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Master Your Garden By Barbara Kozlowski, Master Gardener

Tonight, August 31st, is the occasion for a ‘Blue Moon’.  A ‘Blue Moon’ is the second full moon in one month – hence the saying – ‘Once in a Blue Moon’.  The first full moon appeared on August 1st.

We continue to have our ‘yo-yo’ weather but the temperatures have cooled at night giving us marvelous sleeping temperatures.  Nothing like a cool breeze blowing through an open window while you’re sleeping.  The rain we’ve had plus the cooler nights has spurred the grass into a growing mode once again.  Tomatoes and peppers are ripening, the local corn is wonderful along with many other vegetables and fruits available at our Farmers’ Market.  I can never seem to get enough of these ‘fresh from the garden’ items.  We’re indeed fortunate to have these fresh items available to us every week.

If you planted a garden this Spring, one of the most rewarding times, is harvesting what you grew.  It may be a bouquet of flowers for your table or it may be herbs to use in cooking or craft projects or maybe a crop of vegetables to eat now, or to freeze or can to enjoy during the winter months.  If you grew vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, squashes like zucchini and yellow summer squash, radishes and lettuces, peas and beans, harvesting their fruit has been on going as the fruit matures.  Each year I like to experiment growing different vegetables – sometimes with good results and sometimes not such good results.  One year I planted okra.  I happen to like okra and I often make Creole dishes like Gumbo and thought it would be wonderful to grow my own okra.  Unfortunately, I failed to harvest the okra in a timely fashion and the pods became too tough to eat.  I plan to try growing this vegetable again as I love the beautiful flowers it produces.

There are several root crops that require special harvesting techniques like parsnips.  Parsnips do not develop their sweet flavor until after the soil temperatures hover around freezing for two to four weeks in the fall.  Mulch the parsnips with a layer of straw two to four inches thick to protect the plants from freezing and then harvest this crop in late winter or early spring.  Carrots can also be over wintered in the ground by cutting back their foliage to approximately an inch and layering six to eight inches of straw.  Carrot tops should be covered by soil or mulch to prevent the carrots from turning green and bitter.  Keeping a watchful eye on your vegetables as they mature and harvesting as needed will help keep your plants producing into the later fall months.

 

Tomatoes With Angel-Hair Pasta & Herbs

Combine 1 cup of halved or quartered tomatoes, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, 1 teaspoon of capers and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of cooked angel-hair pasta, (I prefer whole wheat pasta) and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.  A variation of this dish use chopped Basil or Tarragon, crumbled Feta cheese and either a bow-tie pasta or Penne pasta.  I also add a good sprinkle of fresh ground pepper.  Seasonings can be adjusted to your own likes.  Bon Apetit!!!

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