Posted by: Jersey Organic | July 14, 2014

Plantasia- The Gardens in July

Beautiful dwarf sunflower about to burst!


What a Summer it’s been.. the grass is growing, the tomatoes are forming, and the peppers are plump for the pickin’! Not too much is ready for harvest as of now, but everything is growing, and growing, and growing. We are in the heat of summer now here in 6B..or is it zone 7 now? I guess we will find out come Fall, when I may or may not be harvesting tomatoes throughout September! 😛 In this 90 degree weather, the cool season crops have ceased and thus I have harvested the last of the peas, radishes, and lettuces.

This weeks harvest:


I am still planting of course! Succession plantings of string beans have been going in the ground every week. I absolutely LOVE homegrown string beans, you just can’t beat them. In fact, thats about the only veggie that I am currently harvesting. Thanks to my ever-evolving excel file below I know it’s also about to be prime time for Blackberries and Plums! You can see below, in regard to the conditional formatting, (ahem, excel geeks..) that Strawberries and Cherry season already passed, and we are in the midst of Blueberry season.


I have almost finished this spreadsheet and am going to post it when complete. Its really been a big help if I keep the file open on the computer and check it daily. In a nutshell, its alerting me when something needs to be planted, harvested, canned, etc.

Back to Blueberries..

Blueberry season here in New Jersey is a very, very big deal. Shortly down the road is Hammonton, NJ, AKA “The Blueberry Capital of the World”. This has recently gained some attention thanks to HBO’s series Boardwalk Empire in which the characters are shown driving through Hammonton, NJ, unfortunately it wasn’t to pick blueberries…

This lovely town really does live up to the name, everywhere you look as far as the eye can see, are blueberry fields. When I am lucky enough to have a few hours on a Saturday available I get to canning Blueberry Jam!



Canning Jam isn’t difficult. You just need some tools to get the job done and a little bit of patience. Blueberry Jam is relatively easier than most. Lets say you have 2lbs of blueberries to make it simple. Rinse them, pull off any stems, and get them in a pot. I don’t like the jam too sweet, so I add 1 cup Organic sugar to 2 lbs berries. Squeeze fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon in as well, and set your pot to medium heat. With a potato masher, carefully mash away. Don’t overdo it as theres no need, the berries will cook down over time. About 15 minutes in take an Organic Granny Smith Apple and peel off the skin. Grate it with a cheese grater right into the pot. The Granny Smith Apples are replacing the Pectin which many people use as a thickener. I prefer the organic method…

Let it cook down for 30 min to an  hour, stirring occasionally. This mixture will thicken up nicely, then you can can! Pour mix into sterilized mason jars, leaving a ¼” headspace. Lightly screw on lid and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Easy as blueberry pie.




On another note, something interesting is happening with my Pepper plants. I grew a flat of Jalapeños and a flat of Bell Peppers and for whatever reason, only jalapeños are forming on ALL the plants!!! I grew them in separate beds, however they are right next to each other. I will have to do some research to see if they can cross pollinate. The result has been sweet jalapeños… the only way I can tell them apart is because the hot peppers are pointy and the sweet jalapeños have rounded bottoms. Crazy right?! I don’t want to end up with a bumper crop of sweet jalapeños so I  think in a few weeks I am going to make some Jalapeño Jelly. Basically going to follow the same recipe above (the Blueberry Jam) but I will run it through a civ so its a clear jelly. I plan on using all the sweet jalapeños with a few hot ones, just for the spicy factor.

Jalapeños- sweet and spicy


What else..what else… Let’s go on a tour, shall we?

Heres the string bean bed, with the jalapeños in the bed right behind.IMG_2645


Tomatoes are coming..


String Beans!


Zucchini growing in the middle of my path!


Eggplant getting bigger each day..


The cucumber plants are still growing up and producing cucumbers.




Thats about it right now. It is nice to not have to worry about weeding and planting so much, especially since its so hot. I can relax, enjoy the harvests, and get cooking. Until fall that is, then its back to chores!

To end, I will share these special tiger lilies that are almost 6 feet tall!!





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