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Garden Bounty

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Category : About Food Sources, August, Grow Your Own

Vegetable Garden

By Southern Foodways Alliance

Nothing defines “bounty” quite like a visit to my garden at this time of the year. Everywhere I look, miraculous things are going on.My two-year-old grandson accompanies me, as usual. We take a huge bowl with us and I have a kitchen knife to help us harvest. His route around our 12 by 24 foot garden is a history of the order of ripening crops.First he races to the strawberry plants. Those are done producing for the season, but “hope springs eternal” and he checks them anyway. Next he trots to the other end of the garden where the fall raspberries (delicate and pale orange) are still producing a few treasures. He carefully scours the canes, and needs to be reminded to save some for his mother and me.

His third stop delights me. He routinely heads straight for the broccoli. We’ve harvested most of the large center stalks already, but the side shoots continue to produce. I hand over a fist sized head for our bowl, but instead he opens his mouth wide and takes a big bite out of the middle. I have to laugh at his enthusiasm. “I love broccoli!” he emphasizes around his crunchy mouthful.

While he munches, I visit the fava beans. I’m growing them for the first time this year. Their purple and white flowers were unexpectedly lovely, and ever since the first bean pods appeared on the plant the pod length has increased by inches every day. I only planted four seeds, and yet am harvesting handfuls of huge bean pods.

I planted two types of potatoes this year–an early variety called Col White, and a later variety, Yukon Gold, which is a good storage potato. We’ve been eating the Col Whites for awhile now, but there are still a few plants not harvested. I use the garden fork to scoop under the plants and loosen the dirt. My grandson is excited to help with the treasure hunt of finding the perfectly formed potatoes. The Col Whites have been delicious–creamy white flesh with a thin pale skin. See one of our favorite recipes for them below.

It’s tempting to check the Yukon Golds to see how they are doing, but I resist the urge. My garden is relatively small, and I have to make the space count. I want to have enough potatoes to store for a few months into the winter, so I keep them in the ground for now. Patience, patience.

Yellow and red onions are both forming bulbs. I pull up a few to go with the potatoes for dinner. I also pull a garlic plant and score a well-formed and fragrant head at the end of the stalk. Perfect!

A variety of greens are ready for cutting. Gem colored rainbow chard stalks are a pleasure for the eye, and Russian and black Tuscan kale will provide tasty and nutritious side dishes. I cut only the largest leaves so the smaller ones can continue growing.

Green cabbage heads have formed and are nearing harvest size, but I decide to wait a little longer. The red cabbage is just beginning to form heads. My cauliflower didn’t do well this year, but the Brussels sprouts are over three feet tall and little buds which will become the sprouts have appeared at the base of each stalk. It will be late in the season before they are ready to harvest.

Leeks are still too small, and I leave dill plants in the ground, too. I’ll buy cucumbers to pickle later this year. My garden gets marginally enough sun for plants such as cukes which require heat to grow well. Peppers haven’t produced this year either. I’m still optimistic about the squash and pumpkins. They were planted late, but are growing fast.

Finally, I pick two perfectly red tomatoes, the ultimate gardening reward. For many years I didn’t think I liked tomatoes. Vine-ripened, sun-warmed tomatoes showed me the error of my ways.

Our big harvest bowl is overflowing now, so my grandson and I head for the house, stopping briefly at the herb garden on the way. I feel a combination of gratitude, satisfaction, and amazement as I look at the food which will be part of our meals for at least a week. I recall the small pile of seed packets where it started.

I am filled with the wonder of it all.

Here’s a recipe my daughter created with the potatoes, onions, and herbs:
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