Monday, September 28, 2009

Complete Garden Failure

I'm exaggerating a little, but not too much. It finally sunk in this weekend when I went to visit my parents in Vermont and saw their garden. Mine really bombed, and I'm not sure why. It took me this long to realize it because I'm a novice gardener and don't have experience to fall back on, I'm lazy and hardly ever picked up my gardening book to see where things should be, and I have a fabulous farmers' market a five minute walk away so didn't think too much about why my beets were only small greens and no beet underneath.

My parents' brussels sprouts are huge - at least 3 feet tall. My biggest one is 10 inches, with no sprouts. My potatoes never grew beyond an inch in diameter, I had maybe a dozen peas, a few dozen beans, small kale, no peppers, lettuce and rainbow chard that barely grew, watermelons that didn't sprout, and eggplant that is clearly not eggplant, but some sort of zucchini or summer squash.

My tomatoes did pretty well, despite my earlier worries, and the thing that did the best, the sunberries, are the one thing we all agreed were not worth doing again because they just aren't very tasty.

So why the failure? I got all of my seeds from an heirloom seed organization in the midwest and perhaps they aren't as good as they advertise. We had so much rain in June and maybe that is the one month plants need to establish themselves and do a huge percentage of growth. Maybe the sunniest spot in my yard is not sunny enough for a garden. I just don't know. I'm not giving up. Next year, I will buy seeds locally and maybe do fewer varieties. Hopefully the weather will be a bit more cooperative.

Okay, enough griping; here's a recipe. It's one that has been handed down via stories through my Dad's side of the family. My Dad and his siblings all reminisce about how their mother made it and swear it will never be replicated, despite their best efforts, but I think they've come up with something pretty delicious.

Sheldon Potato Salad

makes a large bowl, enough for 12 to 15 side servings.

3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teas. salt
1 teas. pepper
1 large or two medium tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 green pepper, seeds removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise, depending on personal preference

Boil potatoes until just cooked; pour into a colander. Put back into empty cooking pot or a large bowl and add vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, stirring gently until mixed. Let cool completely in the refrigerator.

Add vegetables. Add mayonnaise, starting with 1/2 cup and mixing well. Add more mayo as needed.