Garlic scapes are the immature, unopened flowers that form at the top of the plant’s leafy stalk in early summer. They have a delicate, garlic flavour and are much less potent than the bulb. In fact, I can’t eat much garlic raw or cooked, but I can devour garlic scapes aplenty with no stomach upset.
Fava beans, broad beans, Vicia faba, whatever you prefer to call them… they’ve begun to show up at my local Italian greengrocer. There was a time when I was committed to growing both peas and fava beans during the spring season, but once I moved into an Italian neighbourhood I decided there was little point in pushing to make both happen in a small space and so these days I grow loads of peas and buy favas.
I went to my local Italian grocer this week and chose seed packs for the contest. I tried to stick with varieties that winners can grow in a variety of conditions whether that’s location/climate, season, small spaces, big spaces, and containers. Some of these can be direct sown and some should be started indoors. Something for everyone!
Italian seed packets tend to be very generous and these are no exception. Each packet contains enough seed to sow a farm or share with several friends.
Below you’ll find write-ups on each variety that I chose. Many of these varieties have become available through companies that sell heirloom seed, but I still find that Spigarello is not commonly available. My local grocer didn’t sell it last year and I was so glad when they listened to my pleas and stocked it again for 2013.
There is still time to enter the contest but you must do so over here. Enjoy!
July was painfully hot and dry. The garden suffered and there were days when I was sure that I would lose a few plants as a result.
August, on the other hand, has been wet and somewhat cool. I really can’t complain. I don’t remember the last time I watered anything other than the pots and many plants have bounced back from the extreme conditions. The only drawback is that the earwigs and slugs have regained traction and some of my tomatoes split on the vine due to the rapid shift overnight from extremely dry to wet. I don’t like knowing that summer’s days are limited, but I do like that I can get out into the garden without burning to a crisp!
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. My garden on August 9, 2012. 2. We made Stuffed Squash Blossoms last night. First batch of the summer and SO SO good. 3. Yesterday also marked the first big batch of homegrown Roasted Tomato Soup of the season. It was a day of delicious seasonal firsts. 4. I am in love with ‘Rattlesnake’ pole bean, a beautiful and delicious heirloom that I inherited from my friend Margaret at AwaytoGarden.com. The beans come on fast and grow large quickly, yet I’ve been able to snack on them raw despite their size. Oh dear. ‘Trionfo Violetto’ has got some work ahead if it is going to hold onto its title as my go-to pole bean favourite.
Assorted and Sundry
- Over at HGTV Gardens where I have a weekly Q&A column, I recently wrote about how to help zucchini plants that won’t produce fruit, gave advice on how to plant during a heatwave, and offered solutions for overcoming blossom end rot.
- The Homegrown Tomato Juice recipe from our new pocketbook, “Drinking the Summer Garden” is available over on Treehugger.
- If you’re in Toronto this week for the Urban Agriculture Summit (or just cause), I’ll be signing copies of my books along with other urban ag authors at an event called “Growing the City” at Toronto City Hall. When: Thursday, August 16, 2012. 6:30pm-8. Where: Toronto City Hall Rotunda, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto. I hear there will be free refreshments as well as a tour of the green roof before the event between 6pm and 6:30.
- On Friday, August 17 at 10:30am I will be chairing a session on diversity (or the lack of) in urban agriculture called, “Urban Food Production and Social Inclusion” with speakers Shewat Zeru from AfriCan Food Basket and Malik Yakini, the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
I believe that tickets are still available to attend this conference. There are tiered rates for students and small businesses and non-profits available as well as skills-based workshops that can be attended individually and without a full conference pass.
I know. It’s only been two days and I’m already back. There’s just so much happening in the garden (and kitchen) right now and lots to share. My neck isn’t hurting too much today. The trick seems to be more exercise, time spent outdoors, and a lot less time on the computer.
The forecast was calling for thunderstorms, so I spent the morning in the garden harvesting produce, particularly ripe tomatoes. Some varieties are prone to cracking when ripe, especially after a strong rainfall so I wanted to be sure to get them off of the vines before the storm hit.
I have also been neglectful about pruning and staking these past weeks and there were a few plants that had grown into multi-branched monsters. With their fruit growing heavier by the day, it was essential to stake the tangled mess to avoid breakage in case of strong rain and winds. While I was at it, I pruned out excess foliage to ensure good air flow all around the plants. I want to keep my plants happy and producing ripe fruit right through to the first frost.
To make things more informative, I have uploaded the photo (above) of tomatoes to my Flickr stream and have added notes indicating which varieties are which. There are a few more in this batch than there was in the August 13 photo. There are still a number of varieties that haven’t even put out their first ripe fruit — many of which I have never grown nor tasted before. The fun never stops. Fortunately, I have got my taste for tomatoes back.
Some more of today’s harvest is depicted here. ‘Spanish Padron’ peppers (harvest them small. They get hotter as they grow), pole beans (‘Annelino Giallo’ (my first year growing this variety) and ‘Trionfo Violetto’), purslane (I let this weed grow and harvest the leaves for salads), Swiss chard and assorted herbs for my lunch. What is not shown is the giant amaranth I harvested to make West Indian callaloo soup, and an armload of mint that came off of plants that needed a good end-of-summer haircut.
I have a lot of canning and preserving work ahead of me these next days. A first batch of slow dried tomatoes have just come out of the oven (I regret using the ‘Green Grape’ variety. They are delicious fresh, but unpleasant when dried. Fortunately, ‘Maglia Rosa’ and ‘Haley’s Purple Comet’ are nice.), another batch has gone in for sauce, and I’ve just finished washing the excess amaranth leaves in preparation for freezing.
What about you? Are your tomatoes producing yet? Are you drowning in the summer’s bounty?