How Does My Garden Grow – September 2021

The garden is a riot of vines and flowers these days, with pumpkins and squashes having long given up any semblance of order, and growing anywhere they feel like. I have to step carefully just to enter, and I’ve lost track of what might be under the endless squash vines.

Tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers and peppers still ripen, but the end is near for them and I think I pulled the last zucchini this morning.

The basil has died completely, and the last batch of pesto made it to the freezer. I still have preserving to do – tomatoes, salsa verde, and grape jam, but soon enough that will be the end of the line, and all there will be left is to harvest squashes. In addition to our ever-prolific (also delicious) Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins, the spaghetti squashes are rampant this year. Stuffed spaghetti squash is a winter favorite for Eli and I, healthy comfort food at it’s best.

The days are still warm now, but it starts to get chilly overnight, enough that fewer windows are open.

Eli and I took the RV out for one last trip, our last of the year to do some hiking and just to spend some time togeher.

Despite the wonderful September weather, we have a lot to do at home, so our tiny house on wheels needs to be put away. We had some water issues in it with all the rain, so Eli started on the renovations to it we would have done anyway, although maybe not so soon. He transformed the dining nook, which turns into a spare bed. I’m fortunate to have a house that is permeated with art, which is in turn inspired by the gardens I work so hard on. A photograph of one of our Mexican Torch Sunflowers became the painted art that we eat at while we camp.

Final bits of home study paperwork have surfaced for the adoption, testing our patience with the Backyard Ultramarathon-meets-Alice in Wonderland’s Caucus Race style process. But we’re almost there, and it’s just a bit more to go.

I haven’t done as much canning and preserving this year as last. It’s been a less-than-ideal year for tomatoes, and we haven’t dried or preserved really any. But we’re in good shape generally, and our lives are still filled with the bounty of the season

Soon enough we’ll begin to stockpile winter vegetables and cooking will focus on soups, stews and fire up the woodstove on chilly evenings.

The last few zucchinis helped me perfect my zucchini fritter recipe. For some reason I got obsessed with the idea that I could make a perfect zucchini fritter, and went through multiple large zucchinis in service to the idea. After multiple challenges where the flavor was perfect but the fritters fell apart every single time, I finally realized that pan frying was just not going to work, so I baked them on high heat instead.

And then they just worked.

Healthy Zucchini Fritters

1 large zucchini
1 medium onion
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Shred the zucchini and the onion in a food processor. Place in a colander over a bowl and mix in the salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to drain water out of the zucchini.
Rinse the zucchini and onion mixture and let drain for a few minutes. Then squeeze the mixture to remove as much water as possible.

Drain the onion and zucchini using salt to remove the moisture

Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Preheat oven to 425, and line 2 baking sheets with foil. Drop on sheet and flatten, then bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping them once carefully. Serve with any number of dipping sauces – applesauce, sriracha mayonnaise, or honey mustard.

The fritters will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but should be reheated in an air fryer or the oven.

How Does My Garden Grow – July 2021

It has rained with just a few days of sun, for weeks now. The days it is sunny we take advantage as best we can by weeding and mowing the lawn, and trying to be outside. It veers between gentle showers and sudden thunderstorms and wind that take down branches all over town. I generally like the rain, and last year at this time we were rolling into drought but I admit, this makes me uncomfortable. I watch the wildfires and drought in the west through sheets of rain here. Everything is green, but how long until it gets too wet to handle? I don’t know. And yet, there’s not much we can do. So I try not to worry about it. Try.

And when the weather is beautiful, I try to take advantage, like having dinner in the garden at my neighbor’s.

Melissa’s Garden

We made it through our in-home walk through (our adoption social worker being really just the absolute loveliest person, boy did we get lucky) and began to turn our attention to the last few details of readiness. Most of the de-cluttering work is done, although there are some closets still to clean and paperwork to go through. The timing of opening our doors has shifted a bit, with the idea that kids come in after my daughter is settled into middle school. But not long from now.

Garden bounty from our CSA is in full swing, with kale, cucumber, lettuces. summer squash and things like beets and turnips in abundance. I love summer salads. Last night I made my first batch of basil pesto with cuttings from our CSA. It was a bit runny, but it will be delicious this winter, so into the freezer it went. Sunflowers have begun to bloom as well, one of our favorite added benefits of the summer.

Photo by Eli 5 Stone

Our own garden is a bit behind the CSA as it always is. The tops of the garlic have started to die down, so I should be able to pick it and cure it next weekend. With the humidity, ‘store in a cool dry place’ may require getting creative. We should have enough to get us through the winter holidays and to share, and I think I’ll plant it again this year. It absorbs a whole large garden bed for a chunk of the summer, but it’s worth it for the garlic scapes and the joy of it. I may add shallots too. And it’s time to order those things – with the farmlet, summer is the time to plan for fall.

Soon enough our preserving will start in earnest – tomatoes for drying and sauce, infinite zucchini and more. But that’s in a week or two, and for now we just watch the rain and take pleasure in summer’s beauty.