Saturday, May 27, 2006

What's growing on

Alright, alright, bad title. But I couldn't resist. Get it? Marvin Gaye, "what's goin' on"?

To the right is a picture of one of our vegetable gardens. This garden is in the backyard and measures 15' x 30'. In it we have planted 18 tomato plants (14 varieties), 9 pepper plants (5 varieties), about 100 black bean plants, 5 broccoli plants, and a bunch of canteloupe, cucumbers, patty pan squash, and zuchini. We had a nasty hail storm a few weeks ago and the garden got really chewed up. Fortunately, everything seems to have recovered nicely.

We get our tomatoes and peppers from a local guy who calls himself the tomato man. He and his wife grow 100s of heirloom variety plants and sell them at our state farmer's market for $2 each. It's an incredible deal--the plants are strong, you can buy a single plant instead of six and it's a great way to taste all different kinds of tomatoes. This year we are growing the following:

Paul Robeson
Cherokee Purple

Neves Azorean Red
Andrew Rahart’s Jumbo
San Marzano Paste
Martino’s Roma


Green Giant

Sweetgold cherry
Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom


Toma Verde Tomatillo

I have discovered that potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow. The whole concept is novel to me. You order "seed potatoes" which are not seeds at all, but rather potatoes that you cut up into pieces and bury deep in the ground. The potatoes grow under the surface, so knowing when to harvest, exactly where to dig, and how much you will get is a big guessing game. It's so fun to flip the plants over and scratch at the soil to see what's there. I found myself saying "wow" over and over again each time we found a potato. It was kind of silly after the first few plants.

Another bonus is that the plants themselves are beautiful with delicate flowers. Here is a photo of potatoes in our flower beds. I ran out of room in the potato bed, so I planted these amidst some climbing jasmine and yarrow.

We order organic seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine. The last time I grew potatoes was in Florida, so I called the farm for advice. They helped me choose several varieties which performed well in our area and would bear from early to late in the season so that we wouldn't have a glut of potatoes. We ordered one pound each of Butte, which is a russet baking type; Caribe, which is a bright purple new potato type; Reddale, a red new potato type; and Yukon gold. Our potato garden is 30' x 6'.

Here is a picture of our first potatoes harvested. These are Caribe and Reddale. The flavor is so good you can eat them raw. Last night we had some friends over and I made roasted carrots and potatoes. I love cooking with my own harvest.

A typical harvest yields 5 - 10 lbs of potatoes for each pound planted. Our Caribe harvest yielded 23 lbs of potatoes. Our Reddale harvest yielded 9 lbs. As our friend Sandy quips each time she walks by the potato garden, we are all set for the next potato famine.

Happy Memorial Day ya'll. Eat potatoes.



sheilamartin said...

The potatoes look delicious. I'll be right over for carrots and potatoes anytime.

sheilamartin said...

The pix from the wedding etc. are great. Can they be printed?