It’s August in Connecticut, and we’ve been working on our garden since May. We were able to start eating out of the garden back in June, but now the harvests are coming in full swing. This means there is one main task at hand – you gotta eat ’em all!
Here are a few of the crops and how we are enjoying them:
How to eat zucchini and summer squash
Zucchini and other summer squash are popping in Connecticut, and whether you have a garden or not, there is a good chance you can get your hands on them for cheap if not free. One thing that confounded us when we first started getting tons of zucchini was how to eat it. The only way my mom ever made it was some kind of zucchini pizza casserole. I think it was only called “pizza” to make it appealing to kids, because that stuff definitely didn’t taste anything like pizza. Plus the dish involved many ingredients and took some serious time to make.
We figured out a much easier and tastier way to enjoy zucchini – roast that shit! I like to slice ’em up, toss in olive oil with salt and pepper, then throw them on a grill or in an oven. I prefer grilling in the summer to keep the house cool. If you don’t have a gas grill, an electric one will work as well. This is probably the quickest, easiest way to fully enjoy your summer squash. I grill 1 or 2 squash everyday with sausages I get for a buck a piece at the Polish deli down the street. It makes for a quick, cheap and delicious lunch.
It’s important to keep picking your summer squash. You want to get them while still tender, and picking them before they get overripe keeps the plant productive. We have already gone through at least a dozen – usually picking 1 or 2 a day. We also cube and freeze some summer squash. In the winter, we pull a handful to throw into our soups and stews.
A few weeks ago, I pulled our garlic and hung them to dry. This was actually the first year I pulled them on time. We’ve been bothering to plant them every fall (just stick cloves into the ground about 3 inches deep) but never got around to harvesting them on time. Previous years, they would sit in the ground too long until the outer layers had rotted away. By the time we got around to them, worms were all up in them and we had to trim and eat the cloves right away. The year before was even worse – we didn’t pull the scapes early in the summer which sent most of the plant’s energy into the flowers instead of the bulbs. This year, we fared much better. After curing (for about 2-3 weeks) and trimming the garlic, we had 4.5 lbs of the stuff. Considering organic garlic at the farmers’ market sells for $11/lb we grew about $50 worth of garlic.
During a cookout we had while in Grand Junction CO, our host showed us a new way to cook garlic. He cut the tops off the whole garlic bulb, wrapped them in tin foil and threw them on the grill to roast. You can just squeeze the cloves out of the top right into you mouth – just perfect with a nice steak and some red wine.
We don’t have any issues eating our cucumbers. On a hot day, we just toss one into a blender with ice and water. So damn refreshing, and Mrs. Crazy Kicks swears it makes her skin glow. We also make our cukes into fridge pickles so we can enjoy them over the next few months. They are super easy to make – slice cukes, throw into jars with garlic, dill, and peppercorns, then top off with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and salt. We don’t bother with boiling or canning for shelf storage since they only last us a couple of months anyway. I love pickles.
We’ve been trying broccoli for a few years and it’s been a tough one for us. The biggest issue was not giving them enough space. When you buy a half dozen seedlings, you want to plant them all even if there isn’t enough space. As we found out, this leads to stunted plants that get infested with aphids. We finally gave them the right amount of space along with some grade-A chicken shit. And guess what? It worked! We got several big crowns this year, and after picking, some smaller florets are still growing in.
We have also been pulling out tons of kale, potatoes, peppers, peas, radishes, chives, oregano, thyme, basil, and lettuce. The garden will keep producing for us all the way into December, so there is a lot more good eating to come. I will share more about our meals and the cost breakdowns in another post.
Not only does our garden save us money, but I really love being able to get fresh veggies right out of our yard. I also don’t mind eating the same kind of veggies everyday. After all, we live in a seasonal place and only get to enjoy freshly grilled zucchini for a couple of months. If you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy the freshest ingredients each season by supporting your local farmers’ market. This time of year, local farmers are also bursting at the seams with fresh produce and selling at good prices.