July 13, 2012

July Garden Inventory

I find June in the garden a bit frustrating.  It's just that the days are long, so I have more time to work in garden in the mornings, but it's not a time of year when there is a lot of produce.  A half an hour or more each day of weed pulling, planting, watering and checking plants for blossoms, and only a glut of onions and a cup and a half of poppy seeds to show for it.

Don't get me wrong.  I do get really excited about poppy seed harvest, but there just wasn't anything in the garden (besides chives) to inspire a meal after a long day in the office.

But now it's July and with the first zucchini, there's hope for all the summer vegetables to come.

Bed #1:  two tomato plants (no harvest yet), a couple radishes, quite a few basil plants and two cucumber plants.  We've been using the basil in a Thai dish similar to this one.

Bed #2:  The chives, garlic chives and white onions that have been there through winter.
Newly planted, not ready for harvest: quinoa and a vigorous volunteer cucumber vine.

Bed #3: 
Newly planted, not ready for harvest, but growing like crazy: one tomato plant, six bean plants and three or four cucumber plants.  I've been checking these plants daily and there are two small cucumbers hidden among the leaves.

The mounds:

You may recall that I planted cantaloupe, casaba melon, baby watermelon, okra, a golf ball-sized variety of cucumber called a West Indian Burr gherkin, luffa squash and two varieties of peas.

Yes, well... Possibly due to my own immature compost, so far the harvest has been different than one would expect:  a handful of peas, at least half a dozen round zucchini, at least a dozen pale green zucchini of various sizes, two cucumbers (one of which was bitter) and three of the little gherkins.  Also the tomato plants that are now in Beds 1 and 3 were 'volunteers' that sprouted up in this section, which I transplanted into the beds.  As far as can tell there is no sign of an okra plant or a cantaloupe or casaba melon plant, and the watermelon vines are so much smaller than the volunteer cucumber vines and squash plants, that I am not holding out hope for them to produce anything. 

I was disappointed that the squash plant that quickly enveloped the area where I had planted the luffa was not the luffa.  And I suppose I am a bit disappointed that we apparently are not growing our own melons this year (which would have been a first).  But something about a zucchini plant's confident takeover of the garden, with it's broad, jungle-like leaves and showy blossoms, is kind of heart-warming. And it's persistent production is admirable.  It's nice to know when there's "nothing in the house to eat," we can surely walk out to the garden, pull back those big leaves and find a tender zucchini or two or three...

Zucchini Recipes that we've enjoyed

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps -crunchy and covered in parmesan.  Totally crave-able, and yet you still get credit for eating a vegetable!

Zucchini "Cakes" or "Patties" -This is good basic recipe.  I've made these with and without the egg.  I like to substitute some shredded leftover baked potato for the breadcrumbs, add a little basil for flavor and serve a zucchini patty topped with a sunny-side-up egg as a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Israeli Salad -I've read a couple posts about Israeli salad recently.  I think it will be a recurring dish in my summer cooking.  In the version I made most recently, I combined vegetables cut into a very small dice: two tomatoes, a small tender zucchini, a peeled cucumber and some white onion.  Being out of olive oil (how does that even happen?!), I dressed it with plenty of minced flat leaf parsley, a splash of toasted sesame oil, a splash of seasoned rice vinegar, salt, pepper and a generous sprinkling of roasted sesame seeds.  Very refreshing!