Sunday, July 18, 2010

Harvest Catch Up

Today was a very exciting day in the garden---our first tomatoes!

(guest starring in this photo are a couple of watermelon radishes I pulled out of the salad bed that I had forgotten were there.)
The two little tomatoes were twins on the same plant, and I have no clue what kind they are. However, they are extremely sweet and ever so TOMATO-Y. I know most of you have eaten a tomato right out of the garden before so you understand the quality of TOMATONESS that is really only possible with straight from the warm sun tomatoes. This afternoon we also went and got some big burly stakes because the volunteer tomato army has taken over the world. My poor okra and basil were getting choked out and tomatoes were actually joining together across the garden path. Madness. At the end of last year I promised myself that I would space the tomatoes out better this year, but obviously I broke that promise. After some serious stake work by rebby things are looking a lot more tidy.
Earlier in the day, I picked these:

the first two cucumbers I have ever harvested from my own garden! The long green one is an Orient Express and the orange one is a Red Hmong. The Red Hmong vine is extremely prolific---there are at least ten more of those guys in various stages of ripeness on the vine right now. The Orient Express, not so much. I hope I get at least one more. The Poona Khera don't seem to be doing much, sorry to say. Bummed.
So, what goes through my mind when I harvest cucumber and tomato? And then look out the back door and see a big beautiful stand of parsley next to some wild and out of control mint? That's right, it's tabouli time. Garden in your mouth. I didn't have any bulgur so I used couscous and that plus the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper were the only things in the tabouli that did not come directly from the dirt outside my back door. Yes! I threw one of those watermelon radishes in there too, just for some interesting color and peppery bite. The last of the green garlic I pulled up a month or so ago (thanks to the largess of the Italians who used to own the place) and a small onion bulb went in too. It is the best tabouli ever, because I grew it.
We ate that awesome tabouli with some grilled salmon simply dressed with lemon and dill, and some roasted potatoes. Now, here's a story about the potatoes....
You may remember that I planted a bunch of yukon gold seed potatoes in early spring into trenches because I had read that they don't really respond to hilling and so it would be a waste of a good tire stack to put them in there. So, I planted four rows of seed potatoes alternating with yellow onion sets. Around mid June, the potato plants were looking so spindly and I had a big pile of dirt so I thought--it couldn't hurt to pile some more dirt on, right? So I did.
This was a stupid move.
Turns out that yukon golds really do only produce under the soil level of the roots, so to get to the potatoes just now I had to dig through all that dirt. Stupid. Also, the yield on the yukon golds was ridiculous---we ended up digging up the rest of the patch tonight and I'm gonna say it was an average of one good sized potato for each plant. I know that I might have gotten more if I had left them a bit longer but there comes a time in the garden (and that time is now) when you can't waste space on under producers.
The few yukon golds that we have eaten from the garden have been the most heavenly potatoes EVER. So creamy and buttery yellow and bursting with flavor. So, despite the disappointing yield and sprawling habit, I will probably grow them again next year. Unless one of the other varieties turns out to be more prolific and just as tasty.
I have learned some very important things this year in the garden. I am starting to figure out how to be a better grower of root vegetables. I now know that dragon purple carrots and bulls blood beets are the best for me. This is all part of the learning process.
Other than all that fun harvesting and staking, I baked rebby a blackberry pie from her blackberry bushes today! We have not cut into it yet, but I think it is going to be pretty awesome. I put an R on for Rebby:

Life is good around the ole homestead! The corn is starting to form ears and the beans are all up and the okra is leafing out and the artichokes are getting tall and I am pretty sure I will have the day off to plant squash and broccoli and cabbage and brussels sprouts on Tuesday. I will also need to spend part of the day processing because my fridge is full of kale again and I am going to need to harvest some MORE to keep the peppers from being shaded out. Over abundance is a nice problem to have.

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