August is the time of year when it seems almost unnecessary to go to the supermarket as our garden produces more food than we can consume. We are awash in berries, greens, beans, tomatoes and cuks. It sometimes gets a little repetitive. “More beans?,” says Juana as I bring in enough for us every evening. But neither of us is complaining as it is a joy to have fresh food outside our door. Because of that we have become a bit more picky staying away from the “weedy” greens such as wild spinach, dandelions and plantain that we covet in the spring. Now only the most succulent lettuces and spinaches will suffice for our salads. I select purslane for mine while Juana does not care for it. “Don’t give me strings in my greens!”
This has been the best year for berries in our garden. While late, the strawberries put out for the better part of a month. The slug population is really down in all my beds so we lost only a few berries to these slimy nemeses. Last year I purchased a few ever bearing varieties and they have given us a few tasty gems every week. When the strawberries stopped, the blueberries kicked in. First just a handful and soon we were harvesting quarts every few days. In the middle of the harvest, the wild thimbleberries and raspberries that have spread outside the fence surrounding the house start to ripen, giving us more bushes to scavenge like a flock of hungry birds. There is not much difference between the two berries save that thimbleberries are very delicate and their stalks are relatively smooth verses their thorny counterpart. It matters little, however, as Charlotte and I pull the berries off eating one while depositing another in a bowl. But it is the blackberries this year that have delivered.
They are the size of cherries and hang heavy on the long stalks of the thorn-less blackberry bushes I planted a few years ago. Nothing has touched them this year, unlike a back row of raspberries that has been stripped by a opportunistic pack of Japanese beetles. I experimented this year by not netting them and have been surprised by the apparent lack of bird predation on the crop. So for the past three weeks, we have been pulling lots of fruit from these canes.
This year’s tomatoes are plentiful though late to ripen, no doubt do to the cool summer we have had. I experimented with some new cultivars this year and have a couple of keepers. The yellow pear cherry tomato from last year volunteered itself in my wife’s herb garden with half a dozen plants that we kept. They have now taken over slowing the growth of some herbs but giving us in return clusters of tasty snacks that are ready to be munched upon.
The pink princess cherries are delicious though it feels a little weird eating a pink vegetable. The big experiment was planting tomato blueberries that ripen to a dark purple with a little yellow star on its underside. They have taken a long time to ripen but are delicious as we have started to harvest them.
As I alluded to earlier, the greens are only sparsely populated with slugs. I know this as our washings express only a few of these escargot wannabes at the bottom of the drain. I have also been able to start tiny greens without the typical carnage that eliminates them in a single damp evening, The greens now stand full and undamaged by the typical bugs that inhabit my garden. They look good enough to sell, which is unusual for my produce. Swiss Chard has started to mature, which will find itself in quiches over the next month. The second crop of carrots are getting bigger and look to be ready in a month. Charlotte continues to look at their delicate tops wanting to pull them out but I tell her that she must be patient as they are still young and not ready for her tummy. She scowls a bit and then grabs a handful of sorrel, stuffs it into her mouth and asks for my hand as we leave the garden.