August 25, 2023

Garden Notes: August 2023


  • 2nd: 0.02" 
  • 3rd: 2.72"
  • 7th: 0.35"
  • 9th: 0.2"
  • 10th: 1.07"
  • 11th: 0.04"
  • 12th: 0.44"
  • 24th: 0.28"
  • 27th: 0.23"
  • 28th: 0.43"
  • 29th: 0.45:
  • 30th: 0.14"
  • Total: 6.37 inches

  • range of nighttime lows: 62 to 75°F (17 to 24°C)
  • range of daytime highs: 76 to 95°F (25 to 35°C)

Weather Notes

The weather service keeps trying to forecast us into scorching temperatures, but Mother Nature simply isn't cooperating. Of course, we live amongst trees and vegetation, so our temps will be considerably lower than in towns and cities, where concrete, asphalt, and blacktop absorb and retain heat. Even so, we still have humidity to deal with, so it feels hot as usual! What is unusual, is our continued overnight lows in the 60s. I don't ever recall nights like these; our summer lows are usually in the mid-70s. Getting down into the 60s really helps cool the house down and keep it more comfortable during the day.

  • kale
  • turnips
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • collard greens
  • lettuce

Picking and Preserving

August is my busiest month. I spend the morning picking and the afternoon preserving.

Harvest bucket in early August

Harvest bucket in late August

It's the month for figs and pears, so these keep me busy.

We seem to have had an extra long run for the figs, which usually only last a week or two. They kept producing for more than three weeks this year. 

Fresh figs with kefir and granola

When the harvest is in full flush, I can pints of figs. When it trickles down to smaller numbers, I quarter and dehydrate them. Sadly, another of our fig trees is dying. That's the third one in as many years.

Amazingly, we have very little bird damage to our figs this year. I suspect it's because they're feasting on elderberries instead.

While I'm not getting a lot of elderberries, I did get enough to make another half-gallon of elderberry infused vinegar. 

We eat pears fresh and the rest go to make pear sauce. 

Dan's not keen on canned pear pieces, but we both like pear sauce, which I think is easier to do than chunks anyway. Most of the sauce is canned, but I'm going to dehydrate some too.

Fresh pear pie

I guess because of the rain and cooler temperatures, my cucumbers continue to look good.

These are my landrace cucumbers, second year. As it gets hotter they slow down a bit, but I've replenished our dill pickle supply and we continue to eat them in salads almost daily. 

Peppers are doing well.

As is the okra.

I had volunteer cherry tomatoes come up in the okra bed. They sort of lean on the okra plants, making them easier to pick. Both seem to be getting enough sun and are producing well.

Okra and tomato plants growing together.

I try not to plant too much okra, because one year I had so much I still had okra in the freezer when the new harvest came in. Frozen okra oven-fries nicely and makes a tasty vegetable, but we'd eaten so much of it over winter that the first fresh harvest wasn't as appealing as it usually is. I love the anticipation of those first seasonal tastes. 

Even so, I'm freezing some of the extra.

Ready for the freezer. I'll add more as I have extra.

The nice thing about okra, is that it can be frozen without blanching. I may try to can some with cherry tomatoes as an experiment too.

Speaking of cherry tomatoes, we have those in abundance. I only have half-a-dozen slicing tomato plants, but the cherry toms absolutely thrive. I've already shown you some of the pizza sauce I made, and I've been popping extras in the freezer for next year's batch. Also, I've started a couple of jars cherry tomatoes preserved in olive oil. I found the recipe in Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning and I tried a couple of pints last year, and we really liked it. 

This year I'm going to preserve a couple of quarts. The recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, small onions, and fresh herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, and oregano). Everything is sprinkled with salt and a couple tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice, then covered with extra virgin olive oil. I vacuum seal the jar as well. 

These make a wonderful condiment or salad topper, complete with tomato and herb flavored oil and vinegar salad dressing right out of the jar!

My watermelons have been incredibly slow to do anything.

Baby watermelon

I hope we get some before first frost!

And here's a treat.


I always thought asparagus was a spring thing, but I've been regularly cutting small handfuls this month. They make a great snack, addition to salad, or scrambled eggs. 

Speaking of salads, I usually show you one.

This is my version of taco salad, with chips instead of a taco bowl. Avocado makes it special, as does the sauce, which is ricotta cheese mixed with salsa. We've been eating these once a week.


Earlier this month I had a problem with something eating the leaves off my sweet potato plants. Dan put out his live animal trap and trail camera one night, and caught this!

Raccoon in live animal trap.

That's pretty much it for my August garden. How about yours?


Sandi said...

No garden here. I will just enjoy yours. The vegetable look perfect!

daisy g said...

Looks like your garden just keeps on giving!

It looks as though this may be our last scorcher for a while. I sure hope so. Ready for the changes that fall brings.

Enjoy your harvest!

Rosalea said...

Loved that tour, Leigh! Thank you! You have so much lovely fruit. We have apples, apples and apples! Oh, and maybe a few wild berries if lucky. The birds always beat me to the choke cherries and the elderberries, no matter how closely I watch the plants as they ripen. Good to catch that 'varmint'. They are why I don't grow corn!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, I envy you the rain. We have nothing but all varieties of hot. Sweet potatoes and black eyed peas are going, but almost everything else is done.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Late August is a busy time! Pear sauce is something I've never heard of, but I'm assuming it's like apple sauce? Oh boy, I'm familiar with that little fellow in the live trap! -Jenn

Ed said...

Very busy for us as well though we don't have nearly the variety of things to preserve. Mostly I've been doing tomatoes. We have a pear tree that I plan to preserve quite a bit from this year but I usually wait closer to frost before I pick them. They aren't eating pears though that you eat right off the tree. They are what I call baking pears. Which leads me to this amazing fact. I have never seen, eaten or thought of making a pear pie but that sounds absolutely delicious. I know I will be having my first experience with each of those later this fall. Plus my kids love eating canned pear chunks so I will be putting up a lot of those too.

Leigh said...

Daisy, I'm thankful that we haven't had a lot of blazingly hot weather, but I'm also looking forward to that forecasted cool down too! Fall can't get here fast enough. :)

Roselea, birds do love berries. I've never gotten choke cherries, and if I want a good elderberry harvest, I have to net the clusters early.

Corn is what Dan used as bait to catch the 'coon!

TB, so far, we haven't had our annual dry spell, which is unusual, but it could still come! Glad to hear you have at lest something growing.

Jenn, yes! Pear sauce is applesauce made with pears. :) For some reason, my apple trees haven't been happy. So we produce a ton more pears. I do get some apples, and if I don't make pie, I add them to the pear sauce too.

Leigh said...

Ed, to be honest, most of the pears I collect are windfalls. Or likely knocked off the tree by birds. They're table pears, but honestly, I never thought about growing baking pears. Maybe I should.

Do try pear pie and pear cobbler! And pear crisp! Your baking pears would work well for those, plus maybe some canned pear pie filling.

Anonymous said...

I keep telling myself, " I have enough books", then I visit your blog.
Got me again.
Life is short, preserve your garden goods.

Fundy Blue said...

The bounty of your garden is inspiring, Leigh. So is what you do with the produce. My family in western Nova Scotia is finding this a bad year for gardening, because of the odd weather. I'm glad that you are getting results. Take care!

Leigh said...

Anonymous, lol. I have no help to offer (being a bibliophile myself :).

Fundy, thank you! I'm sorry to hear your family is having a hard time of it this year. Some years are like that. We've been fortunate to have enough rain and temps the plants are happy with.

Florida Farm Girl said...

When I was a kid Mama made vegetable soup using tomatoes, corn, onions and okra along with salt and pepper. Then it was easy to just open up a jar when you wanted it. You could also do tomato basil soup. I absolutely love fresh fried okra but never fix it at home.

Leigh said...

Sue, sounds like a wonderful soup. I love the convenience of home canned soup.

I love fresh fried okra as well, but I never deep fry it. Only oven fry it which isn't the same, but it still tastes good.

Quinn said...

I'll bet those tomatoes in olive oil would turn plain spaghetti into an entire meal!
This has been a very challenging year for gardening in my neck of the woods, but now I'm picking pole beans every other day, blanching and freezing some, and keeping a supply of bean salad going at all times. Sometimes I have it for breakfast. And lunch. And supper. One night last week I couldn't sleep so I got up and had a bowl of bean salad at midnight. I'm so grateful for those stalwart bean plants!
My okra got started so late I may not see pods at all but honestly I'll be thrilled if I just see flowers.

Leigh said...

Quinn, what a great idea about the tomatoes. I'm thinking macaroni salad! Green bean salad sounds really good too. I'm just hoping I get enough to can a few quarts. We love our green bean caesar as a winter veggie. I hope your garden does better for you before first frost.

Nina said...

It's been a weird garden season here due to equally weird weather. It's been cool, wet and grey. Hopefully we get some sunshine this week to ripen the tomatoes. The plants are loaded but slow to ripen this year. Everything else is affected too - the pumpkins have no fruit and the winter squash only a couple. Green beans were pitiful and the zucchini didn't even like the weather. Only the salad greens, herbs and cucumbers were happy this year! Your garden offerings look great though.

Yesteryear Embroideries said...

I dont raise a garden any longer. I used to enjoy gardening so much! We have ground squirrels, raccoon, and deer that reap havoc on anything that we try to grow for food. The photos of your garden bounty look so wonderful and tell a story of much hard work! My husband's grandmother used to have a fig tree. She would make fig/strawberry preserves with it and it was always a treat.

Leigh said...

Nina, I have to say my tomatoes are slow to ripen as well. And my winter squash is slow to produce as well. So odd, isn't it? It's crazy how gardening can vary so from year to year.

Y.E., garden varmints are a terrible deterrent! And when they win every year, it does indeed take the incentive out of gardening. I need to start covering my beds with fencing or something, to try to keep the diggers out.

Anonymous said...

I live in a city and don't have a garden, but I have some plants in containers outside for the summer. Most are in the shade with bright indirect light. What's funny, is that even plants that are supposed to be indoor "houseplants" are much, much happier outside, even in summer heat. I have a pothos plant that was doing okay inside, but it has grown more and gotten much more robust outside. I had a purple heart/zebrina plant that was all-but-dead inside and then grew like crazy outside from just a few cuttings. I have some lime-green coleus that is really pretty, too, but I always knew that would be an outdoor plant. I tried growing everglade tomatoes from seed in a container in full sun. They sprouted and the plants grew really well, but usually petered out before the tomatoes ripened. They'd probably do better in the ground. I've seen articles that tomatoes, in general, are not nearly as good as they were a generation or two ago. I wonder if that's true for homegrown ones as well?
It's always fun to see your plants and results!

Debby Riddle said...

I didn't know that about Okra, no blanching. I'd been gifted some. I blanched and froze 2" pods without cutting into the seed cells.
I just ordered the book you mentioned...Preserving Without Freezing and Canning. Elliot Coleman and Deborah Madison are two of my favorites.
I braved some tall grass and picked wild Elderberries, against the protests of a covey of California Quail. Several days later I ran across a small Rattlesnake further along the trail...grateful!

Leigh said...

Anonymous, people get amazing results with container gardens!

I think with tomatoes, it's the heirloom varieties that keep the superior quality and nutrition going from year to year. The commercial varieties are bred to travel long distances and keep on the shelf for long periods of time. That's been the breeding focus instead of flavor and nutrition. :(

Debby, you will really enjoy that book! So many great ideas for off-grid food preservation.

I'm guessing blanching okra won't make much difference. I've frozen both whole okra and slices, like I pictured. They can be canned too, for gumbo and soup.