A bit of a departure for today’s post! Rather than talk about prepared food, let’s talk about ingredients that come straight from the source — my garden!
Things are wild out there this time of year. All the vine-like plants are twining themselves around any upright stalk they can find, creating dense vine-y thickets. The tomato cages are groaning under the plants’ weight; after a rainstorm, I have to go outside and set them upright because they’ll invariably have fallen over. And finally — finally! — my pepper plants are thriving, even the ones that I planted months ago, right when the weather got hot, the way they like it.
Today I trial-picked a few carrots. I’ve never had much luck with carrots, possibly because my soil is pretty dense, even when I mix in compost and add a few bags of garden soil. But this year things are looking promising!
I planted purple nebula carrots, and although they’re a bit short and stubby at this point, they’ve got a unique and slightly tart bite. (Unfortunately, they’re just plain orange on the inside, not purple!)
I plan to do some fall sowing this year, and I think I’ll go heavy on the carrots — I received a few packs of free carrot seed samples with various seed purchases earlier this year, so I’ve got some fun varieties to try out.
I’m also growing these fun Mexican sour gherkins — basically, tiny roundish cucumbers (although they’re not truly in the cucumber family). These plants really took off about a month ago and have gone bonkers since then. They’re actually the prime offenders when it comes to vine sprawlage: They’ve spread out over my middle garden bed, climbed up my pepper plants (pictured at right), and have even jumped across to the first garden bed, where they’ve hitched a ride on a tomato cage. They definitely require some serious trellising, but this makeshift approach works just fine too.
The plants are producing like mad, and I picked a few today to try them out for the first time. I’m not sure how large they’re supposed to be when you pick them, so it’s possible mine were slightly immature. (Shown at left in my carrot-stained hands.)
I loved the taste and texture — crisp and refreshing and just a bit sour. They have a slight resistance but burst in your mouth easily, a bit like a cherry tomato, in a very pleasing way. I’m all about veggies you don’t have to cut or peel to enjoy. Easy snackin’! I’ll happily grow these guys again. They’d be fun and rewarding for kids to grow and pick, too; they require very little attention and are clearly opportunistic little buggers, even when you don’t provide a trellis!
There’s plenty more going on, too, from big mystery squashes that may’ve been cross-pollinated to the stalwart green beans, which are only now beginning to slow down. A single okra plant is only just beginning to take off, and there are already a few baby okras growing. (I don’t know why they didn’t do well this year! Last year the plants were taller than me and produced like mad.)
And, of course, the tomatoes are going strong as ever. They’re all exceptionally sweet this year, making them a real delight to eat right off the vine. Although the cherry tomatoes are most prolific, my larger slicers are finally picking up, and I’ve got quite a few big green ones slowly ripening.
Here’s a funny sight — a mystery squash growing on the opposite side of the house, opportunistically climbing up the fence between our neighbors’ and our yards, between the pokeweed and the hedges. This is pretty close to the spot where our neighbors have their garden, so I bet this is a volunteer from one of their plantings last year (or maybe some escaped seeds from this year). There are two of these plants between our yards. The fruits look like immature butternut squash to me, but we’ll see! I’ve done literally nothing to nurture these little babies, yet look how strong and vital they are. Sometimes I think it would be fun to literally throw a bunch of seeds into the wild patches of my yard and see what comes up. :)