This is a great week to make your own salad mix. We’ll have abundant greens starting with some young lettuce. Mix in a couple or all of the following: arugula, asian greens, kale, chinese cabbage, and baby bok choy. Make it tangy or mellow to your liking. Finish it off with fresh herbs…zing!
Sungold, Juliet, Big Beef, Chocolate Sprinkles. These are the names of some of the varieties of tomatoes in the garden this year. A good name should be representative of the plant or fruit, maybe be a little romantic, and mostly make you want to eat it. My dream job would be to trial new varieties by growing, eating, and naming them!
Somebody messed up on this one. Green 70 D Improved? What kind of a name is that? It’s an Asian green. A choi sum to be exact. I wanted to trial some new greens so I bought a packet despite it’s name. Here’s the description from the seed catalog: Choi sums are among the most popular vegetables in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. The stems are a vibrant bright green, very sweet and tender, and are usually harvested just as the first few buds are opening. The stems regrow for cut-and-come-again harvest. Excellent in stir-fries, steamed, or in soups. I have only a few bunches for those willing to look past it’s name and give it a try.
Not great, but they did a better job naming Carlton. A Very dark green komatsuna. Traditionally used in Japan either steamed and seasoned with soy sauce, or in stir fries and soups. It is also excellent braised or, at the baby leaf stage, used in salads. I would have called it Sugoi. Roughly translated, it means amazed or awestruck.
It still feels like summer for the most part but subtle shifts are taking place. The light is beginning to change as the sun lowers in the sky, deepening the afternoon shade in the garden. The days are warm but the edge is off the heat. Cooler nights made for good sleeping with open windows are just around the corner. I like the transitional moments. A foot in two worlds, neither here nor there. Anticipation and nostalgia holding hands.
The garden is clearly of two worlds right now. The cucumbers, devouring their trellis in lush green vines just two weeks ago, now are all but dead with the summer squash not too far behind. The sweet potato vines sense an opening and grow towards the trellis reaching it just as the cucumbers are taking their last gasp. Will they climb it or keep moving under it to challenge the remaining potatoes? The greens are invigorated and ready to fill in the gaps the summer crops leave as they decline. I’m grateful to them to them all.
It’s the start of round two for greens. This week kale makes a comeback. We’ll have bunches of the kale mix above as well as some curly kale. Arugula returns this week as well. With cooler weather arriving this weekend all the young greens I planted a few weeks ago will be silently singing with joy. This will be the last week of a considerable cucumber harvest. Last chance for pickles! The green beans are beauties this week and the miniature butternut squash called Honeynut are coming in strong and sweet.
Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes? Sweet potato pie is one of my all time favorite dishes. Besides their wonderful flavor, they are especially healthy. Bonus!! I’ve planted some this year and they are doing well but they won’t be harvested until sometime in October. The leaves of the sweet potato vine are also edible. In fact, in some parts of Asia and Africa sweet potatoes are grown for the leaves rather than the tubers. They are an excellent source of antioxidants and contain high levels of vitamin A and C, as well as riboflavin, thiamin, folic acid and niacin. Sweet potato vine leaves also provide impressive amounts of fiber, along with calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium and iron. That’s a lot of healthy in a little leaf. I’ve been curious about them for a while and finally picked some for dinner this evening. I have read that they can be a little bitter so it’s best to blanch them first before doing a quick saute. Since I wanted to taste them without flavors I simply cooked them, including the stems, in boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes and ate them plain. They were not bitter at all. They resembled spinach somewhat but with a brighter, earthier taste. I’ll have some at the market tomorrow for the adventurous.
But, it beats the alternative. It’s been a challenging week at our little homestead. Two separate trips to the ER, one for me and one for Mark. We’re both ok and neither were Covid related! It seems wasps truly are our mortal enemy. To lighten things up ask about the groundhog story when you come for veggies today. It’s a real doozy.
It was another too hot week in my humble opinion. The greens did not appreciate it. We’ll have a handful of lettuces but most them bolted. We’ll have to wait a few weeks for the fall greens to come in for more abundance.
The recent storm dumped a tremendous amount of rain making it easy for the wind to knock things over. I gently stood each fallen plant back up. Many accepted my efforts and are mostly upright again except for a few of the huge sunflowers. Somehow we never lost our power. I know many of you are still without it and those of you without generators must be getting a little tired of roughing it right about now. I hope by the time you read this your lights are on, your toilets are flushing and your showers are flowing!
We’re light on the greens this week with no kale, chard or collards. The previous high heat spell made them question whether or not they really wanted to be here! I’m letting them rest and regroup this week encouraging them to regrow for us. I’ve seeded more of each in case they don’t cooperate. We will though, have some young lettuces, baby bok choy and escarole. And……….the tomatoes are here — slicers and cherries. Time for fresh salsa and tomato/basil salads, yum!
This week is fingerling potato week with french fingerlings and a Peruvian fingerling called papa cacho. Both are delicious.
If you spent any time outdoors the last couple of weeks experiencing the relentless heat of the beating sun, you know how it feels to be drained. The garden plants deal with it by shutting down as much as they can to conserve their energy. They will slow down or stop flowering, put out little new growth, move precious moisture from their leaves to their main stems which causes them to wilt a bit. Extended heat is tough on even the warmth loving plants like tomatoes and it devastates most of the greens. The aptly named sunflower appears to take it all in stride, though. They seem to stand there smiling. Their cheerful disposition helped improved mine as I toiled and sweated through the week. Cheer up your house with some. They’ll be available by the stem at this week’s market.
It’s always a challenge to practice patience when waiting for tomatoes to ripen on the vine. Mine got in later than usual this year as well but they are loaded with fruit. The first cherry tomatoes are beginning to color up. I’m thinking next week we should have at least a few pints. The slicers generally take at least a week or so longer before they start. While the wait is long, we all know a good Jersey tomato is worth waiting for!
In the meantime the green beans are coming in strong, the Asian eggplant is starting to produce and we’ll have some baby bok choy this week.
I love digging carrots and potatoes. I think it’s the element of surprise. I just don’t know what I’ve got until it comes up out of the ground. Carrots tease me with a hint of their shoulders, but they often keep their true selves hidden. Each time I pull a carrot I predict it’s size and shape. I’m wrong more often than I’m right and I like that. There’s no telling what I’ll uncover when digging potatoes. A large cluster of good sized beauties or a scrawny clump of a few puny tots are possibilities. Delight or dismay. Then there’s the outrage of finding that some devilish moles have been feasting on the fruits of my labor with no above ground sign that they’ve taken up residence in the potato patch. I just started to dig the potatoes. I’ll harvest some each week for the next few weeks. So far, so good. Magic Molly are small purple potatoes rich in antioxidants and flavor. Yukon Gem has a buttery yellow flesh with a thin tan skin. It’s yummy.
Along with the potatoes and carrots we’ll also have:
Cucumbers – coming out of my ears – 1/2 price sale this week