Monday, August 17, 2009

Garden Love

A week ago I was telling Steve I considered this year's garden a failure. He said that in agriculture, if you lose only 40% of your crops, it is still a success. Like the prairie, the garden has its season, and maybe my hopes were too high. When my windowsill was full of seedlings the possibilities seemed endless. And then, much more has recently come into bloom.

The Sisters laugh at me when I tell them my onions died. One week there was all these beautiful green tops, and I worried because I'd planted them a little too close in places, to cram is as many shallots and onions as my little raised garden bed could hold and still have two cherry tomato plants in it. The next week, there wasn't a sign of an onion or shallot anywhere. They disappeared. And in their place was grass and weeds. It's kind of nuts. I pulled out three or four very immature onions, no shallots to speak of, and that was the end of the whole project. Yet people tell me it's impossible to "lose" onions. They need almost nothing-- not much rain. And how tomatoes could thrive at the other end of the bed doesn't make sense. Maybe an animal came in from underneath and pulled them down to its secret lair. I've heard possum can steal you blind of all your squash, but never of some varmint pulling onions down into the earth.

The tomatoes are badly blighted and although they're heavy with fruit, the plants are basically dead and I don't think they'll have much juice or flavor. The wind damage really hurt them, and then the cool summer filled out the foliage and the nutrients didn't go to the fruit, and the clamminess of tomato foliage spread the blight. I'm still hoping they'll be good enough to can for winter stews. I bought a case of Ball mason jars (spent $1 more because they say "Ball" on them) and hope to try out the "hot bath" method.

Other than that, and the Brussels sprouts which are gigantic but not sprouting, everything worked out fine.

And really, these are the salad days. Yesterday, aside from the lettuce, we had in our giant garden salads: cherry tomatoes, snow peas, a purple pepper, the one and only cucumber, carrots and basil. That is indeed something. The picture above is everything I pulled from the garden yesterday, after three days away: a few green beans, the end of the snow peas, a couple peppers, basil, zucchini (including two gigantic ones I fed to the chickens today), carrots (I've only got about a dozen, but still!), large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and a large butternut squash that was starting to split from growth so I thought it best to bring it inside...

We have enough poblano peppers out there that I can make at least one black bean and poblano lasagna this season (recipe to come, corn tortillas for noodles and I'm skipping the goat cheese sauce for mozzarella this time!) and the basil will be sufficient, the cherry tomatoes will make a couple loads of salsa, and there are two kinds of squash for fall/winter.
And hey, you never know, I might find another fine cucumber out there!

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