Produce


The deluge has begun.

I’m not talking about the recent heavy rains here, although they’re more than partly responsible for the deluge I’m referencing. No, the deluge in question is the annual deluge of produce from my vegetable garden. This here photo is just this morning’s take – observe the yellow wax beans, the shallots, the Santa Sweet grape tomatoes, the jalapenos and the insanely large cucumbers (I should add that the basket is about a foot across, so you have a reference point).

The cucumbers started in earnest about two weeks ago – some bent from growing into the chain link fence, some gracefully curved, some arrow straight, but all of them massive, averaging from 12 to 18 inches. And no, I’m not leaving them on the vine too long. I don’t remember buying a particularly large variety from Merrifield Gardens, but these guys are about five inches long even when they’re babies. Tasty, too. I harvest about eight of them a week – way too much for John and me, so I share them with my friends at the theatre.

The tomatoes are just starting to ripen. So far the Santa Sweets are the only ones ready to harvest, but the other varieties (Lemon Boy, Brandywine, General Johnson and Roma) are starting to ripen, and I expect to be inundated with ‘maters within two weeks.

I have about seven more sets of shallots to harvest – they were part of this year’s experimental gardening (along with potatoes, about which it’s too soon to tell, and horseradish, which was a dead failure but I think that was my fault). Last week I pulled up about a half dozen heads, which are hung up in the basement until I need them. Today’s take will join them. They smell fabulous when you pull them up – wonderfully pungent.

The yellow wax beans are dependable as always, but I’m a bit put out with my Blue Lake green beans. The variety I bought this year seems intent on simply putting out new growth (and boy, does it want to climb). It’s vining like mad but hasn’t produced a single bean or even blossom. I’m going to have to hunt up the seed package and see if I planted some oddball late producer.

The potato tops are enormous but somewhat beat down after all the heavy rains we’ve had. Great tops don’t necessarily mean great potatoes; since I mistakenly planted them in hills instead of trenches, I don’t know how many or what quality I’ll get when harvest time comes. It’s definitely a vegetable I’ll grow again, but next year I’ll do it right.

The cantaloupe vine is duking it out with the cuke vine for space in the garden – both of them are planted along the chain link, and to my dismay I saw that my first melon of size is growing in my neighbor’s yard. My deal with him is that he can take whatever grows on his side (he loans me his tiller every year, so that’s only fair), but I sure hate to lose my first melon to him. I’ve got lots of little babies started on my side, though, so I doubt I’ll be melon-deprived for long.

Occasionally I have to discourage the melon vine from grabbing the pepper plants, which grow nearby. The jalapeño surprised me this morning with three picking-size peppers; I hadn’t realized it had begun to produce. The other two pepper plants both have fruit on them, but they have a while to go before they ripen up. In the same section of the garden as the peppers lives my sweet basil, which is thigh-high and trying desperately to flower (I keep cutting it back – clearly, it’s time to make pesto).

So it’s midsummer harvesting time, and I’m happy. I’m eating stuff that I grew myself, and I’m proud to report that what started out as this:

Now looks like this:

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