It’s perhaps the most privileged, most tone-deaf thing to complain about, but here we are, and I’m going to say it: I have too many vegetables.
I imagine I’m not alone in thinking this. The people who brought you “Pandemic Bread Baker” later branched out with their spring production of “Hey Look: I Planted a Garden!” and now they are deep in rehearsals for their summer extravaganza: “Holy Crap! More Kale!”
I would like to say that it’s only gardening newbies who are surprised to learn that, when they plant seeds all at the same time, everything ripens at once, but I am surprised by this fact every year. And it’s not just the vegetables. Every July I sigh with satisfaction when our raspberries first come out. “Mmmm, gonna go eat me some raspberries,” I drool. Days later: “GOTTA EAT ALL RASPBERRIES!”
Luckily, we have only a modest garden in our backyard. I say “modest” because it’s much less harsh than saying “poorly managed with middling results.”
For instance, our burgeoning zucchini plant has been blossoming flower after flower this year. So far, though, it has produced a single zucchini. This is probably because most of the flowers are male. Without a female flower to pollinate, the male parts whither and fall off. Which reminds me, I’m due to write an update on life after prostate cancer.
Our beets are tiny, our tomato plants blighted, our Swiss chard has lost the will to live. But we have lettuce. Boy, do we have lettuce. Deb likes to seed the lettuce like she’s squeezing ketchup on a hotdog – a nice consistent row. And then no thinning allowed. Don’t thin the lettuce. Don’t thin any of the plants. I would be exaggerating if I said I sneak out in the dead of night to thin the carrots, but I do make sure I am well camouflaged.
So these are what we call our salad days. Also salad nights. When we visit Deb’s parents, we bring salad. Some nights for supper we have salad with a side of salad. We are a go for greens.
We also have a bumper crop of green beans. And yellow beans (or as Abby used to call them, “yellow green beans,” which I am fully on board with). We planted a lot of beans. All at the same time. (See above.) So we are eating a lot of beans. We have many, many beans. The cats don’t eat beans. Does anyone want beans?
Because here’s the thing: in addition to produce from our own garden where everything ripens at the same time, we are also receiving a weekly box of vegetables from another garden where the very same produce is ripening, also all at the same time.
Earlier in the spring, Deb signed on for a weekly produce box from Ô Chouette Jardin, a micro-farm in Stanstead East. (They also have a stand Saturday mornings at the Stanstead Farmers’ Market.) Each Tuesday, the box arrives at our door, and it’s always a treat to see what’s inside. I look at the multicoloured beets and torpedo onions, the garlic scapes and the heirloom kale, and I think to myself, “We have a week to eat all this.”
These past two Tuesdays, the produce box has included yellow green beans, which we already have, as I’ve said, but it’s nice to have produce from people who know what they’re doing, and by that I mean beans that aren’t curled like dead man’s toenails. We finished last week’s yellow green beans Sunday, but as of Tuesday, we still had some of last week’s mixed greens and cherry tomatoes. This week, we got more mixed greens and cherry tomatoes.
Uh-oh. We’ve lapped ourselves.
So what do we do? Well, Tuesday evening, Deb went out and picked more lettuce to top off the bag of our own lettuce, of course, and we made a salad with the remains of last week’s farm mixed greens plus some of last week’s cherry tomatoes, and I put the last three cherry tomatoes in with this week’s cherry tomatoes so that at least I wouldn’t be thinking, “Shoot, we have two bags of cherry tomatoes.” There’s also a giant beefsteak tomato from the farm on the shelf ripening a final bit beside a few of our own unripe tomatoes that fell off the vines that we’ll let get more red before we get around to worrying about when on earth we’re going to eat all these tomatoes plus more to come. Also we have beans.
So what I’m saying is, these vegetables are stressing me out. But I’m going to the bathroom just fine.
We have a huge garden… and so many vegetables. You could always freeze some, you know, and continue the feast over the fall and winter.
Yeah, we’ll freeze, but it seems such an insult to those fresh tomatoes.
They’re not likely to take it personally.
This made me laugh.
Never heard of a “torpedo onion,” but I see it’s a real thing. I was afraid it was one of those “gut cleansing” cures that infest the internet, like the Colonic Cabbage Cannon or the Bangalore Brussels Spout.
One of my grandmothers & her neighbors used to exchange oversize zucchinis, leaving them on the porch like foundlings. Sometimes the squash was done up in baskets with ribbons & bows (seriously), and the biggest ones would make the rounds, going door to door in the dead of night, sometimes ending up back where they’d grown. Eventually we kids would swipe them, and use them as bats in veggie softball, hitting overripe tomatoes.
Ah, almost brings a tear to my eye. Like the acidic tomato pulp did.
That sounds like a fun but messy tradition. Round here, we have giant pumpkin growers. They are a mad lot. What do you do with a giant pumpkin. Even less than with regular pumpkins.
We never grew a real giant, but one year when I was in grade school, the year I was a Viking for Halloween and ended up in the ER with a costume-related accident, we had one that was big enough for two kids to sit on comfortably, there’s a picture somewhere. The problem with a real giant pumpkin, they’re flat on the bottom and even with 3 other kids, you can’t roll them anywhere, like into the canal, which would’ve been pretty cool.
You could do, what my grandma did: She preserved the green beans.
Blanching and freezing green beans is one of the best ways to preserve them. Frozen green beans have more nutrients than pressure canned beans. Giving the green beans a quick blanching in boiling water before freezing them ensures that they will retain great texture and color when you get around to cooking with them
Or you could cook bean curry with the tomatoes and the beans – and preserve that.
Ooo, bean curry sounds yummy! We pickled beans once. I believe it was 2007. I threw out the last jar last year. It was probably fine but, you know… Thanks for the link!
Just to give you an idea.
For something else:
Healthy green bean & penne salad
Make a tasty, nutritious pasta salad with a healthy tomato and basil dressing for your lunchbox. This quick, easy veggie meal boasts three of your 5-a-day!
How to make our green bean & penne salad:
Chop 1 large red onion and cut 160g green beans into short lengths.
Boil 75g wholemeal penne in a pan of water for 5 minutes.
Add the beans and onions to the pan, return to the boil and cook for 5 mins more, then drain.
Meanwhile, chop 2 tomatoes and add to a bowl with 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and half a small pack of basil (saving a couple of leaves). Blitz with a hand-blender to make a dressing.
Tip the pasta and beans into the dressing, add 4 chopped Kalamanta olives and mix well. Allow to cool.
Spoon into lunchboxes and top with the remaining basil leaves and a handful of rocket leaves. This can be chilled for up to one day ahead.
I like challenges like this … I like to find some less common recipes for common vegetables. When a colleague gifted me a zucchini – a large one – I made zucchini mufffins from that, and a (not so successful) zucchini-cheese-soup. There are also recipes around where you use zucchini in chocolate cakes (like carrot in carrot cakes – mainly to moisturize the cake).
I have used peas in savoury muffins and a green bell pepper … Made pasta sauce with chick peas … As far as I am concerned, there are soo many recipes out there to be tried and tested, I am happy for a bumper crop in other peoples’ gardens … a welcome change in my cooking/baking habits.
My wife is the master at hiding zucchini. Good in lasagna! Thanks for all the recipes!
You’re welcome. If you want more, just google.. 😁That’s what I do.
We did the same. Joined a CSA share because they are the coolest young farmers and have lost a $#!&load of their farm-to-table restaurant business, and I had planted some stuff so we have lots more than we could ever eat, mostly from the farm, as I suck completely at growing vegetables. I think I have the most expensive compost pile in the state at the moment, since I’ve had to feed it several heads of lettuce and all manner of greens and excess zucchini and various root vegetables that festered in the back of the fridge for too long. I keep thinking if I at least had chickens to feed it to it wouldn’t seem so wasteful, but I suck at livestock too so right about now I’m wondering what I think I’m doing living out here in the country anyways…
Garden guilt: it’s real.
I weirdly get a thrill when I find I have scraps to put in my compost. But I too hate wasting good food.
yikes, you are being overrun! who knew if you planted seeds, they would grow!? this is quite an unexpected turn of event! perhaps you can do what i saw my neighbors did, when out on one of my recent long walks. they put a giant bowl out on a table near the curb, with a sign that said ‘help yourself, we have plenty, and we’d like to share.’ i have a feeling they may have found themselves in quite the same situation, and may have taken the pressure to keep up with the barrage of food and the guilt that goes with it, quite literally off the table.
Nice idea. After writing this, our neighbour gifted us some cucumbers (we had no luck) and zucchini. I love garden giving!
We signed up for an every other week produce box this summer and have a hard time keeping up. We were talking about doing a garden next summer but think we’ll stick to the CSA. I’d be more stressed about keeping pests out and failing than having too much produce.
We’re pros at failing. At this point, our garden is more of a habit than a going concern.