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Garden Harvests in July

The gardening season in Maine goes from nothing to full throttle in a matter of days. For months you look out the window at snowbanks and wonder if you'll ever plant anything again. And then for weeks after that you examine the cold soil and the stringy seedlings and think, this will never turn into food. But then, in an explosion in early July, you're drowning in vegetables.

This year we planted a bounty of zuchinnis, summer squash, and cucumbers at the front of our garden. At the beginning of the week I was picking my first zucchini, and by the end of the week the kitchen counter was overflowing with dozens of produce ripe for eating.

After keeping up with several rows of radishes by including them in sandwiches and salads, I've let one row go to seed for their pods. We also have shell beans and carrots growing quickly and for the first time this year I am growing turnips. While I enjoy turnips many ways, my favorite is stir-fried with soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey.

We have four rows of different varieties of potatoes, and I am glad that potatoes store well because there's no way we could keep up with that amount of potatoes. We have had some issues with potato bugs, but the plants seem to still be thriving. Our garden is also home to plenty of eggplants, two rows of corn (including popcorn), lots of lettuce, snap and shell peas, cabbages, and hot peppers.

I have put a lot of focus into our bed of tomatoes this year. I've spent many hours in the garden pruning and staking, and while we don't have any fruit yet we have the healthiest looking vines I've ever grown. Hopefully that will translate into a bumper crop. Next to the tomatoes is a spreading field of squash and pumpkins, already with small green pumpkins growing bigger.

Vegetable gardening is undeniably linked to the kitchen, and for me part of the joy of gardening is experimenting with new ways to keep up with all the fresh produce coming in the front door. We love stir-fries, but we've also enjoyed zucchini bread, cucumber lemonade, various roasts, vegetable noodles and plenty of sandwiches.

We don't have a freezer at this time and I don't particularly enjoy the pickling process (especially in a kitchen as small as ours) so every day is a new challenge in how to best keep up with the garden. I never used to enjoy cooking until I started gardening, and every summer my enthusiasm for trying new dishes increases. Any suggestions on recipes for all of the vegetables we have coming in are always welcome!


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