Two of my favorite things to grow in the summer are also fortunately two of my favorite things to eat.
We grow a lot of summer squash. It was an staple in our food culture here when I was growing up and one of the first things I planted when we began gardening.
When I was a boy we only grew yellow crookneck squash. I was an adult before I knew there was any other kind. We grew a lot of lemon squash and patty pan (scallop) squash last year and we’ve tried other kinds in the past. But this year we plan to stick with our tried and true favorites: yellow crook neck, yellow straight neck and Zephyr. Zephyr is a delicious bi-colored variety we get from Johnny’s and is our current favorite.
Keeping the squash bugs off long enough to permit a harvest is a real challenge when you don’t use pesticides. We battle them by hand every year, knowing they will eventually win, but hopefully not before we’ve picked an abundance of great chemical-free squash.
Green beans were another staple of our food culture 40 years ago, and they still are today. As with squash, I began planting them as soon as we began gardening. They mature in the heat of summer and picking them is long, hot, backache-inducing work. So lots of market gardeners don’t bother with them. But we love them and we devote an entire large garden to them. Beside being delicious, being legumes they fix nitrogen in the soil, naturally fertilizing th garden for next year. We always plant several varieties but our favorite is Roma II, a delicious flat bean that is as popular at the market as it is in our kitchen.
Around here most people know “green beans” as “string beans.” I grew up calling them “snaps” and that has stuck with me all these years later. We use “green beans” in our marketing materials, but in our house they’re snaps.
Thinking of summer gardens on a winter morning…