It's the most wonderful time of the year!

And I'm not talking about Christmas. I mean summer, July, right now; the garden is bursting with produce, and my kitchen is permanently around 100F as the canner never stops bubbling away.

This year we dedicated 2500sqft to vegetables, and we have more than we could ever need or use. This means that I am canning like my life depends on it, and our neighbors are as sick of squash as we are.

The yellow pattypan are one of my favorites. They're delicious sliced and sauteed, or hollowed out and stuffed and baked. They're just so pretty, I love to see them growing.

They're an heirloom, meaning that the seeds can be harvested from mature fruit, preserved and replanted the following year. Unlike hybrids, which do not always 'breed true', heirlooms will produce the exact same plant as the one they came from - barring any cross-pollination weirdness. Like the year I planted my yellow squash too close to my zucchini and ended up with funky striped squash. They looked pretty cool, though.

I have so many different kinds of squash growing this year, I am utterly behind in preserving it all. In addition to the regular green zucchini, I also planted a variety of squash called Caserta, which looks pretty similar to a zucchini. I made some of my zucchini relish with it, I made zucchini bread and zucchini fritters with it, and we grilled it. It was delicious. I'm also growing some to super-maturity, in order to save the seeds and plant them again next year.

Left to their own devices, these Caserta grow into veritable triffids. Here's one that I have left for the purposes of seed harvesting, and it just keeps on getting bigger.

When harvesting seeds, I generally leave them until they are enormous and way beyond the point of being edible, then pick them, and carefully scoop out the seeds, remove all the pulp, lay them out to dry and then bag them and store them in a paper bag in the pantry. This will be my first time saving seeds from this variety, and I am looking forward to seeing how they keep.

Speaking of monster vegetables, this Purple Top Milan Turnip was right at the end of the row, and somehow kept getting overlooked in the picking. It's a turnip Baldrick himself would be proud of. And it was delicious.

This is another odd variety, I'm not quite sure what it is, but I'm pretty sure it didn't come from Baker Creek... it's a very rare heirloom, grows best in warm but shady spots and reacts very badly to being watered.