The jungle

What would you like to talk about today? Tomatoes? Zucchini? Potatoes? Our garden is chock-a-block full of all three.

This was our first year with a dedicated summer garden—until this season, we planted our summer veggies in with the winter crops, under the cold frame. But the timing started to get tricky—for optimal winter production, we really needed to be planting the beds in July and August. With tomatoes and zucchini and green beans that would produce until late September, that didn't happen, and for those beds, I'd end up having to buy seedlings.

So this year, with our friend Corey's help, we took down a few trees on the south side of the shed and turned over a ridiculously dense layer of tree roots—we broke a backhoe in the process—and dug down two feet beneath the old oaks and pines and blueberries. Then we got a truckload of pure compost and filled it in.

It looked like a plot of black gold.

These days, it looks more like a jungle—a 20' by 25' forest of cucumbers and squash and potato and tomato plants. A good two thirds of the garden is taken up by the tomatoes—62 in all, staked and caged and grown from seed. Most of them are full size varieties—things like Spring Shine and Amish Paste and Rose de Berne—but there are also a few Sun Gold cherries thrown in. Next come the potatoes: two full rows of Red Bliss, ready for harvest. Then there's a half row of broccoli, a wild tangle of cucumbers, and a row of zucchini and Waltham butternuts that spreads about ten feet in every direction. It's not at all neat or orderly, but it's the best kind of mess.

Right now, it's the potatoes that are pouring in. They are the one crop that is entirely Alex's department, and whatever he's doing, it's working. He says he learned from his grandfather how to grow them. First, he says, you have to dig a trough, to put the seed potatoes in. Then, once they start to sprout, you have to mound the dirt up over them, and as they grow, do this again, and again. Eventually, they'll get tall and start to flower, and right after the flowers fade is when you should start checking beneath them. We got our first potatoes about a month ago, and every week, he brings another basket in.

This week, I made potato salad with our haul. It wasn't anything fancy: just fresh potatoes and green beans from the garden with hard-boiled eggs and red onion. Still, it was good—simple and creamy and crisp—and every bite grown from our soil.


I like to think of this as a potato salad that can be a meal. The green beans add crunch while the eggs add a much-needed hit of protein.

2 pounds fresh red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 and 1/2 inch lengths
1/4 cup red vinegar
4 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Throw in the potatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. About a minute before the potatoes are done, add the green beans. They only need to cook for about 30 seconds—just until they turn bright green. Turn off the stove and drain the vegetables.

Transfer the potatoes and green beans to a large mixing bowl. Pour the red wine vinegar over top and stir well. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Stir in the hard-boiled eggs, red onions, dill, mayonnaise, and mustard until everything is evenly distributed and well coated. Season with salt and pepper and chill before serving.


Anna said...

Yummy! This looks so good...I think I'll make it this week!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, this does look good, Elspeth. But since I am not a fan of mayo, I think I will dress it with a vinaigrette instead. Looks yummy! ~XO, Mama

Jess said...

Eating Well mag had a great potato salad recipe this month, too!

Againsthegrain said...

I love potato salad in the summer, but I make it with half potatoes and half steamed/drained cauliflower to lower the carbs (otherwise my BG takes too high a hit = or my portion would have to be so small it wouldn't be worth bothering).

For the past few years I've been making homemade mayo. Ever since I learned how good it is, I can't stand going back to the commercial stuff. Making mayo is so easy, not to mention much tastier, and doesn't have questionable ingredients. My teenage nephew was visiting us from Norway this summer and he made several batches of mayo and aioli for us (my SIL is a chef, so he has a good teacher). He has a strong arm so he used a whisk, unlike me who wimps out with a handheld electric blender.


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