I think I’m going to call these the “Big Four” for August. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll probably have noticed that pole beans, peppers, tomatoes, and blackberries feature pretty heavily this month. The background photo for the blog features three of the four and it was taken in August 2012.
Yesterday evening (Wednesday, August 21st), we picked the Kentucky blue pole beans first. Since we hadn’t picked them the day before, there were quite a few.
I only picked two peppers, one each of yellow banana and takiis ace. We have been letting them turn red on the plants (OK, orange and mottled green-red). If we used them more quickly, we could of course pick them while still green (or yellow, in the case of the aptly named yellow banana peppers). The red peppers seem sweeter, and they stay fresh on the plants better than they will in the refrigerator.
I picked one each of the Park’s early challenge tomato and my Mom’s slicing tomato. All the other tomatoes in the photo are paste tomatoes, and that’s one day’s harvest. I like paste tomatoes because they produce a lot of “meat” rather than juice, so they are less messy to eat raw and they make more sauce when you cook with them. I planted four varieties of paste tomatoes this year. Margherita is the first to produce fruit and continues to produce heavily. Viva italia is the best tasting but is more susceptible to disease and less productive. Health kick is a fairly heavy producer and the fruits are supposed to contain more disease-fighting chemicals. Agro isn’t producing as much this year as it has in the past, but it may not be getting enough sun (it’s a bit of a jungle in the tomato bed). It also takes agro 20 to 25 days longer to produce ripe tomatoes than earlier tomatoes like margherita, so perhaps I’m just impatient.
Lastly, we picked the blackberries. I have chester and triple crown thornless blackberry brambles, but I haven’t tried to determine which fruit comes from which plant. We need to pick these often, preferably every day, to get fruit at the peak of ripeness. I could smell the ripe fruit in the bowl after we picked them. The fruit can be frozen or made into preserves (jam) to save it for eating later. We also have combined blackberries with some of the peaches that we picked earlier and had peaches and blackberries on breakfast cereal and on ice cream, and peach-and-blackberry pie.
UPDATE: Here is the next day’s harvest (Thursday, August 22nd). That’s one day’s worth of tomatoes, beans, and blackberries. I didn’t pick any peppers today, but there were a few ripe tomatillo and one okra. I don’t think the tomatillo were a particular variety, and in any case they were “volunteers,” so if they were a hybrid, they wouldn’t have come true from the seed. Cajun delight is the only variety of okra that I’ve planted.