Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's that time of year...

August is the beginning of the "BIG REWARD" time. The Gulland Garden occupies almost 4000 square feet in 3 planting beds around the house. We're starting to pull produce out now by the wagonload instead of the handful.

Those tomatoes and peppers are being transformed into salsa right now. We're putting it into jars on the shelves down in the cellar to the right of the 6 pints left over from last season. Hmmm... I guess we should have given more away. (Note to self; be more generous this year.)
The early beets were beautiful this year. Our neighbors Harald and Jeff got this batch. They like them pickled; I prefer them roasted with onion, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips and the rest of the 'roasted roots' as we call them.
This year we went heavy on the fingerling potatoes. They are my absolute favorites. My wife makes a roasted fingerling potato salad that is the best I ever had. We'll have a few hundred pounds of them on hand this year from the most ambitious potato planting we have ever done.

Our onions are all done for the year now and the first carrots are close to ready.

We had a total crop failure on early spinach this year, likely because of the record heat, humidity, and rain in the region. The lettuce, however, did very well and we enjoyed quite a wide variety.

The weather was probably a factor in our pale green bean harvest, and the snow peas and sugar snaps performed unremarkably. We're replanting to give them one more chance to redeem themselves.

One stellar performer this season has been the okra. As a Southern guy, I do love my okra, and this year, it loved me. It seems the brutal heat and humidity of south central Wisconsin made our okra think it was in Alabama; the place it grows the best. We'll have lots of okra to fry this winter, and the unmistakable scent of gumbo will fill the brittle January air as we take our cold weather comfort foods to new levels.

As I sit here surrounded by piles of fresh produce overrunning our tiny kitchen, I begin to look ahead to the time when all this work really pays off. When the roads are buried in snow, a trip to the cellar brings back all the summer goodness. I'll remember probing the rich soil of Black Earth, Wisconsin with my fingers, searching for the fingerling potatoes in all their comical shapes and sizes. The scent of open soil and vine will be missed, but the goodness of the potato will be right there.

Thinking about the next season is a good practice for those who grow their own food. The jars of food in the cellar are just a few feet away from the seeds that the plants produced for the next season's garden. The stable atmosphere of the cellar can hold an eternity of food, one season to the next, if we do our part.

That's what it's all about: We have to do our part. Get busy out there. There's still plenty of time to plant again in most of the country. Greenhouses and simple row covers can greatly extend the growing season. We're trying spinach again, and maybe this time we'll be eating it fresh, deep into winter. We'll see. That's part of the fun.

Good soil to you,