I wonder how many gardeners have asked themselves this: Why do our vegetables reach their peak ripeness while we're away? Right before I departed on a weeklong vacation to the land of kudzu and wild rhododendrons, I picked a little over a half pound of perfect pole beans, and since I knew I wouldn't be cooking for at least a few days (or for the entire trip, as it turned out) I left them in the food pantry donation cooler. Having not grown them for a few years, I had forgotten how quickly the harvest progresses once it begins and how one needs to stay on top of it. When I returned this morning with plastic baggies, my eager anticipation turned to disappointment when I parted the leaves and found so many overripe beans, tough pods lumpy with overgrown seeds. I picked them all anyway, though I knew that I'd only be cooking half of them. I added some to an earlier batch I picked about ten days earlier and oven-roasted them with some fingerling potatoes, in olive oil and minced garlic, and will probably stir-fry the remainder using sesame oil. The second method worked well with my bitter-tasting broccoli.Speaking of broccoli, I discovered a few new side shoots of my Fiesta organic variety. I left them on the plants but will definitely harvest them in the next day or so and include them in my next week's harvest tally.Even more distressing than the past-peak pole beans was the discovery of some rot on my Cherokee purple tomatoes, which I had thought were going to pull through with only a little catfacing on the bottoms. I picked these two and placed them on my kitchen windowsill in the hopes that they will finish ripening away from pests and that there may be some salvageable meat in the middle. Most of my other tomatoes are still green and I'm starting to wonder if many of them will stay that way. My volunteer cherries are as hardy as ever, and as you can see in the first photo with the beans, are beginning to turn red, though at this point I have too few to include in my total.
Today in the Harvest Coop I noted that green beans are selling for $0.99 a pound. My question is: if some of my harvest gets composted because it's overripe, can I count it in my total? Many of my strawberries ended up in the bin, so I guess I will include it. Using a not-so-scientific method of weighing a quarter pound of beans in the store and estimating that a sandwich bag full is around a half pound, I figure that I have picked about a pound and a half of pole beans so far.
Previous benefits total: $99.00
1 1/2 pounds of beans at $0.99/lb.: $1.49
New benefits total: $100.49
Current costs total: $171.57
New balance: -$71.08
Okay, if you find this too depressing, keep in mind that the negative number includes a major purchase, and that there's more to come--broccoli, tomatoes I hope, maybe a few more beans, basil, and, quite possibly, a fall crop of snap peas. But if you want to read about some gardens in the black, visit Daphne's Dandelions and check out the other blogs participating in the Monday harvest tally.