I’ve planted new varieties this year throughout the garden. It’s fun pulling up a different colored carrot, watching the cabbages develop, and I’m enjoying the long, straight Longfellow cucumbers in addition to my usual “homemade pickles” variety. I planted ten types of tomatoes and as many kinds of peppers, including some beautiful miniature purple ones (Chinese spicy peppers) in a container. There are so many green tomatoes on the plants! It’s destined to be a great year.
But I’ve planted three completely new things this year. So far my favorite is celery. I don’t know why I never planted celery before. I guess my sense was that I’d work all summer to get one or more giant head at the end and how would I use it? At the end of the season, however, I bought celery at the Farmer’s Market and talked to the farmer about it. She said that celery freezes very well, and also that you can harvest ribs from it beginning in July or August.
So this year I started three celery plants from seed. Given my lack of commitment to new plants, I stuck them too close to the Brussels sprouts, which are now shading and crowding two of the three plants. Still, they’re coming up and making narrow ribs and lots of leaves. They’ve become ready for initial harvesting at the same time I’m dumping a few potato bags and making potato salad, adding excellent crunch and flavor.
I also went ahead and planted, in the same spot, several fennel seeds. Those are growing beautifully and I plan to use and freeze those as well. The first recipe I’m going to make with the fennel is this.
Finally, I also planted two eggplants. I am not a big fan of eggplant, more a texture thing than flavor, but I figured I could do with a couple. They are such gorgeous fruits. In the past I have also been very half-hearted in planting eggplant seedlings I got at the last minute and I’ve never had any of them fruit. This year, however, both plants are growing nicely (in their own spaces with proper supports!) One has two lavender flowers and the other has one.
The farmer behind us planted wheat this year instead of corn, and it has been such a welcome sight. This past week they harvested it and now the large field is dotted with rolled bales. They really take my breath away every time I come over the slight rise and back to the garden. It’s like our own little Stonehenge or something. They look like silent monuments. I guess once they’ve dried some more the farmer will line them up and cover them in white plastic, like a giant caterpillar. That is not so pretty. But for now I feel downright Tolstoyan walking out there.
I have my own drying process going on, with the garlic and onion harvest. I never get as many onions as I’d like, and this year, although some are quite large, I only have about 60 on the old metal bed frame in the barn. That will barely get me through the pickling/salsa and late summer cooking.
I planted more garlic this year and have 130 heads drying. In addition to the bed springs, Steve had made an additional frame when building the chicken coop. We lay it between two tables in the furniture shop and it’s working perfectly. In another two weeks I’ll cut the stems off and put them in mesh bags in storage in the basement. Last year the garlic ran out with the big Christmas Eve tomato sauce feast. We’ll see how long they last this year. Only two more weeks until the garlic festival, when I buy my bulbs for planting for 2016!