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Garden Update: Tomatoes, Beans, and Zucchini

Brent and LeAnna Alderman StersteWe have had our gardening ups and downs this year. You may have heard that it has rained almost every day this summer in Massachusetts, so our poor waterlogged plants haven’t had much of a chance. But we are beginning to reap the benefits of our home garden. We’re getting a bowl full of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes every day. At first every ripe tomato went directly into Ella’s mouth, but finally there are enough to share. We have tons of other unripe tomatoes on the vine waiting for some sun to ripen. We have some yellow leaves, so we’re praying they don’t get hit by the late blight, which is wiping out whole fields of tomatoes around here.

Garden in Augus

We’re also getting quite a few zucchini, which seem to grow about four inches overnight. Fortunately, we are big fans of the secret placement of zucchini in everything from cookies to bread to smoothies, so we are happy. Ella has even rewritten the Raffi song, “I like to Eat Apples and Bananas” to be “I like to Eat Apples and Zucchinis.” Of course, she doesn’t really like to eat zucchini that much at all, but we’re hoping the song will sink in. We also started a whole host of other squash, pumpkin, and gourds, which we forgot to label, so now we are watching every day to see what they will turn out to be. 

Our bean crop had a few disadvantages going in. First we mixed up our beans and planted the pole beans in the garden and the bush beans by the fence. Next we actually followed the directions on the package that said to plant them 6 inches apart. So we only planted like 12 plants. We could have planted them a couple of inches apart and actually produced more than two servings of beans. Good to know for next year. The Royal Purple Pod Beans did win the most interesting vegetable from the garden though. We love the color combo of the dark purple with the vivid green when you break them. Of course, when you cook them, they turn just plain old green.

Royal Purple Pod Beans

We’ve also got peppers, cucumbers, carrots, onions, our second planting of lettuce, tons of basil and other herbs including lemongrass.

Our biggest surprises were our berry crops. The good surprise is we actually have strawberries on the plants Brent grew from seed. Our friend who works on an organic farm said we should probably pick them off so the plants will produce next year, but we just couldn’t do it. Our first strawberries!

First strawberries

The less good surprise was that the very prolific huckleberry bushes we also started from seed are not the wild huckleberries that grew on LeAnna’s grandparents’ farm in Kentucky, but are actually garden huckleberries, which don’t actually taste very good. Any ideas for what we can do with them?

We’ve definitely learned a few things in our garden experiment. First, we need to plant a lot more to feed our family for the summer and be able to can. Second: it seems to benefit most anything to start it from seed before planting it in the ground. Third: We miss our CSA more than we thought we would, especially those giant u-pick fields. Depending on how the rest of the month goes, we’re thinking about joining a local college’s Fall Semester CSA and trying to take advantage of the u-pick and seeing what we can preserve. Until then we’re supplementing our diet with lots of free, foraged berries and local fruit and produce from farmstands. How has your garden been growing?