I know it has been a frustrating season for many vegetable gardeners. The cool, wet spring that carried on through June has made growing a good crop of heat loving vegetables very challenging. Crops that enjoyed cooler weather did very well though. Once the heat hit in July, the warm season vegetables started to really take off.
In my own small vegetable garden, recent rain has resulted in foliage on my potato plants growing to a monstrous size! The cucumber and squash leaves have overgrown my rows of kohlrabi but are producing only a few, very small fruit. However, my kale plants are happy! The leaves are huge and I’m enjoying kale in salads and smoothies.
Unfortunately, my tomatoes are hard green balls right now. I’m not sure I’ll get any ripe ones at all this season. I had an unusually busy June, so didn’t get my tomato plants into the ground until the end of the month.
My pot of basil has been quite disappointing since this is a herb that enjoys heat! Cold nights and too much rain in June has resulted in Basil Mildew hitting hard. I discarded the two worst plants and cleaned up the columnar basil one as it wasn’t in as bad a shape. I’ll head to the garden centre soon and buy a few fresh plants that should take me through to the fall.
My other herbs are doing very well. I’ve enjoyed harvesting and using parsley, rosemary and cilantro regularly. Now the cilantro has bolted but I’ll let it go and harvest coriander seeds when they are ready.
This season I’ve had no powdery mildew on any of the cucumber or squash leaves. (touch wood) That was a major problem last summer. If you do see any sign of mildew starting, spray foliage with sulphur fungicide.
It’s now time to really enjoy the harvest from the garden. I’ll be using a few large zucchinis to make a batch of relish. This recipe was given to me over 30 years ago and is a favourite in our family.
Aunt Nellie’s Zucchini Relish
Start by using a food processor to coarsely chop enough unpeeled zucchini to make 10 cups. (If the zucchini are very large and pithy in the centre, scoop out the seeds and soft pulp.)
Put the ground zucchini in a large stainless steel pot and add to it:
4 cups of chopped onion
3 chopped peppers: 1 red and 2 green or any combination you prefer
Cover this mixture with cold water and stir in 5 tablespoons of pickling salt. Put a lid on the pot and let stand overnight.
The next day, drain the mixture and rinse well with cold water. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot.
Add to the relish mixture:
3.5 cups white sugar
2.5 cups white vinegar
1 tsp. Turmeric
2 Tbsp. Celery seeds
1 tsp. Dry mustard
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 Tbsp. Corn starch.
Stir this mixture well and cook uncovered for 30 minutes on low heat. Pour into clean, sterilized jars, seal and process. Yield about six 500 ml. jars.
I also have a recipe for chocolate zucchini muffins that are moist and delicious. On one of the cooler August days, when I don’t mind turning on the oven, I’ll make a few batches and freeze some to enjoy later. I’m sure you have a favourite zucchini recipe that is a staple in your family too!
If you don’t have a garden yourself, be sure to visit the local Farmers Markets or roadside stands to purchase fresh produce. It is the season to enjoy all the local bounty!