Overall, this year has been good for our gardens. The challenge this season was the long spells of very hot and very dry weather. It was still good for our gardens because I watered a lot more than I wanted to but we have such an emotional investment in our berry bushes, perennials and flowering shrubs that I couldn’t let them go without a fight. By the time I got around to the vegetable garden, it wasn’t that much more. Except for the grasshoppers thriving in this heat and really enjoying my peppers and green beans, which are still rising to the challenge, everything else is doing very well. And all that watering time has given me plenty of time to think…
Every year I plant some of the same vegetables in the veggie garden: Summer Squash, Zucchini, Green Peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Early Girl or similar Tomatoes, sometimes Beefsteak Tomatoes. There’s Bibb or Butter Lettuce, Edible Pod Peas, Green Beans and Cucumbers. Sometimes I include Broccoli and there’s usually a variety of herbs and flowers, intentional or otherwise: Dill, Sweet and Opal Basil, Apple Mint, Chives, Hyssop, Nasturtium, Marigolds and Zinnia.
Some years I’ve tried purple string beans, yellow and red bell peppers, red lettuce and some heirloom varieties of tomatoes, just to mix it up. This year, I added purple edible pod peas, Cannonball Watermelon, Black Cherry, Indigo Rose, Yellow Beefsteak and Yellow Grape and Cherry Tomatoes; as well as a yellow heirloom variety that’s’ about the size of an Early Girl.
The satisfaction of growing all or a good portion of our meals in the summer and autumn is unsurpassed. We usually get to put a fair amount away for winter too! It’s fun to see the diversity of colors and textures and to enjoy the range of flavors. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but this year we’ve had more Hummingbirds in the Veg Garden than ever.
Each garden season I try to add a few more perennials and day lilies to the cottage and border gardens. This year I added Honey Berries and Thorn-less Blackberries to the berries we already grow; Thorn-less Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries. Honey Berries are a relative of Blueberries but are more elongated in shape and supposed to be a bit sweeter. We’ll see !
I’ve included a photo of our awesome compost which is what I use to start new plants. It’s like magic, we just keep adding veggie scraps to the mix and suddenly, it’s this rich fertile soil!
I plan to add photo updates as the new berry plants grow so you can follow the progress. Meanwhile here’s a couple of recipe ideas.
Blueberry and Ginger Sauce
Take one quart of blueberries and add 1 cup sugar (more or less as you like), ½ cup crystallized ginger root and ½ cup of water. Cook in a deep kettle on medium high, stirring frequently until liquid forms a syrup and berries begin to split. Let cool and serve over ice cream, cake, pancakes or anything else that will benefit. Refrigerate any unused sauce.
Watermelon Ice Cubes
Slice Watermelon as for eating. Cut into cubes. Freeze in a single layer and store until needed. These are great in lemonade, juice drinks, cocktails and smoothies. Pretty, tasty and they dilute the drinks!