Sunday, August 17, 2008

pickles and other garden bounty

You know it's harvest season when you stay up past midnight with a canning project. Last night we made some sweet dill pickle spears and some dilly beans, all with produce from our garden plot. A week ago we also canned some bread and butter pickles. Eighteen and a half pints of garden goodness! And there's more coming...hopefully tomatoes soon, and more pickles.

Three weeks ago or so was our first green bean harvest, and I hadn't been so excited to see garden bounty in quite awhile. I drove over to the garden after Sam went to bed (which is a thrill in itself, to be out and about past 7pm, seeing people walking and biking and enjoying a summer evening, I have been so out of that "nightlife" loop since Sam), and pushed aside the plants to see the long green beans hanging below...and I found myself smiling widely saying, "Yeah, baby!...Yeah, baby!" I never use that expression anymore, and that's probably a good thing, but man, I was a happy gardener.

Sam has actually been eating the narrow french green beans (we're also growing blue lake standard type), which is incredible because he's been turning up his nose at anything green lately. Such a surprise to have to hide his veggies after he ate them so freely in his babyhood, though I hear it's typical. But with these french green beans cooked to perfection, he just pops them right in his mouth.

I'll take a guess as to where my particular green bean pride comes from. In recent years I have not grown them, and even at my former job I grew scarlet runners instead. So my most powerful memories of green beans go all the way back to my 3rd and 4th seasons of farming, when I was just part of the crew on a 100 acre diverse organic farm back in Massachusetts and marvelled at my good fortune to have such an amazing job. This farm was big enough to have rows of veggies that could take over an hour for one person to pick or weed. Green bean picking is particularly tedious and was not a favorite job for many on the crew. It requires a lot of bending over, tugging at the beans with enough force to get them off (even better if you could get a whole handful at once) yet not so much that the weak-rooted plants pulled out of the ground, a good eye to discern the beans through the same-hued leaves without missing any, and some resistance to the midday heat and post-lunch fatigue since beans are not fragile enough to get picked in the cooler morning. We would all hop off the truck at the particular rows we were picking that day, check the clipboard to see how many bushels we needed, and then each of us would start at the end of one row and not look up until we were done. At least I didn't look up, because the way that I made this job fun for me was to try to finish my row before anyone else and have a fuller crate. This would mean that I was fast and thorough. And most of the time, I did win my little unspoken competition. Maybe this year, growing my own and seeing the bounty, brings back some of that happy pride.

I hope our tomato harvest will bring a similar sense of accomplishment. So far we have only picked less than 10, all from our New Girl plant (a substitute for Early Girl, which I could not find). I must admit that I am a bit disappointed that it is already halfway through August and most of our tomatoes are still green, but it looks like everybody in the community garden is experiencing the same wait, possibly due to the fog we had for a couple weeks recently. It's a particular type of impatience, this waiting for harvest...

We have had a lot of success (in addition to cukes and beans) with lettuce (earlier in the season), basil, parsley, zucchini, pattypan squash, and even a couple of green peppers. Pretty good for the weediest, buggiest, most theft-prone garden I have worked in. The proof is in the pickle jars.

1 comment:

CarrieAlair said...

OOOOOH, YUM YUM! I love dilly beans! Everything looks and sounds delicious. I loved the story of you on the farm too.