The Summer Garden: Good, Not to Mention Tasty

In spite of periodic brutal weather, my garden seems to be thriving.  It also seems to think it’s August.  That’s okay with me, though, since some torrential rain a week ago made it easy to weed, and mild weather (low nineties and dry) made it easy to tidy up and mulch this weekend.

Tomatoes, peppers, chard, eggplant, garlic, leeks, squash, herbs okra and cutting celery are feeding me this summer.

I have begun to think about fall gardening—and it’s not too soon, since August is the time to plant cool weather crops.  But in the interests of living in the moment and enjoying not only the current fruits, but those forming, I have to say this is one of the best gardens I’ve had in years.

The peppers are looking better now that it isn’t so hot.

First there was the unbelievable lettuce this spring.  Now, there are tomatoes, more than I’ve had for some time.  I had planted several varieties this year, determined to see what would work in my fungal wilt infested soil.  Turns out the answer is Amana Orange, a lovely tomato that’s also a good keeper, and Cherokee Purple, an heirloom with an inside like a beefsteak tomato and nearly the sweetness of a Brandywine.

The bird netting also keeps out the rabbits if you secure it around the perimeter.

The Celebrity has produced well, but is going to bite the dust soon.  The yellow pears also produced well, but have already succumbed.  Mortgage lifter is producing and hanging on and the San Marzano is doing the same.

My squash are doing alright; I have not been able to train them up the trellis because they don’t like it.  But there seems to be room for them because the onions peaked so soon.

I’ll be back later this week for these cocozelles.

The eggplants, which were nearly devoured by flea beetle, have recovered and are blossoming.  One even has the beginnings of an eggplant.  This one is back where my pole beans were massacred by rabbits.  I finally pulled them out.  Next year, I will use chicken wire around them.  Just when I figured out how to deal with the voles, the rabbits added unexpected challenges.

I hope to have good crop of eggplant.

I had not planted okra before, but I knew it would do well here.  It loves hot weather.  I have fixed two batches so far—one sauteed with tomatoes and onions and the other sliced and tossed in seasoned cornmeal and flour and then sautéed—just like Grandma used to make!

Okra is a hardy, prolific and versatile crop in northern Virginia.

The surprise of the season is the hubbard squash.  It was not pleased with being trellised, but on the other hand, I’ve got at least two squash, maybe more.  Like the bramble and the rose, the hubbard and the trumpet vine have achieved a certain synchronicity and there may be more than one squash hiding in the vine.  In any event, one of these babies is several meals.  I’ll harvest it later.  In the meantime, I’m beginning to think about  radishes, beets, turnips, greens and maybe broccoli or kale for the fall.

Almost too big to hide…

There’s always more to planning to do, but I’m enjoying fresh tomatoes, roasting the excess with olive oil, garlic and basil, and blanching zucchini to freeze.  Ah, summer!

I’ve had lots of good oregano, thyme and rosemary this year.


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