Garden Diary - August 2019

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Another Visit to An Exemplary Vegetable Garden
Saturday, 17 August 2019

It was not quite a month ago that I made my first visit to Janet's wonderful vegetable garden. "Come again," she said, "when there's more going on." Summer, the middle of August is, after all, when vegetable gardens go into productive overdrive. If you think about it, with few exceptions almost all our vegetables are either annuals or treated as annuals.

The second crop of broccoli is shaping up nicely. Even though it is the tight green flowers
that we eat, did you know the leaves can be cooked, roasted, same as kale? Janet does.

The sweet potato vines are enjoying summer's heat. Janet stored some of last year's crop.
What's not consumed is sprouted, indoors, and the new shoots (called slips) are separated
from the old tuber, rooted, and planted outdoors in late May for the current season's crop.

So much to see and remember. This fleece is covering either the eggplants or some squash
to protect them from insect pests. It comes off when the plants flower, so bees can pollinate.

Janet grows many different kinds of peppers, from hot chile peppers, ripening to red

and sweet bell peppers from red (just the ripe color phase of the green
peppers you see at the store) to orange, and even sweet black ones.

Various tomatoes for different uses. These are 'Juliet', a small roma or paste
type. Easy to grow, delicious fresh, for cooking, and a favorite kind for drying.

Janet sent me home with a few cucumbers. Not this English type but
rather one she grows for pickling. Also good eaten fresh, she told me.
You bet! Paul asked where I had gotten it as the one in our lunch salad
was so crisp and crunchy. There's no question about it - fresh is best.

Vegetables with frequent flyer miles, shipped cross-country from the west coast
need to be sturdy enough to survive the vicissitudes of travel. Not so the sweet,
fragrantly ripe melon picked from the garden and carried straight into the kitchen.

Simple preparation for the best of fresh produce. Scoop with a melon baller,
garnish with a sprig of spearmint - and enjoy, succulent piece by juicy piece.

Beautiful beans. String beans, lima beans, so many different kinds of beans.
Apparently beans do not cross pollinate as rampantly as do other vegetables.
Janet can save some seeds by allowing a few pods to mature until they ripen.

She picked some pole beans for me, a kind with a hint of purple on their pods.

I topped and tailed them, then cut each pod into about three pieces.

Fresh and tender, so I steamed them in a perforated basket over a little water.

As soon as tender, just a few minutes, I lifted out the basket. Dressed the beans
with a little butter and a sprinkle of salt. And we enjoyed them, every last piece.

An exemplary vegetable garden, providing even enough fresh vegetables to share.

UPDATE: Catch Up On Monday, 26 August 2019

I went to the local orchard where I buy fruit, only to learn that they had sold out of peaches in 45 minutes! They open at noon and silly me, I'd had lunch first. Come back tomorrow, they said. We'll put your quarter basket aside. And gave me three peaches, seconds, with split pits or other minor defects, to tide me over.

Stopped at my friends with the exemplary vegetable garden to drop off some flower seeds. We're chatting. Another couple stopped by. We five are chatting, nibbling on cherry tomatoes, yellow-orange sweet as candy ones. Then we all went down to the vegetable garden. Which is bursting with produce.

The other couple and I were each sent on our way with cantaloupes, a diversity
of tomatoes, plus eggplants, and peppers in an array of colors. Such generosity!

Monday, Paul and I ran some errands and went to the orchard place later in the afternoon. But they'd forgotten / not written down / other things on their mind (son's wife is in labor with their first grandchild.) So grandfather-to-be went up to the orchard to pick peaches for me. And while we were chatting someone came up with a huge sack of white corn, fresh and milky, sweet enough to eat raw. The orchard people didn't want all the 50+ ears in the sack so I bought a dozen for a very reasonable $5.

I like to say that it is not a vegetable garden that I cultivate, but rather I cultivate friends with vegetable gardens. What a wonderful time of year!

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