Veggies & ragweed make for sneezing

Well, actually, only ragweed makes for sneezing but the fact that the newly tilled soil this spring — next to where we actually planted — has resulted in a bumper crop of ragweed makes visiting our allotment garden *achoo0* very sneezy.  But, if this is the reward —

— then *aahh….choo!*  it’s definitely worth it.   These patty-pan squashes (Cucurbita pepo) are called Patisson Panache (with an accent on the ‘e’), Verte et Blanc and came from Seed Savers Exchange.  They are a French heirloom that date back to the 1800s.  The monster tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) — a whopping 5″ wide — is named Rose and it is also from SSE.  An old-fashioned variety from the Amish in New Holland, Pennsylvania, it is considered one of the best tasting beefsteak tomatoes EVER.  I’ll let you know.  And the mini yellow pear-shaped tomato is called Yellow Pear (go figure) and came from Renee’s Garden.   It is also an old variety and has a mild, sweet taste.

But let’s back up for a minute. 

Boy, life sure is full of good intentions.  Case in point:  our veggie allotment garden where this spring I had big dreams.  I had contacted two very well-known and excellent seed sellers for packets of seeds to trial and was sent a generous variety by both Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa (I wonder if that photo op of Obama last week was indeed in front of their iconic red barn…oh yes, I see it was!) and Renee’s Garden in Felton, California.  Both of these seed purveyors specialize in heritage (and often rare), untreated, organically grown, and non-genetically modified seed.

This growing season has been a challenging one.  First, it was too wet.  Rains came and stayed for weeks on end in April and May, leaving the earth soggy and impossible to work without sinking into the slurpy muck.  Despite this, we managed to prepare a section of our garden before the mushroom compost was delivered and then got our seedlings into the ground. 

Then the drought.  June, July and now August has been hot and dry, making it great for long-season crops but the hardened soil makes weeding almost impossible.  Without supplemental watering, the ground is like cement and our attempts to weed our allotment garden was, for the most part, defeated.

On top of this, I am busy busy busy during the week, nevertheless weekends still saw regular visits to keep on top of things.  But over the last two or three weeks we seem to have been too busy even to make one visit to the garden.  As a result, this was what we saw today:

How did everything get so BIG?  The tomatoes, of which we had planted four varieties, were falling over resulting in some lying on the ground with very large bites having been taken out of them.  The broccoli (from Renee’s Garden, called All Season Blend, and is supposed to continue producing with side florets even after the central one is harvested) was bursting forth like this:

— and I might as well ‘fess up now that this was not my first broccoli harvest.  I had taken some on our last visit a few weeks earlier and made this:

Yes!  That is broccoli that we grew ourselves … and the peas too.  I can’t claim credit for the carrots and mushrooms, however.  Sorry for the poor quality – I think the heat emanating from the stove (yummm) made my camera all blurry.

Anyway, this is what else we found today —

Still too little to harvest but a joy to behold.  This is Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) from Seed Savers Exchange that was “brought to Saskatchewan by Russian immigrants” and “does well in cool northern climates.”   It has beautiful white flesh and black seeds. 

This poor, imperfect pepper (Capsicum annuum) is nonetheless putting on some nice colour.  It is a Hungarian heirloom called Beaver Dam, and according to the packet it was “brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1912 by the Joe Hussli family” and can be purchased through the Seed Savers Exchange.  It is described as being “mildly hot” when seeded — good thing since I’m a wimp when it comes to hot food.  I’ll let it stay on the vine a little longer…

Stay tuned for more in my veggie allotment garden saga…..

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