Community Garden: August

I haven’t posted an update on the garden lately because not much is happening. It’s REALLY hot pretty much all day (and night) long, and things are looking pretty dry out there. We’re lazily thinking about gearing back up to a Fall planting, but it’s so hot that the idea of spending time out there is just not appealing to me. It’s also too hot to cook, which is good, because there’s nothing really left!


I’ve cooked through all our produce but the beans (Jon made little smiley guys out of them while cooking something). We’re not getting any more tomatoes, and the carrots, garlic and onions have all been pulled up. Cooking with fresh garlic was so wonderful, and I’m definitely going to plant a lot of that next time around. I think we’re going to try a larger variety of carrot, too – ours were tiny and bulby, and I wish there had been more. There were a few favorite recipes from experimenting with what I had. There were different things at different times, but I had Swiss chard pretty much the whole time. I tried it many ways. I cooked it like regular collard greens, just sauteed with onions and spices on its own as a side dish. I mixed it in to soups. Below is one of my favorites – sauteed with garden zucchini, broccoli and garlic, over couscous. The best, though, was probably pasta tossed with sauteed chard, onions, jalapenos, carrots, garlic and chickpeas, topped with grated Parmegianno Reggiano. THAT was awesome. The chard has definitely been the star of the garden –  one single plant has lasted from February through the hard heat of a Texas summer, and it’s produced consistently well.


We ended up getting some potatoes from the barrel we made out of chicken wire, and I used them in a veggie pot pie, among other things. They were small (assorted sizes, but none bigger than a baseball), but very tasty. There were some cucumbers, but not a lot. The ones later in the summer got a really thick, inedible skin – I think the plant was trying to protect itself from August. Inside though, they were good. The zucchini plant died after just a couple weeks of producing zucchini. The roots rotted and the veggies stopped coming – not sure if we over-watered or what. We got some little serrano peppers, but not many. The plants got big but just didn’t produce much. We got one round of beans, and they’re flowering again, but no second round yet.

Last week, I brought home a bucket of basil and made a couple jars of pesto. Summer in a jar!


I think overall, it was a successful first growing season for two people who didn’t know a thing about gardening in the first place. I’m looking forward to putting our new knowledge into action for the fall planting. It’s really been a blessing being out in the garden this year. I’m not a huge outdoors-y person, but it was really nice being outside until it got hot. The feeling of sore muscles from digging an asparagus trench is so different from sore muscles from biking at the gym while watching a mindless action movie. I just finished Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and I really liked this passage about gardening:

“The work of growing food contributes to your health long before you sit down to eat it, of course, but there is something particularly fitting about enlisting your body in its own sustenance. Much of what we call recreation or exercise consists of pointless physical labor, so it is especially satisfying when we can give that labor a point. None of this work is terribly difficult; much of it is endlessly gratifying, and never more so than in the hour immediately before dinner, when I take a knife and a basket out to the garden to harvest whatever has declared itself ripest and tastiest. Among other things, tending a garden reminds us of our ancient  evolutionary bargain with these ingenious domestic species – how cleverly they insinuate themselves into our lives, repaying the care and space we give them with the gift of good food.”

It was a joy to be with Jen and Rob (and whoever else happened to be around, from other plots) while we dug or pruned or planted, and I so enjoyed being out there with Jon. My friend Staci told me a couple of years ago that she and her new husband coached a kids’ basketball team together, and that it did a lot for their relationship, and that she’d recommend it to anyone. I feel the same about gardening with your significant other. Jon and I have been together for years, and we’ve shared a lot of bonding experiences – but I have to say, nothing has quite compared to sharing the planning and work of making beautiful things grow, and then cooking and eating those fruits together. Wish us luck as we plan our fall garden!



One Response

  1. Janie, I love this post. I always love reading your posts, but this one was one of my favorites. To see the fruits of your labor and the joy you and Jon have had in this venture–well, it’s just been plain wondermous…you great writer you! 🙂

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