Every growing season I like to try something new.
This year, I didn’t even have to think about it. My friend Chris handed me three “Kalettes” plants and I immediately gave them a prime spot in my garden.
They grew to be statuesque, waist-high, dusky green plants with purple stems. Real beauties.
This new vegetable was developed through hybridization (not genetic modification) over 15 years at the British vegetable seed house Tozer Seeds. The developers crossed kale and Brussels sprouts, both members of the Brassica oleracea family, to come up with what they call “Flower Sprouts” in the United Kingdom. Little leafy heads grow on a thick stem like Brussels sprouts but the heads are loose with frilly green and purple leaves. The result, I’ve read, is a vegetable with a taste milder than kale and easier prep than Brussels sprouts—no need to blanch or halve the heads, just simply roast, saute or even eat raw.
The only thing the breeders did not take into consideration when creating their delicious and nutritious Flower Sprouts/Kalettes was making them deer-proof.
That failure aside, it was a great year for garlic. My only problem was a barn full of gorgeous garlic and the thought of it going to waste. My schedule was such that I couldn’t attend the Lemont Farmers Market this month where I usually sell pounds of my hard-neck garlic. What to do?
I heard the state Master Gardener coordinator developed an attractive garlic photo board for Ag Progress Days in mid-August. I figured donating my harvest to our Master Gardener program, bagged and labeled, would be a win-win situation. It was. We sold out by the second day.
August is definitely Master Gardener month in Centre County. This past weekend we had a double-header.
At Tait Farm’s Tomato Festival, Master Gardeners sliced and sorted 60 varieties of tomatoes for the annual Tomato Taste Off. This year’s winner was White Currant, a cream-colored gem about half the size of a cherry tomato with a burst of flavor.
The festival also featured an Iron Chef Competition, with two amateur and three professional chefs who prepared tomato dishes. My favorite entry was created by amateur chef Kelly Renfrew and was awarded “Best Flavor and Texture”.
Tomato Avocado Salsa
4 plum tomatoes
2 T finely chopped onion
4 oz. crumbled feta
1 T chopped fresh parsley
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t salt
2 avocados, chopped
Mix together and serve with tortilla chips
Master Gardeners also had a table at the 142nd Annual Centre County Grange Fair. Although I hadn’t been there in 50 years, a walk through the livestock barns brought back memories of showing my pony in the 4-H Roundup…especially when a black toy spider dropped in front of my eyes.
About 15 feet away, a boy, 10 or 11, was sitting on a bale of hay holding a fishing line that was looped over the rafters. As unsuspecting fairgoers approached, the boy released the line, letting the spooky spider scare his prey. I think his father or grandfather was playing that trick when I was there last. Luckily, some things don’t change. Laurie Lynch
Written on Slate: “The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.” E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web