Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Bounty of Summer

As the height of summer is upon us, the vegetable garden takes more attention- but at this time of year it’s producing in a big way. So far, I’ve had lots of radishes and lettuce. The radishes have been done for a while, but lettuce production continues well into the season this year. I’m currently growing 4 varieties of lettuce. You can see them in rows on the left and right sides of the garden. On the left side are (L-R) speckled, rouge d’hiver, and Amish deertongue. To the right is green oakleaf. The rouge d’hiver is from seed that I have been growing and saving for years now. It’s a very nice red romaine. The seed is good for a couple of years, and I got an excellent crop last year, so I’m going to allow the speckled to go to seed this year. In the back of my house, I’m growing a second bit of Amish deertongue with the intent of letting it bolt and set seed as well. The oakleaf was a bit of a disappointment- flabby and watery. There is no shortage of interesting varieties of lettuce to grow, so I don’t plan on replanting that one.

The green beans are starting to produce. In fact we’re being inundated with them at the moment. So in addition to eating them, I’m freezing a bunch. Yesterday I prepared 4 pints of beans for the freezer. It was a very hot day, so the most unpleasant task was going out into the garden and picking them. The green beans are the ones that are partly trellised in the photo. They were billed as a bush variety. Then it looked like they were actually going to turn out to be pole beans, so we erected the trellis. As it turns out, they’re floppy bush beans. The un-trellised beans are my first attempt to grow a shelling bean, and heirloom variety called bird’s egg. It’s cropping heavily, but won’t be ready for a while. I’m also growing eggplant (Italian and Asian varieties) and peppers (a red bell pepper and an Italian sweet pepper) from seed this year. Me inspiration for all of this growing from seed and heirloom varieties springs from an Ur-Spo (and Someone) Christmas gift certificate from Seed Savers Exchange. Thanks Sposki. If you look carefully next to the beans you will see that the Basil is just about ready to turn into the first batch of pesto for the year.

Behind the garden is part of my raspberry patch. After several years of going raspberry-less, we are getting a bumper crop this year. This pint has been macerated for making raspberry ice cream. Yesterday I whipped up a pie and discovered that Crisco has been reformulated to be trans fat free. So far the raspberry score for the year is 3 1/2 quarts of ice cream, 1 pie and 8 jars of jam. And they are still coming.

Since we’re on the topic of food, the Gouda that I made in early May was ready for testing last week. I think I’m finally getting the hang of making hard cheeses. This one tasted good, but also had a much better texture than previous efforts. It was softer and less crumbly that my previous attempts. An indication that it’s a better cheese than earlier ones: it’s gone already.

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At 16:59, Anonymous rcwbiologist said...

Great looking brick of cheese Doug. It looks like something I would buy in the store. And now I think I'm going to have to go and have some ice cream.

At 17:19, Anonymous Lemuel said...

It all looks delicious! I hope to be able to plant a larger garden next year. We have more room at the new house, but it was too late to plant much more than tomatoes and peppers this year. I found some black raspberry plants in amidst the thicket in the back. I hope to thin around them and encourage them.

At 18:55, Anonymous derek said...

man I'm hungry after this entry.

At 19:37, Anonymous Mark H said...

I should have expected a thoroughly detailed exotic garden from a scientist. Your garden is no doubt worth a paid two hour TOUR so I can learn my first knowledge about lettuces other than Leaf, Romaine, & butter. I BELIEVE in heirloom plants and our tomatoes are that, and some other herbs, etc....but I'm not "trained" to recognize such. At our elevation/humidity, we have to grow what works for us at our 1100 feet. IF WE had the heat you're getting, I am SURE we'd be as busy as you. the DEER have eaten (as usual) most of the raspberry growth....so we buy them ALL at one session to jam with. I was quite fascinated, Doug, to see another gardener discuss his summer effort..... Gardener's are an amazing bunch.... And THEN we EAT! We'll be getting the first beans from the island (limited sunny space here in the yard) on the 22nd...so you can SEE your heat counts. THANKS for a fascinating post.

At 22:18, Blogger Ur-spo said...

that all looks good
I am envious.

At 00:31, Blogger Homer said...

Raspberries look really good.

At 08:00, Blogger Doug Taron said...

RCW- The cheese is something that I have really been struggling to learn how to make. I've made progress, but I've got a long way to go.

Lemuel- Black raspberries never seem to need much encouragement around here.

Derek- That's the problem with these food entries.

Mark- We're lucky that we don't have much in the way of deer trouble. The heat does help us here, but it's only part of the story. The variety of beans that I tried this tumne was extraordinarily early. I've never gotten beans before mid July.

Spo- Thanks.

Homer- They were. I've really missed having a good raspberry crop the last couple of years.

At 23:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love me a post about gardens!

The red berries are something this year! We are drowning in them as well but I am scared to pick because of the poison! That ice cream makes it look almost worth it!

The cheese looks divine! I love gouda!

At 11:04, Blogger robin andrea said...

Beautiful garden, doug. Our raspberries are producing like crazy right now. We freeze them and make smoothies all year long. Our beans are not anywhere near producing yet, but we've already harvested our peas. Broccoli and cauliflower are almost ready, and we've frozen our first batch of pesto.

I had not thought of saving seeds from our bolted lettuce, but that is an excellent idea. I'd love to know which lettuces you have had the best success with. We keep buying seeds of mixed green, but the leaves are rather tasteless and boring. We did try a mesclun mix but everything was very peppery. What would you recommend?

At 11:04, Blogger robin andrea said...

Oh, I meant to say, your gouda looks terrific. The real thing.

At 17:42, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Butterfly Girl - Thanks. Gouda is one of my favorites, too.

Robin- I grow my lettuce as individual varieties, separate from each other. My favorite for saving seeds is Rouge d'Hiver. I've been keeping my own seeds for about a decade now. You can't let multiple varieties bolt and seed right next to each other or they will cross pollinate and you will not maintain the varieties that you are trying to. I have previously grown arugula and Dutch flat cress along with lettuce to enliven my salads.

At 09:47, Blogger roger said...

nice harvest. do you blanch the beans before freezing them?

At 10:48, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Roger- Yes, 3 minutes in a large quantity of boiling woater, followed by a cold shock in ice water. I tried this method for freezing, and discovered that it gives the beans a very nice texture if you are using them for a cold bean salad, too.

At 13:26, Anonymous Mark H said...

DOUG....after my earlier comment a few days ago (BEFORE OUR HEAT WAVE)...I thought I change my news report TODAY (AFTER 3 days of 95 plus temps)....this morning I harvested lettuces, herbs, squash, cucumbers and peas. Whew! BIG change that quick, and one tomato plant is as tall as I am! Amazing how fast it changes. During all that COOL time, the roots were growing so once the heat hits, they move fast here. I AM curious...are you on a drip system in your garden?

At 18:26, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Mark- We have no formal irrigation system. This summer, we have been getting really good rains and I haven't watered the garden much at all. I should add, nort has Leon who often takes on that task. We do have a soaker hose and that's what we have used this year.


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