August is a pretty exciting month in our garden. Grapes, peppers and early cascade tomatoes are ripening. We’ve had to pick green beans every other day or so for the last couple of weeks. The potato plants are lush and blooming thanks to some tweaking of the drip irrigation system. The lemon cucumbers are bountiful as are the zucchini and yellow squash.
Some disappointments: The eggplants are still weak looking and the yellow currant hasn’t produced as much ripe fruit as I would have expected by this point in the growing season — certainly not on par with our usual small tomato of choice, the sungold (which we, sadly, couldn’t track down this year).
The Black Krim tomatoes are still very green, I hope we get some ripe ones before the weather becomes unfavorable!
The Italian Honey Fig tree has set an abundance of fruit this year and it looks like the first figs of the season are ready for picking.
From my experience, figs aren’t really ripe until they appear a touch over-ripe and ready to fall off the tree. Look at the fig with brown spots in the lower right of this photo. That looks about right. Figs are very sensual fruits when they are mature, the ripe one appears to be weeping sticky fig juice onto its neighbor. Of course, it would figure that those first ripe specimens would be just out of my arm’s reach.
In all previous years, I’ve taken the presence of ants as a sign of ripeness. They seem to have a sixth-sense about ripe, oozy figs and can be seen running in and out of the fig’s pore when the fruit is at its peak. Strangely, I haven’t seen any ants on the tree this year. I wonder if there has been some trouble in the ant community.
I was going to mention the towering flowering beans, but C has already done so. Of all the plants in the garden, they seem to be the ones that most capture his attention. What can it mean?
All the watering we’ve employed to combat the recent 100+ degree temperatures has really made the weeds in the garden walk happy. They are knee high in spots. It’s a jungle out there.
My poor Correnta Hybrid Spinach. Most of the seedlings died in the last heat wave, and those that survived have now bolted before reaching a consumable, useful size. So much for my summer spinach experiment.
I was surprised to find a few ripe strawberries in the garden this morning. Looks like the berries in the back left of the strawberry patch are ever bearing. I wish I could remember the name of that particular berry (Hood?). The berries themselves are not your typical store-bought strawberry shape, they are oddly lumpy, but they are very tasty.
The beans emerged last weekend — the Fortex were followed by the Climbing French within a day. All the tomato plants are still small, but they are blooming and growing. The strawberries are still producing, but at a lesser rate than last week. Still, I had enough berries for my cereal this morning. The lettuce is still gorgeous and tasty. In honor of our lettuce crop, C and I dubbed last week The Week of Salads and managed to have dinner size salads last Sunday through Thursday. We’ve eaten two whole heads of the Romaine and now I must find some summer friendly lettuce starts or seeds to take their now empty places.
The eggplants have a dusty, sickly look. I wish I had photographed them previously, then I would know for sure whether they have grown since they were planted. I’ll give ‘em a dose of fish emulsion and hope that helps. The brussel sprouts continue to be aphidy — we have yet to try anything to remedy it. We have no good excuse for this.
Inspired by the perfectly ripe local strawberries on the market right now, and the red speckled leaves of our lettuce, I concocted a super tasty salad of my own imagining. I’ve written out the recipe below. Feel free to swap any of the ingredients, but keep in mind that the strawberries must be perfectly ripe for the recipe to achieve super tastiness.
Ms. A_’s Strawberry-Balsamic Salad
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 – 1 pint fresh strawberries, perfectly ripe, sliced
Ripeness is important!
- Balsamic Vinegar
I used Lucini 10 year Gran Riserva Balsamico
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 head of Romaine lettuce
Forellenschuss is tasty and its maroon speckled green leaves look beautiful with strawberries
- 1 or 2 handfuls of sunflower seeds, toasted and salted
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
We used Rogue Creamery’s “Smokey Blue“
- Coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Rub the inside of a large salad bowl thoroughly with a halved garlic clove (my recommended first step for almost any green salad). Mince remaining garlic and add directly to the bowl. Using your own discretion regarding the amounts, add balsamic vinegar and olive oil in equal proportions directly to the bowl. I think I used about 2 tablespoons of each, but I just eyeballed it so I can’t say for certain. Add coarse salt, fresh-ground black pepper and sliced strawberries. Mix gently. Some of the strawberries will dissolve a bit, creating a strawberry vinaigrette. Wash and dry lettuce, then tear leaves into slightly larger than bite size pieces — we’re going for rusticity here. Toss ‘em in the bowl. Add sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles. Toss until every leaf is well coated. Serve and enjoy!