I'm cleaning up the skeletal remains of my veggie plants this weekend and I've realized that my best laid plans to document and weigh the total production of food from the garden this year didn't happen. Never bought that scale, darn it. At least I photographed most of the varieties this year. Last year we ate all the food before I realized it would have been nice to take some decent photographs of what I'd grown. I don't devote a special area or special resources to the edibles that I grow. They are mixed in with the garden plants throughout the front and back gardens. They have to deal with the same soil (humusy-clay), the same amount of fertilizing (a bit of compost at planting time) and the same amount of water (very little) as the established drought tolerant plants already there. I'm usually surprised by how well they deal with it and I'm usually overwhelmed by the amount a produce I reap from the meager resources I invest.
Following is a photo essay of the edibles I grew this year with a few comments on their success (or in some cases lack thereof.)
The most successful group this year were tomatoes, even with the extremely foggy summer. I think this is due to the fact that I grew mostly Wild Boar Farm tomatoes this year. They rock.
BIG and meaty 'Pink Berkeley Tie Dye'. Highly recommended. I will definitely be growing this one again next year.
A few more winners from Wild Boar:
'AAA Sweet Solano'
'Big White Pink Stripe' neither white, nor pink but I'm not going to quibble about the name because it's big and yummy!
The blossom-end-rot-free 'Michael Pollan'
not a Wild Boar tomato, but the really beautiful and delicious 'Green Moldovan'
I grew several of the little fruited varieties too.
T. cheesemannii, 'White Currant', 'Sungold' - a classic I have to grow every year, 'Spike', 'Spain', and 'Black Cherry' - not recommended at least for cool summer areas as I found it rather bland. I also grew 'Yellow Pear' but it was not vigorous and I only got a few fruits.
The squash gods were good to me this year too.
Warty 'Yellow Crooknecks'
the bestest, tastiest Zucchini 'Costata Romanesco'
more 'One Balls' than I could keep up with, many became 'One Bowling Ball'
And I love harvesting my dandelion weeds. So healthy for you! No more weeding those now, just harvesting.
The 'Dinosaur Kale' does double duty. It's a great blue-gray foliage plant and a healthy addition to your menu. I love being able to go out and grab a few leaves whenever I want.
I would also grow leeks for their foliage, even without the benefit of being edible. I love the rows of strappy blue foliage that bisect my garden. 'Bandit' isn't the longest white-shanked leek out there but it's easy and tough. I plant my seedlings deep, but also in furrows so I can cover them even deeper with soil as they get bigger for a longer white section.
That blue leek foliage makes a great foil for chartreuse Lettuce 'Amish Deer Tongue'.
I have to admit that for the longest time I was too intimidated to grow lettuces. I know everyone says they are like weeds and super easy but they just look so tender and delicate, I thought they would just turn crispy in my dry garden. But I've been very happy with 'Amish Deer Tongue' and 'Mascara'. As with most lettuces, they were done by early summer, but up until then they put up with my sporatic watering very well. The 'Mascara' was especially delicious. We make a lot of pizzas at home and I loved dressing the leaves in oil and vinegar and piling them on top of my slices of thin crusted pizza. Yum!
I was curious about Cucumber 'Long White'. My plant produced many cucumbers which were white on the underside but mostly light green. But whatever, they were tasty. The skin did get bitter eventually and needed to be peeled but that was probably due the lack of watering.
Last year I was overwhelmed with lemon cucumbers but this year my plant was shrimpy and put out only a few measly fruits. Guess I just got a weakling.
I grew Melon 'Minnesotta Midget' and was quite pleased with the one melon I got. SUPER sweet. I'd grow it next year and be happy even if I only got one again.
I tried growing garbanzo beans this year and got hardly a bowl's worth of beans but enjoyed the experiment. I wasn't even sure I could grow them here, somehow suspecting they may need more heat. I may try them next year and see if I can do any better. The foliage is surprisingly cold to the touch. On closer inspection the pretty gray foliage is covered in little oil glands - built-in air conditioning I'm hypothesizing.
It was quite a fig fest this year. I canned 36 jars of fig jam. I guess everyone knows what they're going to be getting for Christmas this year!
I'm now begrudgingly sharing the last few figs with the birds and a pesky squirrel. I hope I don't regret letting that tree get on their radar.
And now I'm harvesting all my peppers and looking forward to making some roasted bell pepper pesto!
If you are curious about growing any of these edibles, many are available at Annie's Annuals and Perennials.