Collaborative Garden: 2011

My friend Jeff lives just a couple of blocks from my place. Jeff had obtained permission from another friend to till up part of the back yard of a house he owns for a vegetable and flower garden. Jeff and I decided to share the labor and we’ve had the good fortune to have had a nearly ideal growing season so far. The rains have been plentiful but not torrential. Here are some photos I shot; the first of them taken in May and the second series in late July, about a week ago.

Radishes were the first seedlings to appear. They are ridiculously easy to grow and most of them were eaten while working in the garden — a pleasantly pungent snack for a mild day in May. The seed-leaves have a peculiar shape:

Many plants were getting started by the middle of May but the garden looked a bit sparse. The nights were still cool:

Here’s Jeff watering a young yellow crook-neck squash plant with a tin can which has holes punched in its bottom:

The following photos were shot about a week ago, during late July. We’ve had several 100 degree days lately so much of the garden maintenance has been at dusk. Jeff planted two “topsy turvey” cherry tomatoes. The plants are planted at the bottom of bags of soil with a hole in the bottom. The tomato emerges from the hole very confused but eventually figures out the peculiar arrangement. As a plant, you can’t go wrong if you grow towards the sunlight! The bag planters are hanging from a structure originally intended to support a bench swing.

Here’s a view of the garden these days, hundreds of plants busily photosynthesizing while hoping to avoid the numerous rabbits which infest the area like bedbugs on a couch:

I enjoy growing and eating cow-peas and crowder peas. The long slender pods grow up above the creeping leguminous foliage, looking like vegetative helicopter blades:

I like the taste of dill but don’t really use it in cooking all that much. I like having it growing in a garden, though; the yellow flower umbels are like starburst fireworks and a pinch of the lacy aromatic foliage is pleasant to munch on now and then.

I didn’t grow up eating eggplant very often, but when I was in my thirties I fell in love with the plant. The fuzzy gray-green leaves are pleasing to the eye and the fruits are just beautiful, glossy black with a large toothed calyx enclosing the stem end of the fruit. This year I’m growing a slender black variety, much smaller than the typical eggplants sold in the supermarkets.

Eggplants are in the Solanaceae (the Nightshade family). The eggplant (Solanum melongena) is related to tomatoes, peppers, and tobacco. The odd name comes from the resemblance of early European varieties to a chicken’s egg; little white round eggplants. I’d like to see one someday!

I use many of the eggplants I’ve been picking for a Levantine dip or spread called Baba Ganouch.

Here’s a cluster of eggplants hanging from a plant rejoicing at the absence of flea-beetles this year — oh, hell, none of my eggplant photos are good enough! I’ll take some more tomorrow — come back tomorrow afternoon and I’ll have some good ones!

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I just bicycled over to the garden. This time I used an upended five-gallon bucket as an improvised tripod. The eggplants were nicely illuminated by the slanting rays of morning sunlight:

Aren’t the clasping calyxes extravagant?

In this next shot notice how the sunlight highlights the stems near the top of the frame:

I’ve had the hardest time getting good photos of eggplant flowers. A cruel world, isn’t it? The problem is that the blossoms face downward and it’s difficult to position the camera. I decided to pick one and lay it upon a fuzzy gray-green eggplant leaf:

The lighting was so nice that I cropped a closer view. Look at the arrangement of stamens and pistil — and the delicate pink of the petals just charmed my socks off:

It was a fruitful morning bike-ride!

Larry

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3 Comments

Filed under Food, Photos, Plants, Quincy

3 responses to “Collaborative Garden: 2011

  1. That’s one heck of a garden!

  2. Joan

    Amazing eggplant, squash, and kale!
    Thanks Larry for your veggie tale.
    Your veggies, which are good to eat
    Are just the ones I like to meet.
    The ones that make me feel the worst
    Are those who’re spouting bible verse.
    Young sprouts are hard enough to teach
    Without these tales of bible peeps
    As cartoon veggies. Very strange
    They should featured on my range
    Not miming “Jonah and the Whale”.
    I’d rather eat eggplant and kale.

    Of course if I still had toddlers, I’d probably feel much differently.
    Here’s a long Veggie Tale. I couldn’t sit through it.

  3. Thanks, Bug Girl!

    A verse comment from Joan is always a treat.

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