Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Growing and Developments

We have had an active week at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden, particularly for a dry
Swiss  Chard
October.  Our unseasonably warm and dry weather has resulted in  an unusual harvest this late in the year and discouraged us from cleaning out more of the Garden. Also, a large property development may be built just one block from the Garden.    Our neighbors have also been busy improving the neighborhood as well.

On Wednesday, I watered as much as I could before sunset.  Stan the Man was also at the SACG harvesting from his plot, but didn’t seem too interested in watering.   He had another bumper crop of green beans and no idea what to do with them.  I emailed him one of my favorite late-season recipes (which I’ve included below) and links to three websites with plenty of other green bean recipes: NYTimes, Real Simple magazine, and Southern Living magazine (which has 31 different green bean recipes).   I told him about all kinds of green beans salads, and of course, just the simple: boil them for a few minutes in salted water.   I also harvested tomatoes and yard-long beans from my plot before calling it a day.
More swiss chard
On Thursday, I visited the Bexley Farmer’s market to buy end-of-the season zucchini and some apples.  There’s only two more weeks to the market season.

Also this week, I chatted with Seth about the status of the City’s new requirement that we weigh and report at the end of 2016 all of the different produce we grow on a Land Bank lot.  He explained that the City’s community garden committee (which includes, among others, him, Bill Dawson and Barb Seckler) would be meeting this Thursday to revisit the issue.  Most of the calls he has received on the issue merely questioned how it could be done because no one is currently doing it or understands the logistics and technicalities involved.  He was leaning towards recommending that it simply be voluntary next year.   He still doesn’t seem to understand how much work is involved in this request.
On Saturday, I got a late start because I tried to catch a cross-country meet in Worthington where my niece was running.  It was a stunningly beautiful day with clear blue skies for as far as the eye could see.  I watered the food pantry, neighbor and my plots.  I weeded the neighbor plot.  I had planned on transplanting more lettuce, kale and collard greens, but didn’t have time.  I pulled out two beefstake tomato plants and one sunflower plant (which had already been picked clean by the neighborhood finches) and had planned to pull out half of the rest of the tomato plants and most of the bush beans, but with our unseasonably warm weather, they were all still producing lots of tomatoes and beans.   However, regardless of the weather, I know that I need to start pulling out these plants in stages because it won’t be fun pulling out all of them in one day when it is 40 degrees, damp and windy.  Amy had already been to the Garden before me and cleaned out one of the raised beds for me.  She also left me a note with some tomatoes to add to our Faith Mission donation.

Mari came by to start cleaning out her plot for the season.  She had neglected it for most of the summer and doesn’t see how she’ll have the energy or time next year to do any better.   She’d rather come and volunteer when she’s able instead of committing to tending a plot and then not doing it.   Regardless of her neglect, her beefstake tomato plant was the most productive tomato plant we had this year.  I noticed that Neal had also started to clean out his plot and stack some of his tomato cages.

I harvested for our weekly donation (which this week was going to Faith Mission since it was so late in the day).  We had lots of beans and tomatoes, as well as collard greens, kale, chard, basil and parsley.  I took a picture of one giant collard plant because I had neglected it this summer.  I thought it was in Amy’s plot, but it was in one of the food pantry plots, next to a row of broccoli.  I have
belatedly figured out why no one was harvesting from it and remedied that today.

The neighborhood girls came by to harvest tomatoes and greens from their beds.  They also watered a bit.   They turned their nose up at their beans because so many of them had already gone to seed.  I rescued almost a pound of green beans from their plot after they left and added it to our Faith Mission donation.   The girls had no interest in cleaning out their beds today and their uncle was yelling at them from across the street to not get dirty. 

Although I think that they could still continue to grow for a few more weeks, I decided to start harvesting my sweet potatoes.  Last Thanksgiving, my childhood friend Susan gave me a few runt white sweet potatoes from which I could start slips over the winter.  I had never heard of such a thing and still have never tasted them. Unlike regular sweet potatoes, only the skin is red; the interior is white.   One of the runts shriveled up, but I was able to get one slip off of the other runt and I planted it in my plot.  The vines from that slip eventually took over the southeast portion of my plot and grew all of the way north to the herb garden and west to my chard.  Craziness.   I dug up the hill where I had planted it and have attached some pictures of what I kept for myself.  One of the potatoes was ridiculously large and I don’t even know how I will bake it.   I gave a small one and a runt to Cathy and kept the rest for myself to eat and start slips off of next year.   I normally wouldn’t include pictures because it tends to encourage thieves at the Garden, but these are the only white sweet potatoes at the SACG this year and I’ve already harvested them all. 
I also harvested more yard-long beans, most of the rest of my pole and bush beans, some kale and
some peppers and only a few tomatoes (since I had already picked most of them on Wednesday).  I’m so glad that I don’t have to weigh and record everything on top of our food pantry harvests.  I was also able to save some more cosmos seeds.  We have had lots of bees enjoying our October cosmos, marigolds and purple aster flowers.   Hopefully, the mums I planted (which were donated by Strader's Garden Centers) will come back next year, too.

I didn’t get out until almost 3:30 p.m. as the OSU game was winding up.  I had tried to listen to the game on my mp3 player, but the battery died.  I think that I might have scared some of the neighbors, as it was, with my screaming when Maryland tied up the game.   When I got hungry, I headed half a block west to Cathy’s house.  She was hosting a high school group from Trinity Family Life Church in Pickerington, who were helping to put siding on a neglected house in the neighborhood.  Urban Connections is remodeling and improving the blighted house in order to later rent it out to a family and improve the neighborhood at the same time.   She had purchased lots of pizza and soda for them and I knew that she’d have leftovers.  In return, I brought her some white sweet potatoes, passilla peppers and tomatillos from my plot.  I must have been really hungry because I don’t remember pizza or soda tasting so good.   I usually don’t eat that well on garden Saturdays.
Someone has also bought the house across the street (at the other north corner of Morrison and
Cherry) and spent a lot of time fixing it up.  The box gutters have been repaired and they are already remodeling inside.  Since that building had for a while been the stock photo of urban blight at the Dispatch, this is also welcome news.

The other big news in the neighborhood is that a large Westerville property developer, The Woda Group, has announced intentions to buy twelve lots (which are mostly vacant) along the north side of East Main Street, starting at the corner of Fairwood and Main, in order to build a 54-unit affordable senior apartment building.   This will not include the vacant, ancient and blighted apartment building at the corner of Fairwood and Cherry (caddy-corner from the Urban Connections ministry house).   Strangely, they have not
included any drawings of what the building will look like, although there are some preliminary architectural and landscaping sketches.   They will be making a community presentation about the project tomorrow night at 7 at Central Community House on East Main Street.  They will need a variance from the City and have filed a request with the Near East Area Commission.  I would have to assume that a brand new building will be a welcome improvement over the vacant lots and buildings which current sit on those lots.  However, we also have to wonder if there is a market for such housing and whether they will be adequately maintained and monitored.   I also wonder if the new residents would want to garden with us in their spare time . . . . 

As promised, here’s one of my favorite bean recipes:

Roasted Green Beans

This recipe was modified from an old Cook’s magazine which my friend Vicki gave me a few years ago.  The first time I made it was great and I inhaled a quart in one sitting.  The second time – which I made for Vicki – I burned them.  That didn’t stop us from eating them.

·        1 pound green beans (fresh or frozen)

·        4 tbsp olive oil

·        ½ tsp salt


·        2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

·        2 chopped garlic cloves

·        1 tsp honey

·        1 tsp thyme

1. Heat oven to 450 degree oven.  Have rack placed in the middle.

2.   Toss beans in ½ tsp salt and 2 tbsp olive oil.

3.  Spread aluminum foil on a cookie or baking sheet.  Spread beans evenly over sheet.

4. Sprinkle with salt.  Put in oven for 10 minutes.

5.  Make the Sauce in a medium bowl.  Take the beans out of oven and scoop up the beans with tongs and shake them in the bowl with the sauce.  Return the beans to the cookie/baking sheet and return to oven for another 10 minutes.  (If using frozen beans, turn on broiler). 

The beans should have black spots on them and shrivel up.

Plan on 1 quart per person per serving.   I inhaled a quart in just two servings and wanted more.  You will want to make these often.

I do not recommend using canned beans because the color is not consistent. With fresh beans or barely blanched frozen beans the difference in color will not be noticeable. 

Be careful not to overcook them.  They should still be green when you remove them with black spots where it is beginning to carmelize.  However, do not panic if you over-cook them because they will still be tasty.  I once left them in for five minutes too long and they all came out black (and some even crunchy).  They were still edible (although they were not inhaled in one sitting like correctly roasted beans) and the blackness disguised the color differences between the frozen and canned beans.

No comments:

Post a Comment