For nearly all of my adult life I've had a vegetable garden, on some level. Even during my worst years as my green thumb withered, I still grew some sort of vegetables, most often tomatoes, bell peppers, and other kitchen staples.
There's no doubt that I'm addicted to homegrown tomatoes, but this season I tried growing potatoes...again.
In the past I've tried and not enjoyed much success. This year I bought GMO-Free Adirondack Seed Potatoes, and I planted five. All were fantastically successful; it was interesting to see the potato vines and leaves grow to a bluish color, and this is beneficial as you'll always know which potato variety is the Adirondack Blue.
As you can see in the photo below, the potatoes have a purplish skin and the flesh is bright purple. Unlike other purple potatoes, these maintain their beautiful purple flesh after being cooked and are VERY high in antioxidants! You can see how large these got by looking at the upper middle photo of the collage where I'm holding one of the potatoes; they're such big beauties!
I prepared oven-roasted potatoes for dinner one night, mixing Adirondack Blues with regular Russets, and the purple color made cooking feel more delightful and cheery, but the purple roasted potatoes on the plate made dining seem more fun and exciting.
From now on, every year I'll do my BEST to plant Adirondack Blue potato seeds in our garden because an abundant harvest allows me to give these beautiful potatoes as gifts to family and friends who are creative home-style chefs, but who might not have the space to have their own vegetable garden.
Later, I'll write about my growing techniques because my potato crop was a success; my harvest was quite handsome; I feel like a proud momma! However, potatoes are a crop that can be planted three separate times throughout the year, so I'll be making sure these potatoes keep going in our garden, and I'll write more details for potato lovers in a post that's soon to come.
This season, so far, my Walla Walla onions, sown from real seeds, tiny seeds, didn't seem to germinate. That was disappointing because I was eagerly anticipating two rows of onions being at our disposal for a long period of time...I wanted to walk out and pull up a couple of onions for meals whenever I wanted, but my want, want, want turned to nada, nada, nada for onions. I had doubted the health of those seeds, but went against my gun instinct when planting those seeds...shoulda, woulda, coulda.
However, my scallions were comfy at home in the garden and grew nicely. Same with the carrots; they love their growing spot. I love to pick baby carrots when they're tender and sweet, plus the chickens love the carrot tops as a treat. The below photo even shows a couple of pitiful potatoes that had been accidentally left behind in the garden, the tiny runts that simply struggled to keep up with the pack...I'll not let them go to waste.
Oh Bell Peppers...how I love thee! This is vegetable that can truly be expensive at the grocery store and is an ingredient we love to cook with. It's wonderful to grow fragrant, tasty bell peppers on our acreage. I love making several foods with bell peppers...stuffed bell peppers, chicken fajitas that do NOT taste nearly as good if cooked without bell pepper slices, king ranch chicken where I mince the bell pepper so my youngest daughter doesn't pick through her plate, grilled chicken or beef shish-k-bobs that include bell pepper chunks, and so many other delicious meals.
I've been thrilled to get corn from our garden this season. Now, corn is an incredible food to have on hand. You can take one ear of corn and cut off the kernels for a meal variation, grill it on the pit or it can be cooked several other ways, but corn is a great food to add to a meal. Corn is a continuous crop, so if you like eating it often or consistently, then you need to plant new seeds every two weeks for the entire planting season. I'll have to improve my gardening skills and time-table to get into a good groove for corn, but I DID grow some corn this year!
Jalapeno Peppers are my husband's delight. Well, ANYTHING hot and spicy suits his palate. I prefer the milder extra large jalapenos, and I stuff them with cheese, wrap in bacon and cook...one of my all-time favorites. The jalapenos I grow at home are smaller and HOT. But, it's great to have them on hand to prepare home-made salsa or pico de gallo, along with other dishes.
The Texas heat is now battering the best out of my precious tomato plants, but they've been producing quite an impressive bounty of tomatoes. From seed, I grew several varieties...of course my garden is completely Heirloom or GMO-Free plants, so I grew Black Krim, Beefsteak, Old German, Yellow Pear and my Bootcreek Green Beefsteak...some tomatoes get up to TWO POUNDS in weight! The smell and taste of our homegrown tomatoes is something that cannot be replicated in an ordinary grocery store full of produce that's grown as rapidly as possible to make as much money as possible...our home-grown, heirloom varieties are allowed to linger in the garden, to grow at their natural pace and be free of any kind of growth stimulates or chemicals, and they are allowed to hang out on the vine for as long as it suits them, then they're savored.
The harvest we get from our home-grown vegetable garden brings tremendous joy and value to our lives, home, kitchen, meals, wallet, self-esteem, and to our tastebuds. Not only do we find fulfillment from gardening, we learn and utilize real-world skills that are priceless because there's MUCH MORE to gardening than just sticking some seeds in the soil. Each lesson is treasured and no matter how much I read, study and research, there just isn't the same level of absorption for a topic than to just dig in and do it. Every year I gain more knowledge by doing some level of gardening, whether it be in containers, or a very limited garden or a more extensive garden where I'm taking things to a new level.
One thing is for sure, gardening can bring out the introspective side of me. After the rains we've had last week, the weeds can be an unrelenting beast, but gardening teaches and re-teaches me life lessons. This week, I'm reminded that life always has bad things trying to creep in, but we must be diligent and watchful, always eager and energetic to halt unhealthy intruders before they attempt to ruin all that we've worked so hard to enjoy. Life is like that...from destructive thoughts to destructive behaviors and destructive people, we need to weed as much of it out of our life as possible. Then, we should focus on the beautiful parts that will give back to us. Our hard work DOES come back around, and there is such amazing joy when we reap the fruits of our labor.