And So The Garden Grows

I woke up this morning when the alarm went off (ugh, Monday) and realized that the summer has been rapidly slipping away. How is it nearly August already? This summer has been a study in what not to do – do not take business trips, do not work 50 hours per week, do not spend time indoors too tired to do much else…

I’m hoping I can get back on track as we move into the tail end of summer and the beginning of fall. I’m seven months into my job promotion, so I’m starting to feel a bit less like every day is a panic attack (although only slightly). And we’re house hunting – oh, did I mention that? So while weekends have been consumed with seeing real estate in every free moment, there will be an end in sight once we find the right place.

All that aside, we made it over to the garden plot today to assess the state of affairs, and have mixed results. The row of yellow onions is looking amazing. We had half a row of chard come up and it’s huge – definitely ready to harvest some of that this week. I’m think pork and chard hand pies are in order! The beans are mixed – the edamame and Jacob’s Cattle have been ravaged by the rabbits, but are still producing beans. The rattlesnake pole beans are hardly doing anything at all – they’re barely a foot off the ground. By comparison, the ones my sister is growing at her house are topping six feet! Grrrr, that’s gardening for you. But we do have a nice showing of green tomatoes, and the plants have finally grown to a good size. We’ve got a few jalepenos and one solitary sweet pepper has survived. And happy surprises – we have a little watermelon, with more flowers on the plant, and cucumbers just starting to form. And shockingly – the pumpkin plant that I thought was dead and was tempted to rip out has rebounded and is taking over. All of the potatoes rotted in the ground and didn’t do a single thing.

So, a mixed bag. Much like my summer I suppose. You get out what you put in, so I’m glad it’s not quite over yet. Still time to make the most of things.

First Harvest

Our plot in the community garden is starting to pay off – this week we harvested our first almost-pint of cherry tomatoes, a couple of Hungarian Hot Wax peppers and a good handful of jalapenos.

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Happy Summer!

Swiss Chard – The First Harvest

Thursday night we harvested the first edible (besides stealing a few herbs) from this season’s Apartment Farm – the swiss chard. I made a pork pie for dinner (I’m still tweaking the recipe, but it’s a good one so I’ll post it as soon as I’ve got it fully developed), and as a side dish we had some of our chard. Here’s a picture of it ready to go –

It’s a modest sized portion, especially considering that greens wilt down quite a bit when cooked, but it was enough for good-sized servings for the two of us, with a little to top of lunch leftovers. Here’s a picture of the plants post-harvest –

Still looking robust with more to give. This is the first season we’ve grown chard, but from what I understand we can continually harvest it throughout the season. As long as you cut from the outside in and don’t completely remove the center “whorl” of the plant’s stem just at soil level, it will continue to send up new leaves. I’ve also read that you can cut the entire plant off if you leave about three inches of stem and it will send up new sprouts that way, but we opted for the individual leaf style of harvesting since it is planted in a decorative windowbox.

We prepared it very simply – just fried a few slices of diced bacon, and then cooked the chard with it for a little less than ten minutes until thoroughly wilted. The only seasoning we added was salt and pepper. I couldn’t have asked for a better side dish! It perfectly complemented the pork pie and was surprisingly delicious and sweet. I’m a convert to chard now. My husband has always loved chard, and I’ve always thought it was good, but really kale was more my thing. Even the chard from the farmers market I was only so-so about. But homegrown chard is another thing entirely. It’s one of those greens with a short lifespan once it’s cut, and it loses a lot of flavor in cold storage. But when you cut just moments before it goes into the pan – the flavor is just incredible. The sweetness and subtle minerality really pleasantly surprised me. It’s definitely earned a regular spot at Apartment Farm – I might actually try to start some now from seed so we can be assurred of having a good fall harvest of it beyond the few plants we have now.

I was also very pleased to be able to use our own fresh thyme to flavor the pork pie – the plants are so well established now that we can take as much as we want. Same for the oregano, bay and thyme plants, which we used in last night’s cioppino for dinner. I really love being able to eat what we grow – it’s tasty and intensely gratifying. I’m looking forward to a long summer of continual harvesting!