Saturday, July 28, 2012

Life, Death and Ratatouille

It's been quite a week in the garden.  Exciting news: last week, I enjoyed my first tomato sandwich with ripe tomatoes straight from the garden:

on my homemade squash bread:

And a dab of light mayo, salt and pepper:

A few days later, I got a slightly larger harvest of tomatoes, along with a green pepper, parsley, oregano, basil ...

 A couple of zucchini and a mystery squash.

I decided it was just enough for a side dish of ratatouille, to go along with the chicken Parmesan that the MOTH was making for dinner that night.  I sauteed some onion, garlic, along with the green pepper:

Then I added the zucchini and squash and sauteed that for a while:

I pureed the tomatoes, and added them to the saute along with the parsley, oregano and basil:

And let it simmer for a while until all the flavors had melded:

It was really delicious.

As you know, I wasn't entirely happy with the squash bread (made from the mystery squash), so this morning I harvested a few more squash and made some banana-squash bread and muffins:

Sadly, while harvesting the squash, it became clear to me that the garden had experienced some serious casualties.  As I previously reported, the zucchini plant had been attacked by some kind of insect (squash borer maybe), which basically chewed through the vines.  I tried to save it, but evidently, the infestation was too great and the zucchini had become completely separated from its roots.  Also, the infestation had spread to the mystery squash plant.  Today, I spent several hours removing the zucchini and cutting out the affected areas of the squash.  Here is a photo of the utterly revolting culprits and some of the devastation they have wrought:

Piece of Zucchini vine with disgusting murderous attacker

Close-up of the culprit
I found dozens of these nasty monsters throughout the both the Zucchini and the Squash plants.  I dug them out of the vines and shmooshed every single one of them I could find - they made a horrible popping sound (or maybe I just imagined the sound, but it was definitely a popping sensation), which was actually more disgusting than satisfying.  Each time I came across another one as I went through my poor plants, I literally shuddered and said things like "oh my god, ahhhh!" out loud.  It was the most disgusting day in the garden by far!

In the end, I salvaged one last zucchini and a few remaining squash and squash blossoms:

The Zucchini plant is completely dead and has been removed.  I also removed most of the squash plant, but left two vines that might stand a chance of surviving.  We will see.

In addition to the last of the zucchini harvest and what may well be the last of the squash harvest, I also harvested a bunch of basil (which I will puree and freeze for future use):

In addition, I spent several hours pruning and tying up the tomato plants, which are growing like crazy in this heat and have started to tip over again.  I ended up pruning off several branches of tiny green tomatoes, so I'm going to see if I can find some recipe to use those in:

As well as a bunch of ripe tomatoes - a combination of Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and Early Treat Hybrid tomatoes:

Still pondering what to make with today's harvest.

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