June 22, 2015

Garden Update and What to Make When Your Garden Produces Odds and Ends

Snails are all over the place, including our windows
In the garden:

So. Much. Rain.

This summer's garden is not great and I can't even spend much time working in it because the soil has been waterlogged for months (and this is in large part why the garden isn't great). People around here often use raised beds, but then of course there are the yearly droughts and that's when raised beds have trouble. They dry out much, much faster than the surrounding soil. So, while we have some, it's important to remember they have their own quirks which will require more attention at some point in the year.

Nevertheless, the summer squashes are actually doing rather well! Usually the vine borers get them and, while they are there in the vines right now, I think the super wet soil is allowing the squashes to do a fantastic job of re-rooting along their length. Usually things are so dry that rooting on top of the soil (or just below the soil if you bury them to help them along) like that is very difficult them. Even with all the mulch we use on our beds it is very hard to keep the top half inch of soil at all moist when the rain doesn't fall and the sun shines brightly for weeks. 
Dribs and drabs

The green beans, which I planted 4 times, are finally doing ok. They'll crap out in another month, maybe more, and thus (if the soil ever dries enough) I need to do a second planting. The Violet's Multi Colored Butter Beans, which I had to plant 3 times (something was chomping all the beans this spring!) are doing amazing (except that I just noticed today something is nibbling the pods open)! They take a long time to ripen but those vines are huge and covered in pods. The purple podded pole beans are not as happy but they're ok. I think they are a little too shady on the north side of the trellis, in a shadier part of the garden, half under an Almond Verbena that is much, much larger than advertised.

an unusually large harvest, still small
Peppers and tomatoes are mostly a loss. The stink bugs are out of control this year, again, on the toms and the peppers (all those lovely peppers I grew! sniff!) have mostly rotted in the ground. Because things are so wet this year, I'm going to start another flat of Solanacae next week. Worse case scenario the weather gets super hot and dry and I've wasted a little seed and soil. Best case scenario it stays rainy all summer (like it was last summer) and those plants won't be too stressed even in August. I usually start a fall round of Solanaceae in early August in any case for planting out mid September. These will be too early for that unless I do some serious potting up and nursing along but you never know.

Eggplants, as so often happens, are just kind of hanging out. For the past few years they sit there all summer, growing super slow and throwing off the occasional fruit and then come fall, BOOM! Eggplant explosion.

Tomatillos are stressed by the wet soil. They are in our  raised beds but even so you have issues when it rains like this because it washes the nutrients downward and they get pretty hungry. Honestly, the whole garden needs a foliar feed but I can't get out there to do it for all the rain and the swarms of mosquitoes (like, 20 per cubic foot of air) are off putting.

Okra was slow to grow but now it's getting going and I get a few pods a day.

I did manage to make one jam jar of pesto plus use basil regularly in cooking. The plants aren't awesome but I have enough of them out there to add up. My papalo (only one plant came up from seed) is growing well and I am so in love with it! Everyone who lives where it's too hot for cilantro in the summer, grow this herb!

So the garden is producing odds and ends but not much of any one thing. What do you cook when this happens? These are my go to meals:

Tacos - chop and roast the odds and ends and use in tacos with beans, cheese, and whatever else you usually like.
Pizza - chopped and roasted odds and ends can add up to a nice veggie pizza
Soup - the classic way to use up the odds and ends.
Fermented Pickles - I don't just put cucumbers in my fermenting jars, I also add green beans, okra*, and peppers. Everything can be fermented. These are just my favorites to ferment in this way.
Snacks in the garden - self explanatory.

Here are some pictures of my pickles in progress: 

Pickles and grape leaves

For the second jar I remembered to add the green beans and garlic

I use a jam jar to weigh down the veg. Usually I drape a napkin over this and rubber band it under the lip of the larger jar.
*I think I now know why I usually (always?) see okra pickled whole. I sliced them this time and the slime infected my entire jar. I mean, EVERYTHING is covered in mucus. I'll dump the brine, rinse the pickles, and rebrine them. Hopefully that helps because I hate to waste the jar but I can not deal with the goo.

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