Monday, June 29, 2009

Pittsburgh Garden Update: June

We had a cold, late spring in Southwestern PA but the growing season in Pittsburgh has been underway for well over a month now, so I thought I’d provide a quick update on how the garden is doing. On a recent misty morning in my hilltop neighbourhood, I took the camera down to the yard to snap a few pictures.

The peaches on my tree are starting to plump up, and are now as big as walnuts. This is the eight foot tree's third summer since it was planted, but it has yet to produce any fruit to maturity. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this year, and am dreaming of juicy fruit, still warm from the summer sun. Is a late July harvest in the forecast? If anyone is looking for advice on pruning and growing peach trees, I have been following these very scientific instructions and I seem to be right on schedule.

The tomatoes and peppers are growing like crazy these days. I’m still pinching the flowers off my hot peppers (jalapeno, cayenne, and banana) until they are tall enough to produce a bounty of fruit. The tomato crop this year includes San Marzano for sauce (two plants), the NYTimes-hyped Ramapo (two plants), and one plant each of Cherokee Purple, Early Girl, Green Zebra, Miracle Sweet, Sandul Moldovan, Snow White, and Yellow Pear. Summer salsa season is on the horizon.

The herbs have grown nicely too. The basil has been going in our pasta sauces and salads for a few weeks now. The mint, sage, lavender, and lemon thyme (pictured below) are now edible too, and have been used occasionally.

The best is yet to come!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Neighborhood Fruit

This week's New York Times Food section had an interesting article on new networks dedicated to sharing or locating fresh produce in your area. One such resource is the site, which allows users to post descriptions of the fruit ripening on their property.

The idea is that if you have, say, more peaches than you know what to do with for a few short weeks in July, you can register your peach tree and post an announcement when they are ripe, allowing your neighbors to come at a designated time and pick some of your bounty. Then, when their apples or blackberries are ripe later in the summer, they return the favor, building bonds in your community as well as diversifying the fresh produce available to you, free of cost.

Another section of the site allows you to map the location of known publicly available fruit in your city along with the dates when the fruit is ripe. There's a stand of mulberry trees in a park near me and the fruit usually goes to waste, so I posted their location online so any Pittsburghers interested in using the fruit can stop by and pick their fill. No other yinzers seem to be using the site yet, so I urge anyone who lets fruit in their yard rot or knows of public sources of fruit to register their trees so they can be mapped online.