The remnants of Tropical Depression Bill visited us on Friday and Saturday, giving us four inches of rain in a 24-hour period. That came on top of 2.5 inches we had earlier in the week. The month of June actually started off dry here, but we have certainly caught up on our precipitation, and then some! Thankfully the rain came down fairly gently, and our silty soil was able to absorb most of it without a lot of runoff. I am guessing folks with our area’s more typical clay soils had water standing in their gardens and yards.
Of course the rain is making things grow like crazy, including the cucumbers. I harvested the first ones of the year last week. They were quickly followed by several more, until I had enough to make a batch of refrigerator pickles. In the below photo, two Green Fingers cucumbers from the main garden are joined by a Corinto from the greenhouse. The vines are loaded with baby cukes, so we will be enjoying more of them in the days to come, and no doubt sharing some of them with friends as well.
I also harvested the first squash and broccoli of the year. Those happened to be yellow squash, and I harvested from all three of the yellow varieties I planted this year (Gentry, Enterprise and Multipik). The first broccoli was from Goliath, though in this case the head I harvested was not all that big. I don’t have high expectations for the spring broccoli this year. We had extremely hot weather a bit earlier than usual this spring, and it has pretty much stayed hot ever since. That is typical around here, and broccoli usually does much better in fall. I’m always thankful for any spring broccoli I get. The squash and broccoli are hanging out with another Corinto cucumber in the below photo.
I had plans for the squash, and I also needed some onions for my plan so I pulled a Red Torpedo Tropea that was sizing up nicely plus a few of the ones I planted for scallions.
My plan for the squash and onions was to make the Zucchini, Onion and Ricotta Pie that Michelle made a couple of weeks ago. I made mine with the yellow squash I had on hand, plus the white onions in the above photo. I also chopped up a few garlic scapes and some fresh parsley and added a little crushed and minced garlic. This dish comes together pretty quickly and made a great dinner meal for us one night, along with some steamed broccoli. The leftover pie tasted even better the next day, and I can see making this versatile recipe again when more of the summer veggies start rolling in. Some lovely eggs from local pastured chickens gave the pie a nice golden color.
I was also inspired this week to make a gooseberry pie. I’ve been hungry for some ever since last July when Daphne made a couple of beautiful pies to take to a 4th of July party. I decided to make a double pie crust using some soft white whole wheat flour and use it to make my favorite gooseberry pie recipe, straight from my well-worn and vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. I loved the gooseberries, but I thought the crust was a bit chewy. My wife loved the crust, though it was difficult to make the lattice top with it. It wasn’t my prettiest pie but it all disappeared over the course of several days. Next time I want to try a gooseberry cobbler. I pretty much used up all of this year’s crop, so I will have to wait until next year for that.
Another inspiration came from Norma, who told us a couple of weeks ago how she used kohlrabi and marinated tofu (along with other goodies) in a stir fry dish. I skipped the meat, and added some April Cross daikon radish, yellow squash, mushrooms and chopped garlic scapes to my creation. I marinated the tofu in a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame, along with a crushed dried Aji Angelo pepper to add a tiny touch of heat. After marinating and removing the tofu, I added a bit of water and cornstarch to the marinade and used it to make a sauce. I also took her suggestion and served it on lettuce, skipping the usual rice. It’s a yummy way to prepare the kohlrabi and other veggies.
With plenty of warning that Bill was coming our way with lots of rain, I dug more garlic before the soil got any more moisture. This time I harvested the rest of the turban varieties (Shilla, Uzbek and Xian), plus three of the artichoke varieties that were ready (Inchelium Red, Siciliano, and Lorz Italian). Most gardeners, me included, plant the largest cloves of garlic because they tend to make the biggest bulbs. But occasionally those large cloves are “double cloves”, which will produce two bulbs. I had two of the Lorz Italian plants that did just that, including the one in the below photo. I don’t normally wash the bulbs before curing, but I did this one so you could see how the two bulbs were growing.
I usually get a few of the double bulbs, so that wasn’t a big surprise but this year I also got a triple from Inchelium Red. Commercial growers usually try and avoid planting double cloves because the resulting bulbs can be hard to sell, though it’s no big deal for most home gardeners. You can see how wet the soil was in the below photo, and that was before Bill came through!
For me, the main appeal of growing garlic is in the bulbs and the scapes. But for our cat Puddin, the real attraction is in the leaves. Every time I drag bunches of garlic through the house (and she is awake) she wants to bite and play with the foliage. I think she gets more excited about the garlic than she does when I bring her catnip! She’s got a wild look in her eyes but she’s really a big sweetie.
I’m continuing in my quest to eat as many different types of dry beans as possible. Last week I cooked up some Rio Zape beans, and I can see them starring in future meals. These beans have a wonderful, rich taste, and I could easily sit down and eat a bowl of them all by themselves. Some of these wound up getting refried, and others wound up in a Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes salad we had for dinner last night.
The salad also featured some of our roasted orange and purple sweet potatoes, topped with some fried sage leaves from the garden and toasted pine nuts. I served the salad at room temperature, and it tasted a lot better than the below photo looks. My wife declared it a ‘home run”, a metaphor that is as close to baseball as either one of us ever gets!
That’s a look at what’s going on here lately. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.