I grew this with my own one hand! Yes, I've been doing this for decades, but this cycle of life never ceases to amaze me. God is perfect in all He plans. Yes, it takes a lot of nurturing on my part to get seeds to grow to maturity, but the joy of biting into that first cucumber harvested from the garden to the last, is tasty, nutritious bite just can't be beat. I use cucumbers as an example here because that was the first thing I've harvested so far. Soon, I'll be busy making bread and butter pickles. I've only got one jar left from last year's crop. This year, I need to make double.
With the rains, I've been watching my zucchini, cucumber, and tomato plants very carefully. All it takes is a little rain, and small zucchinis and cucumbers blow up to huge zucchinis within 24 hrs. Tomatoes will split. Not that I mind split tomatoes. I'm going to cut them up anyhow, but pests can enter a tomato this way. Enter the decision making. Do I pick it now or tomorrow? This is the beauty of planting your own garden. You decide on the ripeness you want. The extra day of sunshine or rain can add to the taste and growth to any vegetable.This is something commercial farmers miss, but you as a homesteader gets to choose.
Another consideration you need to make is about processing your harvest. When the fruits of your labor start coming in, your first inclination is to eat it that day. Nothing beats fresh eating. Otherwise, you'd purchase your vegetables from the grocery store or produce markets, right? I do a 50:50 ratio. Half a harvest is for fresh eating and half is for preserving. Will leaving the produce on the plant one more day or two allow other ripening fruit be harvest size? Can I get a full canner load, or fill a freezer bag by waiting? I want everything preserved at the peak of freshness. If the answer is no, then I'll go ahead and pick it. It will be incorporated into a recipe for the night. Hoppin' John is a great recipe for using a handful of black-eyed peas, 1 tomato, and 1 pepper in. Just chop up some onion and add the rice and you got a tasty side dish or add some ham for a meal. This is what I'm fixing for dinner tonight because I had to harvest these today or lose them.
Of course, there is the old stand by of a good, old tomato sandwich with that one tomato with a cockeyed twist. Two fresh slices of homemade bread, a little bit of homemade mayo, fresh basil leaves, a sprinkling of fresh oregano, some slices of homemade mozzarella cheese, and a little bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. I'll brush my bread with a little olive oil and rub it with a clove of garlic, and grill it before I fix my sandwiches. It's to die for.
Are you hungry yet? I'll quit for now.
Y'all have a blessed day.