Monday, August 29, 2011

Garden 2011

A mid-August Harvest of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cukes, and chard!

Gardening hasn't been easy this year. Far from it. I had a lot of work-related travel in the spring and didn't start my own seeds. I moved on July 1 so I didn't want to plant everything in the ground at my old place (even though my landlord wanted me to because he loved my veggie garden so much). As a result, I spent a lot of money on containers to prepare for a move across town.
The garden at the old place. I still stop by to pick and water.
I tried to go more organic, so I spent more on organic soil mixes. I let seedlings get root bound before I had time to plant them.
Root-Bound Chard Seedlings
I've lost precious canning tomatoes to blight and cherry tomatoes to splitting caused by excessive rain. And I haven't had time to pickle all the cucumbers so a few mushy ones have found an unfortunate home in the trash (no composter at the new place... yet). To make matters worse, it's been a really busy summer with a lot of weekends away and without time to share the yields with friends at my dinner parties.
Late August Harvest
It would be easy to let all this get me down, but how can I when the fruits of my labor are so rewarding and, dare I say, delicious. Sure, I planted too many peppers and the dill didn't last too long, but growing your own food is about so much more than picking perfect sun-ripened tomatoes.
Herbs in pots. Peppers, eggplant, cukes, chard in earth boxes.
The garden is a place of peace for me (when I have time to spend in it) and it's a place for learning. This year, I learned more about container gardening and now I feel like a real urban gardener. I've learned new ways to prepare eggplant (baba ghanoush anyone?) and how to can in a pressure cooker. New uses for my vita-mix have emerged. I've eaten more salad. I've perfected my pesto recipe and have gotten better at giving my precious veggies to neighbors, friends, and coworkers. It's been really rewarding, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite garden moments and some pictures from so far this summer.
The plan was to move these boxes to the new place, but the plants got too big!

Memories:

Glazed Strawberry Pot full of Herbs

  • My not-yet-2-year-old niece instinctively picked and ate a cherry tomato right off the plant in my front yard. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I wish I had a picture. 
  • Shopping at Weston Nursuries with James and the $100 gift certificate I got for making my first ever donation to public radio. I listen to WBUR every day and was so excited when I heard about that reward that I had to call in and fork over $200! Well worth it for the glazed strawberry pot I planted my chamomile, thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, parsley, and more in.
  • I picked a handful of raspberries... at once! And then immediately ate them all. By myself. Without telling anyone (until now that is).
  • Making tomato sauce from scratch with a collection of tomatoes from my garden and from my mother's garden and then using that sauce to make eggplant and zucchini parmigiana to bring to my grandmother's for her 73rd birthday party. 
  • Grilling eggplant, zucchini, and peppers and eating them for countless dinners then chopping up the leftovers for countless lunch salads. 
  • Giving peppers and cucumbers to my current landlord. I'm working up to asking to plant on their side lawn next season! 
  • Getting a thank you card from James' Godmother for doing what I love: preparing a meal of whole wheat spaghetti drenched in garden-grown basil pesto with Parmesan and panko crusted baked zucchini (from my garden) rounds 
I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while, but don't let that stop you from trying it!
More to come from the garden. Although some of my plants have been over-watered by mother nature and neglected by me, they're plants and they're resilient. If I can manage to harvest a couple pounds of produce a week from containers and a small patch of dirt just outside of Boston after the last few crazy hectic months of travelling, moving, and downpours, it can't be that hard to grow something to feed yourself. It's amazing what some fresh pesto can do to a piece of bread pasta zucchini. If I can do it, trust me... so can you!

By the way, there's still time. I'm hoping to plant some more lettuce (mine went to seed a few weeks ago after a few hot days) and maybe some kale (will grow through the frost) and potatoes and beets. What do you want to grow? Leave a comment and I'll respond with a tip or two for you!