Friday, July 30, 2010

What's In Season?


Even with the limited palate of veggies we grow in the Hereford garden, we still get to experience the joys of the changing growing season!

Late July into August is an especially prolific time. In our garden, all different types of squash, peppers, and tomatoes are coming into season! In the squash department, we have zucchini, patty-pan, and some interesting hybrids to taste and compare.

The peppers are exciting to watch as they mature and change colors. Besides the green sweet peppers, we also have many hot pepper varieties. Some are in the process of turning from red to yellow, a beautiful thing to see.

Unfortunately, the tomato crop is having a tough time, what with the persistent ground hog and the tomato blight. Our hopes are high that the million and a half green tomatoes just hanging on the vine will transform in to red deliciousness overnight! We have already gotten to enjoy some sweet cherry tomatoes though.

Our herbs are also ready to harvest. We have myriad basil plants just asking to be turned into pesto. This means the constant battle of removing the flowers from the sweet basil is in full swing. I have gotten to spend many garden sessions bonding intimately with the basil flowers as I nip them from their stems. Have you ever looked closely at a basil flower when it first starts? It’s actually quite beautiful. Tiny leaves form a perfectly symmetrical cross shape and then begin to layer, creating an extremely delicate and intricate geometry. But you have to remove the flowers, or else the leaves start to lose their flavor and become bitter.

Outside of the Hereford garden, this is high peach season in Virginia. If you haven’t gotten a local peach yet, GO GET ONE! You can find them everywhere (C’ville Market, Farmer’s Market, Feast, Whole Foods, Integral Yoga, etc), and in several different varieties. Every local peach I have had this year has been nothing short of heavenly. If you want to make an adventure out of it, there are lots of peach-picking orchards around the area. Check out Carter’s Mountain for a spot nearby.

Other seasonal items to be found around Charlottesville in late July/early August include cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, nectarines, plums, and potatoes.

Coming up next in the Hereford garden (and around C’ville) should be corn and melons! You can already find melons of many different varieties around town. Ours are maturing on the vine, and should be ready to eat throughout August. I haven’t seen much corn yet, but that should come into abundance in the next couple of weeks. There’s nothing quite as amazing as fresh corn on the cob for dinner.

Besides all the wonderful eating we’ve been doing lately, it’s also time to think about planting a winter/fall garden. Now is the time to put in butternut squash, broccoli, and greens. We’ve planted some squash with plans to put in broccoli and other crops in the near future. Hopefully these plants will be timed to come into season around September/October.

Eat well and enjoy the height of summer food!!


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