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Here They Come

August 22nd, 2016

Our hot summer has been difficult for some crops, but the tomatoes and peppers are loving it. It’s that time of the year when the tomatoes are fruiting in full. We can eat sliced tomatoes at every meal, enjoy tomatoes on top of a salad, make eggs in hell for breakfast, or in whatever way we want. Having fresh, vine ripened tomatoes is one of the joys of having an edible garden!
heirloom tomatoes 1
heirloom tomatoes 3
Not only are all the cherry and beefsteak tomatoes coming ripe, the roma types are starting to ripen as well. That means I’ll be making all sort of tomatoey deliciousness for the pantry.
heirloom tomatoes 2
heirloom tomatoes 4
One of the most wonderful things about seasonal eating is enjoying food at the height of its season. There’s really nothing as delicious as ‘Brandywine’ or ‘Gold Medal’ tomato plucked from the vine and eaten within minutes. This time of year we happily feast on fresh tomatoes knowing it’s a short, but delicious window. Probably our most favorite way to enjoy this bounty is sliced with a sprinkle of salt & pepper, simple and delicious!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a vine ripened tomato?

Sunset Runner Beans

August 17th, 2016

I’m always balancing production and beauty when it comes to vegetables. Trying new varieties is something I love to do. When I saw the ‘Sunset’ runner beans in the Baker Creek Catalog I knew I had to try them.
sunset runner beans
They’ve proven to be beautiful when they bloom! They’re just starting to produce beans, so I haven’t tasted them yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been last week and this week, I had a friend visiting from out of town. I managed to get a few posts written, but catching up was higher on my priority list.

What new varieties of vegetables did you try this week?

A Beet, is a Beet, is Not a Beet

July 25th, 2016

I’ve grown a wide variety of beets in the past, for the most part they all taste very similar. They vary in color, but the earthiness in their flavor is fairly consistent. After trying a wide variety of beets, I usually grow ‘Red Ace. This year, I decided to try ‘Crosby’s Egyptian’ beet (sources from Baker Creek). Germination was spotty, which was pretty common with the drought this year. The beets that did germinate, grew quickly and sized up before I realized it. When I harvested them, most of them were softball size – EEEK. I figured they’d be a total loss because they’d be woody, but I cooked them anyways.
crosbys egyptian beet
When I cut the first one, I was amazed at how tender it was. At first bite, I was amazed by the texture, sweetness, and flavor of these beets! They are very smoothly texture, none of the woodiness or fibrousness that can sometimes be common with beets. The flavor is very sweet, very beetlike, with none of the earthiness that the major of beets have. These would be perfect for those family members who are against the “dirt” flavor in beets. I don’t mind the earthiness at all, but this beet has a place in the kitchen for sure. We’ve been enjoying them on salads with sheep milk feta, pickled red onions, walnuts, and a maple mustard vinaigrette. I’ll definitely be adding these to my must grow list from here on out. I highly recommend giving this variety a go.

Have you discovered any flavorful new varieties of favorite vegetables?

A Year of Winners

July 21st, 2016

I mentioned a few weeks ago how happy I was that I finally grew some amazing fennel. This year I also managed to grow amazing cauliflower, which I admit, I had almost given up on growing. Cauliflower is a favorite vegetable of mine. I have attempted grow all sorts of heirloom varieties without much success. This year I finally decided to try ‘Bishop’ from Johnny’s Seeds and…..
cauliflower head
I only planted four because I didn’t want to lose any garden space to lackluster cauliflower. Now I need to get more seeded for a fall crop! Cauliflower can be a tough vegetable to grow, the heirlooms are especially picky. I’m hoping this variety will be successful for me in years to come, only time will tell. Until then, I’ll be happily eating these lovely vegetables and relishing another success in the garden this year.

What vegetables do you have a hard time growing?

The Main Vegetable Garden

July 19th, 2016

I have a small potager out behind the house, it’s an ornamental vegetable garden. In it I grow a lot of herbs and lettuce. Out behind the garage there’s a big vegetable garden, right now it’s probably 70 feet wide by about 50 feet wide. It gets a little bigger each year, in a few years we will have expanded it to the final size. When that time comes we will make permanent pathways, plant hedges, and a large perennial border in front of the fence that will surround it. Until then, it’s a fairly traditional garden space. I have rows that are 4 feet wide, vegetables are planted very closely in these beds, or things are interplanted.
Main edible garden 1
It’s filled with all sorts of things, mostly the ones I grow in large amounts: peas, beans, onions, potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, etc.
Main edible garden 2
Main edible garden 3
I read a while ago that at the Hagley mansion garden they layered their garden waste in a row of the garden throughout the growing season. There was not turning of the compost, it was let sit over the winter and the following spring squash was planted in the piles to use the nutrients while it continued to compost. I’m giving this method a try in my garden, so far the zucchini planted in the pile is doing well.
Main edible garden 5
Main edible garden 4
Main edible garden 6
This garden is not tilled, it hasn’t been since we moved in. The result is that each year I have fewer and fewer weeds and the soil structure is getting better and better. It’s amazing how much difference you can make in a short amount of time, I’ve noticed huge differences in water and nutrient retention along with weed load in this garden in the past four years. It’s a great space, hopefully when it reaches its final size it will be big enough to allow 25% of it to be fallow each year so the soil can rest.

How’s your edible garden going? What size do you consider the perfect size for an edible garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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