Sunday, September 27, 2015

Community Garden: The Spoils, Part 1

Well, this has been both the itchiest and most rewarding summer I have experienced as a gardener. M and I have been enjoying lots of fresh vegetables while researching and studying really hard to make sure we are the best gardeners possible.

Everyone we meet at the community garden (there are about 60-ish plots in all, I think) has said that the first year is the worst when it comes to weeds, and we sure have been battling those. It has been really tough. We have also been battling bugs. Specifically, we had trouble with grubs and squash bugs/cucumber beetles. There are many varieties of cucumber beetle and squash bug, and they basically all converged upon our garden this summer. Our squash made it, though! Aside from a few that got wilt, we managed to make it through with most of our squash. The cucumbers made it for a while, but ultimately got wilt and didn't make it. This is to be expected- only organic gardening is allowed, which we really like.

Now for the itchy part: we were also afflicted with bug damage. The mosquitoes were terrible at our garden plot this summer! I know that the amount of bug bites I have had on my legs all summer cannot look professional in a nice dress for work... but what can you do (aside from wear terrible, uncomfortable panty hose)? Oh well.

The real champion this year was the okra! We like okra pickled and fried, and since we are in the habit of eating pretty healthy meals in our house, fried is not going to happen. Pickled it is!

Our garden is slowing down, but still going!

So far we have pickled 21 jars of okra, made 6 jars of habanero pepper jelly, and 3 jars of green tomato relish. And that is just what I have gotten to so far!

I am really proud that my habanero pepper jelly actually set! I made a failed first batch with some jalapenos. :/ There is Norman in the background!

We have given away even more okra than we have pickled!

We have grown about 15 huge zucchinis and about 8 nice-sized yellow squash, 3 butternut squash and 3 spaghetti squash. We also grew two delicata squash before the bugs got that plant too. Many of the zucchini and yellow squash got blanched and frozen for use in soups in the winter!

We have also harvested about 6 lbs of cherry tomatoes so far. Almost all of those go to making a really wonderful fresh cherry tomato sauce for pasta (I use it on baked polenta). Any green tomatoes that fall off the vine are used for green tomato relish!

Needless to say, even with the weed and bug problems we think it was a really good first year. Stay tuned for more, we are still growing!

Did you have a garden this summer? I would love to hear about it, and about how you're preserving your harvest for winter! 

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