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Update – Epic Battles Zucchini vs. Tomatoes

Update – Epic Battles Zucchini vs. Tomatoes

The tomatoes won the battle of zucchini vs. tomatoes this year. I decided to rip out the zucchini and save the tomatoes about two and a half weeks ago.

Judging by the size of the zucchini plant on the side of the house in, and considering how big it is to how many zucchini I have actually gotten from the plant  (that would be one!), I am glad I did it. I started having nightmares of being overrun with zucchini to the point that I imagined my frantic self baking a million loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread for favors for my brother-in-law’s wedding in the Fall. And since baking (well) isn’t my scene, that’d be bad for all involved. Ironically, we’re now halfway through the summer and I only have ONE zucchini to show for it. Hahaha. Figures.

My tomatoes are doing well, and since they are a fan favorite in this house, it was the way to go. I am really the only one that eats zucchini, so three plants had the potential to be overkill. That is, if they ever pollinated and produced!

Here’s the lonely star of the zucchini show so far.

 

 

Epic battles: Tomatoes vs. Zucchini

All right.

So this picture gallery demonstrates what happens when you give a city girl a garden.

It seems that I have, in essence, created a battle for life between the zucchini and the tomatoes. I knew zucchini were “easy to grow”. But I had no idea they were giant plants. Guess I shoulda Googled that one before planting. Geez louise! Ironically, I did read that zucchini and tomato plants play nice together. Guess I didn’t pay attention to the pictures that accompanied the article.

So they may be ok to plant together, but clearly, they are competitive and trying to overtake one another. The tomato plant is actually pushing itself up THROUGH the zucchini to get some sun time. The good news (?) is that the tomatoes are along the front of the bed and seem mostly fine. But I am only guessing that this zucchini plant is going to get even bigger as the summer goes on, leaving me to believe that this is shaping up to be an epic fail on my part. Oof!

Now the question is – do I try to transplant the tomatoes to give them more space and let the zucchini have their own bed?  Or do I keep the tomatoes and yank out the zucchini since I have another plant along the back of the house (I don’t actually see any fruit on the zucchini yet. The tomatoes have fruit.)? Anyone? Anyone?

Two weeks into summer and we’re having fun rookie veggie garden times out here in Oregon this year. Haha.

2013 Garden

2013 Garden

Our veggie garden is in. We mixed things up this year – introducing a few new things, not doing a few things we did last year, and are trying some container gardens and ground plantings to see how they take.

This year, we’ll have:

  • Strawberries – in beds
  • Lettuce – in beds. Did these from seeds – not sure these will take!
  • Tomatoes – in beds and containers
  • Bell peppers – in the ground
  • Cucumbers (new!) – in beds
  • Zucchini (new!) – in beds and in the ground
  • Jack Be Little pumpkins – container
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Last year, we did broccoli and onions. This year we swapped in the cucumbers and zucchini.

In addition to the stuff we planted, we have these fruit plants that the folks who lived here before us put in:

  • Blueberries – in the ground (they haven’t really taken off yet and it’s blueberry season, so maybe we’ll have some next year – haha.)
  • Figs – tree
  • Apples – trees
  • Grapes – vines

 

My favorite part about the veggie garden this year is that I get to use the cute little plant markers my brother and sister-in-law got me for Christmas!

Hummingbirds & Honeysuckle

Hummingbirds & Honeysuckle

When my parents moved to the suburbs of the southern New Jersey shore areas about twelve years ago following a lifetime of Philadelphia city living, they seemed to become obsessed with nature. I mean really, when your mom buys bird watching books, binoculars and invests in plants and feeders to attract birds,  after years and years of shoo-ing pigeons and sparrows from your front stoop or back porch and stating “I hate nature”, that’s quite a seismic shift in interest levels, dontchathink? Combine those purchases with conversation starters such as ‘I saw a turkey vulture…’ or ‘Today, we saw five hummingbirds…’, you begin to wonder who, in fact, IS this strange person standing in front you. I mean, she looks like Mom, but she’s not speaking like Mom. I guess she’s the new New Jersey Mom.

What pushed it over the edge for us is when my mother – who doesn’t love to cook or bake – started to make FOOD FOR THE HUMMINGBIRDS. Yes, that’s right. She whipped up a little sucrose-laden concoction that she dyed red to “attract the hummingbirds”. Her knowing that hummingbirds like red food is akin to Alan knowing that tigers love pepper – not cinnamon – on their steaks.

(Don’t get me wrong – she’s a good cook, but cooking or baking weren’t her thing, like say crafts and sewing were. So the fact that she was whipping up a little something special for teeny tiny birds was a real … hoot for my brothers and I. Hoot. Ugh. Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

Of course (and this will ring particularly true for those who know my brothers and I well), we took this new found love of “nature” and ran with it. There wasn’t an opportunity that went by where we didn’t snicker at the bird watching books, or take the binoculars out back to spoof my parents looking at birds. We’d ask my parents to name any bird that came into sight, including common birds like seagulls and sparrows, and considered making donations to the local audubon society in their names – just for giggles.  (That was basically a long-ish paragraph to tell you that we are wise guys. Not in the Sopranos sense of the word, but in the wisenheimer, smart aleck sense of the word.)

So, you can imagine my horror that I now like to check out the different birds that visit my backyard. Especially the hummingbirds. I KNOW. This is karma coming right back around and taking the proverbial bite out of my behind, right?! I am still trying to get to the bottom of this sudden interest in attracting birds to my backyard. Is it age? boredom? new found access to these mystical little creatures that crave sweets? I don’t know. But I do know they are super cute, and definitely mesmerizing and kind of fun to watch flit around the backyard sampling the available nectars. (In some way, I guess this is a public apology for messin’ with you, Sarge ;))

I caught this little gal enjoying our honeysuckle recently.

And, as I covered here, I invested in a hummingbird feeder and made them food myself. Who has time for this? Apparently, me. Welcome to Oregon! 🙂

 

 

A Small Welcome Spring Project

A Small Welcome Spring Project

Setting out a little food in a pretty little hummingbird feeder to tide them over until the honeysuckle comes in.

Wish me luck. I tried this last year and all the food kept leaking out within about 30 minutes of me hanging it – hahaha. City girl problems. 😉 Hopefully this new feeder works out better!

We’ve Got Apples

We’ve Got Apples

We’re welcoming Fall with some home-grown apples. 48 of ’em to be exact. All from one tree in our yard. (Only one of the two produced apples – not sure why!)

Until yesterday, I wasn’t sure how to tell if they were ready to pick despite Googling for ideas, which mostly returned vague suggestions like “they will come right off when you twist” or “you can tell by the weight when you cup on in your palm” or “pull one off and taste one.”  (FYI – if you’ve never tasted an unripe apple, they are gross and you will never want to taste one again making that third recommendation my least favorite.) I tried the twisting suggestion a few weeks back and the apples seemed to be gripping the tree / hanging on for dear life. To me, that said “Back off, woman. Leave us alone.” So I did. Until last night when I noticed that two had given up their death grip on the tree and tumbled into my vegetable garden. (Where I am pretty much growing enough tomatoes to feed my whole neighborhood. Still. At the end of September. More on that later.)

So, I tried to pick one. It came right off with a slight twist of the wrist. I tried a few more – all popped right off. I kept going until I couldn’t reach any more and then called in the big guns, and put Farmer Ken to work. (Haha. The thought of Ken-as-farmer tickles me because we are totally the opposite of people with green thumbs. Yet, here we are picking apples from a tree in our yard. Which is next to a zillion tomatoes on their vines. Which are just to the right of the bed where we grew broccoli this summer, and around the corner from the fig tree and grape vines. All hilarious.) There were so many, that I put the kids to work shuttling apples in bowls from the tree to the kitchen counter.

Grace was so excited about them that she opted for an apple for her before-bedtime-snack instead of her usual vanilla Joe-Joe from Trader Joe’s. (If you’ve never had a vanilla Joe-Joe, I recommend you stop reading this and head straight to your local TJ’s. They look simple (vanilla creme sandwich cookies), but they are amazing. Packed with real, incredible vanilla flavor like no other mass-produced cookie I’ve ever tasted.) Here they are – all set up and ready to eat. I have no idea what kind of apples they are. All I know is that they are green with a red blush, white flesh, and  delicious – nice and crisp and sweet.

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