Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What to do With Too Many Overgrown Overripe Large Yellow Cucumbers

I have a live and let live policy in my garden.  If you want to grow, then I will not stop you.  Even if you're a tomato plant (my "wild" cherry tomatoes grow about 6 foot tall) who decided to grow right in front of my garden door.  Or if you're a multitude of cucumbers that decided to grow in my strawberry boxes where pumpkins decided to grow last year, I will let you.  Which is how I wound up with this insanity.  Mind you, I planted additional cucumbers thinking these were pumpkin plants.

These plants are much, much bigger now.
Everyone loves a cucumber for all it's like, crunchy, awesomeness.  Some people love them more as pickles.  So what happens when you wind up with this many cucumber plants?  (Let's be honest, even if you only have a few plants.)  You will miss a few that are hiding, and they will grow into immensely large yellow cucumbers, with thick skins and large seeds.  The only thing they're really good for is compost or senfgurken (a German pickle made out of overgrown cucumbers).  

That is until now. 

My friends, and blog passerbys, I have discovered a better use for these cucumbers that certainly would prefer to be eaten than to left to rot in a compost bin. 


Smoothies.

I know, smoothies?!  Have I lost my mind?  Nope.  Stick with me here.  First, I thought, I'd juice them, but honestly, cucumber juice didn't sound appealing.  Then I thought, cucumbers are more than 95% water, so they'd probably freeze really well.  And instead of adding ice or extra liquid to my smoothie, why not some frozen cucumbers?  (How many people do you think are going to suddenly post this on their page like it was their idea?  Link stuff back, people.  Don't be a jackass.  I always feel bad for Somar McCowan who created an awesome vegan mozzarella and then everyone on the internet stole it, pretended it was theirs and never linked back to her.  Well, not everyone, but a lot of people.  Don't do shady stuff people.  It will bite you in the ass.  Karma.)

Cucumbers are water and fiber rich, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.  Go Google it, you'll be surprised how amazing the simple little cucumber is.

All you have to do is peel, seed and cut up the cucumbers.  Now, I try to avoid plastic all I can, but I had no choice but to swipe some of my daughter's storage bags to put my cucumbers in.  Freezing them in glass jars is unrealistic...for me anyway.

I stick these bags in the freezer and use my no longer used meat mallet to pound on the bag and loosen up the cucumber pieces.  Then I replace ice in the recipe I'm using at a 1 to 1 ratio.  Or I just add whatever I think will work when I'm winging a smoothie.

My current weekday morning smoothie, for anyone interested goes like this:


1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 TBS flax seeds
1 TBS chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
2 TBS sweetener
1-2 bananas (optional)
2 handfuls of frozen spinach
2-3 cups of frozen cucumbers
1 1/2 cups of frozen berries.

Pop everything in your blender (I have a Vitamix and I think it's well worth the investment). Initially, this turns into more of a sorbet, so I let it sit and re-blend when it's defrosted a bit.  If it's not thin enough, feel free to add less cucumbers or more non-dairy milk.  For my sweetener, I use maple syrup, agave, vegan honey or even sugar.  I remember to add bananas about half the time.

Hope this helps some of my gardening friends out there.  And if it does, pop back over here and say hi or thanks or you suck, this didn't work...either way, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Jersey Zone 7 Garden Tour: July 4, 2017

Why haven't I posted a garden tour sooner?  Because the weather in this part of Jersey has been insane.  It's been cold longer than usual and we've had a ton of rain.  Only now is it more like normal summer weather.  Amidst the cold, nothing was really growing.  It was all thriving outside, but not growing.  I've basically had seedlings outside for weeks.  

The carrots have really taken off.  The peas are pretty much gone thanks to my bunny friends.


The beets are also growing nicely.


As usual, we have 500 pounds of mint growing.


The tomato plants are flowering.


My 100 pounds of cilantro, that grows by itself, I never plant them, are now all going to seed.  I have to get out there, cut them down and collect all those seeds.


Stupid moths are eating my broccoli and cabbage.  I have to spray them!  I asked my husband to bring my industrial sprayer down from the attic.  I'll talk more about that later.  (Ignore my ugly old sneaker in the picture.  My garden boots were in my car.)


My extra large kale bush finally died, and in its wake, it left behind several baby plants.  Now I have four extremely large kale bushes that I really need to start eating...


Here is the fourth and largest of the group.  GMO free and organic.  I should start selling it.


The zucchini are starting to flower.


The peppers and eggplant are still small, and yes, I know I need to weed.


My pole beans have finally sprung from the ground.


My original cucumber seedlings died, so I put more seeds in the ground.


They're about a foot tall now.


Unbeknownst to me, what I thought were pumpkin plants...which would make sense since that's where the pumpkins were last year and some were eaten and rotted away in those boxes.  But nope...they are not pumpkins, they are cucumbers.  How?  I have no idea.


The Hubby thinks it's from the compost, but how did they survive the heat in the composter?  And then why wouldn't I have a bunch of things growing out of the compost.  I'm not buying it.


Strawberry box #1.  Overrun with cucumbers and a random tomato plant.


Strawberry box #2, also overrun with cucumbers.  What are those white flowers?


A leftover carrot from last season (something tunneled under, ate all the carrots and left me the green tops) over-wintered and produced these beautiful flowers.  I'm waiting for them to go to seed so I can save the seeds and plant them next year.


The cucumbers in Strawberry box #3 have already begun its ascent to the top of the garden fence.



I'll take better pictures next week.  I'm going to make sure I get on top of the weeding over the weekend.  I picked 12 pounds of cucumbers yesterday, so I'll be busy making some pickles today.