It's been a while since I posted but I promise it's not due to inactivity. 'Tis the season for harvest and I have been busy figuring out what to do with everything I grew. I still have quite a lot to do but with a now-full freezer I have a little time to catch my breath and catch you up on what my August and early September have entailed.
In April Kevin took a week's vacation and we kicked off spring with a ton of outdoor projects. The centerpiece of our work was a fenced-in garden in a corner of our little yard. Rabbits are a big issue in our neighborhood so we covered the fence with mesh and even dug it into the ground to foil any possible burrowing. I'm happy to report in September that our patch has remained rabbit-free!
Another big consideration in laying out the garden was space, naturally. It's really small so we compensated by building trellises and growing things vertically as much as possible. Also, I restricted myself to growing things that are difficult to find or costly in our local supermarkets, hopefully maximizing the benefit our garden had on our budget.
There are so many things to share on this subject: how I started seeds, how we designed and built pyramid trellises, the solar-powered rain tank Kevin designed, etc. I will plan to do a timely series next year sharing all of my notes and how I'm planning to apply what we learned.
For this year, I'll just share some images of what we grew and a few ways we ate it!
First, here's the labeled version of the vegetable collage above. A few reasons I grew these vegetables:
- Zucchini da Fiore: A breed of zucchini grown especially for their blossoms. I was planning to make a lot of stuffed squash blossoms this summer but was struck down with illness when they were most productive. The blossoms are extremely ephemeral so I ended up with a number of cute little striped zucchini instead. They became goat cheese-zucchini quiches.
- French Marigolds: These were planted around the perimeter of the garden to further deter rabbits burrowing. I'm also planning to try dyeing with them in the next few weeks.
- Borlotti Beans: An Italian shelling or drying bean. We built two beautiful cedar pyramid trellises for these beans but didn't end up with much at harvest time because our morning glories took over that side of the garden. Unfortunately, the foliage of both looked so similar that we didn't know what to cut back!
- Nasturtiums: We grew the vine type on either side of our garden gate for their whimsical lily-pad shaped leaves but also enjoyed adding the flowers to salads.
- Arugula: I grew this as a more interesting alternative to spinach. My plan was to eat a little and turn the rest into frozen chopped greens to use in place of frozen spinach in winter recipes. However, it needed to be harvested when I was ill in June and got too spicy to use as anything but a garnish (it was really good on top of hamburgers!). I didn't plant any more because I was too lazy!
- Little Finger Carrots: These are baby carrots, only growing to about 3 inches or so. I froze all of them and intend to use them for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes: We love cherry tomatoes and use them in a couple of our favorite pasta recipes (I'll be sharing those later). We saw this variety at a greenhouse and thought they sounded fun. They are a very pretty deep red-purple when ripe, aren't overly sweet, and are the meatiest cherry tomato I've ever come across.
- San Marzano Tomatoes: These enjoy a reputation as the best tomato for making pasta sauce. And that's exactly what I did with them (again, recipe to follow soon).
- Dark Opal Basil: This was located in another area of our yard. We love basil so I grew a long row of about 12 plants beside our house. They've been used liberally over the summer and I'm still planing to make some pesto and some basil jelly. If there is any extra, this variety of basil also makes a pretty lavender dye.
But wait, there's more! We also planted Yellow Onions, Red Onions, Purple Peruvian Potatoes, Mammoth Sunflowers, several herbs, an Italian pumpkin called Marina di Chioggia (up a trellis beside our deck), and French Breakfast Radishes. I plan to touch on these in later posts.
Today, though, I'm sharing a bit more about the French Breakfast Radishes. These are a fun, easy crop and the earliest thing we harvested. They're more mild than the typical grocery store variety and are served with olives and Rosé in the south of France.
They're also enjoyed sliced thinly on top of a piece of buttered bread with a sprinkling of salt (radis et beurre). At least, that's how I enjoyed them! I did try roasting them (the Internet is in love with roasted radishes), but it was a watery, oddly sour disaster. Roast this variety at your own risk.