At home we have two garden boxes and a dozen or so pots of herbs, along with a half dozen tomato plants in the ground and—of course—fruit trees, but by far, our most successful vegetable growth is coming out of our half plot in the community garden.
Broccoli comes along when we work in the garden and usually gets a run on the nearby field. Sometimes a friend is there for him to play with…like Zoe, who really has a thing for B. You can’t get her off of him.
Our half plot is about 4′ wide by 34′ long. At the beginning of the season we turned over the soil and worked in a bunch of LeafGro compost and manure. It was quite a bit of work and we got a late start so we were happy to have only the half plot to contend with. At the time. Now we want more! of course.
We planted three types of cucumber, five types of tomato, two types of kale, two lettuce blends, mustard, green beans, peas, beets, three types of pepper, three types of radish, four types of carrots, and asparagus. (I think I got everything?) We started nearly everything from seed (except for some tomatoes, the asparagus, and two of the pepper plants), and put the seeds directly in the ground, because everything that I tried to start inside died.
This is what was happening on May 15:
At the time, very exciting—sprouts! Now our plot looks like this:
It’s kinda chaotic. All the plants are growing on top of one other, just doing what they want. The picture above, on the right, shows a tomato plant hulking over the kales and lettuce. The yellow flowers in the foreground belong to the mustard. As long as things are growing: shrugs.
Speaking of the mustard. We got a lot of greens from those plants. I ended up making a huge batch of mustard pesto, based on this recipe, and we’ve worked it into so many meals.
Unfortunately the patch just got to be too unruly. It had grown to 4′ tall and while we wanted to let the seeds mature on the plants (from what I’ve read, you should let the pods turn brown and dry before cutting them off), the stalks had fallen over and were intruding on our neighbor’s plot and were just in general embarrassingly messy-looking.
So I ripped out the plants and snipped off the tops to bring them home to dry. I hope it works….
I did leave a few mustard plants in the ground, for the butterflies.
Our cucumber patch has also been doing well—the Boston Pickling and the Tendergreen Burpless varieties in particular. The Dragon’s Egg heirloom variety we planted has struggled a bit though, with some of the vines dying off, and the fruits that have been put out haven’t yet ripened.
Our bush bean patch has been putting out beans like a champ. We’re growing the Contender variety and have already harvested 8 pounds or so…I’ve lost count…and there are many more pounds still to harvest.
Being rich in cucumbers and green beans, I’ve turned to canning. I had this book and this book in my library already, and have had good success with the recipes in both, but this year I’ve been all about Saving the Season by Kevin West. I’ve really enjoyed his writing and have tried nearly a dozen of the recipes: Dilly Beans, Bread and Butter Pickles, Pickled Beets, Spicy Sweet Squash Pickles, Green Bean Relish….
We’ve been drinking sparking water with limeade syrup made according to his recipe, which you can get here—yum! (But if you want to give pickled grapes a try, skip the recipe in the book and use this one.)
I also tried the “Sunshine Pickles” recipe from the Saving the Season book. Pack cucumbers and dill into a crock, cover with rye bread and fill with salt water, put out in the sun for a few days, and then—pickles. Super easy, and time for me to check on them!