Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In Tuscany...

I took this shot in late September - the sun was shining, the sunflowers were in bloom, and Summer stretched into Fall... it could have been Tuscany. But, it was our lovely veggie patch where finally, the sunflowers bloomed among the marigolds...

As our vegetable farming season draws to a close, I reflect back on our little adventures...
- large leaf basil should not be planted too early, and neither should those sunflowers!
- don't bother with corn, just buy them from the roadside stalls; the same can be said for the beans and cucumbers
- the heritage tomatoes definitely need to be staked; radishes are easy to grow but do give them room (being suitable companion plants but we must have missed the part about staking the tomatoes so the radishes planted inbetween can breathe???)
- love them carrots but Oma needs to seed hers early enough so they get big enough for more than a teeny bite;
- lovely and definitely sweet mini pear-shaped yellow tomatoes should likely go into pots; and let's not get carried away with the cherry/grape tomatoes
- Making tomato sauce or bottling tomato pieces is a lot of work - for nice thick sauce, it takes about a bushel to net out about 7-8 bottles, 1L size; of course, don't boil the sauce down too much and you get 1 dozen of runny sauce (good for stewing meat in)
(must confess these jars of tomato sauce came courtesy of Farmer R's tomato fields! For a while it was days of a procession of tomato bushels marching in for processing, eeek! And it takes about 1/2 hour a person to collect 1 bushel)

- the beets did great, would love to have more and of different colors!
- eggplants, celery root, kohlrabi - NOT! I think; the eggplants are still flowering (we got one early white eggplant the whole season) but no fruit; still waiting for celery root to be of an edible size; and the kohlrabi roots keep splitting :(
- the cabbages were a success (2nd harvest should be soon) - verdict still out on the brussel sprouts (which should be ready soon too?)
- the zucchini / squash of the petite-pan type definitely were not "petite" - the white ones (yummy sweet) were like dish (6-8 inch) size, the yellow ones 4+ inches; they took off and took over the beds
(some dried dill, couple of white petite-pans (the smaller ones) and sweet and ornamental peppers)

- the one Tigger Melon that happened was too seedy and very late; difficult to grow
- oh those snap peas were sweet and crunchy - more please!
- peppers - the hot, sweet, and ornamental varieties - didn't think they would take off, but by Sept-end, we were picking them practically every day! Were not that hot, according to P - hey, we didn't plant any jalapenos or scotch bonnets!
(Anyone for "not quite that hot" Pepper sauce?)

- Onion greens - yes, they did fine; can't say much for the fennel (of which we got 2 fennel bulbs only) while its close cousin the dill flourished; which brings us to...
- the salad greens - for a while there early on, it was just spinach and we got a bit worried; then the rest of the greens kept cropping up and we could hardly keep up - it was salad almost every day for about 2 months! The salad days have finished except for Chicory which like cooler weather; and finally -
- ah yes, those potatoes - French Fingerlings - yummy, yummy, but fingerlings? Have you seen the size of some of them? more like French Fistlings! Oh, and digging them out? wait for a couple of days of rain to soften up the soil - a bit mucky but so much easier to harvest them then.
(The fingerling impersonators among the real ones)

It's almost time to clear out the patch - we just have to collect the last few veggies (sprouts, peppers), remove the stakes and tags, and the water barrel - so the land can be plowed over, ready for another growing season.

Until then, we salute what has been a fruitful year in experience and bounty. Happy Thanksgiving!

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