First, a Mouse Melon. This might not be a familiar plant to many of you now but I feel fairly confident you'll see more of it next year, because it's an oddly compelling and weird-tasting example of a miniature cucumber. I bought it as a seedling. It was small, slightly shrivelled, and looked in imminent need of a quick death. I stuck it in my
I'm going to try to propagate this but wish me luck, because cucumbers and I, while I love to make things with them, have never really clicked in the garden. Or let's say that they underperform and I watch, uncomprehending.
Touchstone Gold Beets. This shot is so gorgeous it's verging on Foodie Porn, don't you think? (that's why you're getting the Full Frontal Assault Shot) This is what a beet should look like: globular, firm, squeaky-leafed, and glowing with colour. And to think that it all happened because I paid careful attention to the spacing requirements on the packet. Never done that before.
The Mortgage Lifter really is a giant - those ones are bigger than the spread of my palm. The Tigerella is slightly green because we've had a few days of torrential downpours and they are starting to crack, so I'm picking them earlier because I don't want a deluge of slightly green tomatoes to deal with. The I Don't Know might be a poorly shaped San Marzano but I genuinely don't know; we have the squirrel with no tail to thank for this: she broke into the cold frame and dug up everything (and scattered the plant tags in the process). Even more irritatingly, it took some Official Fruiting to sort out the pumpkins, which she even MORE irritatingly dug up THREE TIMES. What is it about a pumpkin root that she liked so much?
Which tomatoes do we like the best? At the moment the cherries and the Tigerellas are winning out, simply because they are the most adaptable, not to mention prolific. We've been slicing them in half and dowsing them with pesto. Putting them on toast, with a scattering of cayenne. Making bake pasta dishes. The rest I skin, puree, then store in the fridge for canning. This year I mixed some leftover peach butter with some Taxi puree, added a few cherry tomatoes, some chilies and hey presto we had the most amazing salsa. The other quality in Tigerella's favour is its sheer productiveness: it produces more tomatoes per plant than any variety I've ever grown. (Tip: when saving seed use the biggest Tigerella tomato you can find on the plant, so you get good-sized fruit)
Blue Lake Beans: first time growing these. I usually grow Scarlet Runners but these are nice - I'm liking the smooth skin more than I thought I would. I'll probably grow these again.
The only trouble (if this could be called a trouble) with beans is that they come in veritable onslaughts. In some ways they are better than zucchini at Building Self Esteem For The First Time Gardener. It takes a lot for a bean to do poorly.
In my experience beans are one of the most useful items to put in your freezer: for use in soups, chow mein, omelets, or even as a side dish or thawed on a salad. And because of their onslaught-like qualities I can freeze enough to last us all winter. Simply pick, top and tail, slice thinly (on a bit of a diagonal), then blanch and freeze in small ziplocks. I do a number of them in one go, package them like rectangular flat envelopes, and freeze them lined up on a cookie sheet. Once they've frozen remove the cookie sheet and leave them stacked and they won't hog the room in your freezer. Much.
So glossy and fresh-looking.
So there you have it: Fecundity and Felicity In The Garden.