The potato vines started yellowing and turning brown last week, and that me it was time to start digging a few potatoes. I started with the fingerling Red Thumb, then continued with Russian Banana and Purple Majesty. That made for a pretty trio of taters!
I used them to make some red, white and blue potato salad for the 4th of July. Of course the Russian Banana potato is actually considered yellow-skinned, but it was close enough for me. I used my recipe for Dilly Potato Salad, and it was a tasty way to enjoy the first potatoes of the season. I still have Adirondack Blue, French Fingerling and Yukon Gold left to dig. Those vines are not quite died down yet, so I think I will leave them for a bit longer.
It was just my wife and me for our 4th of July mini-picnic, but we ate well. We collaborated to make some Asian-inspired coleslaw, using our Tokyo Bekana and KY Cross cabbages. We also grated up a couple of freshly pulled carrots from the garden, and finely chopped some green onion to add to the mix. The dressing used rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, along with sugar and a little Thai Aioli sauce. We both pronounced it a keeper, and it’s too bad that was the last of the Chinese cabbage because it worked well in this slaw. I’ll have to grow some more this fall.
I enjoyed eating the first of the White Scalloped squash last week. This heirloom pattypan squash has a very distinctive taste and shape, and it is growing here for the first time in several years. My mother used to love this squash, and I always grew some for her as well as for me. I usually prepare it simply, cooked until just tender and then seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.
The first of the bush beans were ready to harvest yesterday. That’s Derby in the below photo. I will be cooking them for dinner tonight. Derby is a 1990 All-America Selections winner and I’ve been growing it ever since it was first introduced. The pole bean Musica won’t be far behind, as they are setting on now too.
And the first of the Juliet tomatoes have started rolling in. This year I planted three cages of these productive mini-Roma type tomatoes, and they will find their way into a number of tomato sauces as well as in homemade ketchup. They are also great for drying and for slow-roasting. I know many folks who wax poetic when talking about Brandywine and other ‘classic’ heirloom slicing tomatoes, but if I could only grow one tomato it would be the hybrid Juliet. Mind you, I’ve got my favorite heirloom tomatoes too (Cherokee Purple and Vinson Watts come to mind), but Juliet and other hybrids are the dependable, productive workhorse tomatoes that we rely on year after year here at Happy Acres.
A while back I was looking for a way to protect the kale growing in one of the cold frame beds. It had gotten too large to close the cold frame lid, and I knew the deer would eat it up if I left it unprotected. I took the suggestions from several readers and made a frame using PVC pipe and draped some bird netting over it. That is working out great. I suspect I will wind up pulling the kale and replanting the bed for fall, but until then we can enjoy eating it without fear of the critters eating it first!
In other cold frame beds, summer lettuce is sizing up nicely. I’ve got Slobolt, Sierra, Anuenue and Red Sails growing right now, and all are handling the heat pretty well. It helps that they are on the east side of the greenhouse, where they get afternoon shade. That’s Red Sails in the below photo, sharing a bed with basil. That wasn’t an intentional companion planting, I just happened to have room in that bed for a few lettuce plants. They do seem to be getting along well.
Not far away in the Wild Garden, butterflies have been daily visitors to the coreopsis, bee balm, agastache and echinacea. I’ve seen a few Swallowtail butterflies and a couple of Monarchs so far, including the one on the echinacea in the below photo. Bumblebees and other pollinators love these flowers too, and you can see a bumblebee on the coneflower just behind the Monarch. I find if I stand still with my camera out there, everyone gets used to my presence pretty quickly and I can get some good images. The Monarch was seemingly fearless of me and I followed it around for quite some time before it finally had its fill of nectar and flew off.
I hope you have enjoyed this update. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.