Monday, July 14, 2008

Edibles in the Garden

I have always been a casual vegetable gardener. A tomato or two planted in among the perennials. A planting of potatoes about a decade ago just for fun. I planted strawberries for years before conceding defeat to the squirrels. This year I decided it was time to get serious about growing my own food. So I put in two raised vegetable beds this spring. The results have been most satisfying so far. Just this morning I harvested a small crop of green bush beans. By tomorrow there will be enough beans to make a small salad: steamed green beans with diced onion, tossed with some oil and vinegar with just a pinch of salt. This is a favourite dish so it's good that I planted a lot of beans. The Scarlett Runner beans will add to the crop. They have just started to bloom. I'm excited about the beans, but more excited about the hummingbirds this plant may attract to my otherwise devoid-of-hummingbirds backyard.

The snow peas were outstanding performers. They yielded enough for two delicious stir-fry dinners-for-two. Actually, they yielded far more than that but I couldn't resist eating the peas right off the vine. So crispy and so crunchy. I can only describe the peas as fun. They look cool as they climb their trellises, their blossoms are super-cute, they grow unbelievably fast and picking and eating them right off the vine is incredibly satisfying. I plan to plant another round of seeds toward the end of summer for a late season harvest. Some garden websites suggest a mid-August start. Sounds good to me but I'll hold off a week or two longer if it's still especially hot around here.

The radish crop was done a long time ago. It's hard to believe the start of the growing season seems so far in the past. The radishes were easy to grow and more than abundant. I wish there was more one could do with radishes, especially because they are so plentiful. Aside from adding them to salads or popping one into your mouth for a quick snack, there's not much out there recipes-wise when it comes to radishes. Nevertheless, I will try for a late season crop of radishes too. I did find a recipe for Radish-Top Soup which uses the radish greens. It may be worth a try as the days start to cool down and the warm comfort of soup is welcome on the dinner menu once again.

It's not all about great successes in the garden. There have been some hard lessons learned but this requires me to gloat about yet another of the great successes. When the carrot seeds went in I had very little hope of producing anything edible. I was under the impression that carrots were tough to grow, especially if your soil wasn't just right. Well my carrots have been thriving. So much so that they have completely shaded two rows of green onions that are struggling to hang on. The onions are smaller than I would have expected by this time and I blame the carrots. Fortunately the row of leeks appears unaffected by the robust carrots. I will definitely re-arrange the planting scheme next time around to factor in heights and shading. If the carrots continue on this path to harvest success, I plan to double the crop next year: four rows instead of two.

There's so much more still to come from the veggie patch, or potager as I like to call it. There are dozens of green cherry tomatoes on the vine waiting to ripen. The zucchini have just bloomed. The brussel sprouts won't be ready for months yet. I understand they taste best if allowed to stay on the plant through a frost. I have no way of knowing how the potatoes are doing but their green tops look healthy. The parsley is a little small but will soon be ripe for picking. And the broccoli seems a bit slow but I'm determined to see it through. When I first put in the raised beds, I worried that they were too big. Now I realize they are too small. Next year's challenge will be to more efficiently use the space available and maximize the number and variety of edibles in the garden.


TopVeg said...

Great photos!
We had problems with squirrels eating our strawberries,too...

Gardenista said...

It sounds like your vegetable garden is a success! I don't know why our squirrels don't eat my stuff - so I'll count myself lucky.