We’ve buried a lot of treasure in our kitchen garden. Seeds of Blue Jade and Silver Queen corn have begun to knife through the soil with the blades of stalks. We’re also trying Two-Inch Strawberry Popcorn for fun. We have high hopes for a low grower: Blue Jade is a mere midget in the land of corn. Growing only three feet tall, consider this rare treat if you garden in containers. Silver Queen is a variety anointed by many as the sweetest, best ears of summer. As the saying goes, hopefully they’ll be “knee-high by the 4th of July.”
We have twin Silver Queens in the garden, as an okra we’ve planted also claims the name. Unique white, narrow pods caught our eye in the seed catalog. Today we have tiny seedlings of four different varieties and see many pickled, roasted, and grilled recipes coming your way. Okra has gotten a bad rap in the past but is poised to be *the* en vogue ingredient. Or maybe those of us who plant it just started that rumor in hopes of neighbors taking harvests off our hands! At our house, we play rock-paper-scissors to see who has to harvest the okra, since it has sticky, stinging stalks and forces you into long-sleeved shirts. (Who wants that in a 95-degree Alabama summer?) We seek our revenge on okra by pickling and drowning it in Bloody Marys. The hibiscus-like blooms are a beautiful bonus, too.
With all of these colorful names, one can’t help but wonder how they came to be. Then there are those just too obvious and yet altogether mystifying, such as Painted Pony and Soldier beans. Check out the snapshots to spy the painted ponies and red-uniformed soldiers with your own eyes. In our June issue, we cover green beans, wax beans, and meaty cranberry beans. This summer, we’re branching out with soup beans, shell beans and crazy yard long ones. It’s hard to believe a seedling that isn’t yet two feet tall will soon bear tons of pods several feet long.
We planted over 100 feet of melons and winter squash on “Pumpkin Hill.” The healthy seedlings are not but four inches tall and have already been sniffed out by the squash bugs. That’ll be a battle all summer long. Maybe those soldiers will mount the painted ponies and charge to the rescue.