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The Volunteers

I thought tomato season was over, after a disappointingly low yield.

I was wrong.

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Experiment in Local Food: Late Summer Cooking

My okra was past ready to pick, so I decided to cook it right away.  I didn’t have anything else interesting on hand, so I just pulled what I could from the garden and cooked up something.

I picked okra, Cuban basil, Cuban oregano, thyme, oxalis, and Thai peppers.  I added coriander from the spring and some of my neighbor’s odd orange cherry tomatoes.  I fried it all up in butter and put it on top of jasmine rice, which are the only two ingredients that weren’t grown within a quarter mile of my kitchen.

The okra was too big and fibrous.  I should have picked it last week.  The smaller parts tasted good, very mild flavor, slightly slimy.  The tomatoes were also a little slimy, so that didn’t help.  Fresh tomatoes would have counteracted the sliminess.  It also wasn’t spicy enough for me.  These peppers are unusually mild, and I didn’t use enough of the other herbs.  It was still a pretty good meal, just needs some tweaking.  I did like the combinations of herbs, I just needed more of it.

Late summer around the garden

I decided this year I was going to use my dehydrator more, so I got started earlier this year.  Hopefully I will get several batches.

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Saving mustard seed

Last year at Firefly, I learned a bit about seed saving, and I’m only getting around to applying some of those lessons this year.  I already processed some more coriander this year, but my new seed for the year is mustard.

The process I did for this was a little different from the coriander.  It’s faster but a little more seed gets lost.  Also this process would crush some of the coriander, which I want to avoid.  I couldn’t really get any pictures of me doing any of this since I’d need someone else operating the camera, but I followed this excellent video tutorial.

More images of the process are in today’s set.

I am no longer Pawpaw the Grey, now I am Pawpaw the White, who has returned from death.

Two months ago, something killed one of my pawpaws.  I left the stump in the ground partly because I was too upset to think about removing it, and partly because I’m a lazy gardener and don’t move things around unless I need to.  Now I’m really glad I did leave it.

Because it grew back.  I hadn’t even considered this as a possibility.  So, I built a fence around it and the other pawpaw with bamboo and scrap from the garden fence to prevent this from happening again.  This one is quite a bit shorter than the other one, which is almost four feet tall now.

I’m really happy about this.  These pawpaws have grown exceptionally well, and I’m excited about eating a fruit I’ve never had before.  I’d assumed this one was dead for good.  This gives me hope that I might succeed at growing other fruit trees, too.

View a series of 8 images of the regrowth of this pawpaw in today’s set.

Experiment in Local Food: Early Summer Cooking

In keeping with the spirit of social movements like Slow Food and Pantry Challenge, I occasionally challenge myself to cook a meal entirely from my garden and the CSA membership my family shares.  In this case, though, I also bought a couple things from a farmer’s market I happened across after work one day.  But the idea is fairly simple: all local ingredients, all fresh ingredients, and everything that is preserved or processed was done by me or someone local.  I don’t do this often, sometimes just a single meal, sometimes one meal a day for a week, something like that.  It’s also an exercise in simplicity and deliberation, after the fashion of Walden.

Let’s skip to the results.

The potatoes, onions, and purple pepper are from a farmer’s market.  The corn and tomato are from the CSA.  Everything else is from my garden.  I did cheat a little and add salt.  That’s definitely not local.

The recipe is pretty simple.  I boiled the potatoes and corn separately.  I added thyme to the corn, Cuban oregano and sage to the potatoes.  The rest is a tomato, an onion, a purple bell pepper, one jalapeno, and Red Rubin basil, all steamed together.  I actually cooked twice as much as is on this plate and only ate half.  I’ll reheat the rest tomorrow for lunch.

The flavors were satisfying and unassuming.  I love it when simple meals like this turn out excellent.  I do this regularly to remind myself that I don’t always need to make fancy coconut milk curry sauces or slather everything in butter and salt (though slathering things in butter and salt has its proper time and place).  Also, when everything’s fresh, there’s no need to do anything fancy; I just let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Midsummer’s garden

I was worried that my garden would be overrun with weeds after spending a week at Firefly Gathering, but it’s only gotten bigger and healthier in my absence.  That’s one thing I’ve noticed about John Jeavons’s Grow Biointensive technique: the plants are so close together that weeds have a tough time competing.  There was a lot of grass trying to get established in the summer vegetable bed when I left, but I returned to quite a surprise: at least 30 volunteer amaranth plants had choked out all the weeds.  Job well done, amaranth.

The mustard and coriander are both about ready to harvest.  Expect articles on that process in the coming weeks.

See more pictures of the garden in today’s photo set.