Late in the growing season we are still harvesting all kinds of crops from our green roof and wall farm. Some are ripened, some are over ripe, and some are premature, here are some of the things to do with them.
When picked at the height of ripeness, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers are amazing in a simple salad. Add a little fresh lemon, fresh ground pepper and fresh ground sea salt, with coconut vinegar and olive oil.
These colossal cucumbers were grown maybe a bit too long. They were marinated in olive oil and apple cider vinegar to tenderize them.
Tomatos and onions added to the marinated Cucumbers make a great salad
After Pruning back the tomato plants and clearing off the dead leaves many of the unripened yellow pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes fell to the ground. Not wanting to waste this fruit, I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time. Sauted in some olive oil, red wine, and onions, they were surprisingly sweet and tender.
This Watermellon was left growing too long and is over ripe. The fruit is getting mushy in some place other areas are sweet and crisp. It is so sweet its starting to ferment slightly. Other melons were not yet ripe, a little pink inside. We decided to juice them.
Watermelons are prepared in high speed juicing type blender, including seeds but rinds are trimmed off. The blender pulverizes everything maximizing nutritional value. Lemon slices without rinds, banana, and ginger root were added enhancing flavor. What i noticed is when i eat a store bought watermelon, I can eat it endlessly and never seem to get full, but this juice is so filling, a glass can substitute for a meal.
The broccoli Rabe has gone up to seed after trimming back more leaves have grown. The leaves are larger and tougher, so they were boiled first then stir fried in garlic and olive oil. Then cooked whole wheat pasta, fresh ground Pepper, Fresh Basil, and tomato sauce were added to the stir fry. Over mature crops can taste great too
Over grown Broccoli Rabe before pruning
Another creature that enjoys mature vegetables, The tomato Hornworm . These guys showed up late this year, and they are very fast. They can consume all the leaves of a tomato plant in a few days.
Initial signs of Hornworm damage are the bare stems from healthy branches at the top of the plant with all leaves eaten. When i see this I look closely below for the worms since they blend in with the branches they are hard to detect.
The hornworm is the larvae of a moth, sometimes referred to as a “sphinx”, “hawk”, or “hummingbird” moth. Hand picking them off usually controls them , but you have to catch them early, they can defoliate a plant faster than agent orange.
We got lucky and the Tomato hornworm larvae were parasitized small braconid wasps. The wasp cacoons appear as white projections on the horn worm body. The wasps will kill the worm when hatching and then seek out other worms to parasitize. When these parasitized hornworms are found, I pull them off but leave them in the garden allowing the wasps to mature and to to work on other worms.