First Fruits

The work of the last 8 months is starting to pay off – the garden is bursting with ripening produce! It is well worth the work when fresh tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and more begins to fill my table.

I started tomato seeds back in March and the plants are ridiculously healthy and strong – smelling like tomato plants is one of my favorite things about summer! They transplanted easily and are loving the rich soil. I have them in cages, on stakes, running up teepees, growing over arches, even climbing standard fencing. It’s an experiment to find what works best in my new location and am fascinated by the results. I’m in awe of the fruit already ripening on the vines and cannot wait to sink my teeth into a warm tomato. I expect to have cherry, roma, medium, and large tomatoes available for sale in the next couple weeks. I staggered the planting in hopes that I would have a succession of fruit, not an overwhelming abundance at one time. Fingers crossed!

My summer squash is struggling. I opted to try using bush varieties this year, and the plants have indeed stayed small and compact. I’ve seen tons of blossoms, especially on the crooknecks, but nothing that’s harvest worthy. Zucchini is looking a bit better. I think the problem is the soil in that space – its rock hard and filled with small stones. This fall I’ll work to remove most of the stones, break up the soil, and mix in chicken/goat manure to enrich the soil.

This is the first year I’ve tried growing potatoes, and I thought I’d lost them. The visible green tops had all but disappeared as the overhanging trees filled in with leaves. Rather than assuming nothing was going on underground I grabbed my shovel and started digging. I was rewarded with this lovely first crop of potatoes! It may not look like much, but considering each plant starts with a single eye of a potato I’m pretty happy. The roommate and I enjoyed these lovelies pan-broiled in olive oil with fresh red onion then tossed with fresh dill. Delish!

I grow cucumbers because I love pickles and in my fresh veggie juice. The chickens love them raw (I wonder if the ducks will!) and so does my roommate. I found this gorgeous Dar as I mulched last week, and the vines are starting to produce like mad. The Marketmores take a little longer – they are a larger variety – and it looks like I’ll have plenty for all of us to enjoy. I planted some near the chicken coop so it will be easy to treat them this summer.

There is always something more to do in the field, and some days the work feels overwhelming. The early hours catch up with me these days – falling into nap mode at 7pm is becoming common place – but I’m having so much fun. Eating the fruit of my hand makes it all worth it.

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