First to be picked starting May 1st was asparagus. This was the third year for this asparagus bed, and we picked about 40-50% of the spears. In addition, we planted another bed of 25 plants, which will be ready to pick in 2015. I really don't need to describe what these tasted like. Many of the smaller spears didn't make it out of the garden before being consumed.
Peas came in a few weeks later, in early June. We we planted about 40 row feet of four different varieties, but that wasn't enough. They finished in early July, and the dried pods were picked and the peas collected. These will become split-pea soup some cold winter evening.
There were a few raspberries, but being on the farm so inconsistently made it hard to catch them at the correct stage of ripeness.
We planted cherry tomatoes leftover from the Columbus planting, which did fine, plus we put in four plum (paste) tomato plants. These fruited heavily, and ripened over a period of about six weeks. We froze these whole, and will make tomato sauce from them when they have all ripened. This is the first big batch from the planting, picked on August 19th.
|nice tomato set|
|ripe viva Italia plum tomatoes|
We had another tough year for potatoes, getting over 4" of rain in a week-long period after the seed potatoes were planted. We probably got 40% growth, with some varieties doing better than others. The earliest to be dug were Red Thumb followed by Carola and Nicola potatoes. The photo on the left is the initial "dig" on August 10th, with a much larger dig of the Carola/Nicola potatoes coming a few weeks later (right photo). We still have Laratte fingerlings to dig in early September. The Red Pontiac was a near total failure.
|Nicola, Carola and Red Thumb potatoes|
|mixed Nicola and Carola|
As an experiment, we planted shallots below the potatoes and in between the garlic. What we got didn't look like the store-bought kind, but they are very flavorful. We sliced them and baked them with potatoes.
Our friend Charles gave us some sweet onion starts, and these did wonderfully and taste delicious. Given the success with the genus Allium, we plan to dedicate an entire bed to onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks in the 2014 garden.
The peppers are doing fantastic, and we've already picked dozens jalapeños and several green bell peppers. The jalapeños were either pickled or incorporated into a salsa verde, while the bell peppers went primarily into Sicilian caponata. We have also had a good crop of Padron peppers and the Ancho peppers are coming along very nicely.
We planted two varieties of kale this year, blue curled and Tuscan (lacinato). The soil where these were planted is not particularly good, and growth wasn't what I expected. Nevertheless, the Tuscan kale did very well. It's good cooked, but we also like it raw in a lemon vinaigrette with hot pepper flakes, pecorino cheese and breadcrumbs.
|blue curled kale|
|Tuscan (lacinato) kale|
We planted one variety of eggplant this year, and all the plants have been very productive. Many of these fruit went into the caponata, but some were stuffed with tomatoes and peppers and baked, and we don't know what to do with the rest. They are fun to grow because of their beauty.
Cabbages did well, and were largely free from caterpillars because of a neat trick I learned at the OEFFA conference in February. The small white moths that lay the eggs that hatch into caterpillars that eat the cabbage are repelled by dill. We planted three rows of six cabbage plants and between each of the rows we planted five dill plants. Easy solution, called companion planting, and I've got plenty of dill for making pickles.
Oy, the beets! They're monsters this year. We planted them from starts, and had about a 95% success rate. We've been slowly picking them throughout the summer, and I've pickled several of both varieties.
|golden and red beets|
We had two huge harvests of rhubarb from the plant we installed last year. Most of the rhubarb ended up as strawberry-rhubarb, orange-rhubarb, or plain rhubarb jams, with the rest into a peach/rhubarb/blueberry cobbler. We put in three new plants this year, with two surviving.
The green beans did splendidly this year, but most of the pods came all at once. One week, it was just enough to make a meal or two of, then 10 days later it was literally 5-6 gallons of beans. The plants were laying flat on the ground because of the heavy pods, and many plants had upwards of 20 beans each. I'll spare you the picture, as we all know what beans look like, but what was really nice about having so many beans is that I was able to supply my friend Laurie with a couple of gallons of beans for a large catering job. She paid me $20, too! My very first sale of vegetables from the garden.
Cucumbers also did well, and many made it into garlic dill pickles or onion-cuke refrigerator pickles.