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Stories from the valley

Edamame and Spuds

Contributed by Paul Buttner

Contributed by Luke Matthews

Contributed by Tim Johnson

We all like to grow a few things that are a bit out of the norm, if for no other reason than break up the endless summer march of squash, tomatoes and more squash. This year we veered toward fresh soybeans (edamame) and new red potatoes. 

New Garden – Paul Buttner, Environmental Affairs Manager

My theme for this week’s Three Dudes’ Gardens Saga:  Fruitless Strawberries and an Empty Steamer!

I have the most amazing, healthy-looking strawberry plants.  And I underscore the word plants because they refuse to flower and produce even a single strawberry.  I water them; baby them; and even beg them to give me fruit.  I even made them their very own custom sign just in case they have somehow forgotten what they are supposed to be then they grow up.  I mean, I’ve heard of seedless vegetables, but fruitless vegetables!  C’mon man!

And, even more sad is the outcome of my courageous efforts to grow soybeans.  I love edamame and so was very excited about the prospect of cooking up endless helpings of fresh, healthy soybeans.  They started out looking amazing.  However, the actually soy bean production rate was not so amazing.  A few weeks ago, I broke out my gourmet-quality Cuisinart steam pan and steamed my first whopping large crop of just five soybeans.  They were each amazing but hardly filled up my steamer or my stomach.  Sadly, here are my last two tasty edamame morsels ready to be steamed.  The steamer looks so sad.  ☹

Diverse Urban Garden – Luke Mathews, Wildlife Program Manager

Potatoes are always fun to plant but, unlike most other garden crops, I am never sure how the plants are progressing until I commit to digging them up for harvest.  This year I took a few store bought red potatoes and set them aside to sprout in the kitchen. In early April, once they sprouted, I planted them in a small 2 ft x 2 ft planter box which I built specifically for growing potatoes. As the plants grew I added panels to the planter and covered the new growth with soil. I continued this process of adding panels and soil until the plants reached the top of the planter. Then it was time to water and wait. 

Now in mid-August, the plants have mostly died back and I have been eagerly waiting to harvest fresh potatoes. I have been worried that the sustained high summer temps may have impacted their production. However, taking off the side panels revealed a few decent sized potatoes so I continued with harvest. Although I did not get a bumper crop this year, we harvested more than enough fresh potatoes for Medina and I to enjoy some delicious home fries seasoned with fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden! 

Large Rural Garden – Tim Johnson, President & CEO

I think fresh potatoes are right up there with fresh tomatoes. There really is no comparison with those you find in the market – especially with new red potatoes!

I started this year with seed potatoes from an online garden supply. Since they only ship when the small potatoes come out of cold storage, they arrive a bit late for California. Never the less, they went into the raised bed (a must to keep the gophers from enjoying them rather than me) and covered the growing plants with straw. 

Ann dug up a few red potatoes for dinner the other day and noticed some insect damage. I applied some insecticide to knock them back. Hopefully, not too much damage was sustained. Harvest is close, with the bloom over and plants starting to die. I can’t wait for my mom’s potato salad recipe with new red potatoes!