Whitesburg KY
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy

Veggies all come at once

Points East

The garden is coming in. And I have just one small complaint. Name a given variety of nearly anything in a garden and it all comes in at once.

This year I purposely planted both zucchini and golden crookneck squash over the course of three weeks. The notion was to have the stuff mature in manageable quantities over the course of four or so weeks so that we could enjoy a little at a time instead of begging friends and neighbors to pack it off by the bucketloads as happened just this past weekend.

If there’s a difference between the first plants that sprouted and their younger siblings, I sure can’t tell it. Either the older plants waited for the younger ones to catch up or the younger ones found steroids in the soil. Or both. All I know is that I have about three dozen squash vines and every single one of them has squash on it. In theory, at least two thirds of them should not yet be blooming.

I tried a similar trick with beets. Sowed the seeds twice, 15 days apart. One of my favorite garden dishes in Harvard beets. I can eat them three meals a day. If you’d been at my house over the weekend, you’d have seen me do just that. Just last night I had Harvard beets for a midnight snack.

In my humble opinion, there’s nothing else as easy to fix that will result in the taste sensation of Harvard beets. Simply scald the skin off half a dozen nicesized beets. Slice ’em up, and cook them, uncovered on high temp, for about 10 minutes in just barely enough water to cover them. Most of the water should evaporate in the cooking process.

Mix a cup of white vinegar, 3/4 cup of sugar and a spoonful of cornstarch in a separate bowl and stir it up real well. After the beets have boiled down a bit, dump the vinegar solution in with the beets and let it come back to a boil and that’s it. I like ’em hot. I like ’em cold. I like ’em in the pot three days old.

Unfortunately, every beet in my garden is ready for harvest. One evening this week I’ll fix another mess and then Loretta I will pickle the rest so that I can enjoy them for the next 11 months right out of the jar that I keep handy in the refrigerator door. We also have 24 heads of cabbage that have to be turned into kraut or given away over the next two weeks. In the meantime, steamed, buttered cabbage stays on the menu along with coleslaw.

We’ve pigged out on Roma beans cooked with little red Pontiac potatoes about the size of golf balls and believe it or not, the staggered plantings of Roma beans has worked. We get enough for one kettle per week and that’s just about right. The potatoes are about gone, but I don’t like them when they get much bigger. Besides that, I could not find seed for Yukon Golds this year and once you’ve grown that variety, anything else is simply inferior. Still the little reds are better than no potatoes at all. Served with poinsette cucumbers and cornbread, that’s all I need for supper.

Somewhere, a couple months ago, I stumbled upon some plants called Brocoflower which were billed as a hybrid cross between broccoli and cauliflower. We don’t normally grow either anymore because they are too prone to infestation by little green worms and I don’t like to use harsh chemicals on my veggies. Suffice to say that Ivory Liquid dish detergent has no effect on broccoli worms except to make them fatter and I’ve yet to develop a taste for green worms.

But I’m a sucker for anything new (except for worms) so I bought a six pack of the plants and stuck them in the garden. Loretta insisted on cleaning the first head, which easily weighed two pounds, by herself because she’s afraid I’ll miss a worm, and broke it up in little chunks. She was satisfied that it was worm free so she steamed and buttered it. Wow is an understatement. It has a more subtle taste than regular broccoli and the nutty, crisp texture of cauliflower. Easily the best new thing I’ve had out of my garden in a decade. We’ve either give the rest away or freeze it but I’m already looking for plants to put in this fall.

We are not overwhelmed with tomatoes just yet but that will soon be happening barring no natural disaster. In the meantime, we’ve had three Australian varieties that I purchased from Glenda McQueery. One is purplish, similar to Brandywine, one is red and pear-shaped and the last is called Great White. It’s huge and very pale yellow. I will be saving seed of all three and I only do that with two other varieties.

We are ready to start enjoying fried banana peppers and by the time the Romas have run their course, we should have plenty Bufford Caudill fall beans on the vine. The bodacious sweet corn will be a few weeks down the road but I’m still planting Edith Jones’s big white cornfield beans in it.

So, all in all, we are eating very well here on Charlie Brown Road. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in for supper and we’ll send you home with a cabbage head, some cucumbers and sack full of squash. We’ll even share some tomatoes. But no, you can’t have the cukes and cabbage unless you also take the squash.

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