Monday, October 20, 2014

Summer Garden

I always feel sad when it comes time to say goodbye to summer. Living in Minnesota we don't get a sufficient dose of heat to make me grateful for the cooler weather when it arrives. Yes, there is much to look forward to in fall. And with the stunning blaze of reds, oranges and yellows coloring my world this past week I am finally greeting her with open arms. But first, one last look back at summer before we are fully immersed in the celebrations and birthdays that fall brings for our family.

We harvested 46 heads of garlic this year. I'll go right ahead and declare that a raging success. Undoubtedly, garlic was our biggest triumph of the season. And no matter what else happened in the garden this year I feel a sense of accomplishment when, in need of a few cloves for dinner, I go down to fetch a head from the hefty bagful in our basement. 

The blue jade was just as cute and child-size perfect as last year . Still we only got one ear per stem of corn - quite a bit of real estate for not much return. I'm considering growing full size stalks next year, though I may not be able to resist those little blue ears staring at me from their seed packets come spring.

This cookbook, which is as much art as it is a compendium of veggie recipes, offered a delicious way to use my green zebras and late broccoli crop. We grew many tomatoes this year - 13 plants in all - including old favorites and some new varieties like gold medal, which was true to its description as one of the sweetest tomatoes I've ever eaten. Again our crop suffered from a fungus. The tomatoes are picking up their roots and relocating to a new bed next year. More sun, more heat. 

I was right about those peppers. Decidedly not habaneros. We concluded they were probably yellow wax peppers or banana peppers. I found a nice recipe to combine them with our neighbors' cucumbers that arrived en masse mid season and enjoyed them grilled with potatoes and other veggies. But I realized I am lacking in ideas for what to do with an onslaught of peppers. Ideas?

After a slow start I was pretty thrilled to have eggplants, which we devoured grilled with salt roasted tomatoes and ricotta, another recipe found in Vegetable Literacy. The kale has been abundant this year and grows stronger and sweeter with the cooling air. We grew dragon's tongue and yellow wax beans, bell peppers, a couple types of basil, carrots, raspberries, pumpkins and tomatillos that sprawled dramatically across their raised bed. We even harvested one single precious apple from our tree (the rest didn't make it or were snatched by the sneaky snacky squirrels) which we dipped in honey for a Rosh Hashana treat.

Among the vegetables we often spotted a resident fairy in rain boots who flitted around collecting berries, baby carrots, jack-be-little pumpkins and chamomile flowers for gnomie, who lives by a tiny pond among the zinnias. 

All in all, this was a successful year for the garden. And one that brought many changes for future growing seasons. Our neighbors erected the fence pictured above along the back of our yard. Two trees on the perimeter were removed to make way for the fence, extending the sunlight on our garden through the afternoon and increasing our growing space. Next year we will be able to expand into the other half of the back of our yard - having that much blank space to work with is mind boggling. I am grateful for the fall and winter months during which we will dream about this future garden before we dig in and start planting all over again next spring.