One of the many things I love about gardening is that every year brings a brand new adventure. Like the stock market, what happened in last year’s garden is no predictor of how things will go this year. Take winter squash, for instance. Last year I planted several vining types around the edge of the garden, where they wound up using the fence for support. They did quite well, though I lost a few that wound up growing in the fence itself, or got eaten by deer when they grew outside the fence.
So this year I grew most of the vining plants in a large bed on one end of the garden. However, I think I planted too many for the amount of space available, and it turned into a Darwinian experiment where only the most vigorous vines survived! Fortunately it looks like there will still be plenty of winter squash, even though a couple of them got crowded out entirely. That’s a North Georgia Candy Roaster in the above photo, with a Waltham Butternut beside it for comparison. This Candy Roaster is shaped like a giant green-tipped pink banana and weighs right at three pounds. It will be interesting to see what it tastes like. I really didn’t intend on a two sisters planting, but the squash has grown into the bush beans which are in the next bed over. At least the beans have set all their pods and are in the process of drying down.
Thankfully I put the pole beans on the other end of the garden, far away from the meandering squash plants. These sisters are as far apart as I could get them! The pole beans have done a great job of vining themselves, but they stayed on the trellis which has held up quite well. These beans just keep on producing this year. Fortex, Musica and Gold Marie have given us all the beans we can eat for the last couple of months, plus plenty to freeze and a few to give away. The Trail of Tears, Good Mother Stallard and Rattlesnake beans are all setting lots of pods and it looks like it should be a good year for the dry pole beans too. That’s a mix of Musica and Gold Marie in the above photo, and Fortex in the below photo.
My wife roasted some of the beans for dinner one night, tossed with a little olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. They were yummy, and a different twist on this versatile vegetable. The below photo really does not do them justice. The taste sort of reminded me of dry-fried beans. That’s some of our spring carrots on the plate along with a turkey breast cutlet.
Another ‘sister’ coming in from the garden last week was some zucchini. One of the Striata d’Italia was hiding from me and got a little bigger than I prefer. It dwarfs the more normal sized Spineless Beauty in the below photo.
Other than squash and beans, I got enough tomatoes together to make another batch of tomato paste, plus cook down some more tomato sauce for the freezer. That’s Juliet and Golden Rave in the below photo, which went into the sauce. I used only red tomatoes for the paste, since I wanted it to be as red as possible. The yellow Golden Raves are great mixed with red tomatoes for sauces, and I can’t tell they change the color much. I haven’t made an all-yellow sauce though I don’t know why you couldn’t do so.
A couple of Vinson Watts were great on sandwiches last week. This big beefsteak tomato is my current favorite heirloom slicer, since Cherokee Purple has not done well here again this year. I am growing the CP from saved seed, so next year I am going back to my original seed source. It is possible the genetics of the ones I saved weren’t quite true to form, so I will see if that helps things. The Vinson Watts is also from seed I saved and there’s nothing wrong with them that I can find.
A trio of Vinson Watts tomatoes came in with the first two Italian eggplants last week. One of these eggplants is on the menu for lunch today, as is one of the Vinson Watts. It has not been a great year for eggplant, but they seem to be finally coming on.
I found enough ripe Aji Angelo peppers to make a batch of fermented hot sauce. I’ve made several sauces recently, and I plan on doing an update on them later this week. That’s Aji Angelo in the below photo. It’s probably a good candidate for a Saturday Spotlight too, since I don’t think there’s a lot of readily available information on this variety. I can hardly wait to taste the hot sauce, which should be ready to bottle up in a couple of days.
Yesterday I baked a loaf of Cracked Wheat Bread, another recipe from Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand by Beatrice A. Ojakangas. This one was proofed in a round brotform then slashed in a scallop pattern before baking on a hot pizza stone. These recipes are relatively easy to put together using the bread machine for the mixing and kneading, and so far they have all been tasty. This bread should be good for sandwiches in the coming week. I like using the scallop slash because it lets the bread expand a bit lengthwise in the oven and makes slicing easier, at least it does for me. It’s called that because the finished bread sort of resembles the shell of a scallop.
In other news, many of the sedums around here are starting to bloom. The one in the below photo is a compact variety called Picolette. It has pinkish flowers and bronze-red foliage. That’s lemon balm behind it, which needs to be cut back before it starts dropping seeds everywhere. They are both planted in the Wild Garden.
The Wild Garden is where we have put plants that attract the birds and the bees, along with butterflies, pollinators and other beneficial insects. Last year I grew some amaranth for the birds, and of course it self-seeded. The volunteer plants have grown better than the ones I set out last year, which always seems to be the case, doesn’t it? The one in the below photo is called Elephant Head, though I think ‘elephant trunk’ would be more fitting. The five foot tall plants make a stunning display, if nothing else. Hopefully this won’t turn into a weedy problem in future years.
Also notable is the buckwheat I planted as a cover crop. Less than 20 days after sowing, it is already showing flower buds. I will let it bloom and then hopefully cut it down and work it in the bed before it sets seed. I have some oilseed radish seed I may plant to overwinter in this bed. It’s a daikon type radish with a long taproot that helps to open up the subsoil. It can take some freezing weather, down to 20°F according to Johnny’s, then the radishes and roots will freeze out and leave holes in the soil. It’s also a good cover crop to let flower and attract beneficial insects, and to control nematodes.
That’s a look at what is happening here in late August. To see what other gardeners are harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.