JEFF TIEDEMAN: Squash is prolific produceTake advantage of summer squash, other fruitful vegetables.
Hurry up and wait. That’s what having a garden is about — until the scrambling begins.
A lot of people who grow a garden — including me — strive to get their seeds and started plants into the ground sometime around Memorial Day weekend.
And there are others who push the envelope by sowing their vegetables from the beginning of May to the middle of the month.
Regardless of when a garden is planted, people have a wait that can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a three or four months — depending on the type of vegetable — before they can start to harvest anything.
Early-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, peas and some types of carrots usually don’t present a problem because they tend to be eaten about as quickly as they’re picked.
But when it comes to vegetables such as green and yellow wax beans, summer squash and tomatoes, once the picking starts, you should be prepared for a fast and furious couple of weeks. Even keeping up with the production of other vegetables such as cucumbers and peppers can become overwhelming.
Well, I’m at that stage now. I’ve been picking beans every two days (and eating them almost daily), and three varieties of tomatoes — Sweet Million, Juliet and Early Girl — are on the verge of swamping me. The first two are a type of cherry tomato that grow in clusters and are irresistible straight from the vine. (And if you can restrain yourself, they’re great in salads and sauces.)
And then, there’s zucchini and yellow squash, which are notorious for overpowering gardeners with a plethora of produce.
I appeared to be on top of things as far as these prolific members of the cucurbit family were concerned until just a day or two ago. I was picking three or four small ones of each variety daily (this size is great for dipping and using in stir-fries, soups, stews and salads), and none had reached the gigantic stage.
Then, the total of smaller ones, which need to be used quickly, went to more than a half-dozen per day. And I discovered one zucchini that was almost large enough to make a loaf or two of bread.
I’m not going to get a lot of sympathy about the zucchini from a co-worker who will remain nameless and who has laid claim to an island (Hagaland) in the Red River that has been submerged for several years because of high water. He detests zucchini and says it tastes like cardboard.
But you know what? This is the kind of dilemma that I love. Living where we do in northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota means that having fresh-produced vegetables from our own gardens is not something we can enjoy year-round, so we need to take advantage of it when we can.
Yes, Chuck, that means even if it’s zucchini!
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.