Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brunswick Street Garden Cats

These two are brothers. I remember them when they were kittens. Looks like I caught them during bath time. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Growing Food in the Garden

I've been pulling in some sizable harvests over the last few weeks. This week's haul of long beans was split and half wound up in a batch of long bean antipasto in a friend's kitchen. The other half is destined to show up in breakfast (smoothie), lunch (veg soup), and dinner (fresh in salad or steamed side) for the next few days. When we get really sick of them, I'm making a batch of refrigerator dilly beans.  Why did I feel the need to also plant green beans?

A few weeks back the lettuce was going strong and the green beans were a novelty. Chard, kale, carrots, and a tomato also made it home that day. 

The first tomato basil salad of the season tasted divine. 

Josh doesn't enjoy fresh tomatoes so these will be all mine!

Isn't it wonderful when you can supply your family's fresh vegetable intake?  It doesn't happen often, but this year has been special. The weather has been cool enough to keep the lettuce happy but sunny enough to satisfy the tomatoes and eggplant (coming soon).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Growing Chinese Red Noodle Beans

The beans are here!  It's been about 70 days since sowing the seeds back in May and I had my first official harvest yesterday. I pulled the three fattest beans, measuring in at 16" long. They were surprisingly bendable - just like a noodle. For dinner they went raw into a chopped salad. The flavor was similar to any string bean but slightly more nutty. In the future I might pick them when they're smaller and slightly more tender. 

This is just the beginning of the harvest. I had an amazingly successful germination rate (about 100%) and all of the plants reached maturity (even those planted in the shade of some massive sunflowers).  

The bean begins with a flower, pale lavender to white, almost shaped like a clamshell. After pollination, a threadlike bean begins to form. 

It doesn't take long for the beans to stretch out and adopt that signature red color. 

After about a week the Chinese Red Noodle Bean is nearing 18" and ready to pick. They can be eaten raw, steamed, or sautéed just like a regular bush bean. One to two beans per person is plenty.  The plants are quite heavy producers so I'm trading my beans with other gardeners for what they've got too much of. 

The plants are also fast growers and I've supported mine with an unfortunately unattractive combination of tomato cages, bamboo canes, and willow branches. Some of the vines are trained up a few tall sunflowers in my plot too. If I had a proper trellis they'd probably be at least six feet tall. Right now they've begun growing back down on themselves so harvesting will be at a slightly more manageable height. 

The verdict? They're easy to grow, they make lots of beans, and they're fun to look at. I recommend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Color in the Community Garden

After a little lull in blooms at the end of June, the garden is back to floral vibrancy. The sunflowers are the stars right now and my red mix from last year has definitely shown up in the variety of volunteer plants surrounding my plot. 

Rusty yellows, oranges, and deep brown hues are all represented. 

Even brilliant red sunflowers have bloomed. The bees seem particularly drawn to these striking colors. 

The rich warm tones look wonderful with the 6' tall shaggy daisies and orange day lilies nearby. 

This year the day lilies are putting on a fantastic show. Although the blooms only last a day, they just keep coming.