It is indeed harvest time for garlic. Their tops are falling over, which means it's time to pull them and hang them up to dry. A friend told me last year the tricks for preparing them easily. Hit a bulb hard on the top and all the cloves fall apart. Hit a clove (this is harder) and the skin falls off. I use a rubber mallet since my hands aren't strong. Don't cut it into very small pieces. I've enjoyed garlic more since I learned this, and am savoring all I can grow. Long ago I bought ONE bulb, and I still eat its progeny, having given many away.
We had our first zucchini dinner last evening. Yum! It's late for zucchini, but very welcome for all that -- or especially?
I just picked our first cucumber, a Marketmore. The past couple years I've raised only the big ones, which are great for showing off, but they don't yield as early or last as late. I have other ways of showing off.
I picked enough basil for our first fresh pesto dinner of the year this evening. It's amazing how a LARGE container (6 quarts?) of fresh picked leaves presses into two cups when the stems are taken off and the air pressed out. I still have some frozen pesto from last year and have eaten it about once a week throughout the spring. Nice!
Fred just left for Toni's Kitchen with our first 2011 donation. At the end of March I despaired of having any extras this year, but gardens surprise one. This week has shown amazing growth. He took collards, pak choi, and lettuce. The chief chef always gives our fresh produce a warm welcome.
Toni's Kitchen is located in St. Luke's Episcopal Church on the corner of South Fullerton and Union Street in Montclair. They accept fresh donations 9-11 AM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. They start serving at 11:30. Enter through the parking lot on Union Street, a good place to park. Once I met a woman on Bloomfield Avenue who said she lived in the homeless shelter in East Orange and walked to Montclair for her only meal of the day at Toni's Kitchen. If you have garden left-overs, this is a good destination.
It's also planting season. I planted summer spinach in the space I showed the tour guests last Saturday. I had cleared it from the first crop of lettuce and put some compost there from my pile. I then dig in the compost, rake it smooth, scatted seeds, rake it again, and water with a watering can. This time I'm watering several times a day. I like lettuce!
At another place where I've removed that abundant first crop of lettuce, I have planted some zucchini seeds. Typically, the first crop dies in early August, and I need a second crop to keep eating it. This year the seeds I sowed in my greenhouse window in mid-June didn't germinate... yet. The early ones took a long, long time to germinate too, but the fruit is just as good, if a bit late.
Soon I will sow more Roma bush beans under my peach tree. They seem to grow there in the shade better than anything else, and I like to have them when the crop next to the house wanes. It's still going fairly strong.
These days I garden only in the early morning and after dinner. The crops seem to like the hot sun more than most humans do.