Archive for Farming in the ‘burbs

Veggie-state.

Meet King Cuke. Proudly perched on his leafy throne wearing his gold crown and sporting a stiff, medieval ‘stache (or is it more Yosemite Sam style?), loyal jester at his side, he oversees the growth and progress of his vegetable subjects as summer presses on.

He sees that there are a great number of blossoms appearing on the eggplant plants, which (coincidentally) are the Little Prince variety from Renee’s Garden. Eggplants are a point of contention around these parts, since I absolutely adore them and Housemate J. would rather eat a sponge. Being that it looks as though we’ll be in for a good harvest of these purple globes, I say J.’s out of luck. You just can’t beat the rich, silky texture of a properly grilled or roasted eggplant!

His Majesty also notices that the bush beans, sowed about a month or so ago, are coming up at a rapid pace. I am pretty excited about seeing these beans finally emerge – slender swords of spring green preceded by a lovely lavender-hued flower. When there is a sizable harvest, I plan on cooking up a simple and tasty side dish of sauteed green beans with crispy bacon and caramelized onions. Mmmm, that would be perfect with a simple roast chicken.

Last but not least, the cherry tomatoes are thriving and there is always enough ripe fruit to toss into our salads or pasta dishes at any given moment. These plump, juicy, supersweet cherries, especially delicious simply sprinkled with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, are indispensible in the realm of the small garden.

King Cuke’s domain is prosperous, and he is immensely pleased.

A premature end.

My poor, poor carrots. I had so few that successfully germinated, and then the healthy ones with potential had their hopes dashed by some mysterious nighttime predator – a skunk? a raccoon? a bird? or maybe a very large insect? – who so ruthlessly ripped away at their green tops. Without their formerly lush sprouts of foliage, the carrot roots did not have a chance to grow any larger than the thickness and length of Dizzy’s pinky (if that) – a teeny bite, at most. I had to harvest the little runts and immortalize our first, small yield with a little photo. We shall try you to cultivate you again in the fall…*Sniff*

Friends in high places.

Today I found this lovely little insect (you won’t hear me say “lovely” and “insect” together very often, I assure you – so please indulge my excitement) lounging on the fuzzy leaf of one of my borage plants. A funny little ladybug, since I noticed it had no black spots on it, basking in the setting sun. Anyway, I’d been hopin’ and a-prayin’ that we would attract beneficials, i.e. the good buggies that will prey on the bad buggies, into our humble garden by jazzing up the array of veggie plants with a punch of color from flowers. To aid in this mission, we’ve also enlisted the services of cosmos, sweet alyssum, tansy, marigold (all who’ve yet to make their appearance), zinnia (blooming in all its pink glory) and nasturtium (running wild among the zucchini and cucumber plants).

That’s not to say that vegetable plants don’t have noteworthy flowers. The zucchini flower, which I am dying to try battered and fried (what’s not good battered and fried? I’d even eat that ladybug – ha), is quite remarkable; a big twisty yellow-orange bloom that, when fully open, resembles and is practically the size of a grammophone speaker. Too bad this really only occurs in the early morning, and my sleepy self has to witness this miracle by peering through the smudgy window.

The bell pepper blossom, on the other hand, is so small and innocent. Yet the pepper that eventually grows out of that blossom is strikingly robust, even at pebble-size.


For those who are unfamiliar with borage (I had never heard of it until I read they are great companion plants for strawberries), the flowers are edible and supposedly taste of cucumber. Verrry interrresting. I will have to gnaw on that soon enough, but I admit I still am a little weirded out by eating flowers that look like they’d be better off in a wedding centerpiece. The blue and pink blossoms are so vivid, especially when the sun hits it just so.

The nasturtium flower is edible as well, and I was told they taste like capers. Check out the day-glo orange on that one!

All this gorgeous color everywhere, the ladies won’t be able to resist! Hopefully the aphids will stay away…

Mommy, where did I come from?

I’ve realized as I’ve started to garden that I see too many veggies and fruits at the farmer’s market or grocery store whose origins I have absolutely no clue about: how big is the plant it comes from? exactly what part of that plant is edible? would i recognize a baby raspberry plant if i saw one?

I think it’s absolutely fascinating to see a plant grow from a seed the size of one of Dizzy’s boogies (gross!) to the stage where I can pluck something right off and just eat it. Cool, right? I figure it’s pretty useful to have some knowledge of growing food, just so we know what it is we’re putting into our bellies, and also just in case the world explodes and we all have to start from scratch hunting and gathering and such (haha).

This here is a tomato blossom, whose appearance at the start of summer signals you will soon be rewarded with some fresh caprese salad (run, don’t walk, to Trader Joe’s now for their insanely cheap and large and lush basil plants! Only $3.29!)

The blossom soon gives way to perfect little green orbs (and there are little hairs on them; I didn’t know tomatoes were hairy at this stage. does this hair fall off later? Have you ever eaten a hairy tomato?). I think this one looks like it’s got its party hat on.

Here is a strawberry blossom. So pretty on its own, but this too will give way to a yummy ruby fruit. I believe that little cone of yellow-green amid the stamen is what will emerge as the edible morsel.

Here is a zucchini plant hard at work. Soon it will grow so big it’ll need its own bedroom in our home. The leaves on this plant are so large, they could be utilized as umbrellas in light rain. By humans.

See the little zukes? Look closely – they sort of resemble those troll dolls with the crazy hair – harhar.

First crop of the summer.

This cute little Easter Egg radish was the first veggie to get chomped. Excitement all around. Isn’t it just the greatest shade of hot pink?

It took all my willpower to wait until after the photo was taken to bite into it. It was juicy and peppery. Too bad I don’t like radishes!

As pretty as any jewel.

Dizzy can hardly contain his excitement at seeing such a nice little strawberry, emerging before his very eyes and just hanging out there waiting to be picked and enjoyed. I keep reminding him on practically an hourly basis that it’s just not ready to be eaten yet, but I’ll have to stop torturing him soon and pick the darned thing already. Little does he know about my plans for him to share it with me – the kid’s gotta learn. I mean, what else can I do, since it IS the only remotely ripe berry growing of the five or so plants I’ve got. Boy do I have new appreciation for the small fruit farmer.