Miracles happen all the time here at Mucky Boots. A pullet lays her first egg. A crocus pushes through a crust of snow. I catch up on my weeding. Frankie goes for an entire afternoon without barking.
Here's another one: after a cool, wet, cloudy spring that went on and on and on, somehow it's summer, the sun has reappeared, and the vegetable garden has hit its stride.
What's making me happy? The winter squash, which took forever to germinate, but is now doing better than in past years. Good thing, because after reading Carol Deppe's The Resilient Gardener, I devoted a whole lot of garden space to winter squash this year.
In previous years I have started squash early in the greenhouse, thinking that winter squash needs a long enough growing season for the fruit to properly ripen. But squash don't like being transplanted - the seedlings go into shock and take forever to recover. Last year I didn't have enough seedlings and direct seeded some additional squash at transplanting time, and those plants quickly caught up and did better than their transplanted kin. So this year I swallowed hard and waited. And waited. Then seeded, and waited some more. But the seeds finally germinated and now they're going gangbusters.
The peas took forever to get going, too, but we're now stuffing our faces with sugar snap peas fresh off the vine every time we go to water the vegetable beds. And the peas are still flowering, so there are many more pea snacks in our future. Hot on the heels of the sugar snap peas will be the shelling peas, but the snow peas have been a no-show. After seeding, then seeding again, I have only 3 or 4 plants straggling their way up the trellis. Go figure.
I worried about the beans. I knew I was pushing the temperature envelope when I planted them, given the cool spring, but all the varieties I planted germinated beautifully. These are French filet pole beans planted at the north end of the bed that also has yellow bush beans and two varieties of dried beans.
Quinoa is one of the new crops I'm trying this year. It's just an experiment, and I figure it will end up being a lot of work for a little amount of quinoa, but between this and the dried beans, I'm trying to see how much protein I can get out of the garden.
Sharing a bed with the quinoa are garbanzos, in the same quest for protein from the garden. I was so surprised when these started to grow - I expected something like a bean plant, but these look more like vetch. They have just started to flower, and they're lovely.
Ground cherries, or cape gooseberries, are another of the experimental crops this year. You've probably had some as a garnish on a dessert plate: they're orange, and come in a papery husk. I have four plants growing in the greenhouse along with the tomatoes and basil. Nothing serious here - they're being grown just for fun.
I have grown fennel every year we've been here, and it has been a successful crop for me. It has even bulbed nicely, which doesn't always happen. My biggest problem is actually eating it, which I've written about before - it's expensive to buy at the grocery store, so I think of it as a special occasion treat, which means I tend to save it in the garden until it's past its prime. This year I have been determined to eat it at its peak. My favourite: apple and fennel salad, with slivered green onions and grated carrot, dressed with a light vinaigrette. Yum.
Unlike everyone else around here, the brassicas have loved the cool, wet spring. The cabbages have somehow avoided whatever bug was eating them last year, and are forming beautiful heads. I'm also growing broccoli for the first time, and it has me a little confused. It's purple. Does broccoli even come in purple? I don't remember ordering it that way.