It’s brag-posting time, because our veggie patch’s first summer with newly built beds and square-foot garden plans was a smashing success. It’s beginning to get out of hand! Jamie couldn’t bring himself to pick off the weaker seedlings when we initially planted them, bless him, so we’ve spent this summer eating every flavour of zucchini and offering up football-sized specimens to our dumbfounded friends. Pro tip, no home garden needs five zucchini plants.
From scattered tiny sprouts in November to this, two months later. I’m equally proud and overwhelmed. The herb/perennial bed on the left is worth a post on its own (har, I’m sure you can’t wait) so I’ll focus on the two veggie beds.
Standouts – leafy greens bed
Red Russian kale: This has got to be the top value-for-money crop in our little patch. It does so well here year-round and it keeps producing no matter how many leaves we pinch off. Six plants gave us more than we could eat!
Perpetual spinach: This also lasted months, never bolted, and kept producing again and again. I could see it working as an autumn or early spring crop.
Spring onion: It’s so convenient having stalks on hand.
Failures: Snow peas (they never grew – why) and lettuces that bolted as soon as summer hit. Best for early spring. That’s one of the brussels sprouts on the right there, which we might have planted too early, but they do have thick stalks all ready for mini-cabbages to form.
Notes for next year: Four kale plants is a good number. Stagger planting lettuces. Save leeks for autumn/winter. Try direct sowing peas.
Standouts – nightshade bed
Tomatoes (on left): I got lazy about staking them, so the plants suffered accordingly, but they still popped out a nice batch of tomatoes. I had a mixed punnet of mystery seedlings, so I couldn’t tell you what any of the varieties were, but they all turned out nice.
Zucchini: So many!! My rating: yellow > green > white. Yellow zucchini stayed firm and dense, while the white ones were most likely to turn into the ‘football’ variety. We cut off huge rounds and tossed them onto the grill. Not bad at all!
Tomatillo (that’s toh-mah-TEE-yoh for you Aussies): I grew these from seed, as seedlings aren’t available locally. There’s serious potential there! My plants were happy all summer, and the fruits ripened in March. I’ve harvested half the crop so far. The husks protect the growing fruits, and the leaves didn’t get hit with any of the weird fungal blights that the neighbouring tomato plants got. Nice.
Garlic: Our plants flowered in November when we were out of town, so the harvested bulbs were these tiny, exquisite little things. We still got heaps of them, though. I trimmed back the leaves, let them dry/cure in a box on our deck for two weeks, and have been using them since. Looking forward to planting next year’s batch in a few weeks.
Failures: Chard/silverbeet (bolts all summer long), strawberries (got crowded out by zucchini). Notes for next year: Finish off the dang trellis. Make a couple of small a-frame trellises for tomatillos and (maybe) cucumbers. Trim off garlic flowerheads when they appear. Two zucchini plants max, preferably yellow.
FOOD BRAG PHOTOS:
Bruschetta with feta, home-grown basil and sage.
Forerunners for salsa verde and salsa roja. Cooking them made me incredibly hungry for enchiladas.
Perennial basil is more anise-like, more astringent than sweet basil. I’ve been using it for Italian and Thai dishes alike, honestly. Recently I turned a great bunch of it into pesto! (That bowl of leaves is actually a noodle bowl.) There’s many, many more leaves still on the bush.
Homemade hummus and pesto with roasted butternut pumpkin on Turkish bread. The sweetness of the pumpkin balanced the pesto while the hummus gave the filling extra body. I chopped up a bunch of kale and sautéed it with garlic to have on the side.
Our veggie patch treated us real well this summer, and I’m in total denial about the change in seasons. Hopefully you’re also saying a pleasant goodbye to summer, or anticipating longer days and warmer weather ahead.