I received one of my seed orders in the mail today. I love looking at what I ordered (because I usually forget). It is like Christmas! Seeds are the promise of delicious, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and this year a few new crops:
Last summer at the GMO-Free Farmer’s Market in Hartford, the boys and I were treated to Ground Cherries. These insanely delicious little fruits that are sometimes called Chinese Lanterns, Cape Gooseberry, that some get confused with the Tomatillo (it is a relative), Physalis peruviana is not a cherry or a gooseberry or a lantern, nor is it Chinese. It is, however, oh so sweet!
It is in the nightshade family as are tomatoes. This will be a first time for me but from what I read these little treasures fall from the plant before they are ripe, are to be collected, and allowed to ripen for a week or so before popping into your mouth. They can be stored for up to three months in their paper husks. I am very excited about these little sweeties!
Growing ground cherries from Organic Gardening
Okay, true confessions: I am not really excited about swiss chard. I have never grown it, though. It is one of those “good for you” veggies that I know is chock full of vitamins and minerals, holds up well in soups, and continues to grow in the garden long after the first frost. This variety advertises being less bitter than most of the others. We shall see.
Homemade Pickles Cucumber
My 12 year old absolutely loves dill pickles. I have only enjoyed pickles while pregnant. Healthy, organic pickles (you know, without the Yellow #5) are very expensive. I learned how to can using the water bath method last summer and know how to ferment vegetables so I know I can make pickles. I also have the coveted wild grape leaves growing on my property to help achieve that desired crisp pickle. I am very excited about growing my own organic cucumbers and making pickles for my youngest child. I paid $8 for a pint of organic pickles last summer. I can make a dozen jars to last us throughout the year. I can do this!
Early Wonder Beet
I have never eaten a beet in my life. They can be fermented, though, for a super healthy food. So beets are another “good for you” crop I am growing this year. But you never know: I might actually like them. I do know that beet juice can be used as a natural food coloring and even textile dye. Maybe I’ll just ferment beets, also known as Beet Kvass. This doesn’t sound appetizing to me but I know I’ll try at least one batch. I eat so many bizarre foods and drink so many bizarre drinks now what is one more?
A medium hot pepper suggested by a friend is being added to my peppers grown this year. I think I will need to put these in a planter in my driveway area which gets the most sun and heat. Most people grow peppers in greenhouses up here in Connecticut so we shall see how my pepper crops turn out this year. I envision using these in my homemade salsa.
Romano Pole Beans
I grew up eating canned green beans. As an adult I discovered the much more exotic Italian Green bean, canned, of course. They were delicious. The first time I tasted a fresh cooked green bean I grimaced. I thought it tasted disgusting. You see, green beans are supposed to taste salty and are soft. Right? Last fall I ventured forth into something different. I bought a bag of organic green beans and lacto-fermented them. Placed them in a Fido jar I poured brine over them, then tucked a cabbage leaf on top to keep them submerged. The resulting sour, slightly salty, sort of crunchy, just starting to soften fermented green beans were absolutely delicious. Really, I had finally found a non-canned green bean that I liked!
This summer I will attempt to grow those Italian green beans. I grew Cosse Violette pole beans last summer and tried one, hated it, and then just enjoyed their beautiful flowers. This summer I will try to grow enough that I can harvest and ferment a jar at a time. I have such limited garden space that I am not sure. If not, I might lightly steam and add to a marinated salad. I am determined to like non-canned green beans in more than one way.
Gardening is such an adventure. Along with many of the heirloom seeds that I saved last summer and fall I have these new crops to look forward to experimenting with. Oh, and growing a small plot of popcorn just for fun makes me smile just to think about. Now that I have ended two sentences in a row with prepositions I will say good evening. Happy growing!