Photo by Judith Hausman
This month, my gardening coop’s period of assessment and notes for next year coincide with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, so it’s a perfect time to make resolutions to do things better and differently next year. We learned so much from this first experiment that we want to profit from it again next summer.
Many of our garden failures were beyond our control and the result of weather, like the melons that never ripened, which I wrote about here. We decided to forego melons altogether in the future and grow more winter squash.
This year, the rain was very hard on our tomatoes; we’re going to move them and re-trench with hardier varieties. While our broccoli was strong, the worms were, too, and we barely saw a cauliflower. We never saw our soybeans, and our Brussels sprouts got lost, as well.
We had just managed to save our eggplants from the weeds, but we couldn’t keep up with the amount of lettuce we had planted. The novelty Mexican gherkins that grew like gangbusters were appreciated by only one member, and not enough of us loved the durable and multi-colored chard we grew, either. I’d like to see us try to grow kohlrabi and more fennel. We loved the peas and green beans, of which we all want to grow more, and we adored the beets.
In addition to the group’s resolutions, I have my own list of vegetables that I want to cook and eat more of. Next year, I’m going to push my own pickling envelope further, beyond the melon rind, pea pods and radishes I tried this year. I’m also determined to harvest our prolific okra smaller so I can learn to appreciate it. Lastly, I want to try cooked winter squash and roasted onions puréed into a spread.
As for the vegetables I’d like to eat more of? I think I’ll never get enough of my raw kale salad with Parmesan, preserved lemon dressing, yellow raisins and sunflower seeds, as well as my addictive dip that’s somewhere between hummus and baba ghanoush. To make the dip, I substituted roasted zucchini for eggplant.
High-heat roasting is a terrific and simple cooking method for most vegetables, but the silky leeks that I slow-braised intrigued me to explore that method further. I love celery root in classic remoulade salad, and I intend to try it in a creamy gratin, as I have with other root vegetables. More coleslaws, more greens.
I’d love to hear your hindsight assessments and New Year’s resolutions, dear readers. Was there a new recipe you discovered that you can’t wait until next season to make more of? Was there a crop you missed out on that you’re determined to make use of in the next go-round? Did you develop a new enthusiasm at the farmers market, a new method for your deck garden or a new taste in your kitchen?
Slice an apple, dip it in local honey, and while you munch on that Rosh Hashana treat that symbolizes the sweetness of new beginnings, reflect a little and send me a line.