Monday, October 11, 2010

Late Summer Garden Update

September was a slow time in my vegetable garden so i felt silly posting a tour. It should have been a busy month, full of sowing and transplanting and readying the earth as she tracks a slow pivot, returning us to cooler, wetter weather. What happened instead is that i was distracted, seeds failed, and slugs and birds grew fat on the few tender seedlings that did emerge.  Grrr. But this blog is a record, my way to mark the rhythms of the garden through fat and other times, so i will see if i can record a few highlights.

Purslane. First time growing this. Predictably i couldn't resist it's easy reputation. Easy but virtuous, high in omega 3s. Felt weird eating a weed but it cropped quickly and wasn't bad mixed in with other greens and was pretty good with hummus in a veggie wrap. Have you ever tasted these?

Photo by Dr. John Meade, weed scientist emeritus
Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension
It's what purslane tastes like. The oxalic acid i think.

Juliet tomatoes are just starting to ripen. I hope these are the grape tomatoes i have been looking for. A few years ago i let a volunteer tomato plant grow. It sprouted from a seed that was either washed out of a tray from an earlier planting or grew from a composted hybird tomato. The plant produced lots of firm little grape tomatoes that held for a long time on the vine. These tomatoes tasted okay fresh. But roasted? Oh my, roasting absolutely transformed them into smoky, rich tasting morsels that pureed into a remarkable sauce. Earlier this year i tried to prepare Komohana grape tomatoes the same way, assuming that one grape tomato was pretty much like another. Let me tell you, they are not.  I'm crossing my fingers this time.

This is a sad little naranjillo plant.  It has been sitting here looking much the same for about a month. Stunted maybe, did i leave it in the pot too long? It's a pretty thing, covering itself in prickly, purple fuzz. I'm curious about this and the fruit that it will produce. Have you grown it?

A big surprise this month was my Hunan wing bean. It languished for the first three months while it's neighbor, Lorenzo's Wing Bean, pumped out an early harvest. Hunan decided to scramble up it's trellis just as Lorenzo's started to fade. At first there were only a few fat frilly pods here and there but this month Hunan has given me a skilletful once or twice a week.

In September the salad bowl was filled with rainbow and lacinato kales, mizuna and midnight chard, arugula and Okinawan spinach. The zucchini succumbed to powdery mildew and the melon flies had no trouble finding the cucumber but the cherry tomatoes were unstoppable. We are tired of broccoli but not cowpeas. The eggplants were small but delicious and we are looking forward to more. Oh, and then there were the gardenias. In September! Which, as it turns out, was a pretty fat month after all.

That's all for now.
A hui hou!


A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui said...

Beautiful gardenia how wonderful to have blooms in September! I'll have to roast some of my ripe Grappeli and Prince Borghese tomatoes and let you know how they turn out. I grew them for sun drying - they're okay fresh but nothing special and now I have lots of them ready to harvest. Your purslane looks beautiful! Growing zucchini on Maui - I'm about to give up - LOL!

Julie said...

I'll be looking forward to your report on Princesse Borghese-i've heard mixed reviews and was planning to trial it myself. Grappeli is new to me.
Zucchini-practically the holy grail, isn't it ; ) Just makes the one you can actually harvest that much more delicious!

Rowena said...

Same here for me when it came to September. The change in seasons, the chestnut harvest, frequent rain, and a whole lot of other things popped up which sped an entire month along. I LOVE your photo of the wing beans! Have never had any success in growing them here, but knowing myself...I'll try growing them again when I get seeds. Looking forward to a possible home visit next year!

Mr. H. said...

I always enjoy eating purslane and am fortunate to have two different varieties that pop up in the gardens every year...very healthy.

Those wing beans sure are interesting, I have never seen anything like that before.

Julie said...

Chestnuts, yum! I am soaking some dried limas for dinner tonight Rowena. 'Taste like chestnuts' the seed catalogs say. Keeping my expectations low to avoid disappointment.

I had a dear friend once, Mr H, an Indian man. We were walking along my gravel driveway one day when he spotted some purslane growing along the edge. 'Do you know what that is, Julie?' he inquired. 'It's a weed' i replied, missing the twinkle in his eye. 'Not weed, vegetable' he instructed me.

It has taken me awhile to come around to his way of thinking but is see that you are way ahead of me ; )

Susann said...

Hey girl! I just moved to oahu from cali and I am gardener, but I have a question about the dirt here...the red kind specifically...they dont have that in cali!
Do you happen to know about it at all? Thanks for the help!

Julie said...

Welcome Susann ; )

There's a lot of red dirt in Hawaii, but there's none in my garden so i can only guess. There used to be a clothing company called Red Dirt Shirt i think. They used the red dirt to stain the t-shirts ; )

Did you already start your garden? How you doing on seeds? PM me through my profile ; )

Your soil might be a silty clay and probably is acidic although i tested some Maui red clay once and was surprised to get a pH of 6ish. Since i don't know too much about your soil maybe i can tell you about mine?

When i first started growing here i loaded my patch up with some compost and planted. That compost got burned up in about three months. Things grew but not very well. The next time i started with a soil test from UH that cost me about 14 dollars. I had a pH in the low 5s, yikes!, and no P to speak of. I followed their recommendations and tilled in lime, dolomite, and bone meal. I added some azomite for trace minerals and a few truckloads of horse manure. Big difference! The horse manure is way cheaper than compost, btw.

So i guess i think you should get a soil test. And then post the results on your blog so the rest of us niele gardeners can see ; )

Hope you get to plant a bodacious garden that grows to the moon, Susann! Look forward to reading all about it ; ))

Susann said...

thanks julie! I will :) I am living in a high rise but i just started working with a NPO in their garden so, this is all very helpful! I will def keep you updated!