How’s your veggie patch coming along? Any troubles to report? My own Kitchen Garden is a little pokey this season, thanks to a hot, dry May, and a cool, wet June. Still, the plants are making a valiant effort to fill their beds:
Yesterday, in advance of a rain storm, I hastily mulched the 12 beds with chopped straw. The straw is specially heat-treated, and weed-free. Like all mulches, it shades the soil and locks in moisture.
Update: Lots of readers have asked about the straw I use. It’s “Lucerne Farms Premium Groundcover” — a combination of straw and hay that has been heated (to near-combustion!) to kill weed seeds. Apparently the producer only sells to independent garden centers in the Northeast. More details at Lucerne Farms’ website.
Oh, the things I do for you.
Here’s a short walk through the garden:
This bed contains dwarf snapdragons and leeks. Leeks are cool-season crops that always perform well in my region. I plant them the old-fashioned way.
Need a good recipe for leeks? You can’t go wrong with this rustic Bacon and Leek Tart.
In another bed, heirloom tomatoes are climbing their Joan Crawford-Approved trellis. The vines are secured to the wooden poles with green Velcro tape. The tape is soft, so it can’t damage vines. It’s also re-usable.
To insure high-quality tomatoes, I routinely de-sucker the vines.
My fall-planted, hard-neck garlic has produced its curly scapes. I always remove these “flower” stalks in order to encourage further development of the bulbs below. The scapes are incredibly delicious — I turn them into a mean, green pesto.
Not sure when to harvest or how to cure and store your garlic? Maybe my Garlic Sowing & Growing Guide will help.
More promising is the asparagus patch I planted last April. The ferny friends are currently enjoying the companionship of Salvia ‘Victoria Blue.’
If you don’t have lovage in your garden, be sure to acquire it. The leaves taste like celery on steroids, and the hollow stems make terrific drinking straws for Bloody Marys. I use the leaves for salads…
And also for this Lemony Lovage Pesto. Here’s the recipe.
An entire bed is devoted to the bell peppers I use for Piperade. Piperade — a fast saute of green and red bell peppers, onions, and sometimes garlic — is one of the most versatile condiments in the world. I make it and freeze it this way.
The 12th bed contains an experiment: Sweet Potatoes. The vines seem happy, but since this Ipomoea batatas demands a hot, lengthy growing season, I might end up with a rather pitiful harvest. Time will tell.
Now, I had planned to tell you about the Ribes ‘Blanca’ that grows on the fence in the kitchen garden, and also about the hardy kiwi vine that engulfs the arbor. But let’s save them for another visit, okay?
What I really want to discuss is your own veggie patch. So far this season, has it been a delight — or a disappointment? Talk to me in the comments field below.
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