Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mini Tomato Day - Tuesday, September 11, 1:00-5:00 PM

These are the varieties we grew across the street and planned for Tomato Day 2012, but because there weren't enough ready for the August 22 event, we brought in varieties from the Penn State Southeast Ag Research and Extension Center in Lancaster County, prompting this 2nd Tomato Day, 2012.

Come on out and taste the locally grown ones!

A Beneficial Mosquito?

Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis
Yes there is such a thing.  Mosquitos in the genus Toxorhynchites are carnivores in their larval stage, eating other mosquito larvae.  They get enough protein in the larval stage that they do not need a blood meal as an adult, so only sip nectar as a food source.

Jason Goetz, the Franklin County West Nile seasonal technician this summer, caught one while dipping in a tire a few weeks back and we've been rearing it out.

She emerged this morning.  Jenn Wetzel has been taking periodic pictures, offered here.

Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis - larva
According to Mike Hutchinson, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection entomologist for the West Nile program:
One larva can eat up to 400 mosquito larvae during its development. Larvae engage in cannibalism as well as compulsive killing. Fourth instar larvae in an advanced stage of development stop feeding, but continue killing other larvae in the container, especially conspecifics [other members of the same species - ed.]. They have been observed grasping a larva and scraping it across needle-like spines on the posterior margin of the saddle, ripping the larva in half.
Yikes!  We did watch her eating a larva that we fed to her, but we did not observe that barbaric killing spree.

Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis pupae
The most obvious difference about them is their size, easily 5 times the size of the average mosquito. 

Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis
They have been tried as a biological control agent, especially in tire piles, but success depends on an expensive, and labor intensive rearing and release program, since their natural numbers would not sufficiently manage an outbreak.

Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis
Maybe it's just parental pride, but I think she's just beautiful.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Working on That Sustainability Thing ...

Tomato Juice - Check
Meyer lemon - Check
Freshly shredded horseradish - Check
Jalapeno Pepper - Check
Celery - Check (new this year)
Parsley - Check (in the tomato juice)

We'll be harvesting potatoes at the Victory Garden, soon, so only one step away from a fully sustainable, home grown Bloody Mary ...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Victory Garden 2012 Log - August 20th

1944 WW II Victory Garden Poster

"Waste not want not" is a philosophy ingrained in me by my grandmother, so preserving what we grow is an important part of any vegetable garden learning experience.  We have to do it safely, though.

The National Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia is the go to site for information about preserving fresh produce safely.

Their book, So Easy to Preserve, along with the Ball Blue Book of Canning and the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning are reputable sources for tested, up-to-date procedures and recipes.

The Penn State Extension Food Safety Blog also has timely posts and tested recipes on the subject, as do other Land Grant University sites.

Lots of research and testing has gone into updating the procedures for water bath and pressure canning since the mid 1990's, so it's important to follow the newer research-based methods.  Many older recipes and mechanisms were determined to be unsafe during the research.

If you are determined to can your grandmother’s recipe and you want do so safely, you might contact Martin Lo at - He’s a food science professor at the University of Maryland who operates a private laboratory that can test your recipe for a fee.

In the meantime, here are two fact sheets describing the pathogen Clostridium botulinum, the organism that can cause Botulism from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and Colorado State University.

Back in the garden, we harvested Basil.


Swiss Chard



Harriet heads home with her harvest!

2012 Tomato Day Results and Coverage

Nice coverage in the local press with pictures in the Public Opinion, and an article, pictures, and video in the Herald Mail.  145 people submitted score sheets.

Sakura, a red cherry variety from Sataka Seeds came in first in flavor:
Sakura: Real sweet tomato flavor and firmness without being hard. One of the first varieties to ripen in our greenhouse, Sakura keeps going all season long because of its excellent disease resistance. Prolific yielder of bright red, shiny, medium-sized cherry tomatoes that average 15 grams. Excels in the greenhouse. Indeterminate.
MG Barb Petrucci won the salsa contest. 

Lots of pictures at our facebook page.

Many of the varieties that we started were not ready for the August 22 event, so we're having a 2nd tasting day on Tuesday, September 11th from 1:00-5:00 sample and rate those varieties. 

Update: Sunday, August 26th.  Georgena Ruth took pictures that can be viewed here, here, here, and here.

Update: Monday, August 27th.  Jane Krumpe uploaded Georgena's photos to the MG Facebook page, which can be viewed here.

Update: Tuesday, August 28th.  MG Anne Finucane sends these pictures of folks going through the line, doing the tasting.

Millie and Bob Laird of Waynesboro
Erica and Maria Miser of Shippensburg

Jennifer and Adi Smith of Chambersburg

Kristen Harding of Chambersburg
Update: Results of September 11 "Mini" Tomato Day here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Victory Garden 2012 Log - August 13th

Food Day!  One of the more fun days of the annual workshop - everyone gets to make a dish using their grown produce as part of the ingredients, and share in a pot luck meal.  Work in the garden, then come in to enjoy some food and fellowship.  Recipes follow.

Chunky Tomato Salsa (From Taste of Home)

• Prep: 45 min. Cook: 1-1/4 hours + chilling
• Yield: 16 Servings


• 3-1/2 cups peeled chopped tomatoes (about 4 large)
• 1 large green pepper, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2-1/4 teaspoons salt
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
• 1/4 cup white vinegar
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• Baked tortilla chip scoops


• In a large saucepan, combine the first nine ingredients. Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring frequently. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with chips. Yield: 4 cups.

Pesto Pasta Salad


4 cups uncooked spiral pasta
1 cup fresh basil pesto
2 Tbsp chopped green olives or olive tapenade
1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (or fresh if you can get them)
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
Several fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper


1 Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Make sure the water is salted (at least a half teaspoon per quart). Remove pasta from heat and strain when pasta is cooked, but still firm (al dente).

2 Put pasta in a big bowl. Mix in fresh basil pesto, green olives, and nuts. Gently mix in cherry tomatoes, peas, fresh basil leaves and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill or serve at room temperature.

Yield: Serves 6-8.


Use the most thick walled jalapenos you can get.
cut off tops and remove core and seeds (I use a potato peeler)
mix together grated cheddar, and bacon bits - about half and half
stuff into chilies

Stand chilies upright

Bake at 350 for about an hour

Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin with Parmesan & Fresh Thyme.
For the onions:

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium onions (14 oz. total), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
To assemble the gratin:

1-1/4 lb. ripe red tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 lb. (about 2 small) zucchini or other green summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
3/4 lb. (about 2 small) yellow summer squash or golden zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. coarse salt
1-1/4 cups freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To cook the onions: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until limp and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low if they're browning too quickly. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes Spread the onions and garlic evenly in the bottom of an oiled 2-qt. shallow gratin dish (preferably oval). Let cool.

To assemble the gratin: Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the tomato slices on a shallow plate to drain for a few minutes and then discard the collected juices. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini and squash slices with 1-1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 2 Tbs. of the thyme, and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Reserve half of the cheese for the top of the gratin. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the thyme over the onions in the gratin. Starting at one end of the baking dish, lay a row of slightly overlapping tomato slices across the width of the dish and sprinkle with a little of the cheese. Next, lay a row of zucchini, overlapping the tomatoes by two-thirds, and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat with a row of squash, and then repeat rows, sprinkling each with cheese, until the gratin is full.

Season lightly with pepper and the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Drizzle the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil over all. Combine the reserved cheese with the remaining 1 Tbs. thyme and sprinkle this over the whole gratin. Cook until well-browned all over and the juices have bubbled for a while and reduced considerably, 65 to 70 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 min. before serving.

Vegetable Frittata

I like to think of a frittata as a quiche with no pie crust. Basically, just saute a bunch of fresh garden veggies (squash, peas, beans, eggplant, broccoli, tomato, peas, asparagus, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach - etc., depending on the season) in olive oil, butter, or my favorite, bacon fat, add an egg/milk mixture, season with salt, pepper, fresh herbs (thyme works well), add shredded cheeses - I've used cheddar, Swiss, gouda, brie, parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), feta, goat, etc. - basically any cheese handy, and in any, multiple combination of your fancy and finish in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or so. Brown the last two minutes using the broiler. Remove from the pan using the two plate method and serve. I think it's best served warm. Also good cold the next day.

Sorrel Soup

1 quart duck, chicken, or vegetable stock
2 cups (1/4 pound) picked sorrel leaves, washed and stemmed
1 leek, the white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
4 large egg yolks
1 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
4 small sorrel leaves for garnish

Bring the stock, sorrel, and leeks to a boil in a saucepan, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Puree in a blender, or food processor in batches, or use an immersion blender. Mix the yolks with the cream and add spoonfuls of the hot puree to the cream mixture a little at a time. Then add the cream to the soup, correct the seasoning, and serve either hot or cold. Garnish with fresh sorrel leaf.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 ½ Cups Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
½ Cup Cocoa
1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
2 Cups Sugar
3 Eggs
2 ½ Cups Ground Zucchini
¾ Cups Butter
½ Cup Nuts (Optional)

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, eggs, zucchini, butter and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes in a 9X 13 inch pan

Other recipes not pictured:

 Fire Roasted Pepper Soup

(Note from author: None of these ingredients are exact. Add more or less, as you like)

1. Cut up green peppers, slices of egg plant and onions. Toss in olive oil and roast over a wood fire until soft and slightly scorched

2. Cut up tomatoes, scallions, garlic. Toss in parsley, rosemary, a little basil pesto, and simmer until the tomato skins fall off and everything is soft. Strain through a colander, saving all the juice. Some seeds and pulp are ok

3. Puree in small batches the first mixture, adding the second mixture, and tomato paste to thicken, as you blend

Reheat the whole mixture in a large saucepan or crockpot. Add a little milk or cream, and a pat of butter. Enjoy!

Linda’s Baked Corn

2 ½ Cups Sweet Corn
2 Eggs Beaten
2 Cups Milk
3 Tbsp. Butter (melted)
½ pkg Saltine Crackers (crushed)
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/8 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp Pepper

Cut kernels off of fresh corn cob, or use frozen corn. Beat eggs. Crush saltines and melt the butter. Mix all ingredients together and put into a 2-quart baking dish or double recipe for 9X13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Fettuccine Primavera

1 cup broccoli flowerets
1 cup sliced zucchini½ cup diced green peppers
½ cup chopped onion
½ tsp dried basil leaves (1 tsp fresh)
¾ cup margarine or butter
2 medium tomatoes cut into wedges
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 (12 oz) pkg fettuccine noodles, cooked and drained

In skillet, over med-high heat, cook broccoli, zucchini, green pepper, onion, and basil in margarine or butter until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes and mushrooms. Toss vegetable mixture with hot fettuccini. Serve with Parmesan Cheese, if desired.


2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup slivered almonds
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
3 tblsp. cocoa
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (neither of which were in the recipe today)

Mix dry ingredients together
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, nuts, and zucchini together.
Add to dry ingredients a little at a time. Add raisins or choc. chips and almond extract
Pour into 2 greased and slightly floured bread pans

Bake 350 for 55 minutes

Tomato and Sweet Onion Crumble


• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 sweet onions (about 1 lb. total), such as Walla Walla or Oso, peeled and thinly sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, rinsed, cored, and sliced (1/4 in. thick)
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
• Salt and pepper
• 4 slices crusty artisan-style bread (each about 1 in. thick and 3 by 5 in.), cut into chunks
• 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


1. Heat oil in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add onions and garlic. Stir frequently until onions are limp and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Pour into a 2- to 3-quart baking dish with sides at least 2 inches high, and spread onions level. Top evenly with tomato slices, basil, and oregano. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

2. In a food processor, whirl bread with butter and cheese until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over tomatoes.

3. Bake in a 350° oven until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve warm.


4 lg garlic cloves
1 med white onion
Olive oil
3 small zucchini
3 small yellow crookneck
4 Tbsp butter
4 med tomatoes
Freshly grated Boar’s Head Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly grated Boar’s Head provolone

Squash and cut up garlic and add to olive oil in pan. Start cooking. Cut up onion and add to pan. Cut up zucchini and crookneck and add to pan with butter. Cover. Slowly cook until squash is somewhat cooked. Get a glass of wine. Add peeled and cut up tomatoes. Add oregano. Cook until incorporated and tomatoes have cooked down. If tomatoes are juicy, remove cover and cook off some of the liquid. Put into casserole dish. Top with cheeses. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. Drink more wine.

All was not just fun and food, there was work to be done, but we had some special help this week, since our leader, Darl, was also babysitting his grandkids:

Help harvesting zucchini.

Help harvesting tomatoes.

We all pitched in with the beans.

Harvesting basil.

Harvesting Eggplant

Harvesting pole beans

And more tomatoes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bob's Train Garden

Master Gardener, Bob Hyatt, along with his wife Janet hosted a lovely open house for Bob's Train Garden today.  They could not have ordered up a more beautiful day.  Bill Schoch who is the spouse of Master Gardener, Evelyn Schoch, brought his train along to add to the festivities.  Bill and Evelyn also have a beautiful Train Garden at their home.  It was a wonderful afternoon sitting under the shade of a Magnolia Tree, talking with friends and watching grown men's eyes sparkle like a young boys, and young boys eyes sparkle with the wonder of it all.  The following are some photos of what I saw.

Master Gardeners, Bob Hyatt and Elmer Greey.

From left to right:  Master Gardeners Sue Bowders and Evelyn Schoch, Bill Donaldson, Master Gardener Mary Donaldson, Janet Hyatt.

Bob and Janet manage to grow lovely and quite large Zinnias.

I believe this is a Tawny Emperor enjoying the Gaillardia.
I have exhausted my books and looked online and can't seem to quite hit it exactly.  If anyone would like to submit other suggestions, please feel free to do so.

This happens to be one of my favorite features in Bob's garden.
My rainbarrel now seems so inadequate.
I want one!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tomato Day and Other Upcoming Events

Don’t Forget!

The 12th Annual Tomato Tasting Day

Wednesday, August 22 from 12-5!

Click here for previous years' coverage.

Other Upcoming Events
And of course the Franklin County Fair
August 19-25

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 Tomato (and other stuff) Harvest

 I started picking tomatoes in earnest this week. Enjoy the pictures.

Pole beans producing well.

Seed saving for 2013 season underway.

New variety - Indigo Rose - a true purple color high in anthocyanins.  The fruit needs to be exposed to the sunlight to get the deep bluish purple color.  Bred by Oregon State University.

Fresh herbs for spaghetti sauce.

Wound up with 6 quarts for the freezer.

Jason hunted some mushrooms that were added.  These are corrugated milky cap mushrooms Lactarius corrugis.