The first week of August, already! Have been harvesting a few strawberries, and some herbs since mid June, but now I’m getting a good crop of long green chilies and the start of the snap beans. So, I thought I’d show you a closeup of some of the things I’m getting.
Pickling cucumbers – these stand up to the wind and hail better than more tender skinned varieties. Growing secret! Never let the vines wilt. If they do, all the fruit forming at that point will be BITTER. If the plant wilts, even a little, water deeply, then carefully remove ALL of the forming fruits. The larger ones can be used to make relish, but they will be very bitter if eaten raw.
Walking onions – A friend sent me a few of these years ago, and I always have more than I know what to do with. Should can some, of course, just never have. These produce multiple bulbs underground, and countless small ones at the tops of the stems. They are called “walking onions” because when the tops grow heavy they fall over and root wherever they land. Can be invasive. Luckily, the little onions are flavorful and make wonderful “boiled onions.” Or they can be cut up and used anywhere one would want onions. The bulbs in the ground never stop dividing and can be a challenge to use, but give great mild onion flavor to anything. I’ve had a few that tasted faintly of garlic too… so you just never know.
Mild long green chili, Anaheim – There are many varieties of mild green chilies, and the amount of “heat” can vary greatly, even among pods picked from the same patch! I’ve never had one from the garden that was too “hot,” but some of the canned stuff is powerful indeed. I love the really mild chilies, but can’t eat the hot ones, so have grown my own for a long time. This year I’ve got a bumper crop and will freeze most of it to enjoy over the winter. The chilies in the store are not ever very “fresh” and are of generally poor quality, so this will be a treat indeed.
My favorite ceramic paring knife and a jar of fresh, home made yogurt are at the end, just for contrast. The large black blade knife is also ceramic and is the best kitchen knife I ever had. A bit fragile, actually, but so sharp, and it stays sharp.
If you like yogurt, but are sick of the high cost and the unnecessary ingredients, check this blog occasionally because I plan to write about making your own yogurt at home in as little as 30 minutes. And YOU control what goes into it.
Rosemary, sage and sweet basil – The herbs I use the most for medicine and cooking. Rosemary will not live over the winter here, and basil is an annual anyway, so I’ll be potting up cuttings to have on the window ledge long before it snows again. It takes a little experimentation to learn how to use fresh herbs in place of the dried (and usually stale) versions we’ve been used to, but it is a process well worth the time and effort. Besides, I can’t remember a “mistake” that couldn’t be redeemed and eaten anyway. 🙂
Rosemary and sage are serious herbal medicines, besides being wonderful flavor for almost anything you cook. I’ll be writing about them soon, along with recipes and directions for drying herbs… if you must.
Snap beans – This is a wonderful “heirloom” variety that seems to grow best here in Wyoming. It is a “yellow wax” type, with gorgeous purple streaks and splotches on the mature beans. The purple seems to develop best when the weather is hot, so some of mine are a bit pale, but the curious thing is that the color is completely gone as soon as the bean cooks. They taste wonderful, without that “earthy” flavor so many actual “green” beans have. I’ll be freezing a lot of these beauties, heaven willing and no major hail storms, of course.
Other garden wonders.
Almost ten years gardening in NE Wyoming, and I’ve never before managed to grow any butternut squash – my all time favorite. Usually, the short season, long cool spring and damage from weather have made even growing the vines iffy – and never produced a single squash… but this year they are going everywhere and I have at least five fruits getting very large already. Will the warmth last long enough to mature them? Will it hail? Do field mice like to eat squash? The adventure never ends in a Wyoming garden.
Leeks are a new crop for me, and they are going to be a regular in my garden. I didn’t add more soil to these as they grew, so the actual edible part is small this time, but I’ll do better with them next year. They require a LONG growing season, but starting them indoors very early seems to be working. They have a slightly better flavor than the “walking onions,” but take a lot more work to produce, so we’ll see which one becomes a permanent part of my garden.
And last, but not least, I’m actually getting some bell peppers. This variety is supposed to get red when ripe, but they’re not quite ready. I cut one that was bird pecked, and it tasted like a regular green pepper… so I’m eager to see if they will get red. I love the bright colored peppers in the market, but no way will I pay that price for them.
So, there you have it. Mama’s garden finally producing a lot of good things. Tell us about your garden!