Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Violet, You're Turning Violet! A Wicked Vegetable Patch Update

Summer is really kicking up now and the garden is starting to look a lot like Mardi Gras. Less in the way of beads, boobs and blackouts and more in the sense that there is a lot of purple, green and gold out there. It's lovely. I've even started to mimic it in my meals- Pesto and spinach stuffed, grilled portabellas topped with goat cheese, purple/green salad, roasted kaleidoscope carrots an a bowl of spicy cucumber soup. Molly's welcome home dinner and several key ingredients were pulled straight out of the Wicked Park backyard which just makes my heart happy.

Onto the actual update. I went a little nuts this year and when Bruce had several extra tomato seedlings, I went from a planned eight plants to eleven. I say this having just adopted a 12th from my neighbor Sam who had little cherries growing wild.

I can say it. I'm a tomato-aholic. I fuss over them first thing every morning and occasionally visit them at night as well. And now that all twelve have erupted into yellow blossoms and tiny green fruits, I don't even attempt to contain my glee in their presence.

"Look at you! You're a wonder, Black Krim! You remind me of a pumpkin. A pumpkin that will be fully appreciated sliced with krimped edges with a soft burrata. Keep up the excellent work- you should be really proud of yourself."

"And you, little black cherry. A natural overachiever. The first to ripen and surely the first treasure to be plucked and enjoyed without ever making it inside the kitchen. I just can't tell you how much I've enjoyed watching you develop. I know you have a lot of wonderful gifts to share in the future."

Yes, I really do talk to them. The benefit of doing my fussing at 5:30-ish is that no one else is up to wonder at my rambling. In the spirit of full disclosure though, we have had one bit of disappointment. One of my San Marzano plants is afflicted with blossom end rot. Wretched little illness that can really put a dent in a tomato yield. Never fear though, I think some extra calcium and a good series of pep talks should help to clear it up.

Beyond tomatoes, I did mention purple. I'm not kidding- I think it's the Wicked Patch's favorite color. These towers of leafy ruffles are called Jester lettuce and will be growing more next year.

It's delicious and sets of a wooden bowl of salad just so. Grows like a weed too, which works out well.
Ah yes, the Black Beauty eggplant has returned. Key learning from last year was that eggplant doesn't mind our garden's heavy clay soil so I trimmed down from four seriously overproducing plants last year to two this year.

The second of my eggplants is called a Listada de Gandia. I'm convinced I need a dress in this print and it's even prettier in person. I would love any recommendations for recipes that might maintain the look of that gorgeous exterior in a finished product.

The passion for purple has not limited itself to Ground+. Not at all- here's some young hard neck garlic that's taken on deep purple clove casings beneath the white paper exterior. Did I mention young purple garlic is delicious? I used it to make the pesto in the stuffed portabellas at top.

"Red onion" has always struck me as a bit of a misnomer. They are purple to the point of being practically lilac on the inside. And oh my do they taste good caramelized. Clean Out the Fridge Pasta- post coming soon.

Once I wrapped the photo session in my own patch, I walked across to see if I could finagle some eggs for breakfast from our local chickens. I was a little early for them but they came out to say hi anyway.
Have I mentioned how much I love this neighborhood?

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