter pickles and dill pickles this summer. I'm a little relieved to be past the peak with these.

This is the latest I think I've ever and squash in the garden. Between the squash vine borer and the mildew, I usually have to pull them around the Fourth of July. And I did indeed pull the zucchini out the week after the 4th, but the crooknecks are still producing. These will have to come out soon, too, to make room for carrots and beets.

I ran out of room and did not grow sweet potatoes this summer. I ordered slips from Sand Hill but gave them to my sister-in-law because I just didn't have the space at that time.

What is everyone else picking/cooking/preserving at this point?

JJJessee July 24, 2014 01:17 PM

Hey, Shelley.
I'm about 300 due west of you right on the Crooked Road, US58.

Maters are just coming in.

I'm keeping them picked early. We had a lot of rain last weekend, and though it has dried some, more is on the way.

For me, finally a successful year with eggplant.
So I'm something like 1 for 20.

So what do you do with 4.5 lbs of eggplant?
You make 7 lbs of Caponata

and freeze for January.

Carrots have come up.
I always wait to grow fall carrots.

This is my mater and pepper row.

In the raised beds, I've pulled all my garlic, all my onions (at least 80lbs), pulled the snow pea vines I let go for seed, and re-sowed buckwheat. Also last week transplanted some hot weather lettuce types which are looking surprisingly well. Raspberries are all but gone, blacks did squat, but the reds came in later and we got 10+ gallons.

Just grated and froze 14 cups zucchini.

I'm up for fall brassicas and celery this year. I'm trying to grow transplants under lights

I grow several super hot peppers.
most of which have not started to color.

Melons and gourds are about to set fruit.

I'm trying to avoid cukes.

They seem especially aggressive this year ;-)


shelleybean July 24, 2014 01:53 PM

JJ, looks great! A very good season for you, too!

Most years I have very good luck with eggplant but not so much last year. We had a very cool spring and cooler than normal summer and it just never got off to a good start. Better this year.

For fall veggies, many years I can overwinter greens and stuff here but not the last two winters. This past winter was particularly brutal, though some of you would laugh at what I call brutal, I think. I am planning to get my fall stuff in a bit earlier and hopefully get a decent amount of each thing before Christmas. I will start all over again the beginning of March.

mecktom July 24, 2014 04:55 PM

I think I am about mid way between y'all here in Mecklenburg County where it is always hot and humid. It has been a good year for tomatoes, peppers, egg plant, squash, green beans or snaps as we call them, and many other vegetables. Seems I am giving away tomatoes every day and am always greeted with smiling faces. That is one of the reasons I grow so many. It is better to give than receive!

Ken B July 28, 2014 05:42 PM

It's been an OK year so far, but the mild weather lately has me a bit nervous -- after last year's cold summer I was really hoping for a nice hot summer this year, and while it's been more pleasant and comfortable to work outside, the mild weather's slowing down our nightshades, okra, squash, etc.

We've had some heavy bean beetle damage to snap beans, but hoping that the parasitic wasps are starting to get those under control... we're getting some downy mildew on the early cucumbers and muskmelons... but otherwise everything's pretty healthy. Just want some more heat!!

shelleybean July 30, 2014 10:01 AM

We've had heat but we've had some nice cooler weather, too, Especially this week. I have a lot of new tomatoes setting so after this little break, I should finish out the season well. I planted three rows of carrots yesterday. Still a bit too early to plant any of my other fall veggies.

JJJessee July 31, 2014 03:56 PM

We got that little cool spell too.
Don't know about the veggies, but I needed a break. :-)

Hot peppers on the way

My first good pull of the official Jamacian Ministry of Agriculture Scotch Bonnets

A truly lovely, sweet, citrus-y, flavor with just bearable heat -just under a habanero
I made a nice, simple marinade sauce of them.

Tomatoes are at about 1/4 bushel per day or slightly more on average.

This dry week, I've let the maters hang just a tad longer.
Yesterday's pull.

Taking me wife to Montecello for her birthday this weekend.
I'm anxious to see their roses. I'm re-kindling that interest that has had trouble taking root all my life.
This time, I'm determined .
Last weekend, I rustled some cuttings from a fragrant wild...

...up on the mountain were I go to pick blueberries in August, apples in October.

I've set a Free Produce stand out beside my drive for the neighborhood walkers to "shop".
By evidence they seem to enjoy it.

Rain just came in a day early.
I can dig it.

shelleybean July 31, 2014 08:03 PM

Oh, I would love to go to Monticello, especially for the festival thing in September. BUT, my birthday was Monday and my husband's birthday is always the weekend of the thing at Monticello, the weekend after Labor Day, and he doesn't want to go. Sort of wish it fell on MY birthday weekend.;) We will go, festival or not, though, at some point. My son studied Va. history in 4th grade and American History to 1865 in 5th grade. He starts 6th grade three weeks from tomorrow. I would love to see the gardens at Monticello in the summer but it may have to wait until fall. So much going on before we begin the school year.

Thanks for posting your pics.

Ken B August 1, 2014 08:48 PM

For any folks who're interested -- looks like we'll be having a tomato tasting/garden tour event here at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange on Saturday, August 9th -- we're halfway between Charlottesville and Richmond -- more details soon!

mecktom August 2, 2014 05:00 AM

Ken....Please update us on the tasting at SESE. Sounds like an interesting day. My mother was from Mineral and we always visited each summer years ago.

Ken B August 3, 2014 07:18 PM

OK, it'll be 2-4 PM on Saturday, we should have something up on our website about it soon, I'll post a link when we do!

Ken B August 4, 2014 07:05 PM

Here's the newsletter link -- -- which lists our farm's address.

Tracydr August 5, 2014 08:37 PM

Recipe for the habenero sauce?

JJJessee August 5, 2014 11:18 PM

I usually use carrots in my habanero sauce; after I've smoked them a little.
For these Scotch Bonnets I'm using Dijon Mustard.

25 MoAs

de-seeded, ran through a processor
put in a sauce pan

with the juice of 3 limes
~1/4 cup dijon mustard(wife's recipe)
~1/4 cane vinegar distilled might be a little strong. Go easy if you sub.

Salt to taste
Allspice ~ 1/4 teas.
fresh ground Coriander 1 teas.
Cumin 1/2 teas.
Onion powder 1 tbl
and little honey ~ 2 teas.

slowly bring to a soft boil and reduce to simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
Processed with an immersion blender. Requires refrigeration

Begs to be smeared on a big roast beef sub with lettuce, tomato, onions, green pepper and cuke slices.
Or maybe painted on a split chicken, sprinkled with some more herbs, and grilled.


shelleybean August 7, 2014 02:44 PM

I spent the afternoon freezing okra. I'm trying Cajun Jewel this time. I blanched them as whole pods and then sliced them. Even the biggest pods were still tender. So far, my plants are only about three feet tall so far. I chose this variety because it's supposed to remain fairly short. I've grown other "dwarf" varieties before and they been pretty darn tall. If this one really does stay at around 5 feet, I think it'll be a keeper.

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