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OK, I have totally failed as a consistent blogger, but I resolve to do better from here on in.

We got going a little earlier this year and were spared any over-helpful neighbours, so it’s been a real joy and an opportunity to actually learn. The weather has been completely on our side — no June-uary this year. Long, warm (and some VERY hot) days. Arugula would have failed miserably, bolting out of control. I have just planted this past weekend as it is apparently much happier in cooler weather.

When we got to the garden in the spring, we found that last year’s leeks were perfect and ready to harvest. We both made wonderful soups with the bounty and I’ve discovered the wonder of slowly sautéed leeks. They carmellize and become sweet enhancements to savoury dishes. Libby and I planted separately and decided to see what worked. I put in beans this year — bortolottis that I dried from last year and favas. I started them in the back yard in little starter pots, along with tomatoes from seed. I bought the tomato seeds from Bosa Foods, an entirely Italian superstore in Vancouver that is a foodie’s nirvana.

I planted 18 tomato plant babies, lovingly watering and then caging them. I couldn’t bear to not plant one, even though there are so many. I gave a few to other gardeners in the community, but my 18 stayed with me. They are now a forest of fabulous and fruitful roma tomatoes. I get about a dozen a day right now. I’ve made two batches of beautiful, basic tomato sauce to freeze. The plants are quite close together, their cages touching. I didn’t know what that would do, but they have seemed to love it. I was worried when they started bearing fruit that they might be too crowded, so I transplanted three away from the group to test the results. Honestly, if there is a difference, it is that the ones with more room have done less well. Tomatoes appear to be very social — at least Italian ones!

My favas grew fast and strong and then — I had no idea that this was de rigeur — the aphids appeared. They are, apparently, like butter to popcorn. You can’t have one without the other. Aphid damage is evident on all favas, no matter where you find them. It doesn’t affect the beans except in extreme cases, but it makes harvesting a gooey and itchy affair. Next year, to avoid this, I will plant nasturtiums and sunflowers to distract the little suckers. It won’t eliminate them, but with a bit of strong hosing and brave wiping, I should be able to keep them at bay. I managed to get enough beans to make wonderful paste to smear on toasted garlic bread…absolutely marvellous. I have done this many times over with the additional beans I’ve bought at the local market. I can’t get enough of them!

The bortolottis were a bit disappointing. I got about two good bunches, but the aphids plagued them, too, to a lesser degree. I will plant them a bit earlier, directly in the soil next year and give it another go.

Now Libby, on the other hand, went with beets again. They have been fabulous. Sweet roots and gorgeous greens to stir fry. She also put in baby broccoli plants and damned if we haven’t had stir-fried broccoli from our own plants! She planted bok choy which we had every intention of cooking, but never got around to it. It bolted and was gone. Green onions were great. Paula gave me some beautiful walla walla onion babies and we are still harvesting these. They are great garden participants and I plan to put more in this fall. And that brings me to now. I have garlic from New Moon Acres to put in and I’ve planted baby brown onions that I found languishing in the back of my local produce seller. I put in more beets and some arugula. Let’s see what year-round gardening is all about!

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