‘Tis the season to be picky, picking veggies that is. One of the real treats of living here at Old Goat Farm is having the space for a large vegetable garden. Our veggie garden is about 60 ft by 60 ft. That is enough space to generate a lot of food.
Because we have all the birds we need to protect the crops from them. The chicken coop and bird-run goes completely across the back of the garden. On both sides there are fences with espalier apples, pears and plums on the outside. Across the front is another fence with a large perennial border on the outside. That leaves a lot of space on the inside dedicated to vegetable. Next to the espaliers on one side are raspberries and on the other side blueberries and strawberries. The rest is lined out with rows. The vegetables in the rows are rotated each year to prevent pests and diseases.
Since we like to prolong the season we grow a lot of root vegetables; carrots, onions, beets and potatoes. We grow a few different varieties of each. All these will last for quite awhile in cold storage (the barn). Acorn and spaghetti squash will also last awhile. The soft squash like crookneck have softer skins so don’t last as long but that doesn’t really matter since that is one of our favorites to cook several different ways. Having a southern cook in the house, we often have it fried with potatoes and onions.
We do grow a number of vegetables that don’t have a long shelf life like peas, beans and lettuces. The lettuces are usually the cut-and-come-again types so we can have fresh salad regularly. As for the peas and beans, we grow a few different types and I always have visions of canning them but it seems like when it’s time to do that it is also the time to do a million other things. Good intentions don’t fill the pantry but procrastination makes my friends and family happy because they are often the recipients. We do a sweep through on Fridays to cut what is ripe and make a trip to the food bank which is always happy to receive fresh veggies. I tell myself that is better than canning so I don’t need to feel guilty about the procrastination thing. One of these years I’ll have a lot of extra time.
My favorite vegetable the last few years, since my first trip to Savannah, is collard greens. On that trip I bought Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House Cookbook just for the collard green recipe. It may not be the healthiest way to eat veggies but it is one of my guilty pleasures. I wait all year for the collards to grow.
Besides what I have already mentioned we also grow cabbages, corn, kale, radishes and TOMATOES. Since summer seems to be warmer the last few years we end up with a bumper crop. We have six different types and all are doing well. I’m usually optimistic and plant tomatoes and then about this time of year start looking for green tomato recipes. I think I have been eating tomatoes with every meal for the last month.
Being a gardener, I enjoy growing all sorts of plants but nothing compares with the vegetable garden. To have the luxury of going out into the garden and planning dinner around what is ripe is a real treat. Last night we had a veggie extravaganza, roasted beets, baked squash, steamed green beans, collards and tomatoes. Yum.
If you don’t have your own vegetable garden it is easy to incorporate vegetables into any garden. Having that garden ripened vegetable is unbeatable. If that doesn’t work, or you want more than you can grow you can always hit the farmers market and support the local farmers. ‘Tis the season, so enjoy.