Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lafayette garden report: squash gone wild

Why do they sell packets of dozens of squash seeds when any normal family would be satisfied with just two or three squash plants per summer? I couldn't bear not to plant at least a handful after purchasing the packets. Even though wise people warned me that a whole row of squash could be dangerous, I planted two anyway: one of yellow zucchini, one of butternut. I thought that since the butternut (or as Mr. Tart trepidaciously called them, "those big, funky, strange-shaped squash things"), a winter squash, wouldn't mature until much later, it would stay out of the way. (It didn't.) As for the yellow zucchini--one of which turns out to be green, a pleasant surprise--even after I mercilessly yanked out several of the half-grown plants in July, it's still trying to take over the yard. Not just the garden, but the whole yard. I have to trim it back to keep it from spilling onto the flagstone walkway. And now these long green tentacles with leaves bigger than my head stretch out over the rock almost to the fence--but that's fine since they're not in the way. One vine attacked a basil plant minding its own business a foot away and a foot above on a different level of our terraced garden.

Yes! Our terraced vegetable garden! After several summers of trying to garden on a slope, and watching every afternoon rainstorm and every winter snowmelt send valuable topsoil whooshing down into the rock, providing a fertile home for all sorts of noxious weeds, while our tomatoes struggled to survive mere inches away, Mr. Tart decided to save our garden! He hauled in bricks and new bags of topsoil and built up the bottom part of the sloping hill to level it with the rest of the garden.

Maybe that's why the squash has spent the whole summer partying.

But as you can see, the vegetable garden is an overcrowded, verdant explosion producing more herbs that we will ever use (thyme, sage, chives, tarragon, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, several mints, and lemon balm, with the latter two in "time-out" planters after their previous attempts to overtake the vegetables),

the aforementioned zucchini and butternuts (bringing with them, fortunately, their stuffable blossoms),

adorable baby cantaloupe which aren't sure if they're ever going to finish growing and ripen into edibility,

our favorite green beans ever, the thin, sexy, French haricots verts,

new-to-the-garden-this-summer edamame beans (still too little to pick, but oh-so-fuzzy),

plenty of feathery carrot tops,

and a few tomato plants that are still deciding whether or not they want to produce anything. Oh, and a volunteer tomatillo plant--growing in the rocks--which is bigger and healthier than any of the tomato plants eeking by in fertilized soil, go figure.

Summer 2007 promises our most bountiful harvest yet--but we're rapidly tiring of chocolate zucchini cake.



Blogger Lisa B. said...

Beautiful impressive garden. Wow! I had thought about grating zucchini and freezing it, not for eating as a dish unto itself but for sneaking into soups, stews, and sauces. This year, though, we didn't plant any and it appears that we won't have as much from our farmers. I have tucked this ingenious idea away for another season.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Thanks! I froze grated zucchini last year and was disappointed by how soggy it turned out when thawed. Next time I'm going to try to thoroughly sqeeze and drain it before freezing.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Estela said...

Wow. What a lush garden, Sarah. Very nice. The stuffable blossoms look awesome. And thanks for sharing the bounty. Mom made two loafs of delicious zucchini bread (who knew she could bake?)

7:20 PM  

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