I am officially a queen of vegetables, since I’ve been crowned by my husband and those who saw my vegetable garden this year. Hard work had paid off eventually. We have sooo many vegetables that we give them away. This year’s crop is enough to supply a large restaurant, the size of Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, no doubt!
All of the vegetables grown from plants (OK, shop-bought) have flourished and are producing out of control! Carrots from seeds haven’t taken off, but radishes and beetroot have been great, now all eaten and gone.
Peppers, which I never grew before, are fabulous. Pimientos de Padron (Galician delicacy) need to be picked almost daily, again we had to give some away, as only so much two people can eat, and these peppers are not too good for preserving.
We also have Italian peppers (sweet oblong shaped variety) and Bell peppers, which I let go red, although I did make several jars of chargrilled green peppers in olive oil.
Tomatoes are huge but still mostly green.
Courgettes, which both of us are not that keen on, are growing mad. We picked some for ratatouille, and keep frying flowers in olive oil, coated in light tempura batter – delicious! We have now let some courgettes grow big, and then compost them, as it’s so many of them!
Aubergines are my favourites at the moment. Again, first time for me, and I would grow them even just for esthetic reasons, they are such beautiful plants! A few first aubergines went for ratatouille in jars.
Melons are growing nicely, there are already several quite large ones, and my dear husband can’t wait – it was his request to grow melons.
Onions are being eaten already, Steve pickled some in vinegar – for himself only, I don’t like vinegar pickles. I keep picking more onions and dry them for making pretty plats later.
Now, there is one vegetable giving me constant headache in terms of what to do with such crop. It’s cucumbers! Goodness me, aren’t they productive?? Literally every day I pick, and after given away kilos of them, I have fermented some, I have pickled some, we have eaten them in salads and salsas, and it is very likely that loads might end up in the compost eventually. Which would be a shame! Galicians apparently don’t like them much. Several neighbours asked us what to do with cucumbers after we gifted them. If you don’t want pickling gherkins, how about gaspacho? Despite similarly warm summers, here in Galicia gaspacho is not as popular as in Andalusia. As a result, we have a glut of unwanted cucumbers.
So, if anyone living in the area wants organic cucumbers, please contact me! We are happy to share, along with other crop available.
I must admit though, that if it wasn’t for mulching, I would be spending all my summer days weeding and watering my vegetables. Mulching saved my life and my sanity. It is the best gardening discovery I made this year, without a doubt! Thanks to mulching, there are hardly any weeds, and I water once in 4-5 days. Considering we are having one of the hottest summers since 1873 (according to papers), it’s not bad at all. Even our well still holds water, whereas last year we run out by first of August due to watering.
So, all in all, I think growing your own is worth it. For us, it’s important that vegetables are organic – we use no fertilisers or any other chemicals, only well or spring water. Thanks to companion planting, pests are limited. And secondly, picking something which you grew yourself is so satisfying.
Also, you can be totally self-sufficient, providing you preserve your crop well for the coming winter months. I can see now why some villagers don’t go to the shops – no need! Especially if you make your own wine (and many do). Talking of grapes, they are looking good too. We spray them with organic copper sulfate, and instead of using herbicide to kill weeds, Steve mows the grass. It is hard work but we think it is worth it.
Next year I will have my own compost, pile of which is growing at the back of the garden, no need to buy expensive manure. And we will have to adjust varieties and quantities of plants, as it is obvious that we went over-enthusiastic this year (note to myself: never listen to the husband!). My current vegetable garden is way too big for two people. But it was very much an experiment, and mostly quite successful. Third time lucky!
In the meantime, I keep preserving, fermenting, pickling, jamming, juicing… and giving away my beautiful organic vegetables. Share some recipes!