Let’s take a break from knitting and instead, play “What’s in the Garden?”. (Click the photos for larger versions, if you like). It’s been an odd year for me. Normally I have no problems with tomatoes, but this year only my cherry tomatoes are doing well. My “Early Girl” tomatoes are only just starting to ripen (though the plant is 6′ tall and does have lots of green tomatoes). My “Mr. Stripey” tomato was a total failure. Not a flower, not a fruit. So much for Mr. Stripey. Impotent little creep. I have some other tomato plants that were gifted to me, but I don’t know the varieties, and although they have flowers, there’s no fruit yet. They were planted from seed, so I don’t know if they’ll have enough time to bear fruit this year. Thank goodness for those cherry tomatoes, they’ve saved me from tomato withdrawal. And boy have they been good! I planted borage next to them this year – it’s supposed to enhance the flavor. I don’t know whether that had anything to do with it or not, but the flavor of the tomatoes has defintely been great, and the borage flowers and leaves have been a terrific addition to my summer beverages. I’ll certainly plant that again.
And speaking of the borage… I always have some herbs, but this year I planted a lot of different types, many of which I’ve never grown before. I always have oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, and several varieties of thyme. This year I also planted borage, chervil, savory, purple basil, sage, French tarragon, lemon balm (in a pot, not in the garden!), caraway thyme (I like it!), creeping oregano, garlic chives, and horehound. The herbs have done really well, and I’ve been having lots of fun with all those fresh herbs. (Cooking with them, of course.) The tarragon was especially wonderful! And using the tarragon, chervil, and caraway thyme together was yummy.
My peas were wonderful this year, the spinach, lettuce, carrots and beets did okay, and the melons and squash are going crazy – they’re all over the place. The strawberries were great too – in fact, they’re starting up again, and I picked a handful this morning. Delicious! The blackberries were terrific, though not as large as last year. Techically, they’re not “my” blackberries – they’re growing between my house and the neighbor’s on his property, but they cascade all over the area between the houses. He never picks any, so I keep them trimmed back and harvested. I planted corn this year, for the first time. It did pretty well, considering it’s such a small block of plants. The pollination was uneven, so some of the cobs only had patches of developed kernels, but others were perfect. And the corn was so sweet! We really enjoyed it, but since I have such a small garden, I think I’ll skip corn in the future and use that space for the melons and squash – they were pretty cramped. But I’m glad I tried growing the corn, it was fun and I did get a good harvest.
My eggplant did okay, though for some reason I only planted one plant, an Ichiban. I think I meant to go back and get some other varieties, and then forgot. The bell peppers are on the same track as the tomatoes – not doing much. They have flowers, but nothing else. Odd.
But overall, it’s been a good year. My husband is amazed that I just go out in the garden, pick things, cook them up togeher, and voila – there’s dinner! (He’s a big fan of spaghetti squash, which is a good thing because he’s going to be eating a lot of it.) By the way, try some cooked spaghetti squash sauteed with butter and fresh sage, topped with some grated Parmesan cheese – mmmmm!
I planted grape vines last fall, but of course, won’t have any grapes this year. I got some “Seedless Concord”, which are supposed to have pretty small grapes, but I won’t mind. One of my very favorite desserts, which I never get unless I make it myself, is Concord Grape Pie. But I HATE making it because it’s so time-consuming. (Pop the grapes out of the skins, put the skins in one bowl, the pulp in another. Cook the pulp until it’s soft, and then strain it through a sieve to remove all the seeds. Then combine the strained pulp with the skins (and other ingredients) for the pie filling. It takes hours, so I usually do enough for 4 or 5 pies at a time, and freeze the prepared filling.) I’m hoping that I can use these seedles grapes whole, just like blueberries. Yum!
One thing I’m quite excited about – I finally have one fruit on my Valencia Orange tree! I’ve had it for a number of years, and it always has flowers, but usually the fruit falls off when it’s still small. My one little orange is a little larger than golf-ball size. Hopefully, it will actually ripen. I always get a few lemons off my Meyer Lemon each year. They’re small, but very juicy and delicious. The citrus, of course, must come in during the winter, but I set the pots out in the garden for the summer.
Here’s a close-up of the squash from hell, taking over what used to be the patio. This was my first time growing spaghetti squash, and I underestimated how much space it would need. I keep thinking of a quote from the movie “Roxanne” with Steve Martin (love that movie!) – “It’s huge! It’s enormous! It’s gigantic! I mean, they said it was big, but I didn’t expect it to be BIG!”